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Language Information

Syriac grew out of Aramaic, the dominant language in the Near East from about the 4th century B.C. through the 6th century A.D. Syriac developed around the city of Edessa (now Urfa, in southeastern Turkey), the leading center of Christianity after about 200 A.D. It eventually became the most important of the Aramaic dialects and, after Greek, the most important language in the eastern Roman Empire. Syriac (or Aramaic) continued to be spoken until the rise of Islam, when it quickly gave way to the dominant influence of Arabic. By the 8th century the language remained in use mainly for liturgical purposes.

In modern usage the term Syriac generally refers to the liturgical language of the Maronite Catholic Church, the Syrian Catholic Church, the Syrian Jacobite Church(NOTE: The PC term (used by the World Council of Churches) is the Syrian Orthodox Church. The term Jacobite was used historically in an opproprious manner), the Nestorian (or sometimes Assyrian) Church (NOTE: The Church of the East - or sometimes Assyrian Church of the East), and a number of others. The term Aramaic refers to the language as it is still spoken in small communities in Syria (in and around the village of Malula, north of Damascus) and in Turkey (near the town of Mardin, east of Urfa). Another dialect of Aramaic, generally referred to as Assyrian, is spoken by about 150,000 people in north-eastern Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and the Russia.

Aramaic was originally written in the Hebrew alphabet (NOTE: We are told from another source that the opposite is true). The first Syriac alphabet developed from a later form of Aramaic used at Palmyra in Syria. This gradually evolved into the script known as Estrangelo, which was used almost exclusively until the 5th century. At that time the Eastern Church split into a number of factions, with each producing a modified version of its own. Three scripts are in use today: Estrangelo, Jacobite (or Serto), and Nestorian (NOTE: West Syriac -or Serto, and East Syriac). The text below is in Nestorian (NOTE: We are told it is Serto).

Please check: for additional information on Syriac. Notes correcting the above were provided by George Kiraz, Ph.D., The Syriac Computing Institute,

Syriac is spoken/used in the following countries:
Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Russia, Syria, Turkey.

Language Family
Family: Afro-Asiastic (Hamito-Semitic)

Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

Writing Sample

Writing Sample


The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Who shall ascend unto the mountain of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not liffed up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek thy face, 0 Jacob.
Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye ever-lasting doors; that the King of glory may enter.
Who then is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates; yea, lift them up, ye ever-lasting doors; that the King of glory may enter.
Who then is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the king of glory.

—Twenty-fourth Psalm

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