Aramaic

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Aramaic

(ârəmā`ĭk), language belonging to the West Semitic subdivision of the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages (see Afroasiatic languagesAfroasiatic languages
, formerly Hamito-Semitic languages
, family of languages spoken by more than 250 million people in N Africa; much of the Sahara; parts of E, central, and W Africa; and W Asia (especially the Arabian peninsula, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and
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). At some point during the second millenium B.C., the Aramaeans abandoned their desert existence and settled in Syria, bringing their language, Aramaic, with them. By the beginning of the 7th cent. B.C., Aramaic had spread throughout the Fertile Crescent as a lingua franca. Still later the Persians made Aramaic one of the official languages of their empire.

After the Jews were defeated by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., they began to speak Aramaic instead of Hebrew, although they retained Hebrew as the sacred language of their religion. Although Aramaic was displaced officially in the Middle East by Greek after the coming of Alexander the Great, it held its own under Greek domination and subsequent Roman rule. Aramaic was also the language of Jesus. Following the rise of Islam in the 7th cent. A.D., however, Aramaic began to yield to Arabic, by which eventually it was virtually replaced.

In the course of its long history the Aramaic language broke up into a number of dialects, one of the most important of which was SyriacSyriac
, late dialect of Aramaic, which is a West Semitic language (see Afroasiatic languages). The early Christians of Mesopotamia and Syria gave the Greek name Syriac to the Aramaic dialect they spoke when the term Aramaic
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. Parts of the books of Ezra and Daniel in the Bible were written in an Aramaic dialect, as were some notable Jewish prayers, such as the kaddish. Other important documents in Aramaic include portions of the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds and the Targum OnkelosOnkelos
, 2d cent. A.D., translator of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, his work later being given the title Targum Onkelos (see Targum). A proselyte, he gained the respect of the leading Hebrew scholars of his day.
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, a commentary on the Pentateuch. Nabataean (the form of Aramaic current among the Nabataean Arabs), Samaritan, and Palmyrene were other significant ancient dialects of Aramaic. Modern forms of the language (including Syriac) are still spoken today, though not by more than a few hundred thousand people scattered in the Near and Middle East.

Grammatically, Aramaic is very close to HebrewHebrew language,
member of the Canaanite group of the West Semitic subdivision of the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages (see Afroasiatic languages).
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. The Aramaic alphabet is a North Semitic script that is first attested in the 9th cent. B.C. After c.500 B.C. its use became widespread in the Middle East. Descended from the Aramaic alphabet are the Square Hebrew alphabet, which is the ancestor of modern Hebrew writing; the Nabataean, Palmyrene, and Syriac scripts; and the Arabic alphabet, among others. It is believed that the alphabetic writing systems of India and Southeast Asia also have the Aramaic script as their source.

Bibliography

See F. Rosenthal, ed., An Aramaic Handbook (4 vol., 1967).

Aramaic

 

one of the Semitic languages.

The most ancient Aramaean settlements were in Syria and Mesopotamia; from there the Aramaic language spread throughout the Near East. The oldest Aramaic literary remains (from Samal, Damascus, Hamath, and other places) date from the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. During the period of the Assyrian and Persian empires, from the seventh to the fourth centuries B.C., Aramaic became the official language of these states and was the international language of the Near and Middle East. An archive of Aramaic documents from Elephantine (in Egypt) dates from the fifth century B.C. Aramaic was gradually replacing Hebrew, and there are sections of the Bible written in Aramaic (part of Ezra, fifth to fourth centuries B.C.; part of Daniel, second century B.C.) and one of the books of the Talmud (the so-called Gemara, from the second to the fifth centuries A.D.); other biblical texts were translated into Aramaic. The Palmyrenes and the Nabataeans also used Aramaic, as seen by inscriptions of the first and second centuries A.D. The Aramaic dialect of Edessa was the basis of the Syriac language; a rich Christian literature was created from the third to 14th centuries in Syriac. The religious books of the Mandaeans were written in the third through eighth centuries A.D. in Mandaic, an Aramaic dialect. Modern Aramaic dialects are divided into three groups: West (Malula), Central (Turayo), and East Aramaic (Assyrian or Neo-Syriac).

Characteristic elements of Aramaic are a shift of the proto-Semitic interdental consonants to stops, the emphatic status of nouns (status emphaticus), the use of reflexive forms for the passive voice, and the development of analytical constructions (especially in the modern dialects).

REFERENCES

Vinnikov, I. N. “Slovar’ arameiskikh nadpisei.” Palestinskii sbornik, 1958, no. 3; 1959, no. 4; 1962, no. 7; 1964, no. 11; 1965, no. 13.
Tsereteli, G. V. Armazskaia bilingva. Tbilisi, 1941.
Tsereteli, K.G. Materialy po arameiskoidialektologii, vol. 1.Tbilisi, 1965.
Garbini, G. L’aramaico antico. Rome, 1956.
Altheim, F., and R. Stiehl. Die aramaäsche Sprache unter den Achaimeniden, vol. 1. Frankfurt am Main, 1963.
Rosenthal, F. A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic, 2nd ed. Wiesbaden, 1963.
Nöldeke, T. Kurzgefasste syrische Grammatik. Darmstadt, 1966.
Macuch, R. Handbook of Classical and Modern Mandaic. Berlin, 1965.
Spitaler, A. Grammatik des neuaramäischen Dialekts von Ma’lüla (Antilibanon). Leipzig, 1938.
Ritter, H., and A. Turoyo. Texte, vol. 1. Beirut, 1967.
Rosenthal, F., ed. An Aramaic Handbook [vols. 1–4]. Wiesbaden. 1967.

K. G. TSERETELI

Aramaic

an ancient language of the Middle East, still spoken in parts of Syria and the Lebanon, belonging to the NW Semitic subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic family. Originally the speech of Aram, in the 5th century bc it spread to become the lingua franca of the Persian empire
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I wouldn't say Aramaic is a dead language now, but it is in a precarious situation,'' said Yona Sabar, professor of Hebrew and Aramaic languages at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In realization of the dream of Ma'lula inhabitants and that of their ancestors of keeping their language from extinction, a center for teaching the Aramaic language and the Syriac dialect was opened to be the first of its kind in the world.
Frederick Greenspahn's An Introduction to Aramaic is designed to present students with an orderly, graded introduction to the language, Moreover, it is intended to present a window to the importance and diversity of the Aramaic language.
Fales began by noting that "in the wake of new epigraphic discoveries or of systematic reeditions, the Nineties have brought with them a number of new studies on the various facets of the Aramaic language during the 1st millennium B.
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This volume will serve for scholars interested in the Aramaic language, but historians will need to refer to earlier compilations.
7] As noted, Luzzatto (and others after him) observed different forms and dialects of the Aramaic language used in documents, quotations, or proverbs.
This is a grammar of the Aramaic language as attested by texts dating from the Achaemenid and Hellenistic periods.
The study is divided into three major parts: the development of the Aramaic language, the corpus of Pentateuchal Targumim, the available primary and secondary sources.
All of the finite tenses of the neo-Eastern Aramaic languages, except Mandaic in one case, are based on historical participles.
Using 150 actors, 46 horses, five falcons, two vultures, two eagles and 120 doves, the show is in the Latin and Aramaic languages of the time, with narration over the top.
He also completed two years of advanced studies in Hebrew and Aramaic languages and Islamic studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.