Assyrian / Neo-Assyrian is spoken by some 3 million people in parts of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria, and among the Assyrian diaspora mainly in the USA and Europe. Assyrian is also known as Assyrian Neo-Aramaic.
The Assyrian language and it's dialects are usually classified as belonging to the Aramaic branch of Semitic languages, which belong to the Afro-Asiatic language family. The better term for it would be "Ashuric" or "Ashuro-Mesopotamian", however scholars are still debating its proper classification. Assyrian prefer not to use the term Semitic as it is a religiously-based term which derives from the Greek form (Σημ - Sēm) of Shem, one of the sons of Noah in the Bible, and the Assyrians predate Shem by thousands of years, thus predating the term Semitic itself.
Assyrian / Neo-Assyrian is usually written in the madnhāyā version of the Syriac alphabet. Ways of writing the language with the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets were developed in the Soviet Union during the 1930s.
This chart shows the main letters used to write Assyrian / Neo-Assyrian with their names and pronunciation in the IPA, and their Latin transliteration.
Hear the Eastern Syriac script, with example words:
A video about how to write and pronounce the Esṭrangelā Syriac script:
Kulleh birnasheh ina biryeh kheereh U' damyaneh B' iqara U' zitqeh. Biryena B' parmeta U' hona, U' shart awi min oudaleh B' roukha D' akhunawoota.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Translation by Alen Barsin
Learn Assyrian (Syriac-Aramaic) online
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Page last modified: 23.04.21
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