What is the difference between the Syriac and Assyrian/Chaldean Neo Aramaic languages?

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dawit20
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What is the difference between the Syriac and Assyrian/Chaldean Neo Aramaic languages?

Postby dawit20 » 2016-10-23, 23:53

I want to start studying the Syriac language, which I also think is referred to as Classical Syriac (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syriac_language) but I'm not quite sure what the difference between this and the others is. It lists them as separate languages but the latter are apparently dialects of Syriac. I am very confused.

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Re: What is the difference between the Syriac and Assyrian/Chaldean Neo Aramaic languages?

Postby Saim » 2016-10-25, 7:10

Syriac is the liturgical language used in Syriac churches (for prayer, rituals, etc.). Followers of Syriac Christianity have different native languages depending on where they live: namely Arabic, various Neo-Aramaic varieties or Malayalam.

Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is one of the vernacular Aramic languages, spoken natively by Assyrians in Northern Iraq, whereas Chaldean Neo-Aramaic is spoken by Assyrians in northern Iraq and Iran. Turoyo is historically spoken in Turkey and northeastern Syria. These are all varieties of Eastern Neo-Aramaic spoken by ethnic Assyrians, whereas Western Neo-Aramaic are limited to a couple of villages in southwestern Syria.

If you want to study some form of Syriac/Aramaic you need to know what your purposes are before choosing which variety to learn. Is it for religious/theological study reasons or do you want to get to know modern Assyrian culture?

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Re: What is the difference between the Syriac and Assyrian/Chaldean Neo Aramaic languages?

Postby dawit20 » 2016-10-25, 12:32

Saim wrote:Syriac is the liturgical language used in Syriac churches (for prayer, rituals, etc.). Followers of Syriac Christianity have different native languages depending on where they live: namely Arabic, various Neo-Aramaic varieties or Malayalam.

Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is one of the vernacular Aramic languages, spoken natively by Assyrians in Northern Iraq, whereas Chaldean Neo-Aramaic is spoken by Assyrians in northern Iraq and Iran. Turoyo is historically spoken in Turkey and northeastern Syria. These are all varieties of Eastern Neo-Aramaic spoken by ethnic Assyrians, whereas Western Neo-Aramaic are limited to a couple of villages in southwestern Syria.

If you want to study some form of Syriac/Aramaic you need to know what your purposes are before choosing which variety to learn. Is it for religious/theological study reasons or do you want to get to know modern Assyrian culture?


I just developed an interest to learn the Syriac language. It can also be for the reasons you stated too (I do have that sort of interest).

Both Assyrian and Chaldean evolved from Classical Syriac right? (As Wikipedia states).

I just wanted to know which is the actually one people study when they say they are learning 'Aramaic' or 'Syriac' and which one there are more resources for. Assyrian and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic seem to have more speakers than Turoyo/Suryoyo, but Suryoyo has a news broadcast on YouTube and various other resources. So I don't know which one to actually learn.

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Re: What is the difference between the Syriac and Assyrian/Chaldean Neo Aramaic languages?

Postby księżycowy » 2016-10-25, 13:35

'Aramaic' also traces back to the Neo-Babylonain empire, and to Biblical texts such as the book of Daniel.

The terminology can be a bit confusing. But ultimately, do you want to learn to Speak a form of Syriac/Neo-Aramaic, or to read classical literature in it is the ultimate question.

If you want to learn to speak "Aramaic" or "Syriac", you're looking to learn a Neo-Aramaic dialect. But I suspect your interest is in the fact it is just a Semitic language. You're a native speaker of Amharic, right?

The biggest issue is in having resources to learn from. There is little for Neo-Aramaic. Syriac (as in the liturgical/classical language) has a few good books, and there are enough for Biblical Aramaic.

My suggestion at this point is see what your main reason(s) are for learning the language are, as Saim hinted at, and then go from there. It will help clear things up a bit. And if there isn't a major reason aside from curiosity (which is a valid reason), I recommend going with what have the most resources, which in my humble opinion would be either Biblical Aramaic, or Syriac.

And of course, don't be afraid to ask us more questions if you have any.

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Re: What is the difference between the Syriac and Assyrian/Chaldean Neo Aramaic languages?

Postby dawit20 » 2016-10-25, 18:19

księżycowy wrote:'Aramaic' also traces back to the Neo-Babylonain empire, and to Biblical texts such as the book of Daniel.

The terminology can be a bit confusing. But ultimately, do you want to learn to Speak a form of Syriac/Neo-Aramaic, or to read classical literature in it is the ultimate question.

If you want to learn to speak "Aramaic" or "Syriac", you're looking to learn a Neo-Aramaic dialect. But I suspect your interest is in the fact it is just a Semitic language. You're a native speaker of Amharic, right?

The biggest issue is in having resources to learn from. There is little for Neo-Aramaic. Syriac (as in the liturgical/classical language) has a few good books, and there are enough for Biblical Aramaic.

My suggestion at this point is see what your main reason(s) are for learning the language are, as Saim hinted at, and then go from there. It will help clear things up a bit. And if there isn't a major reason aside from curiosity (which is a valid reason), I recommend going with what have the most resources, which in my humble opinion would be either Biblical Aramaic, or Syriac.

And of course, don't be afraid to ask us more questions if you have any.


I would like to learn to speak a form of Syriac/Neo-Aramaic :). Which I guess I can choose out of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and Suryoyo. The latter has less resources so I'll leave that for now.

And thanks for the tips. I'm aware that classical Syriac has quite a lot of resources in-fact. I wouldn't mind learning Classical Syriac, but I'd love to know how similar it is with its descendants such as Chaldean and Assyrian Neo-Aramaic.
I'm confused as to which language this news channel for Syriac also speaks- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GukHoQ3VX_w

And yes I am a native speaker of Amharic with an interest in Semitic languages :)

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Re: What is the difference between the Syriac and Assyrian/Chaldean Neo Aramaic languages?

Postby linguoboy » 2016-10-25, 19:39

dawit20 wrote:IAnd thanks for the tips. I'm aware that classical Syriac has quite a lot of resources in-fact. I wouldn't mind learning Classical Syriac, but I'd love to know how similar it is with its descendants such as Chaldean and Assyrian Neo-Aramaic.
I'm confused as to which language this news channel for Syriac also speaks- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GukHoQ3VX_w

Looks to me like they use more than one neo-Aramaic variety, although the native community in Södertälje mainly speaks a form of Western Syriac.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: What is the difference between the Syriac and Assyrian/Chaldean Neo Aramaic languages?

Postby Poirot » 2016-11-10, 3:05

dawit20 wrote:
Saim wrote:I just wanted to know which is the actually one people study when they say they are learning 'Aramaic' or 'Syriac' and which one there are more resources for. Assyrian and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic seem to have more speakers than Turoyo/Suryoyo, but Suryoyo has a news broadcast on YouTube and various other resources. So I don't know which one to actually learn.

Like you, I want to learn this language. I have learned a lot of things about the various dialects and their peoples. For one thing, speakers of Chaldean don't know how to read or write in their language. The Arabs forbid it. So it's difficult to learn it by books and such. You need an actual native speaker. Here is a video of them teaching Chaldean:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar2BK2ihIRk

At 35:60 they start to explain things in English. Look at the youtube comments and you'll see a lot of interesting stuff. Chaldeans consider their language and culture distinct from Assyrians. However, Assyrians say Chaldeans are Assyrians. If you learn Chaldean, you'll be able to understand Neo-Aramaic and vice versa. According to Assyrians I've encountered, they've all said they can understand Chaldean perfectly without prior exposure. The only thing that confuses Assyrians is different words and accents. Assyrians are spread out all over the Middle East. So the dialects have Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and even Greek terms in their lexicon (as with many languages, they are picking up English words too).

So if you want to learn Chaldean, be advised that the language is only spoken orally. So learning it by reading it and writing it means you most likely have to learn it on your own. There are books on Chaldean:

Introductory Chaldean:
https://www.amazon.com/Introductory-Cha ... n+language

Chaldean Grammar:
https://www.amazon.com/Chaldean-Grammar ... n+language

Therefore, your best bet for learning Assyrian is the Neo-Aramaic variety. There are more speakers, more resources, and they can read and write their language better. Here is a phrasebook I bought. It's not a grammar guide. Just a phrasebook with some brief grammar info:

Modern Aramaic:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/07818 ... 6CB5TZ4B0Q

The youtube channel The Light From the East from the East has a lot of audio for how it sounds if you're not opposed to hearing Christian related topics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvKASladyj0

I bought the phrasebook, started learning a few words, then I watched some videos on that channel and I thought, "Wow. I can understand the odd word here and there. He said 'good' and he said 'thank you' there."

There's also this web forum with Assyrians on it. They discuss all things Assyrian, including their language:
http://www.assyrianvoice.net/forum/inde ... #msg894245

Need anymore just ask.

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Re: What is the difference between the Syriac and Assyrian/Chaldean Neo Aramaic languages?

Postby JuanC » 2017-11-26, 13:19

Shlama! I am looking for a NATIVE speaker of Assyrian Aramaic (from Northern Iraq - not Turoryo) for private lessons on Skype. Once/twice a week, willing to pay in advance for the lessons. If you are interested, please send me a private message or an email to veganissimo@gma....

:D Thank you!


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