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A map of Semitic Languages
Shlama Shamasha Paul,

I'd like to ask about the following map:

Is this valid mapping for Aramaic?

Hi Rudolf,

It's funny because Akhan Steve is always trying to place as much white space between his beloved "Galilean" Aramaic and all other dialects. He's even included a "modern Galilean" dialect, which I can only assume is the one he is teaching in his own home. (Don't ever change Akhi Steve, I actually love this little quirk)

The only real problem I see with the chart is the extreme specificity given for the Aramaic family (broken down by actual villages), but in contrast an extreme generality for all the other Semitic languages.

For example, the Arabic dialects are, as portrayed, very monolithic. Steve lists them by country at the finest level. But as someone who's parents were from Lebanon and whose grandparents were from Iraq, I can assure you that if Steve's chart bothered to expand either of those countries out by Arabic dialect at the village level, it would dwarf the Aramaic family of dialects. And that's just modern Iraqi or Lebanese dialects. Imagine other countries.

Also, the other languages like Hebrew, Akkadian and Geez are represented very generically and monolithically. As an Assyrian, I can assure you that Akkadian had many more dialects than what is represented there.

So in summary, I'm ok with the chart in the sense of the general language families. But I don't understand the extreme specificity of the Aramaic groupings by village, and not the same treatment of the other groups.

For a similar summary of English dialects, see here:

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Hi Shamasha Paul,

I like the comparation of the English

If then is there any 'standardization' of Aramaic right now (Eastern Aramaic?). So I would not misunderstand at this case. For instance, though English dialects is used almost all of countries but mostly they use British English as the standard English especially for primary or high school?

or even in my country the standardization of Arabic at school is used Saudi Arabian though there are Syrian, Eqypt, and so on.

Shlama Akhi Rudolf

The truth is, there is never a standardization of a language. Governments or language authorities continually define and codify standards in a futile attempt to achieve a standard, but the reality is that these efforts are at best, temporal. The standard Saudi Arabian dialect that they teach in schools in your nation is really a myth. If you actually go to Saudi Arabia and travel from region to region, or from Bedouin tribe to Bedouin tribe, you will see many different Saudi Arabian Arabic varieties. Multiply that by thousands of years of Arabic history, and the number is mind boggling.

The situation is even worse for languages like Aramaic, which have no governing authority or official status. The last time Aramaic had this status was during the age of the three empires (Assyrian, Chaldean and Persian) - and even then, the attempts to standardize it was about as successful as Arabic or English today.

Again, the truth is (and I've always said this) - there is no one dialect or standard that everyone can understand in any generation, of any language. That is history and anthropology. It was as true in 1st century Palestine or Mesopotamia, as it is in 21st century America, Greece, China or Arabia.

Language works outwardly from the basic family unit, to villages, then clans and tribes, then greater metropolitan areas and then finally to nations.

A snapshot of any language during any time period is like a snowflake. The center is common among all the branches of the snowflake, and is mutually shared and easily comprehensible. The individual blades or forks in the snowflake are the various dialects. And as each snowflake is different, so is each language family.

So the snowflake diagrams of Semitic languages tend to be less complex patterns than those of other languages, because culturally it is a well established fact that Semitic people are rather resistant to change, preferring to cling tightly to history.

Like I said earlier, if you were to approach the Indo-European family of languages with the same approach Akhan Steve used for his linear chart (starting with the ancient root and breaking modern Aramaic down so finely at the tribal level), I suppose the length of the paper you write it on would stretch out for miles.

Today, like first-century Palestine, you cannot speak just your local tribal Aramaic variety. Because you will not be looked upon as very educated.

When modern Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs meet, they can immediately assess the situation with a few words in greeting and know how to continue the conversation. This can happen at family gatherings as inter marriage between different Aramaic groups are common.

There is no standard modern koine Aramaic, there are several depending on the community and church.

There was no standard back in Maran Jesus' time, either. This myth of a single Aramaic dialect that He preached in is, not only ridiculously out of touch with known anthropological science and history, but also scripturally inaccurate and impossible.

Aramaic was just as fragmented then, as it is today, as it was during the Empires, as it was during the first ages when it was spoken only by a bunch of Bedouin sheep herders.

The writers of the Aramaic NT would have, like the purported writers of the Greek NT, chosen a single literary form which would have had the maximum reach in audience.

Today, a modern author from the Tyari clan will not compose a work in his local dialect unless his audience is limited to his tribe only. He will write in either Iraqi Neo Aramaic koine or in English, or in Arabic. If there are tribal dialectical quirks in his composition, he will standardize them so as to smooth them out for other speakers of Aramaic who do not understand his little quirks.

Our critics often point out that the Aramaic NT can't be the original, because it is not consistent with the quirks of various Galilean varieties of that time period (as if the GNT matches this criteria).

I say, that is precisely why the Peshitta is the original. It was written in the most widely-understood Aramaic dialect in the world at that time. The dialect of a kingdom. If the apostles were only concerned about evangelizing their little insignificant villages in the galilee, then we are following the wrong religion, right? <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

Shlama Shamasha Paul,

Quote:I say, that is precisely why the Peshitta is the original. It was written in the most widely-understood Aramaic dialect in the world at that time. The dialect of a kingdom. If the apostles were only concerned about evangelizing their little insignificant villages in the galilee, then we are following the wrong religion, right?

Tawdee, you have elaborated about this topic. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

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