Mlahsô language

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ܡܠܚܬܝܐ Mlaḥsô, ܣܘܪܝܝܐ Suryô
Native to Syria, Turkey
Region Qamishli in northeastern Syria, two villages in Diyarbakır Province of southeastern Turkey
Extinct 1998[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 lhs
Glottolog mlah1239[2]

Mlaḥsô or Mlahsö (Syriac: ܡܠܚܬܝܐ), sometimes referred to as Suryoyo or Surayt, is an extinct Modern West Syriac language, a dialect of Aramaic. It was traditionally spoken in eastern Turkey and northeastern Syria by members of the Assyrian people. Additionally, many Mlaḥsô speakers residing in Mlaḥsô village were Christians of Jacobite faith.[3] Aside from their native language, Mlaḥsô, speakers were fluent in Turkish, Arabic, Armenian, Kurdish, and Zaza.


The village in which Mlaḥsô was spoken, the village of Mlaḥsô, was established by two monks from the Tur Abdin mountain range.

The Mlaḥsô language (Ṣurayt of Mlaḥsô) is closely related to the Ṣurayt of Turabdin.[4] It was spoken in the villages of Mlaḥsô and ˁAnsha near Lice, Diyarbakır, Turkey.

The language was still spoken by a handful of people in the 1970s. According to Ethnologue, one nearly deaf woman still knew Mlahsö well in 1999, but had no one to speak it to.[4]

On 3 May 2009, a historical event in the history of the Mlaḥsô Ṣurayt language took place. The Suroyo TV television station aired the program series Dore w yawmotho, which was about the village Mlaḥsô (and Tamarze). Dr. Isḥaq Ibrahim was a guest and spoke in the Mlaḥsô language with his sisters Shamiram in Lebanon and Munira in Qamishli on the phone live. Turabdin Assyrians/Syriacs viewers and those present at the show could for the first time ever in modern times hear the language live.

Reasons for extinction[edit]

The Mlaḥsô language has gone into extinction due to:

  • The Syrian population shifting to Arabic as a result of the Arab Muslim conquests
  • The location of the Assyrian genocide was in the area where Mlaḥsô was strongest, resulting in a disproportionate loss of speakers compared to Turoyo and Aramaic.


Mlaḥsô is more conservative than Turoyo in grammar and vocabulary, using classical Syriac words and constructions while also preserving the original Aramaic form.[5] However, it is phonologically less conservative than Turoyo. This is particularly noticeable in the use of s for classical θ and y (IPA /j/) for ġ. Mlaḥsô renders the combination of vowel plus y as a single, fronted vowel rather than a diphthong or a glide.


The name of the village and the language is derived from the earlier Aramaic word mālaḥtā, 'salt marsh'. The literary Syriac name for the language is Mlaḥthoyo. The native speakers of Mlaḥsô referred to their language simply as Suryô, or Syriac.[6]


English Mlaḥsô
person nṓšo
father avó
paternal uncle dozó
trouble renyó
donkey ḥmṓrō
one ḥā
door tár'ṓ
goat ḗzō
great, big rābṓ
house baytṓ
ten 'esrṓ
grapes 'envḗ
mouth pēmṓ
morning safrṓ
three tlōsō
sleep šensṓ
hand īzṓ
seven šav'ṓ
today yōmā́n
in, into lġāv
brother āḥṓ
why lmūn
what mūn
much, many, very sāy
town mzītṓ
cock toġó

Example phrases[edit]

English Mlaḥsô
They sleep dōmxī́
I wash māsī́ġno
He loved rhī́mle
She gave hī́vla
I sold zābḗnli
He demanded tlī́ble
He stole gnī́vle
His house baytā́v
His place duksā́v
From him mēnā́v

Example sentences[edit]

English Mlaḥsô
Where is my hen? eyko-yo talġuntézi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mlaḥsô at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Mlahso". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Jastrow, Otto (1985). "Mlaḥsô: An Unknown Neo-Aramaic Language of Turkey". Journal of Semitic Studies. 30: 265–270. doi:10.1093/jss/xxx.2.265. 
  4. ^ a b "Mlahsö". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-05-14. 
  5. ^ Kim, Ronald. 2008. "Stammbaum or Continuum? The Subgrouping of Modern Aramaic Dialects Reconsidered." In Journal Of The American Oriental Society 128, no. 3, 505-531.
  6. ^ Jastrow, Otto. 1997. "Der Neuaramaische Dialek von Mlahso." In British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, reviewed by Geoffrey Khan. 299-300. British Society for Middle Eastern Studies.
  • Jastrow, Otto (1994). Der neuaramäische Dialekt von Mlaḥsô. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-03498-X.

Further reading[edit]

  • Goldenberg, Gideon. 2000. "Early Neo-Aramaic and Present-day Dialectical Diversity." In Journal Of Semitic Studies XLV/1, 69-86. Jerusalem.
  • Hoberman, Robert D. 1988. "The History of the Modern Aramaic Pronouns and Pronominal Suffixes." In Journal of the American Oriental Society 108, no. 4, 557-575. American Oriental Society.
  • Jastrow, Otto. 1997. "16. The Neo-Aramaic Languages." In The Semitic Languages, edited by Robert Hetzron, 334–377. New York: Routledge.
  • Jastrow, Otto. 1996. "Passive Formation in Turoyo and Mlahso." In Israel Oriental Studies XVI: Studies in Modern Semitic Languages, edited by Shlomo Izre’el, 49–57. Leiden: Brill.
  • Jastrow, Otto. 1994. Der neuaramäische Dialekt von Mlaḥsô. Semitica Viva 14. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz
  • Khan, Geoffrey. 1999. "The Neo-Aramaic Dialect Spoken by Jews from the Region of Arbel (Iraqi Kurdistan)." In Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 62, no. 2, 213-225.
  • Khan, Geoffrey. 2003. "Some Remarks on Linguistic and Lexical Change in the North Eastern Neo-Aramaic Dialects." In Aramaic Studies 1, no. 2, 179-190.
  • Mutzafi, Hezy. 2006. "On the Etymology of Some Enigmatic Words in northeastern Neo-Aramaic." In Aramaic Studies 4, no. 1, 83-99.

External links[edit]