Syrian language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Spoken in

Syria , Iran , Iraq , Lebanon , Turkey
Official status
Official language in No official language in any state
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


The Syriac language , as Syriakisch referred heard as Central and Eastern Aramaic language of the northwestern branch of the Semitic languages .

Syrian is not the current national language of Syria - it is Arabic - but the minority language of the Syrian Christians, who mainly live in eastern Turkey, northern Iraq and north-eastern Syria. However, many of these Christians had to emigrate due to persecution.

Syriac Aramaic is also the liturgical language of the various Syrian churches : Syriac Orthodox Church , Syrian Catholic Church , Syrian Maronite Church of Antioch , Chaldean Catholic Church , Assyrian Church of the East and Old Church of the East . The Melkite (loyal to Constantinople) churches in the Arab region were largely linguistically Arabized.


The term "Syriac" indicates the Aramaic languages . As a result, most speakers make no difference in self-designation. In Turkey the language is called Süryanice .

In terms of linguistics, however, the two terms are not always used identically, but rather “Syriac” denotes only one of the Eastern American languages.

Language history

The Lord's Prayer in Syriac (Syriac) in the Paternoster Church of Jerusalem


Today's Syriac is a continuation of Altaramaic and Imperial Aramaic , which has been called Syriac since Christianization .

Old Syriac

The Syro-Aramaic - actually (Old) Syriac, the term is used inconsistently - is considered the best-documented language of Aramaic and was the lingua franca in the entire Middle East for over a millennium . A special status as a written language ( kthobonoyo , "book language" from ܟܬܒ, "To write") has it to this day through the Peschitta , a translation of the Bible from the 2nd century AD. It was only the Greeks who first called Aramaic Syriac. This name was then adopted by the Christian Arameans who wanted to distinguish themselves from their pagan compatriots. Strictly linguistically, Syriac (classic Syriac or Middle Syriac) is subsumed under Middle Aramaic, more precisely East Central Aramaic.

The church language originating from Edessa is old Syriac and has been handed down in several forms. The different forms reflect the religious and confessional division during this time (West Syriac Jacobite and East Syriac Nestorian). With the spread of Islam , ancient Syriac, which had a literary heyday in late antiquity , has been pushed back ever since the 8th century. With the Mongol storm around 1250, people no longer speak of Old Syrian, but of New Syrian or simply Syrian.

Ancient Syriac was strongly influenced by the Greek language, this concerns v. a. vocabulary and sentence construction. In the Jacobite script, Greek letters are also used as vowel characters.


Christian Palestinian was an Aramaic dialect used by the Melkites between the 6th and 13th centuries and written in Estrangelo , the oldest form of the Syrian script. It is characterized by the heavy use of the consonants Alaph, Waw and Judh as vowels and heavy use of foreign Greek words. Due to the use of the Syriac script, this dialect was assigned to the Syrian language for a long time; it was also known as Palestinian-Syrian. However, recent research has shown that this dialect belongs to the West Aramaic group, while Syriac is an East Aramaic dialect.

New Syriac

New Syriac has also been pushed back further and further in the course of history, so that today only individual, relatively small linguistic islands remain in the original area of ​​distribution. The persecutions and genocide , especially during the First World War, led to a wave of emigration among the surviving speakers, which continues to this day, causing the language area to continue to shrink.


There are two different forms of Syriac. The dialects are divided into classic West and East Syriac and spoken Turoyo (originating from the West Syrian tradition) and Madenhoyo (originating from the East Syrian tradition, also known as Central Aramaic). West Syrian is mainly used as the liturgical language of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch , the Syriac Catholic , the Maronite Church and the Aramaic Free Church . East Syriac (Swadaya) is the liturgical language of the Assyrian Church of the East (see Assyrian-Neo-Aramaic Language ), the Old Apostolic Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church .


Aramaic languages ​​are spoken in Syria , Iran , Iraq , Lebanon, Turkey and also by immigrants from these countries in the USA , Latin America , Australia and Europe , mainly because of the genocidal persecution of Christians in the 19th and 20th centuries 20th century forced emigration .


Like today's Hebrew alphabet and the Arabic alphabet , the Syrian alphabet also emerged from the Aramaic script and is the carrier of its own extensive literature.

The Syrian alphabet consists of 22 letters. As in most of the other Semitic scripts, there are no separate letters for the vowels in the Syriac script either . But these are z. T. by the characters for the half vowels waw and jod or, if desired, by additional characters above or below the word. The alphabet showed certain differences depending on the denomination (Estrangelo, Serto or Jacobite script, Nestorian script).

Literary works

Syriac has an extensive literature of its own . Important authors of Syrian works include a. Aphrahat , Bardaisan , Ephraem the Syrian , Isaac of Nineveh , Sergios of Resaina , Jacob of Edessa , Theophilos of Edessa (whose works are only partially preserved), Michael Syrus and Gregorius Bar-Hebraeus .

The Syriac-Roman Law Book and the Sententiae Syriacae are known as legal works in Syriac .


  • Sebastian P. Brock: An introduction to Syriac studies . Gorgias Press, Piscataway 2006. (Bibliographical references etc. from one of the leading researchers in the field.)
  • Sebastian Brock: An Introduction to Syriac Studies (originally published in 1980, online here ; PDF; 133 kB).
  • Anton Baumstark: History of Syrian literature with the exclusion of Christian-Palestinian texts . Markus + Weber, Bonn 1922. Unchanged. photomechan. Reprint: de Gruyter, Berlin 1968.
  • R. Macuch: History of late and New Syrian literature . W. de Gruyter, Berlin 1976; to be used with SP Brock, Rez. Macuch. In: Journal of Semitic Studies 23 (1978) 129-138.

Textbooks of Ancient Syriac

Textbook of New Syriac

  • Otto Jastrow: Phonology and forms of the neo-Aramaic dialect of Mīdin in Ṭūr ʿAbdīn . Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 1985.
  • Otto Jastrow: Textbook of the Ṭuroyo language . Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 1992. ISBN 3-447-03213-8 .
  • Rudolf Macuch, Estiphan Panoussi: New Syrian Chrestomathie . Wiesbaden 1974. ISBN 3-447-01531-4
  • Michael Waltisberg: Syntax of the Ṭuroyo (= Semitica Viva 55). Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 2016. ISBN 978-3-447-10731-0


Web links

Commons : Syriac  - Collection of images, videos, and audio files
Commons : Theodor Nöldeke: Brief Syrian Grammar , 1st edition  - collection of images, videos and audio files