51 Facts About Aramaic language


For over three thousand years, Aramaic varieties served as a language of public life and administration of ancient kingdoms and empires and as a language of divine worship and religious study.

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The Aramaic alphabet became a base for the creation and adaptation of specific writing systems in some other Semitic languages, such as the Hebrew alphabet and the Arabic alphabet.

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Historically and originally, Aramaic was the language of the Arameans, a Semitic-speaking people of the region between the northern Levant and the northern Tigris valley.

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Aramaic rose to prominence under the Neo-Assyrian Empire, under whose influence Aramaic became a prestige language after being adopted as a lingua franca of the empire, and its use spread throughout Mesopotamia, the Levant and parts of Asia Minor.

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Wide use of written Aramaic subsequently led to the adoption of the Aramaic alphabet and some Aramaic vocabulary in the Pahlavi scripts, which were used by several Middle Iranian languages.

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Some variants of Aramaic are retained as sacred languages by certain religious communities.

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Connection between Chaldean, Syriac, and Samaritan as "Aramaic language" was first identified in 1679 by German theologian Johann Wilhelm Hilliger.

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The Aramaic language is often mistakenly considered to have originated within Assyria.

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Arameans carried their Aramaic language and writing into Mesopotamia by voluntary migration, by forced exile of conquering armies, and by nomadic Chaldean invasions of Babylonia during the period from 1200 to 1000 BC.

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The Achaemenid Empire continued this tradition, and the extensive influence of these empires led to Aramaic language gradually becoming the lingua franca of most of western Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Egypt.

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However, Aramaic remains a spoken, literary, and liturgical language for local Christians and some Jews.

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However, there are a number of sizable Assyrian towns in northern Iraq such as Alqosh, Bakhdida, Bartella, Tesqopa, and Tel Keppe, and numerous small villages, where Aramaic is still the main spoken language, and many large cities in this region have Assyrian Aramaic-speaking communities, particularly Mosul, Erbil, Kirkuk, Dohuk, and al-Hasakah.

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In Modern Israel, the only native Aramaic speaking population are the Jews of Kurdistan, although the language is dying out.

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However, Aramaic language is experiencing a revival among Maronites in Israel in Jish.

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Some Aramaic language dialects are mutually intelligible, whereas others are not, not unlike the situation with modern varieties of Arabic.

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The other main writing system used for Aramaic language was developed by Christian communities: a cursive form known as the Syriac alphabet.

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Periodization of historical development of Aramaic language has been the subject of particular interest for scholars, who proposed several types of periodization, based on linguistic, chronological and territorial criteria.

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The period before this, dubbed "Ancient Aramaic", saw the development of the language from being spoken in Aramaean city-states to become a major means of communication in diplomacy and trade throughout Mesopotamia, the Levant and Egypt.

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The alphabet of Aramaic at this early period seems to be based on the Phoenician alphabet, and there is a unity in the written language.

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From 700 BC, the Aramaic language began to spread in all directions, but lost much of its unity.

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Imperial Aramaic was highly standardised; its orthography was based more on historical roots than any spoken dialect, and the inevitable influence of Persian gave the language a new clarity and robust flexibility.

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One of the largest collections of Imperial Aramaic language texts is that of the Persepolis Administrative Archives, found at Persepolis, which number about five hundred.

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Achaemenid Aramaic is sufficiently uniform that it is often difficult to know where any particular example of the language was written.

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Biblical Aramaic language is the Aramaic language found in four discrete sections of the Hebrew Bible:.

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Biblical Aramaic language presented various challenges for writers who were engaged in early Biblical studies.

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The "Chaldean misnomer" was eventually abandoned, when modern scholarly analyses showed that Aramaic dialect used in Hebrew Bible was not related to ancient Chaldeans and their language.

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However, Aramaic language continued to be used, in its post-Achaemenid form, among upper and literate classes of native Aramaic language-speaking communities, and by local authorities.

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Babylonian Documentary Aramaic language is a dialect in use from the 3rd century AD onwards.

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Nabataean Aramaic was the written language of the Arab kingdom of Nabataea, whose capital was Petra.

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The Nabataeans used imperial Aramaic language for written communications, rather than their native Arabic.

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Nabataean Aramaic language developed from Imperial Aramaic language, with some influence from Arabic: "l" is often turned into "n", and there are some Arabic loanwords.

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The Aramaic language is written in a cursive script which was the precursor to the Arabic alphabet.

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Palmyrene Aramaic language is the dialect that was in use in the Syriac city state of Palmyra in the Syrian Desert from 44 BC to 274 AD.

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Under the early 3rd-century BC Parthians Arsacids, whose government used Greek but whose native language was Parthian, the Parthian language and its Aramaic-derived writing system both gained prestige.

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Aramaic language came to coexist with Canaanite dialects, eventually completely displacing Phoenician in the first century BC and Hebrew around the turn of the fourth century AD.

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Form of Late Old Western Aramaic language used by the Jewish community is best attested, and is usually referred to as Jewish Old Palestinian.

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The next distinct phase of the Aramaic language is called Old Judaean lasting into the second century AD.

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Seven Western Aramaic language varieties were spoken in the vicinity of Judea in Jesus' time.

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The descendants of Imperial Aramaic ceased to be living languages, and the eastern and western regional languages began to develop vital new literatures.

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Dialects of Old Eastern Aramaic continued in Armenia and Iran as a written language using the Estragela Edessa script.

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Syriac Aramaic is the literary, liturgical and often spoken language of Syriac Christianity.

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Jewish Middle Babylonian is the Aramaic language employed by Jewish writers in Babylonia between the fourth and the eleventh century.

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Dialects of Old Western Aramaic language continued with Jewish Middle Palestinian, Samaritan Aramaic language and Christian Palestinian.

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Samaritan Aramaic language is earliest attested by the documentary tradition of the Samaritans that can be dated back to the fourth century.

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Likewise, Middle East Jordanian Aramaic language continued as a minor dialect from Old East Jordanian Aramaic language.

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The language itself comes from Old Christian Palestinian Aramaic, but its writing conventions were based on early Middle Syriac, and it was heavily influenced by Greek.

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Each dialect of Aramaic language has its own distinctive pronunciation, and it would not be feasible here to go into all these properties.

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Aramaic language has a phonological palette of 25 to 40 distinct phonemes.

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Aramaic language classically uses a series of lightly contrasted plosives and fricatives:.

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Aramaic language employs a system of conjugations, or verbal stems, to mark intensive and extensive developments in the lexical meaning of verbs.

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Imperial Aramaic language tended to follow a S-O-V pattern, which was the result of Persian syntactic influence.

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