Syriac language

Syriac (/ˈsɪriæk/; ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ Leššānā Suryāyā), also known as Syrian/Syriac Aramaic, Syro-Aramaic or Classical Syriac,[4][5][6] is a dialect of Middle Aramaic of the Northwest Semitic languages of the Afroasiatic family that is written in the Syriac alphabet, a derivation of the Aramaic alphabet. Having first appeared in the early first century CE in Edessa,[7] classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from the 4th to the 8th centuries,[8] preserved in a large body of Syriac literature. Indeed, Syriac literature comprises roughly 90% of the extant Aramaic literature.[9] Syriac was once spoken across much of the Near East as well as Anatolia and Eastern Arabia.[1][2][10]

The Old Aramaic language was adopted by the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–609 BC) when the Assyrians conquered the various Syro-Hittite states to its west. The Achaemenid Empire (546-332 BC), which rose after the fall of the Assyrian Empire, also retained Old Aramaic as its official language, and Old Aramaic remained the lingua franca of the region. During the course of the third and fourth centuries AD, the inhabitants of the region began to embrace Christianity. Because of theological differences, Syriac-speaking Christians bifurcated during the 5th century into the Church of the East, or East Syrians under Sasanian rule, and the Syriac Orthodox, or West Syrians under the Byzantine empire.[11][12] After this separation, the two groups developed distinct dialects differing primarily in the pronunciation and written symbolisation of vowels.[13] The modern, and vastly spoken, Syriac varieties today include Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and Turoyo, among others, which, in turn, have their own subdialects as well.[14][15]

Along with Latin and Greek, Syriac became one of "the three most important Christian languages in the early centuries" of the Common Era.[16] From the 1st century AD, Syriac became the vehicle of Syriac Christianity and culture, and the liturgical language of the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Maronite Church, and the Church of the East, along with its descendants: the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church,[17] the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, and the Assyrian Pentecostal Church.

Syriac Christianity and language spread throughout Asia as far as the Indian Malabar Coast[17] and Eastern China,[18] and was the medium of communication and cultural dissemination for the later Arabs and, to a lesser extent, the Parthian Empire and Sasanian Empire. Primarily a Christian medium of expression, Syriac had a fundamental cultural and literary influence on the development of Arabic,[19] which largely replaced it towards the 14th century.[3] Syriac remains the sacred language of Syriac Christianity to this day.

Syriac
ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐLeššānā Suryāyā
Syriac - Estrangelo Nisibin Calligraphy
Leššānā Suryāyā in written Syriac (Esṭrangelā script)
Pronunciationlɛʃʃɑːnɑː surjɑːjɑː
RegionUpper Mesopotamia, Eastern Arabia[1][2]
Era1st century AD; Dramatically declined as a vernacular language after the 14th century; Developed into Northeastern Neo-Aramaic and Central Neo-Aramaic languages after the 12th century.[3]
Syriac abjad
Language codes
ISO 639-2syc Classical Syriac
ISO 639-3syc Classical Syriac
Glottologclas1252[4]

Geographic distribution

Syriac Christianity
Although once a major language in the Fertile Crescent and Eastern Arabia, Syriac is now limited to the towns and villages in the Nineveh plains, Tur Abdin, the Khabur plains, in and around the cities of Mosul, Erbil and Kirkuk.
Syriac Sertâ book script
An 11th-century Syriac manuscript.

Syriac was the local accent of Aramaic in Edessa, and evolved under the influence of the Church of the East and the Syriac Orthodox Church into its current form. Before Arabic became the dominant language, Syriac was a major language among Christian communities in the Middle East, Central Asia and Kerala,[17] and remains so among the Syriac Christians to this day. It has been found as far afield as Hadrian's Wall in Great Britain, with inscriptions written by Assyrian and Aramean soldiers of the Roman Empire.[20]

History

Eesho Aramaic name of Jesus
Eešoˁ, the Syriac pronunciation of the Hebrew and Aramaic name of Jesus, Yeshuʿ (ישוע)

The history of Syriac can be divided into three distinct periods:

The name "Syriac", when used with no qualification, generally refers to one specific dialect of Middle Aramaic but not to Old Aramaic or to the various present-day Eastern and Central Neo-Aramaic languages descended from it or from close relatives. The modern varieties are, therefore, not discussed in this article.

Origins

In 132 BC, the kingdom of Osroene was founded in Edessa and Proto-Syriac evolved in that kingdom. Many Syriac-speakers still look to Edessa as the cradle of their language.[22] There are about eighty extant early Syriac inscriptions, dated to the first three centuries AD (the earliest example of Syriac, rather than Imperial Aramaic, is in an inscription dated to AD 6, and the earliest parchment is a deed of sale dated to AD 243). All of these early examples of the language are non-Christian. As an official language, Syriac was given a relatively coherent form, style and grammar that is lacking in other Old Eastern Aramaic dialects. The Syriac language split into a western variety used by the Syriac Orthodox Churches in upper Mesopotamia and western Syria, and an eastern dialect used in the Sasanian Empire controlled east used by the Church of the East.[23]

Literary Syriac

6thBeatitude
The sixth beatitude (Matthew 5:8) from an East Syriac Peshitta.
ܛܘܼܒܲܝܗܘܿܢ ܠܐܲܝܠܹܝܢ ܕܲܕ݂ܟܹܝܢ ܒܠܸܒ̇ܗܘܿܢ܄ ܕܗܸܢ݂ܘܿܢ ܢܸܚܙܘܿܢ ܠܐܲܠܵܗܵܐ܂
Ṭūḇayhōn l-ʾaylên da-ḏḵên b-lebbhōn, d-hennōn neḥzōn l-ʾălāhā.
'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.'

In the 3rd century, churches in Edessa began to use Syriac as the language of worship. There is evidence that the adoption of Syriac, the language of the Assyrian people, was to effect mission. Much literary effort was put into the production of an authoritative translation of the Bible into Syriac, the Peshitta (ܦܫܝܛܬܐ Pšīṭtā). At the same time, Ephrem the Syrian was producing the most treasured collection of poetry and theology in the Syriac language.

In 489, many Syriac-speaking Christians living in the eastern reaches of the Roman Empire fled to the Sasanian Empire to escape persecution and growing animosity with Greek-speaking Christians. The Christological differences with the Church of the East led to the bitter Nestorian Schism in the Syriac-speaking world. As a result, Syriac developed distinctive western and eastern varieties. Although remaining a single language with a high level of comprehension between the varieties, the two employ distinctive variations in pronunciation and writing system, and, to a lesser degree, in vocabulary.

Western Syriac is the official language of the West Syriac Rite, practised by the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Maronite Catholic Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the Malabar Independent Syrian Church, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

Eastern Syriac is the liturgical language of the East Syriac Rite, practised in modern times by the ethnic Assyrian followers of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Assyrian Pentecostal Church, the Ancient Church of the East, the Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church, as well as the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India.

Syriac literature is by far the most prodigious of the various Aramaic languages. Its corpus covers poetry, prose, theology, liturgy, hymnody, history, philosophy, science, medicine and natural history. Much of this wealth remains unavailable in critical editions or modern translation.

From the 7th century onwards, Syriac gradually gave way to Arabic as the spoken language of much of the region, excepting northern Iraq. The Mongol invasions and conquests of the 13th century, and the religiously motivated massacres of Syriac Christians by Timur further contributed to the rapid decline of the language. In many places outside of Upper Mesopotamia, even in liturgy, it was replaced by Arabic.

Current status

Tabelayeke bi suryanî Dêra Zehferanê 2008
A warning sign in Mardin, Turkey: šeṯqā, b-ḇāʿū (ܫܬܩܐ ܒܒܥܘ, 'Silence, please') in Syriac and Lütfen! Sessiz olalım! ('Please! Let's be quiet!') in Turkish.

Revivals of literary Syriac in recent times have led to some success with the creation of newspapers in written Syriac (ܟܬܒܢܝܐ Kṯāḇānāyā) similar to the use of Modern Standard Arabic has been employed since the early decades of the 20th century. Modern literary Syriac has also been used not only in religious literature but also in secular genres often with Assyrian nationalistic themes.[24]

Syriac is spoken as the liturgical language of the Syriac Orthodox Church, as well as by some of its adherents.[25] Syriac has been recognised as an official minority language in Iraq.[26] It is also taught in some public schools in Iraq, the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, Israel, Sweden,[27][28] Augsburg (Germany) and Kerala (India).

In 2014, an Assyrian nursery school could finally be opened in Yeşilköy, Istanbul[29] after waging a lawsuit against the Ministry of National Education which had denied it permission, but was required to respect non-Muslim minority rights as specified in the Treaty of Lausanne.[30]

In August 2016, the Ourhi Centre was founded by the Assyrian community in the city of Qamishli, to educate teachers in order to make Syriac an additional language to be taught in public schools in the Jazira Region of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria,[31] which then started with the 2016/17 academic year.[32]

Grammar

Many Syriac words, like those in other Semitic languages, are built out of triconsonantal roots, collations of three Syriac consonants with variable vowel (and some consonant) sets as a "glue". For example, the root ܫܩܠ, ŠQL, has the basic meaning of taking, and the following are some words that can be formed from this root:

  • ܫܩܠšqal: "he has taken"
  • ܢܫܩܘܠnešqol: "he will take, he was taking, he does take"
  • ܫܩܘܠšqol: "take!"
  • ܫܩܠšāqel: "he takes, he is taking"
  • ܫܩܠšaqqel: "he has lifted/raised"
  • ܐܫܩܠʾašqel: "he has set out"
  • ܫܩܠܐšqālā: "a taking, burden, recension, portion or syllable"
  • ܫܩ̈ܠܐšeqlē: "takings, profits, taxes"
  • ܫܩܠܘܬܐšaqluṯā: "a beast of burden"
  • ܫܘܩܠܐšuqqālā: "arrogance"

Nouns

Most Syriac nouns are built from triliteral roots. Nouns carry grammatical gender (masculine or feminine), they can be either singular or plural in number (a very few can be dual) and can exist in one of three grammatical states. These states should not be confused with grammatical cases in other languages.

  • The absolute state is the basic form of the noun – ܫܩ̈ܠܝܢ, šeqlin, "taxes".
  • The emphatic state usually represents a definite noun – ܫܩ̈ܠܐ, šeqlē, "the taxes".
  • The construct state marks a noun in relationship to another noun – ܫܩ̈ܠܝ, šeqlay, "taxes of...".

However, very quickly in the development of Classical Syriac, the emphatic state became the ordinary form of the noun, and the absolute and construct states were relegated to certain stock phrases (for example, ܒܪ ܐܢܫܐ/ܒܪܢܫܐ, bar nāšā, "man, person", literally "son of man").

In Old and early Classical Syriac, most genitive noun relationships are built using the construct state, but contrary to the genitive case, it is the head-noun which is marked by the construct state. Thus, ܫܩ̈ܠܝ ܡܠܟܘܬܐ, šeqlay malkuṯā, means "the taxes of the kingdom". Quickly, the construct relationship was abandoned and replaced by the use of the relative particle ܕ, d-, da-. Thus, the same noun phrase becomes ܫܩ̈ܠܐ ܕܡܠܟܘܬܐ, šeqlē d-malkuṯā, where both nouns are in the emphatic state. Very closely related nouns can be drawn into a closer grammatical relationship by the addition of a pronominal suffix. Thus, the phrase can be written as ܫܩ̈ܠܝܗ ܕܡܠܟܘܬܐ, šeqlêh d-malkuṯā. In this case, both nouns continue to be in the emphatic state, but the first has the suffix that makes it literally read "her taxes" ("kingdom" is feminine), and thus is "her taxes, [those] of the kingdom".

Adjectives always agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify. Adjectives are in the absolute state if they are predicative, but agree with the state of their noun if attributive. Thus, ܒܝܫܝ̈ܢ ܫܩ̈ܠܐ, bišin šeqlē, means "the taxes are evil", whereas ܫܩ̈ܠܐ ܒܝ̈ܫܐ, šeqlē ḇišē, means "evil taxes".

Verbs

Most Syriac verbs are built on triliteral roots as well. Finite verbs carry person, gender (except in the first person) and number, as well as tense and conjugation. The non-finite verb forms are the infinitive and the active and passive participles.

Syriac has only two true morphological tenses: perfect and imperfect. Whereas these tenses were originally aspectual in Aramaic, they have become a truly temporal past and future tenses respectively. The present tense is usually marked with the participle followed by the subject pronoun. However, such pronouns are usually omitted in the case of the third person. This use of the participle to mark the present tense is the most common of a number of compound tenses that can be used to express varying senses of tense and aspect.

Syriac also employs derived verb stems such as are present in other Semitic languages. These are regular modifications of the verb's root to express other changes in meaning. The first stem is the ground state, or Pəʿal (this name models the shape of the root) form of the verb, which carries the usual meaning of the word. The next is the intensive stem, or Paʿʿel, form of the verb, which usually carries an intensified meaning. The third is the extensive stem, or ʾAp̄ʿel, form of the verb, which is often causative in meaning. Each of these stems has its parallel passive conjugation: the ʾEṯpəʿel, ʾEṯpaʿʿal and ʾEttap̄ʿal respectively. To these six cardinal stems are added a few irregular stems, like the Šap̄ʿel and ʾEštap̄ʿal, which generally have an extensive meaning.

Phonology

Phonologically, like the other Northwest Semitic languages, Syriac has 22 consonants. The consonantal phonemes are:

transliteration ʾ b g d h w z y k l m n s ʿ p q r š t
letter ܐ ܒ ܓ ܕ ܗ ܘ ܙ ܚ ܛ ܝ ܟ ܠ ܡ ܢ ܣ ܥ ܦ ܨ ܩ ܪ ܫ ܬ
pronunciation [ʔ] [b], [v] [g], [ɣ] [d], [ð] [h] [w] [z] [ħ] [] [j] [k], [x] [l] [m] [n] [s] [ʕ] [p], [f] [] [q] [r] [ʃ] [t], [θ]

Phonetically, there is some variation in the pronunciation of Syriac in its various forms. The various Modern Eastern Aramaic vernaculars have quite different pronunciations, and these sometimes influence how the classical language is pronounced, for example, in public prayer. Classical Syriac has two major streams of pronunciation: western and eastern.

Consonants

Syriac shares with Aramaic a set of lightly-contrasted stop/fricative pairs. In different variations of a certain lexical root, a root consonant might exist in stop form in one variation and fricative form in another. In the Syriac alphabet, a single letter is used for each pair. Sometimes a dot is placed above the letter (quššāyā "strengthening"; equivalent to a dagesh in Hebrew) to mark that the stop pronunciation is required, and a dot is placed below the letter (rukkāḵā "softening") to mark that the fricative pronunciation is required. The pairs are:

  • Voiced labial pair – /b/ and /v/
  • Voiced velar pair – /ɡ/ and /ɣ/
  • Voiced dental pair – /d/ and /ð/
  • Voiceless labial pair – /p/ and /f/
  • Voiceless velar pair – /k/ and /x/
  • Voiceless dental pair – /t/ and /θ/

As with other Semitic languages, Syriac has a set of five emphatic consonants. These are consonants that are articulated or released in the pharynx or slightly higher. The set consists of:

Syriac also has a rich array of sibilants:

Table of Syriac consonants
Bilabial Labio-
dental
Dental Alveolar Post-
alveolar
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyn-
geal
Glottal
plain emphatic
Nasal m n
Stop p b t d k ɡ q ʔ
Fricative f v θ ð s z ʃ x ɣ ħ ʕ h
Approximant w l j
Trill r

Vowels

As with most Semitic languages, the vowels of Syriac are mostly subordinated to consonants. Especially in the presence of an emphatic consonant, vowels tend to become mid-centralised.

Classical Syriac had the following set of distinguishable vowels:

In the western dialect, /ɑ/ has become /o/, and the original /o/ has merged with /u/. In eastern dialects there is more fluidity in the pronunciation of front vowels, with some speakers distinguishing five qualities of such vowels, and others only distinguishing three. Vowel length is generally not important: close vowels tend to be longer than open vowels.

The open vowels form diphthongs with the approximants /j/ and /w/. In almost all dialects, the full sets of possible diphthongs collapses into two or three actual pronunciations:

  • /ɑj/ usually becomes /aj/, but the western dialect has /oj/
  • /aj/, further, sometimes monophthongized to /e/
  • /aw/ usually becomes /ɑw/
  • /ɑw/, further, sometimes monophthongized to /o/

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Holes, Clive (2001). Dialect, Culture, and Society in Eastern Arabia: Glossary. pp. XXIV–XXVI. ISBN 978-9004107632.
  2. ^ a b Cameron, Averil (1993). The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity. p. 185. ISBN 9781134980819.
  3. ^ a b Angold 2006, pp. 391
  4. ^ a b Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Classical Syriac". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: syc". ISO 639-2 Registration Authority - Library of Congress. Retrieved 2017-07-03. Name: Classical Syriac
  6. ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: syc". ISO 639-3 Registration Authority - SIL International. Retrieved 2017-07-03. Name: Classical Syriac
  7. ^ Cameron, Averil; Garnsey, Peter (1998). The Cambridge Ancient History. 13. p. 708. ISBN 9780521302005.
  8. ^ Beyer, Klaus (1986). The Aramaic Language: its distribution and subdivisions. John F. Healey (trans.). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht. p. 44. ISBN 978-3-525-53573-8.
  9. ^ Tannous, Jack (2010). Syria Between Byzantium and Islam (phd). Princeton University. p. 1.
  10. ^ Smart, J R (2013). Tradition and Modernity in Arabic Language and Literature. p. 253. ISBN 9781136788123.
  11. ^ Beyer, Klaus; John F. Healey (trans.) (1986). The Aramaic Language: its distribution and subdivisions. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht. p. 44. ISBN 3-525-53573-2.
  12. ^ Bae, C. Aramaic as a Lingua Franca During the Persian Empire (538-333 BCE). Journal of Universal Language. March 2004, 1-20.
  13. ^ Maclean, Arthur John (1895). Grammar of the dialects of vernacular Syriac: as spoken by the Eastern Syrians of Kurdistan, north-west Persia, and the Plain of Mosul: with notices of the vernacular of the Jews of Azerbaijan and of Zakhu near Mosul. Cambridge University Press, London.
  14. ^ Avenery, Iddo, The Aramaic Dialect of the Jews of Zakho. The Israel academy of Science and Humanities 1988.
  15. ^ Heinrichs, Wolfhart (ed.) (1990). Studies in Neo-Aramaic. Scholars Press: Atlanta, Georgia. ISBN 1-55540-430-8.
  16. ^ Wilken, Robert Louis (2012-11-27). The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-300-11884-1.
  17. ^ a b c "City Youth Learn Dying Language, Preserve It". The New Indian Express. May 9, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  18. ^ Ji, Jingyi (2007). Encounters Between Chinese Culture and Christianity: A Hermeneutical Perspective. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 41. ISBN 978-3-8258-0709-2.
  19. ^ Beeston, Alfred Felix Landon (1983). Arabic literature to the end of the Umayyad period. Cambridge University Press. p. 497. ISBN 978-0-521-24015-4.
  20. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (13 October 2009). "When Syrians, Algerians and Iraqis patrolled Hadrian's Wall". The Guardian.
  21. ^ a b Lipiński, Edward Lipiński (2001). Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar. Peeters Publishers. p. 70. ISBN 978-90-429-0815-4.
  22. ^ Drijvers, H. J. W. (1980). Cults and beliefs at Edessa. Brill Archive. p. 1. ISBN 978-90-04-06050-0.
  23. ^ Stefan Weninger (2011). The Semitic Languages: An International Handbook. p. 652. ISBN 9783110251586.
  24. ^ Kiraz, George. "Kthobonoyo Syriac: Some Observations and Remarks". Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies. Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute and Institute of Christian Oriental Research at The Catholic University of America. Archived from the original on 30 November 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  25. ^ Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World. Elsevier. 6 April 2010. pp. 58–. ISBN 978-0-08-087775-4.
  26. ^ Anbori, Abbas. "The Comprehensive Policy to Manage the Ethnic Languages in Iraq" (PDF): 4–5.
  27. ^ Dorit, Shilo (1 April 2010). "The Ben Yehudas of Aramaic". Haaretz. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  28. ^ "Syriac... a language struggling to survive". Voices of Iraq. 28 December 2007. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  29. ^ Assyrian School Welcomes Students in Istanbul, Marking a New Beginning
  30. ^ Turkey Denies Request to Open Assyrian-Language Kindergarten Archived 2014-11-04 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Syriac Christians revive ancient language despite war". ARA News. 2016-08-19. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  32. ^ "Hassakeh: Syriac Language to Be Taught in PYD-controlled Schools". The Syrian Observer. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-05.

References

  • Journal of Sacred Literature, New Series [Series 4] vol. 2 (1863) pp. 75–87, The Syriac Language and Literature
  • Beyer, Klaus (1986). The Aramaic language: its distribution and subdivisions. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht. ISBN 3-525-53573-2.
  • Brock, Sebastian (2006). An Introduction to Syriac Studies. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press. ISBN 1-59333-349-8.
  • Brockelmann, Carl (1895). Lexicon Syriacum. Berlin: Reuther & Reichard; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
  • Ciancaglini, Claudia A. (2006). "SYRIAC LANGUAGE i. IRANIAN LOANWORDS IN SYRIAC". Encyclopaedia Iranica.
  • Healey, John F (1980). First studies in Syriac. University of Birmingham/Sheffield Academic Press. ISBN 0-7044-0390-0.
  • Maclean, Arthur John (2003). Grammar of the dialects of vernacular Syriac: as spoken by the Eastern Syrians of Kurdistan, north-west Persia, and the Plain of Mosul: with notices of the vernacular of the Jews of Azerbaijan and of Zakhu near Mosul. Gorgias Press. ISBN 1-59333-018-9.
  • Nöldeke, Theodor and Julius Euting (1880) Kurzgefasste syrische Grammatik. Leipzig: T.O. Weigel. [translated to English as Compendious Syriac Grammar, by James A. Crichton. London: Williams & Norgate 1904. 2003 edition: ISBN 1-57506-050-7].
  • Angold, Michael (2006), O’Mahony, Anthony (ed.), Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 5, Eastern Christianity, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521811132.
  • Payne Smith, Jessie (Ed.) (1903). A compendious Syriac dictionary founded upon the Thesaurus Syriacus of Robert Payne Smith. Oxford University Press, reprinted in 1998 by Eisenbrauns. ISBN 1-57506-032-9.
  • Robinson, Theodore Henry (1915). Paradigms and exercises in Syriac grammar. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926129-6.
  • Rudder, Joshua. Learn to Write Aramaic: A Step-by-Step Approach to the Historical & Modern Scripts. n.p.: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011. 220 pp. ISBN 978-1461021421 Includes the Estrangela (pp. 59–113), Madnhaya (pp. 191–206), and the Western Serto (pp. 173–190) scripts.
  • Syriac traditional pronunciation

External links

Aleph

Aleph (or alef or alif) is the first letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician 'Ālep 𐤀, Hebrew 'Ālef א, Aramaic Ālap 𐡀, Syriac ʾĀlap̄ ܐ, and Arabic Alif ا. It also appears as South Arabian 𐩱, and Ge'ez ʾÄlef አ.

These letters are believed to have derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph depicting an ox's head. The Phoenician variant gave rise to the Greek Alpha (Α), being re-interpreted to express not the glottal consonant but the accompanying vowel, and hence the Latin A and Cyrillic А.

In phonetics, aleph originally represented the onset of a vowel at the glottis. In Semitic languages, this functions as a weak consonant allowing roots with only two true consonants to be conjugated in the manner of a standard three consonant Semitic root. In most Hebrew dialects as well as Syriac, the glottal onset represented by Aleph is an absence of a true consonant although a glottal stop ([ʔ]), which is a true consonant, typically occurs as an allophone. In Arabic, the Alif has the glottal stop pronunciation when occurring initially. In text with diacritical marks, the pronunciation as a glottal stop is usually indicated by a special marking, hamza in Arabic and mappiq in Tiberian Hebrew. (Although once thought to be the original pronunciation of Aleph in all cases where it behaves as a consonant, a consistent glottal stop appears to have been absent in ancient Semitic languages such as Akkadian and Ugaritic besides being absent in Syriac and Hebrew.) Occasionally, the Aleph was also used to indicate an initial unstressed vowel before certain consonant clusters, without functioning as a consonant itself, the prosthetic (or prothetic) aleph. In later Semitic languages, Aleph could sometimes function as a mater lectionis indicating the presence of a vowel elsewhere (usually long). The period at which use as a mater lectionis began is the subject of some controversy, though it had become well established by the late stage of Old Aramaic (ca. 200 BCE). Aleph is often transliterated as U+02BE ʾ , based on the Greek spiritus lenis ʼ, for example, in the transliteration of the letter name itself, ʾāleph.

Bet (letter)

Bet, Beth, Beh, or Vet is the second letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Bēt , Hebrew Bēt ב, Aramaic Bēth , Syriac Bēṯ ܒ, and Arabic Bāʾ ب Its sound value is a voiced bilabial stop ⟨b⟩ or a voiced labiodental fricative ⟨v⟩.

This letter's name means "house" in various Semitic languages (Arabic bayt, Akkadian bītu, bētu, Hebrew: bayiṯ, Phoenician bt etc.; ultimately all from Proto-Semitic *bayt-), and appears to derive from an Egyptian hieroglyph of a house by acrophony.

The Phoenician letter gave rise to, among others, the Greek Beta, Latin B, and Cyrillic Б, В.

Dalet

Dalet (dāleth, also spelled Daleth or Daled) is the fourth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Dālet , Hebrew 'Dālet ד, Aramaic Dālath , Syriac Dālaṯ ܕ, and Arabic Dāl د (in abjadi order; 8th in modern order). Its sound value is a voiced alveolar plosive ([d]).

The letter is based on a glyph of the Middle Bronze Age alphabets, probably called dalt "door" (door in Modern Hebrew is delet), ultimately based on a hieroglyph depicting a door, The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek delta (Δ), Latin D, and the Cyrillic letter Д.

Dohuk Governorate

Dohuk Governorate (Kurdish: پارێزگای دھۆک‎, Syriac: ܗܘܦܲܪܟܝܵܐ ܕܕܸܗܘܟ‎ , Arabic: محافظة دهوك‎ Muḥāfaẓat Dahūk) is a governorate in Iraqi Kurdistan. Its capital is the city of Dohuk. It includes Zakho, the city that meets Ibrahim Khalil border between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. It borders the Al-Hasakah Governorate of Syria.Prior to 1976 it was part of Nineveh Governorate, which was called Mosul Governorate. Dohuk Governorate is mainly inhabited by Kurds and Assyrians, with a small number of Yazidis and Armenians. The estimated population in 2017 was 1,011,585.

Erbil Governorate

Erbil Governorate (Kurdish: Parêzgeha Hewlêr - پارێزگای ھەولێر‎, Syriac: ܗܘܦܲܪܟܝܵܐ ܕܐܲܪܒܝܠ‎, Arabic: محافظة أربيل‎ Muḥāfaẓat Arbīl), sometimes referred to by the alternative spelling Arbil Governorate, is a governorate in Iraqi Kurdistan.

. It derives its name from the city of Erbil (Kurdish: Hewler), which is its capital.

Erbil Governorate covers an area of 15,074 km2 in the north of Iraq, with a population of 2,113,391 (2017) people. It is largely populated by Kurds but has minority populations of Turkmens, Arabs and Assyrians.

Gimel

Gimel is the third letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Gīml , Hebrew ˈGimel ג, Aramaic Gāmal , Syriac Gāmal ܓ, and Arabic ǧīm ج (in alphabetical order; fifth in spelling order). Its sound-value in the original Phoenician and in all derived alphabets, save Arabic, is a voiced velar plosive [ɡ]; in Modern Standard Arabic, it represents either a /d͡ʒ/ or /ʒ/ for most Arabic speakers except in Lower Egypt, the southern parts of Yemen and some parts of Oman where it is pronounced as a voiced velar plosive [ɡ], see below and also Persian Gaf گ.

In its unattested, yet hypothetical, Proto-Canaanite form, the letter may have been named after a weapon that was either a staff sling or a throwing stick, ultimately deriving from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph based on the hieroglyph below:

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek gamma (Γ), the Latin C and G, and the Cyrillic Г and Ґ.

Koy Sanjaq Syriac language

Koy Sanjaq Surat (Arabic: سورث كوي سنجق) is a modern Eastern Syriac-Aramaic language. Speakers of the language call it simply Surat, or 'Syriac'. It is spoken in the town of Koy Sanjaq in the Erbil Governorate. The speakers of Koy Sanjaq Surat have traditionally been Assyrians and thus the language has generally been considered a dialect of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic. The Madnhâyâ version of the Syriac alphabet is used in writing, but most written material is in the Syriac language used in worship.

Leah

Leah is described in the Hebrew Bible as the daughter of Laban. She and her younger sister Rachel became the two concurrent wives of Hebrew patriarch Jacob. She had six sons, whose descendants became some of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. She also had a daughter, Dinah.

Mardin Province

Mardin Province (Classical Syriac: ܡܪܕܐ‎, Turkish: Mardin ili, Kurdish: Parêzgeha Mêrdînê‎, Arabic: ماردين,), is a province of Turkey with a population of 809,719 in 2017. The population was 835,173 in 2000. The capital of the Mardin Province is Mardin (Classical Syriac: ܡܶܪܕܺܝܢ‎ "Mardin" in related Semitic language Arabic: ماردين, Mardīn). Located near the traditional boundary of Anatolia and Mesopotamia, it has a diverse population, composed of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian people, with Kurds forming the majority of the province's population.

Mor (honorific)

Mor (vernacular pronunciation) or Mar (from Classical Syriac: ܡܪܝ‎ Mār(y), written with a silent final yodh) is a title of respect in Syriac, literally meaning 'my lord'. It is given to all saints and is also used before Christian name of bishops. The corresponding feminine form given to women saints is Mart or Mort (Syriac: ܡܪܬܝ‎, Mārt(y)). The title is placed before the Christian name, as in Mar Aprem/Mor Afrem (Ephrem the Syrian) and Mart/Mort Maryam (Mary, mother of Jesus).

The variant Maran or Moran (Syriac: ܡܪܢ‎, Māran), meaning "Our Lord", is a particular title given to Jesus, either alone or in combination with other names and titles. Likewise, Martan or Mortan (Syriac: ܡܪܬܢ‎, Mārtan, "Our Lady") is a title of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Occasionally, the term Maran or Moran has been used of various Eastern Christian patriarchs and catholicoi. The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, the Malankara Orthodox Catholicos use the title Moran Mor. Sometimes the Indian bearers of this title are called Moran Mar, using a hybrid style from both Syriac dialects that reflects somewhat the history of Syrian Christians in Kerala. The Pope of Rome is referred to as Mar Papa by the Saint Thomas Christians of India.

The obscure variant Marya or Moryo (Syriac: ܡܪܝܐ‎, Māryā) is used in the Peshitta Old Testament to render the Tetragrammaton. Although this word is clearly a derived form of the above, there is a fanciful derivation found in early Syriac lexica, that the word is an initialism as follows:

ܡ — ܡܪܘܬܐ, māruṯā, 'lordship'

ܪ — ܪܒܘܬܐ, rabbuṯā, 'majesty'

ܝ ܐ — ܐܝܬܝܐ, iṯyā, 'self-existence'In Mishnaic Hebrew through to date this Aramaic word is pronounced [mar] (Hebrew: מָר‎), and it is used as a formal way of addressing or referring to a male person. In the Gemara, Tabyomi is sometimes referred to as Mar. "Mar" was also the title of the Exilarch (leader of the Jewish diaspora community in Babylon), with the Aramaic-speaking Jews sharing many cultural attributes with the Syriac Christians. In the Modern Hebrew of contemporary Israel, "Mar" is used without distinction for any male person, like "Mr." in English. However, in Rabbanical circles of Jews from the Middle East, the Aramaic variant form מָרָן (Maran, Aramaic: our lord) is still a title to used for highly appreciated Rabbis, such as Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party.

Mosul District

Mosul District (Arabic: الموصل‎, Syriac: ܢܝܢܘܐ‎, Kurdish: Mûsil‎) is a district in Ninawa Governorate, Iraq. Its administrative center is the city of Mosul. Other settlements include Al-Qayyarah, Al-Shurah, Hamam al-Alil, Al-Mahlaah, and Hamidat. The district is predominantly Sunni Arab, with minorities of Kurds, Assyrians, and Turkmen located in Mosul city.

Movement for a Democratic Society

The Movement for a Democratic Society (Kurdish: Tevgera Civaka Demokratîk‎, TEV-DEM, Arabic: حركة المجتمع الديمقراطي‎, Classical Syriac: ܙܘܥܐ ܕܟܢܫܐ ܕܝܡܩܪܐܛܝܐ‎, translit. Zaw'o d'Kensho Demoqraṭoyo) is the ruling coalition of the Syrian Democratic Council, the legislature of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. The leading party in the coalition is the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Nineveh plains

Nineveh Plains (Classical Syriac: ܦܩܥܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܐ‎, translit. Pqaʿtā ḏ-Nīnwē, Modern Syriac: ܕܫܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܐ‎, translit. Daštā d-Ninwe; Arabic: سهل نينوى‎, translit. Sahl Naynawā; Kurdish: Deşta Neynewa‎) is a region in Iraq's Nineveh Governorate to the north and east of the city Mosul, from which it is also known as the Plain of Mosul. It was formerly known as the Plain of Sanjar or Sinjar from its major medieval settlement. It was the location of al-Khwārizmī's determination of a degree during the reign of the caliph al-Mamun.

Part of the Assyrian homeland, the area also includes the ruins of the ancient Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Nimrud, and Dur-Sharrukin as well as numerous ancient religious sites such as Mar Mattai Monastery, Rabban Hormizd Monastery, the Tomb of Nahum, and the Yezidi Lalish.

Paschal greeting

The Paschal Greeting, also known as the Easter Acclamation, is an Easter custom among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, and Anglican Christians. It is also found among some Christians from liturgical Protestant denominations, such as certain Lutherans. In place of "hello" or its equivalent, one is to greet another person with "Christ is Risen!" or "The Lord is Risen!", and the response is "Truly, He is Risen," "Indeed, He is Risen," or "He is Risen Indeed" (compare Matthew 27:64, Matthew 28:6–7, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6, Luke 24:34).In some cultures, such as in Russia and Serbia, it is also customary to exchange a triple kiss of peace on the alternating cheeks after the greeting.

Similar responses are also used in the liturgies of other Christian churches, but not so much as general greetings.

Semitic root

The roots of verbs and most nouns in the Semitic languages are characterized as a sequence of consonants or "radicals" (hence the term consonantal root). Such abstract consonantal roots are used in the formation of actual words by adding the vowels and non-root consonants (or "transfixes") which go with a particular morphological category around the root consonants, in an appropriate way, generally following specific patterns. It is a peculiarity of Semitic linguistics that a large majority of these consonantal roots are triliterals (although there are a number of quadriliterals, and in some languages also biliterals).

Syriac Christianity

Syriac Christianity (Syriac: ܡܫܝܚܝܘܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ‎ / Mšiḥāyuṯā Suryāyṯā) is the form of Eastern Christianity whose formative theological writings and traditional liturgy are expressed in the Syriac language.The Syriac language is a variety of Middle Aramaic that in an early form emerged in Edessa, Upper Mesopotamia in the first century AD. It is closely related to the Jewish Palestinian Aramaic spoken by Jesus. This relationship added to its prestige for Christians. The form of the language in use in Edessa predominated Christian writings and was accepted as the standard form, "a convenient vehicle for the spread of Christianity wherever there was a substrate of spoken Aramaic". The area where Syriac or Aramaic was spoken, an area of contact and conflict between the Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire, extended from around Antioch in the west to Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the Sasanian capital, in the east and comprised the whole or parts of present-day Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

Syriac literature

Syriac literature is the literature written in Classical Syriac, the literary and liturgical language in Syriac Christianity.

Early Syriac texts still date to the 2nd century, notably the Syriac Bible and the Diatesseron Gospel harmony. The bulk of Syriac literary production dates to between the 4th and 8th centuries.

Syriac literacy survives into the 9th century, but Syriac Christian authors in this period increasingly write in Arabic.

The emergence of spoken Neo-Aramaic is conventionally dated to the 13th century, but there are a number of authors that continue to produce literary works in Syriac in the later medieval period,

and literary Syriac (ܟܬܒܢܝܐ Kṯāḇānāyā) continues to be in use among members of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

Tikrit

Tikrit (Arabic: تكريت‎ Tikrīt [ˈtɪkriːt], Classical Syriac: ܬܓܪܝܬ‎ Tagriṯ) sometimes transliterated as Takrit or Tekrit, is a city in Iraq, located 140 kilometres (87 mi) northwest of Baghdad and 220 kilometres (140 mi) southeast of Mosul on the Tigris River. It is the administrative center of the Saladin Governorate. As of 2012, it had a population of 160,000.In recent years the city has been the site of conflict cumulating in the Second Battle of Tikrit from March through April 2015, resulting in the displacement of 28,000 civilians. The Iraqi government regained control of the city from the Islamic State on March 31, 2015. But the city was recaptured at the end of 2015 and now is in peace.

West Syriac, legacy of
the Patriarchate of Antioch
East Syriac, legacy of
the Church of the East
(the "Nestorian Church")
(5th century1552)
Saint Thomas Christians,
legacy of
the Malankara Church
(1st century–1601)
in India
Key figures
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Identity
Syriac
Christianity
Aramaic/Syriac
languages
Syriac script
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