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One of the semitic languages, Aramaic was an international language of the Near East from the 7th Century BC and was the ruling language of the Great Persian Empire from the 6th to the 4th Centuries. Syriac, a later form of Aramaic, was the principal language of the bordeland between Romanian and Parthian empires.Both Aramaci and Syriac have been important languages of a religion. Tenuously, Aramaic still survives as a living language today.
The earliest Aramaic is written in cuneiform script, but quickly switched to Phoenician letters. From the Phoenician eventually came both the Square letters (used today for Hebrew and Jewish languages) and the Round letters (Estrangelo) used for Syriac and most other Aramaic dialects.
It remained in a very widespread use in the Greek and other Kingdoms that supplanted Persia, but it gradually split into dialects usually grouped into 'West Aramaic' and 'East Aramaic'.
Jewish Palestinian Aramaic is the best know representative of 'West Aramaic'. ' East Aramaic' includes Syriac, and also Mandaena and Babylonian Aramaic.
Modern dialects of Aramaic are still spoken by small minorities in Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria.The majority of speakers, it is said, are in emigre communities of Armenia and Georgia.
Aramaic is spoken/used in the following countries:
Family: Afro-Asiatic (Hamito-Semitic)
Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.