Aramaic: Tips for learning

IbnBatriq

New Member
United States, English
Hi,

I am fluent in Modern Standard Arabic, Levantine Colloquial Arabic, and can read Classical Arabic literature. With this Semitic language background, could I teach myself Aramaic, or would I need a sold foundation in Biblical Hebrew first?

I am primarily interested in learning the Eastern dialect of Aramaic, or Syriac.

Thanks for the help.
 
  • Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Hello IbnBatriq,

    I was just about to go to bed when your thread caught my eye.

    I wouldn't consider myself fluent in MSA, but I have a very firm foundation. I am, on the other hand, fluent, or near fluent, in Egyptian Colloquial. I also have been studying modern Hebrew for about a year. Anyway, I have recently undertaken the task of teaching myself Aramaic. I am familiar with the Aramaic alphabet, some grammar and words, but am at a very rudimentary level. So, to answer your question I believe you would have no problem learning Aramaic. It may help to know Biblical Hebrew, but I do not think it is necessary. In my (uneducated) opinion, Aramaic is closer to Arabic than Hebrew. As an example, here is a thread in which I responded:

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=114538

    If you want I can recommend some books. There are also good sites on the web for learning Aramaic.
     

    IbnBatriq

    New Member
    United States, English
    Thanks for the reply.

    I would appreciate a recommendation of some good grammars and books. One of my professors recommended W.M. Thackston's Introduction to Syriac. I figure I could use all the references I can get.

    I am thinking this endeavor shouldn't be too difficult, since I learned Arabic structure on my own, and took a class for speaking purposes. Aramaic/Syriac aren't exactly widely used, so, it should be fairly easy I hope.
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Yes, I have Thackston's book. I like this one better than the other books I have, but they are all good and helpful. Other books I have are:

    "Robinson's Paradigms and Exercises in Syriac Grammar," Revised by J.F. Coakley.

    "Compendious Syriac Grammar," by Theodor Nöldeke (This is considered by some to be THE Syraic grammar; that is this book stands in relation to Syraic as Wright's grammar does to Arabic.)

    "A Compendious Syraic Dictionary," Edited by J. Payne Smith.

    Websites:
    http://www.assyrianlanguage.com/ (This one is the best)
    http://learnassyrian.com/aramaic/
    http://www.aramaicnt.org/index.html
    http://www.peshitta.org/

    One down point to learning Aramaic is that there are three different scripts, the Estrangela (the most commonly used today), the Jacobite (West Syriac), and the Nestorian (East Syriac) which you will have to learn to read. They are similar in appearance but there are differences.
     
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