Language and dating

20-Jun-2017 04:02

However, the Aramaic languages are now considered endangered.The languages are used by the older generation, all beyond retirement age, and so could go extinct within a generation.Historically, Aramaic was the language of Aramean tribes, a Semitic people of the region around between the Levant and the northern Euphrates valley.By around 1000 BC, the Arameans had a string of kingdoms in what is now part of western Syria.However, Aramaic remains a spoken, literary, and liturgical language for local Christians and also some Jews.Aramaic also continues to be spoken by the Assyrians of Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and northwest Iran, with diaspora communities in Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and southern Russia.Neo-Aramaic languages are still spoken today as a first language by many communities of Syriac Christians, Jews, and Mandaeans of Western Asia, most numerously by Assyrians with numbers of fluent speakers among Assyrian people ranging from approximately 575,000 to 1,000,000, with the main languages being Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (235,000 speakers), Chaldean Neo-Aramaic (216,000 speakers) and Surayt/Turoyo (112,000 to 450,000 speakers), together with a number of smaller closely related languages with no more than 5,000 to 10,000 speakers between them.They have retained use of the once dominant lingua franca despite subsequent language shifts experienced throughout the Middle East.

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More specifically, it is part of the Northwest Semitic group, which also includes the Canaanite languages such as Hebrew and Phoenician.

One of those liturgical dialects is Mandaic, which besides being a living variant of Aramaic is also the liturgical language of Mandaeism.

Significantly more widespread is Syriac, the liturgical language of Syriac Christianity, in particular the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Pentecostal Church, Assyrian Evangelical Church, Ancient Church of the East, Syriac Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, Syriac was also the liturgical language of several now-extinct gnostic faiths, such as Manichaeism.

The Mandaeans also continue to use Mandaic Aramaic as a liturgical language, although most now speak Arabic as their first language.

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There are still also a small number of first-language speakers of Western Aramaic varieties in isolated villages in western Syria.

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