Modern Western Aramaic

Authored by: Steven E. Fassberg

The Semitic Languages

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415731959
eBook ISBN: 9780429025563
Adobe ISBN:


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Modern Western Aramaic developed from the preceding phase of Aramaic, Late Western Aramaic (200–700 ce), which is known from the surviving literary dialects of Jewish Palestinian, Christian Palestinian and Samaritan Aramaic (see Chapter 24). The study of Modern Western Aramaic began in 1863 with the publication by Julius Ferrette of transcribed words and texts from the village of Maʕlula, which is located 56 kilometers to the northeast of Damascus. Transcriptions of texts from the two closely related dialects of the nearby villages of Baxʕa and Jubbʕadin were published by Jean Parisot in 1902 (Map 24.1). Before the current civil war in Syria, Maʕlula was the largest of the Modern Western Aramaic-speaking villages (5,000 inhabitants during the summer – it is a resort), followed by Jubbʕadin (2000) and Baxʕa (1000–1500). Today Maʕlula is primarily Christian; the two other villages have become entirely Muslim over the past centuries.

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