Sunday, August 26, 2012

King Ashoka's bilingual inscription from Afghanistan

During the  reign of the Indian king Ashoka the Maurya Empire was vast.It stretched from Afghanistan and Pakistan ,covering almost all the Indian subcontinent and up to Bangladesh.

One of his edicts was a bilingual inscription in Greek and Aramaic carved in stone,dated 3rd century B.C.The inscription was discovered at Kandahar and is now lying in the National Museum of Afghanistan.



Greek text
    δέκα ἐτῶν πληρη[....]ων βασι[λ]εὺς
    Πιοδασσης εὐσέβεια[ν ἔδ]ε[ι]ξεν τοῖς ἀν- 
    θρώποις, καὶ ἀπὸ τούτου εὐσεβεστέρους 
    τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐποίησεν καὶ πάντα 
    εὐθηνεῖ κατὰ πᾶσαν γῆν• καὶ ἀπέχεται 
    βασιλεὺς τῶν ἐμψύχων καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ δὲ 
    εἲ τινες ἀκρατεῖς πέπαυνται τῆς ἀκρα- 
    σίας κατὰ δύναμιν, καὶ ἐνήκοοι πατρὶ 
    καὶ μητρὶ καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων παρὰ 
    τὰ πρότερον καὶ τοῦ λοιποῦ λῶιον 
    καὶ ἄμεινον κατὰ πάντα ταῦτα 
    ποιοῦντες διάξουσιν.
Aramaic text
שנן 10 פתיתו עביד זי מראן פרידארש מלכא קשיטא מהקשט
מן אדין זעיר מרעא לכלהם אנשן וכלהם אדושיא הובד
ובכל ארקא ראם שתי ואף זי זנה כמאכלא למראן מלכא זעיר
קטלן זנה למחזה כלהם אנשן אתהחסינן אזי נוניא אחדן
אלך אנשן פתיזבת כנם זי פרבסת הוין אלך אתהחסינן מן
פרבסתי והופתיסתי לאמוהי ולאבוהי ולמזישתיא אנסן
איך אסרהי חלקותא ולא איתי דינא לכלהם אנשיא חסין
זנה הותיר לכלהם אנשן ואוסף יהותר
Latin transcription
SHNN 10 PTITW EBID ZI MRAN PRIDARSH MLKA QSHIJA MHQSHJ
MN ADIN ZEIR MREA LKLHM ANSHN WKLHM ADWSHIA HWBD
WBKL ARQA RAM SHTI WAP ZI ZNH KMAKLA LMRAN MLKA ZEIR
QJLN ZNH LMXZH KLHM ANSHN ATHXSINN AZI NWNIA AXDN
ALK ANSHN PTIZBT KNM ZI PRBST HWIN ALK ATHXSINN MN
PRBSTI WHWPTISTI LAMWHI WLABWHI WLMZISHTIA ANSN
AIK ASRHI XLQWTA WLA AITI DINA LKLHM ANSHIA XSIN
ZNH HWTIR LKLHM ANSHN WAWSP IHWTR

English text
    Ten years (of reign) having been completed, King
    Piodasses (Ashoka) made known (the doctrine of)
    Piety (εὐσέβεια, Eusebeia) to men; and from this moment he has made
    men more pious, and everything thrives throughout
    the whole world. And the king abstains from (killing)
    living beings, and other men and those who (are)
    huntsmen and fishermen of the king have desisted
    from hunting. And if some (were) intemperate, they
    have ceased from their intemperance as was in their
    power; and obedient to their father and mother and to
    the elders, in opposition to the past also in the future,
    by so acting on every occasion, they will live better
    and more happily." (Trans. by G.P. Carratelli)
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Which Aramaic should I learn?

One important thing you should know about Aramaic is that it was not uniform.It went through many different phases and developed into numerous dialects which were written in various versions of the Aramaic script.

Some parts of the Bible were written in Aramaic-the books of Daniel and Ezra.The material there, is limited which means that it will take you less time to study it.Thus Biblical Aramaic is good start for you,but you will need to learn the Aramaic square script (Hebrew) to read it.

On the other hand Classical Syriac Aramaic has a vast body of texts of all kinds written in it.Actually it is the third largest corpus,after Greek and Latin ,which survived from late antiquity.Syriac is written is the Syriac script ,the earliest version of it being the Estrangelo.The other two are Madnkhaya and Serto.

In my opinion the Estrangelo is a very beautiful script and if you also like it,then Syriac is a good place to start your Aramaic.

You can even combine Classical Syriac with one of the Neo-Aramaic dialects like Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (the most popular in terms of speakers),many of which descended from it or were influenced by it.Neo-Aramaic is a number of contemporary languages and if you are lucky enough you may even come across a native speaker of it.The live mainly in Aramaic-speaking enclaves in the Middle East and in many western countries.

Now,if you want to study what Jesus spoke then Galilean Aramaic is the dialect for you.

Knowledge of  Hebrew,or Arabic,or any other Semitic language would be a great help,since they share a large common vocabulary and characteristics,being in the same language family.

So,it is up to you to decide which Aramaic to learn.If you are still in confusion where to start ,don't worry.Keep reading this blog and it will come to you later where to focus on.

Good luck with your studies!


You can start here.
What is Aramaic?
the Aramaic script
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Matres lectionis-mothers of letters in Aramaic

The Phoenician script was mainly a consonantal script marking only consonants and because of that many ambiguities arised.In a few cases consonant letters were used both for consonants and vowels to help clarify what is being written.Its descendant the Aramaic script used them widely.These letters are called matres lectionis and despite the wide use of this system it never developed into a full-fledged alphabetic script like Greek.

The phrase matres lectionis comes from Latin and it means  'mothers of letters'.These letters indicate mostly long vowels.In Biblical Aramaic mainly four letters functioned as such while in Syriac three.



 
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What's popcorn in Aramaic?


Its alleged anti-semitism isn't the only problem with Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. There's also the small matter of it being in Aramaic. To help enrich your enjoyment, here is a handy glossary of useful terms.

The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ... Mel Gibson's film has become a media punch bag

B-kheeruut re'yaaneyh laa kaaley tsuuraathaa khteepaathaa, ellaa Zaynaa Mqatlaanaa Trayaanaa laytaw!
It may be uncompromising in its liberal use of graphic violence, but Lethal Weapon II it ain't.

Da'ek teleyfoon methta'naanaak, pquud. Guudaapaw!
Please turn off your mobile phone. It is blasphemous.

Shbuuq shuukhaaraa deel. Man ethnaggad udamshaa?
Sorry I'm late. Have I missed any scourging?

Aykaa beyt tadkeetha? Zaadeq lee d-asheeg eeday men perdey devshaanaayey haaleyn!
Where is the loo? I need to wash my hands of this popcorn.

Een, Yuudaayaa naa, ellaa b-haw yawmaa laa hweeth ba-mdeetaa.
Yes, I'm Jewish, but I wasn't there that day.

Demketh! Udamaa lemath mtaynan b-tash'eetha d-khashey?
I fell asleep! What station of the cross are we up to?

Ma'hed lee qalleel d-Khayey d-Breeyaan, ellaa dlaa gukhkaa.
It sort of reminds me of Life of Brian, but it's nowhere near as funny.

Ktaabaa taab hwaa meneyh.
It's not as good as the book.

Puuee men Preeshey, puuee!
Boo, Pharisees! Boo!

Etheeth l-khubeh 'almeenaayaa d-Maaran Yeshu Msheekhaa, ella faasheth metool Moneeqaa Belluushee!
I came for the everlasting love of our Lord Jesus Christ, but I stayed for Monica Bellucci.

Aamar naa laak dlaa yaada' naa haw gavraa. B-aynaa feelmaa hwaa?
I tell you I do not know the man. What's he been in?

Feelmaa haanaa tpeelaw! Proo' lee ksef dmaa!
This film is terrible. I want my blood-money back.

D-tetbuun deyn men yameen u-men semaal, la hwaat deel l-metal, ellaa l-ayleyn da-mtaybaa.
To sit at my right or my left is not for me to grant; it is for those to whom it has already been assigned.

Saabar naa da-mhaymen beh, ellaa la haymneth b-haw meemsaa d-beh.
I suppose I believe in Him, but I didn't believe him in it.

Saggee shapeer! Laa tsaabey naa d-esakkey l-mapaqtaa trayaanaaytaa.
Brilliant! I can't wait for the sequel (second coming).

Eeth lee 'ayney, ellaa layt lee d-ekhzey la-kteebaataa takhtaayaataa. Neqruuv leh?
I have eyes but I cannot see the subtitles. Can we sit closer?

Ayleyn enuun Oorqey?
Which ones are the Orcs?

Laa, haw Shem'uun Qooreenaayaa eethaw! Ezdar!
No, that's Simon of Cyrene! Pay attention!

Waay! Haw 'aalmeenaayaa hwaa!
Well, that was eternal.

Lebba deel daaleq, ellaa teezaa deel daamek.
My heart is on fire, but my bum is asleep.

Enaa mqatreg naa l-Ruumaayey.
I blame the Romans.

Tev attuun men qdaamaa!
Down in front!

B-zabnaa d-qeenduunos, tayyeb lkuun uurkhaa d-mapaqtaa.
In case of emergency, prepare ye the way of the exit.

Laa baakey naa-eeth gelaa b-'ayna deel.
I'm not crying; I've just got a mote in my eye.

Spreet mets'aayaa deelaak huu. [Or, if addressed to a woman, Spreet mets'aayaa deelek huu!]
Thine is the medium Sprite.

Peletaa kuullaah da-Qraabay Kawkbey.
It's all an allegory of Star Wars.

Shluukh kleelaa d-kuubayk, pquud. Laa meshkakh naa d-ekhzey l-ketaan tsuur- aathaa.
Could you take off your crown of thorns, please? I can't see the screen.

Baseem, ellaa saabar naa d-etstebeeth yateer b-Lebeh d-Gabaaraa!
Not bad, but I think I preferred Braveheart.

source
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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nouns in Aramaic


I have started studing Aramaic grammar and this is what I have learned so far.If you have knowledge of Aramaic grammar feel free to comment.

Nouns in Aramaic decline according to gender,state and number.They come in
  • two genders (masculine and feminine)
  • two numbers (singular and plural)
  • three states (absolute,construct and emphatic)
 There are no case endings  but there is evidence that they did exist in very early Aramaic.


Aramaic noun states



absolute state-most common and basic form.
E.g. nūn (fish),ketab (book),malk (king)

construct state-it mainly indicates possesion like genitive.

Only difference is that the possessed changes in form not the possesor-The fish (possessed) of the queen (possessor).It often has the same form as the absolute

Masculine often same as absolute .E.g.bar (son of)-Bar elaha is the Son of God.
Feminine takes a suffix.(t).E.g.malkat (queen of)
empthatic state-In early Aramaic it functioned like a definite article (the fish).
E.g. nūnā -the fish(very early Aramaic) ,fish (Imperial Aramaic and henceforth)
ketaba-the book
malka-the king
tura-the mountain

Aramaic gender


example of a masculine noun declension

tur-mountain

state
singular

plural

absolute
tur
mountain
tureen
mountains
construct
tur
mountain of
turey
mountains of
emphatic
tura
the mountain
turayyâ
the mountains
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Monday, August 6, 2012

Days of the week in Aramaic


Days of the week in Targumic Aramaic

In the table below are the days of the week in Targumic Aramaic.In other dialects there might be some minor differences in the pronounciation.

Day in Targumic Aramaic is yom (יום ) ,the same as in Hebrew and Arabic  (يوم).Note that Saturday in Targumic Aramaic literally means the holy day (holiday)-shvat kudsha,shvat meaning holy.Week is shavya yomin.


Sunday
yom had
יוםא חד
Monday
yom tinian
יום תנן
Tuesday
yom tlitai
יום תליתאי
Wednesday
yom revivai
יום רביעאי
Thursday
yom hamishai
יום הםישאי
Friday
yom shtitai
יום שתיתאי
Saturday
shvat kudsha
שבה כדשא


Days of the Week in Syriac Aramaic


The word for day in Syriac is yum instead of Targumic yom.The names of the days are formed by simply saying day one (Sunday),day two (Monday),day three and so on.

Sunday
yum habshabo


Monday
yum tren


Tuesday
yum tloto


Wednesday
yum arbobshabo


Thursday
yum hamshobshabo


Friday
yum rubto


Saturday
yum shabto


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Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Aramaic Script

Aramaic was written in a consonantal script mostly lacking vowels with a direction from right to left.It originally served Aramaic (west semitic languages. And later became the official script for the Assyrian and Old Persian (Achaemenid) Empires from 6-4 BC.It was the source of many alphabets of the world and the vast majority of Semitic scripts (Samaritan, Jewish, Palmyra, Nabataean, Syrian, Palestinian-Christian, Mandaean, Manichaean).

9th century stele of king Kilamuwa,kingdom of Yadiya found in Turkish Zincirli (Sam'al)
image from here

The Aramaic writing had an impact even on Iranian writing systems (Parthian, middle Persian, Sogdian, and Khorezm).It was the basis (through the medium of Sogdian) for Uighur, Mongolian, and the Orkhon-Yenisei alphabets. There is also a hypothesis about the Indian Brahmi scripts and Kharosthi originating from the Aramaic script,as well.

The center for the spread of Aramaic culture was the city of Damascus, and later - Palmyra and Edessa (modern Urfa in Turkey). Aramaeans mingled everywere with the local population and they assimilated it relatively easy.. Aramaic, after Akkadian, became a kind of international and diplomatic language of the Near East in antiquity. In Palestine the same time the Gospel was spoken Aramaic, so it is likely that the early Christians (including Jesus himself) spoke in it. In addition, the Aramaeans - the only ancient people of Middle East, which, along with the Persians lived up to the present day.

Initially, the Aramaic script did not differ from the Phoenician, but then the Aramaeans simplified some of the letters, thickened and rounded their lines. A specific feature of Aramaic letters is the distinction between d and r.Aramaic writing, spread quickly from Africa to India and China.

Aramaic literature is quite wide: religious, philosophical and philological works were written in it.

In the Middle Ages the Jewish Aramaic alphabet was used to write a mystical book called 'Zohar', which evolved the numerological ideas of ​​"Kabbalah."

The Bar-Hadad inscription from North Syria (9. BC) and Zakir from Hamata (c. 800 BC). In both the word boundary is implemented by vertical lines, while in the inscription of Bar-Rakib Zendzhirli (late 8th century. BC. E.) points are used for this purpose.On the stela of the Sephira (late 8th century. BC . e.) there is no word boundary at all.


Aramaic language and the Aramaic script began to be used in the New-Assyrian and Persian period as international means of communication for the entire Near East up to Egypt, Asia Minor and India. Such an example are the Aramaic-Persian  and Aramaic-Lydian bilingual texts from Sardis (5. BC).

Aramaic inscription from Elefantine,the Jewish military colony in Egypt (5 B.C.)

Aramaic writing and Aramaic supplanted Babylonian cuneiform and Akkadian language, even in their homeland in Mesopotamia. The wide spread of Aramaic letters led to the fact that it was used not only in monumental inscriptions, but also on papyrus and potsherds. An example of Aramaic writing on potsherds can serve as a crock of Ashur. Aramaic papyri found in large numbers in Egypt. Especially a lot of papyri found at Elephantine, among them are official and private documents of the Jewish military settlement in 5 BC.In the Aramaic papyri and potsherds words are separated usually by a small gap, as we do.

At the turn of the century 2 and 3. BC the up-to-then uniform Aramaic letters develeped new forms as a result of dialectal and political fragmentation in several subgroups. The most important of these is the so-called square Hebrew block script, followed by Palmyrene, Nabataean, and the much later Syriac script.

The adoption of the square Aramaic letters by the Jews occurred during Ezra (mid-5th century BC) and is an external manifestation of Israel's accession to the common Semitic culture of the time. The square letters become the main writting system for Hebrew for the most part  and was widely used for religious and secular literature of the Jews. The name of the script is connected with the desire to give signs of a square shape.Unfortunately,we do not have any surviving written monuments of the early period of this script.  In the Dead Sea scrolls (2 BC - 1 AD),it  already had a fully developed form.

Later,the more rounded Sephardi (Eastern Spanish) and more angular Ashkenazi (German-Polish) types developed from the square Aramaic letters. In the 9th century the Italian cursive handwriting appears called Rashi, named after Rabbi Rashi (contraction of the words of Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak). More changes and abbreviations underwent signs of various cursive handwritings of the time.
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Friday, August 3, 2012

What language did Jesus speak?

It is generally agreed that Jesus spoke Galilean Aramaic,what scholars call Jewish Palestinian Aramaic.It is also hypothesized that he also spoke Hebrew and even some Greek and Latin.

At the time Aramaic was a major language and a lingua franca among the population in the Near East.It was widely spoken in Palestine even among the Jews which had long become their primary language,the langauge of the people.By that time Hebrew was only the language of the elite mainly for religious purposes.

In the New Testament ,the Greek original,there are some utterances of Jesus in Aramaic which is clear evidence  about his native tongue.

Jesus grew up in Galilea,a region where  many cultures existed and many languages were spoken.But Aramaic and Hebrew were not the only ones spoken by the local population.Around Nazareth ,especially in the city of Sephoris lived the Greek-speaking Gentiles.So Jesus might have picked up some Greek.Latin was the official language of the region being under Roman occupation.

Talmud Yerushalmi

The main work that survives in Galilean Aramaic is the Jerusalem Talmud written in 2 A.D.. in Israel.It is older than the Babylonian Talmud by 2 centuries.Other important texts in the dialect are early works of Kabbalah.

Linguistically it belongs to West Aramaic related more closely to Samaritan and Christian Palestine.

Nowadays in Israel some efforts are being made to revive the language that Jesus spoke.
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The word for sun in Syriac Aramaic


The sun in Syriac Aramaic is šemšā (ܫܡܫܐ).The root of the word is šm(š).We have many Aramaic names with the šamaš element dating from the Neo-Assyrian,Neo-Babylonian and Achaemanid Empire periods.



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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Aboon Dbashmayo -Our Lord's Prayer in Aramaic (Syriac)


Some branches of the Eastern Church still use in their liturgy the Syriac language,which is very close to the Aramaic spoken by Jesus."Our Lord's Prayer'" in Syriac exists in several versions.I have put some of them up here for you to listen.The prayer in Syriac is called Abwoon D' Bashmayo.


the Lord's Prayer in Syriac Aramaic



The Lord's prayer sung in Syriac.




ܐܒܘܢ ܕܒܫܡܝܐ
Abun dbašmayo
Our father
ܢܬܩܕܫ ܫܡܟ
Nethqadaš šmokh
Hallowed be Thy name
ܬܐܬܐ ܡܠܟܘܬܟ
Tithe malkuthokh
Thy Kingdom come
ܢܗܘܐ ܣܒܝܢܟ
Nehwe sebyonokh
Thy will be done
ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܒܫܡܝܐ ܐܦ ܒܪܥܐ
ykano dbašmayo oph bar`o
On earth as it is in heaven
ܗܒ ܠܢ ܠܚܡܐ ܕܣܘܢܩܢܢ ܝܘܡܢܐ
Hab lan laħmo dsunqonan yowmono
Give us this day our daily bread
ܘܫܒܘܩ ܠܢ ܚܘܒܝܢ ܘܚܬܗܝܢ
Wašbuq lan ħawbayn waħtohayn
And forgive our debts
ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܐܦ ܚܢܢ ܫܒܩܢ ܠܚܝܒܝܢ
ykano doph ħnan šbaqan lħayobayn
As we have forgiven our debtors
ܠܐ ܬܥܠܢ ܠܢܣܝܘܢܐ
Lo ta`lan lnesyuno
Lead us not into temptation
ܐܠܐ ܦܨܐ ܠܢ ܡܢ ܒܝܫܐ
Elo paşo lan men bišo
But deliver us from evil
ܡܛܠ ܕܕܠܟ ܗܝ ܡܠܟܘܬܐ
Meţul ddilokh hi malkutho
For Thine is the Kingdom
ܘܚܝܠܐ ܘܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ
Wħaylo wtešbuħto
Power and the Glory
ܠܥܠܡ ܥܠܡܝܢ
L`olam `olmin
For ever and ever
ܐܡܝܢ
Amin
Amen

Here is some vocabulary from the prayer
Abbun - Our Father

d'Bashmayo - In Heaven

Shmoch -name (probably)

malkutoch - Kingdom

sebyonoch - Will

aykano - like (as)

baro - Earth

bisho - evil

metul = because
d-dheelakh = of which - "yours" (it's a grammatical construct signifying ownership)

hee = is

u-khaila = and - power

u-theshbooktha = and glory


Read also
No such thing as the Lord's Prayer in GALILEAN Aramaic!

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