Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

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Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby n8an » 2016-06-15, 5:06

Is anybody else learning Assyrian or other neo-Aramaic dialects? :D

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby księżycowy » 2016-06-15, 21:13

I will be shortly! :D

At the moment I have my hands full with other languages.
(An odd spot to put this thread, but I guess there is no better place, huh?)

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby n8an » 2016-06-16, 0:21

księżycowy wrote:I will be shortly! :D

At the moment I have my hands full with other languages.
(An odd spot to put this thread, but I guess there is no better place, huh?)


Woohoo! :D

Yup, super weird place, I know. But I couldn't find anywhere else for it :roll:

I've finally learned the basics of the Assyrian alphabet (Madhnehaya). I still can't read it properly unless I'm quite familiar with the words because some of the diacritics are confusing, but I've at least made some progress there. I really like it :D

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby n8an » 2016-10-21, 8:43

Just an update on this :D

I've been hanging out with way more Assyrians than ever before, and the results have been really great in terms of my skills in Eastern neo-Aramaic!

I also purchased a book which has helped greatly. Unfortunately, the book adheres to an ideological separatist movement which I strongly oppose. Nonetheless, it's a good book.

My Assyrian friends come from all over - some from Iran (Urmia), many from various regions of Iraq, and some from Turkey (some speaking Suryoyo).

I've really come to realise just how different the various dialects are. I had no idea about this before I started learning! I can definitely now hear a strong difference, and find it hilarious watching speakers from different places struggle to communicate. It's not as much of a difference as, say, Arabic dialects - but it does exist.

My three closest Assyrian friends speak the Urmia dialect, the dialect of Amadeya, and the so-called "Chaldean" (sigh, unfortunate terminology) dialect of Alqosh.

I've been focusing mostly on the so-called "Chaldean" dialect, whilst trying to always learn the equivalents in the so-called "Assyrian" dialects. They're not super different outside of some words, but their pronunciation differs more frequently. I haven't even considered Suryoyo, but I would like to learn it one day.

In my opinion, as someone who speaks Hebrew and has quite good knowledge of various Arabic dialects, the Eastern neo-Aramaic dialects are an interesting example of Semitic language. Some things I've noticed:

- These dialects are the only Semitic languages I've seen which differentiate between gender in first-person singular present tense verb conjugation ("kibin" vs. "kiban").
- The way that some dialects ("Chaldean" mostly) pronounce "ܚ" and "ܥ" makes it sound so Arabic compared to the other dialects.
- Most so-called "Chaldean" dialects seem to be way more influenced by Arabic. They use a lot of Arabic words (which they claim are taken originally from Aramaic). I've heard things like "Inshallah spy-wet". Quite interesting.
- The Urmia dialect is very influenced by Farsi in terms of pronunciation.
- The "Assyrian" dialects of Iraq sound quite similar to Modern Hebrew, in contrast to "Chaldean" dialects.
- ܬ݂ is sometimes not pronounced in a few Iranian/Iraqi dialects, and ܕ݂ is mostly only found in "Chaldean" dialects. This leads to the language/people being called, variously, "Suret", "Sureth", "Aturaye", "Athuraye", "Kaldaye", "Kaldhaye".
- I haven't studied Suryoyo in detail, but it sounds closer to Arabic than the Iraqi dialects in my opinion.
- Grammatically, Hebrew and Arabic are extremely close, but these languages differ. It's still obviously a "Semitic" grammar, but not like Hebrew and Arabic.
- Overall, I feel that these languages are all closer to Hebrew than they are to Arabic - especially in terms of vocabulary.


To finish up, here are some songs I've been listening to recently:

These are in an "Assyrian" Iraqi dialect
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Gwu40bQFfs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq5XZ9NcJqg

This is also an "Assyrian" Iraqi dialect, and filmed in Sydney or Melbourne
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weJvuSQ8rtg


These are in Iraqi Koine (I think), and one (the wedding one) is filmed here in Melbourne, and the other in Sydney
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFg8yqLPc-I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy2Bzh1awok

This is in a very "Chaldean" dialect, and sung by my friend's uncle :D. But you can really hear how much more Arabic this dialect sounds than the other Assyrian dialects! Even Juliana, who usually sings Assyrian, is singing a more "Chaldean" dialect here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZo1BzMOe7Q

And as a bonus: the legend Juliana Jendo (third song of hers I'm posting) singing in Suryoyo! None of my Assyrian friends can understand this, but I really like how it sounds.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvq3nIP2YF0

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby księżycowy » 2016-10-21, 11:19

Cool, great to hear you're still going at it. As I'm still refreshing my Hebrew, I haven't started any Neo-Aramaic (or Biblical Aramaic for that matter) yet, but I still hope to eventually.

I also purchased a book which has helped greatly. Unfortunately, the book adheres to an ideological separatist movement which I strongly oppose. Nonetheless, it's a good book.

What book is that? With the scarcity of resources, I'd be interested to know more about any book(s) that is helpful in learning any dialect.

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby n8an » 2016-10-21, 16:21

księżycowy wrote:Cool, great to hear you're still going at it. As I'm still refreshing my Hebrew, I haven't started any Neo-Aramaic (or Biblical Aramaic for that matter) yet, but I still hope to eventually.


So happy to hear that you're going well with Hebrew :D

What book is that? With the scarcity of resources, I'd be interested to know more about any book(s) that is helpful in learning any dialect.


It's a book called "Introductory Chaldean" or something.

Though "Chaldean neo-Aramaic" is the technical name of one of the dialects, and is thus linguistically an acceptable name, the entire "Chaldean" nationalist movement is incredibly divisive and harmful to the overall state of Assyrians. The name "Chaldean" was erroneously given to Assyrians who converted to Catholicism over time, beginning in the 16th century. The Chaldean nation existed hundreds of years ago in southern Iraq and then disappeared; all current "Chaldeans" are ethnic Assyrians from northern Iraq who formerly followed the Assyrian Church of the East. The Vatican choosing the name "Chaldean" for them came from not wanting to call it the "Assyrian Catholic Church" because the Church of the East already formerly calls itself "Catholic" as well. Saddam Hussein then heavily pressured Assyrians into identifying as "Arab Christians", banned their language/names/culture/etc and heavily emphasised the differences between Assyrians of different churches, making them seem like different ethnicities.

Therefore, when a book calls the language "Chaldean", talks of its speakers as "Chaldeans", and makes zero mention of Assyria or Assyrians, it's a separatist propaganda piece.

Unfortunately, the book is by far the best resource I've found for the language. I've in fact ordered the Grammar book, too. It's not the best language book ever, but it's not bad. It does teach the so-called "Chaldean" version of the language, which my friends love to point out - though it's a "pure" version, which doesn't use many Arabic words. It's also a seemingly obscure version of this dialect, as it uses words like "randa" for "good", when every single other person I've met who speaks any dialect of this language says "spy" for "good".

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby księżycowy » 2016-10-21, 16:24

I see. It was the book we were talking about before. I wasn't sure if you had found a new textbook or not.

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby n8an » 2016-10-21, 16:29

księżycowy wrote:I see. It was the book we were talking about before. I wasn't sure if you had found a new textbook or not.


Indeed. I've finished it now. I haven't really done most of the exercises or learned most of the words, but I've got what I can out of it for now. I really need the next book because all this vocab is useless without knowing proper grammar. It's being shipped now :)

I love how many words I instantly know because of Hebrew (and Arabic to a lesser extent). It's fantastic.

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby księżycowy » 2016-10-21, 17:17

Yeah, I have both textbooks now, the introductory text and the grammar. They both seem fantastic in terms of grammar and vocabulary. I can't wait toget into them. :D

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby n8an » 2016-10-21, 21:25

księżycowy wrote:Yeah, I have both textbooks now, the introductory text and the grammar. They both seem fantastic in terms of grammar and vocabulary. I can't wait toget into them. :D


Oh, wow! Didn't know you had them both :D

They are definitely not enough on their own, in my opinion. If you can find a native somewhere online or in person who knows how to read, you will do much better. Finding someone who can read and write this language is quite difficult because of the extreme Arabisation policies in Syria and Iraq, but they do exist.

I've experienced a number of difficulties so far. Some things are written twice in different ways, and some things are just wrong. It also doesn't explain how sentences work at all, so when it gives you full sentences to read in neo-Aramaic you just can't work out what it says or why it's written the way it is (direct/indirect object for one). It also definitely doesn't do a good enough job of describing pronunciation at all (they refer to letters as "guttural" that they shouldn't, for example). They should really transliterate everything all the way through in my opinion. But I guess that's to be expected in a language textbook, particularly one so inexpensive.

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby księżycowy » 2016-10-21, 21:52

Oh, don't get me wrong, no one textbook (or even two, as in this case) is enough in my opinion. But it's a (good?) start.

Nor is any textbook without its problems. :wink:

I guess I'm just happy that these textbooks do exist. Problems or not. :P

Anyway, I'm thankful for your insights into the textbook's strengths and weaknesses. It'll help me as I go through the text for sure.

Though admittedly it'll probably be a good little while before I start working on Neo-Aramaic. It'll probably be some time later next year at the earliest, I'm sorry to say.

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby n8an » 2016-10-21, 21:57

księżycowy wrote:Oh, don't get me wrong, no one textbook (or even two, as in this case) is enough in my opinion. But it's a (good?) start.

Nor is any textbook without its problems. :wink:

I guess I'm just happy that these textbooks do exist. Problems or not. :P

Anyway, I'm thankful for your insights into the textbook's strengths and weaknesses. It'll help me as I go through the text for sure.

Though admittedly it'll probably be a good little while before I start working on Neo-Aramaic. It'll probably be some time later next year at the earliest, I'm sorry to say.


That's cool. I'll be really happy just to know anybody else who's learning the language. I get all kinds of weird looks when I tell people I'm learning it, even from Assyrians! :P I also would love to have someone who knows the difficulties of learning this language. Natives of this language are often not educated in their language and have no idea how to explain things.

I do really enjoy this language and the culture associated with it. I've even been (kinda) dating an Assyrian, so that makes it even better :rotfl:

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby dawit20 » 2016-10-25, 12:50

n8an wrote:
księżycowy wrote:Oh, don't get me wrong, no one textbook (or even two, as in this case) is enough in my opinion. But it's a (good?) start.

Nor is any textbook without its problems. :wink:

I guess I'm just happy that these textbooks do exist. Problems or not. :P

Anyway, I'm thankful for your insights into the textbook's strengths and weaknesses. It'll help me as I go through the text for sure.

Though admittedly it'll probably be a good little while before I start working on Neo-Aramaic. It'll probably be some time later next year at the earliest, I'm sorry to say.


That's cool. I'll be really happy just to know anybody else who's learning the language. I get all kinds of weird looks when I tell people I'm learning it, even from Assyrians! :P I also would love to have someone who knows the difficulties of learning this language. Natives of this language are often not educated in their language and have no idea how to explain things.

I do really enjoy this language and the culture associated with it. I've even been (kinda) dating an Assyrian, so that makes it even better :rotfl:


I've made a post about it. I'm about to begin my journey learning a Syriac dialect. I just don't know whether to pick Suroyo (Western Syriac) or Assyrian/Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and which has more resources. If you know any good books for Assyrian and Chaldean, I'd love to know :).

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby księżycowy » 2016-10-25, 14:22

I kind of answered most of your questions (piggybacking off of Saim) in your other thread.

Assyrian is a different language from Aramaic, afaik.
Most of the resources for Neo-Aramaic that I know about have already been discussed in this thread.

EDIT: Whoops, I was thinking of Akkadian, not Assyrian. Assyrian is an ethnic and locational designation, as opposed to a linguistic one, afaik. It does get confusing with all of these terms. :lol:
That's why it's termed as "Assyrian Neo-Aramaic", etc. It can also be used as a substitute for Akkadian. It depends on the context.

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby n8an » 2016-10-25, 14:51

dawit20 wrote:I've made a post about it. I'm about to begin my journey learning a Syriac dialect. I just don't know whether to pick Suroyo (Western Syriac) or Assyrian/Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and which has more resources. If you know any good books for Assyrian and Chaldean, I'd love to know :).


Okay, all neo-Aramaic dialects are severely lacking in resources - mostly because all the governments of the countries their speakers live in either suppress or completely ban the language :cry:

I think there's definitely more for Assyrian (and Chaldean), which makes sense since there are many more speakers of those dialects. The books I'm using are called Introductory Chaldean and Chaldean Grammar (or something like that). They're okay, I guess...but you'll need a lot of extra help :D

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby n8an » 2016-10-25, 14:58

księżycowy wrote:I kind of answered most of your questions (piggybacking off of Saim) in your other thread.

Assyrian is a different language from Aramaic, afaik.
Most of the resources for Neo-Aramaic that I know about have already been discussed in this thread.

EDIT: Whoops, I was thinking of Akkadian, not Assyrian. Assyrian is an ethnic and locational designation, as opposed to a linguistic one, afaik. It does get confusing with all of these terms. :lol:
That's why it's termed as "Assyrian Neo-Aramaic", etc. It can also be used as a substitute for Akkadian. It depends on the context.


Yeah, the old Assyrian language is dead - when people say "Assyrian" now, they mean a dialect of eastern neo-Aramaic.

"Assyrians" are really an ethno-religious group for the most part, as the majority follow the three main churches (Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Ancient Church of the East). Followers of these churches originally followed the Assyrian Church of the East, before various schisms split them up. There are also a large number who follow the Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic churches, though those are more commonly followed by Indians and other non-Assyrians. An even smaller number follow churches like the Assyrian Protestant Church and the Assyrian Evangelical Church.

Unfortunately, separatists and enemies of the Assyrians have heavily invested in trying to divide Assyrians by their churches and playing out the differences between their followers as though they were different ethnic groups or nations. Saddam Hussein was very fond of this tactic, for example - heavily favouring the Chaldean Catholic Church and pressuring Assyrians to identify as "Arab Christians". That's why today you find some people calling their ethnicity "Chaldean" - when in fact the Chaldean empire disappeared centuries ago in southern Iraq, but all Chaldeans today are former followers of the ACOE from northern Iraq who were converted to Catholicism.

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby księżycowy » 2016-10-25, 15:00

Good, I was pretty close on then. :)

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby n8an » 2016-12-01, 6:01

księżycowy wrote:Good, I was pretty close on then. :)


You were!

How's it going? :D

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby księżycowy » 2016-12-01, 16:49

It's going. I'm just not sure where....

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Re: Assyrian neo-Aramaic (and other neo-Aramaic dialects)

Postby księżycowy » 2017-08-11, 0:28

Lookie what I found!
http://www.surayt.com
It's not complete yet, but it looks pretty complete up to an A2 level. And it seems they're going to be adding a B1 level too.

Looks pretty awesome to me so far! :D
I've poked around the website, and it looks like they intend to publish lessons up to a C2 level. And also print textbooks based on the online lessons. I would buy a textbook from this project in a heart beat. I only hope they accomplish all this!


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