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Jesus' language, Aramaic, lives on in Cyprus enclave ^ | Feb. 1, 2004 12:00 AM | Michael Theodoulou

Posted on 02/01/2004 9:44:18 PM PST by Destro

Edited on 05/07/2004 5:22:11 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

KORMAKITI, Cyprus - If the people of this remote village were to travel back to Jesus' time and hear him preach, they would not need an interpreter to understand the Sermon on the Mount or the parable of the prodigal son.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: aramaic; cyprus; epigraphyandlanguage; faithandphilosophy; language
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ARABIC, CYPRIOT SPOKEN: a language of Cyprus

Population: 1,300 speakers out of 6,000 in the Cypriot Maronite ethnic group, 140 Maronites in Kormatiki, 80 to 100 in Limassol, the rest in the Maronite community in Nicosia.

Region: Kormakiti, one of 4 Maronite villages in the mountains of northern Cyprus, and in refugee communities in Nicosia and Limassol.


Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic.

Comments: No diglossia with Standard Arabic. Those in Kormatiki are bilingual in Greek or possibly Turkish. Those in southern Cyprus are bilingual in Greek. All speakers over 30. 140 mainly elderly in Kormatiki. A hybrid language with roots in the Arabic of both the Anatolia and the Levant. Many borrowings from Syriac and Greek. People are called 'Maronites.' Christian: Maronite Catholic.

1 posted on 02/01/2004 9:44:20 PM PST by Destro
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To: Destro; NYer;; ninenot; narses; Maximilian; Barnacle; Desdemona; american colleen; ...
Aramaic Christians article.
2 posted on 02/01/2004 9:49:13 PM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: Destro
Isn't it more accurate to call it Syriac?
4 posted on 02/01/2004 9:54:17 PM PST by BenR2 ((John 3:16: Still True Today.))
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To: BenR2
According to this language has "Many borrowings from Syriac and Greek" so I am guessing it is not exactly Syriac.
5 posted on 02/01/2004 10:27:25 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting
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To: Destro
According to this language has "Many borrowings from Syriac and Greek" so I am guessing it is not exactly Syriac.

Okay. But even if it were truly "Aramaic," that they were speaking, it would really be "Syriac," which is the Christian Arab version of Aramaic that has survived for many centuries. (Syriac and Aramaic are basically the same language, but the alphabets differ, and Aramaic proper has been preserved by the Jews in some of their writings, whereas the Christian Arabs have preserved it in the form of Syriac.)
6 posted on 02/01/2004 10:32:20 PM PST by BenR2 ((John 3:16: Still True Today.))
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To: Mr. Low Key
Just to catch the sound of the language would be enthralling.

Yes, and those actors/actresses in The Passion who had to learn their lines in Aramaic must have had a good time with the accent.:)

7 posted on 02/01/2004 10:32:41 PM PST by xJones
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To: BenR2
Maybe they have lived so long on Cyprus that the language drifted? Just a guess.
8 posted on 02/01/2004 10:43:07 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting
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To: Destro
I hope someone has the foresight to record it. I was disappointed to learn that no recording exists of the music sang by southern Christian worshippers that danced with poisonous snakes and drank stryctnine. It was a powerful and hypnotic combination of indian wail and celtic beat, and now I suppose it has been lost forever since the practice has been banned as illegal.
9 posted on 02/01/2004 10:53:05 PM PST by MissAmericanPie
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To: Destro
Hey, I'm studying Aramaic just now! I'm in a Ph.D. program in Biblical Studies. Parts of Ezra and Daniel were written in Aramaic. Also, there are scattered Aramaic words and sentences in the New Testament.

I tell people there's good news and bad news about Aramaic. The good news is, it's a lot like Hebrew. The bad news is, it's a lot like Hbrew.

If you know what I mean. :-)

10 posted on 02/01/2004 11:30:19 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (It's just enough different to be confusing.)
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To: Destro; american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; CAtholic Family Association; narses; ..

An historical perspective of the Maronite Catholic Church


Antioch has always been a city of openness, dialogue, and bold initiative. It was converted to Jesus Christ by the preaching of certain of his disciples, and the believers were strengthened in their faith, thanks to the labors of the apostles Paul and Barnabas. The apostle Peter himself, the head of the Christian Church, was its bishop until  he set out for Rome. Subsequently, the Church of Antioch prospered and extended its territory, finally becoming one of the great original patriarchates, namely Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

In the year 518, the Patriarch of Antioch, Severius, was deposed from his see for having denied the two distinct natures in Christ and for rejecting the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon. A Catholic Patriarch succeeded him, by the name of Paul. However, not all the Christians approved his appointment, and in consequence the Church split into two groups, the Chalcedonians and the anti-Chalcedonians. Every since that time, there has always been a Catholic Patriarch holding to the faith as defined at Chalcedon and a non-Catholic Patriarch rejecting it.

A century later, another division affected the Church of Antioch, leaving three groups of Christians, the Syriacs, the Maronites, and the Melkites, and this division has continued down to the present day. As from the seventh century, we find that the original Church had given rise to five district communities, the Melkites, the Maronites, the Syriacs, the Assyrians, and the Armenians, each of which had its own Patriarch. In the twelfth century yet another Patriarch was added in the person of the Latin Patriarch.

The Church of Antioch had originally been one church encompassing the whole of Asia and the East, but finally became several  churches. Where there had been one Patriarch, now there are several. One day, God’s mercy will bring it together again as one flock under one shepherd.

Maronite Catholic Church

Catholic Ping - let me know if you want on/off this list

11 posted on 02/01/2004 11:31:29 PM PST by NYer (Ad Jesum per Mariam)
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To: Destro
a lot like Hbrew

"Hebrew." I didn't mean anything by the unintentional vowel reduction. :-)

12 posted on 02/01/2004 11:32:29 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (It's late.)
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To: Destro
Maybe they have lived so long on Cyprus that the language drifted? Just a guess

Your guess is as good as mine, but this is quite an interesting discussion. Thank you.
13 posted on 02/01/2004 11:34:29 PM PST by BenR2 ((John 3:16: Still True Today.))
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: Destro
>> A stalwart few stayed behind in Kormakiti and three nearby villages in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, and are viewed by those who left as heroes protecting Maronite land.

Nice bit of sneaky propaganda.

Here, read this:

Assyrian community speaks Aramaic, provides a warm welcome to Israelis

By Gil Sedan

ADABASHI, Turkey, Feb. 27 (JTA) — I never intended to visit Adabashi. I was heading toward the border crossing between Turkey and Iraq, hoping to get to northern Iraq before the widely anticipated war began. But the Turkish border authorities would not hear of any journalists running around in that Kurdish-dominated part of Iraq. Not just Israeli journalists, any journalists.

As a result, I and a group of fellow journalists found ourselves traveling along the long Turkish border between Iraq and Syria — until we spotted a church tower off the main road.

A church? In the heart of this Muslim Kurdish part of Turkey?

It was almost mid-day during the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha. The village appeared deserted. The muddy streets were empty.

But then, out of nowhere, appeared Hanna Durdu, an old man with deep blue eyes. He greeted us warmly in a strange language.

Only a few minutes later, when he took us to “someone who can speak American,” did we realize that a short detour off the main road had taken us centuries back in history — to a small community of Christians who live as a tiny island within an ocean of Muslims, Turks and Kurds.

They are referred to by a name straight out of millennia past: Assyrians.

As I greeted the “American”-speaking guy with the traditional Arabic, Salam Aleikum, he looked almost offended.

“Here,” he said, “we say shlomo.”

“Shlomo?” I was not quite sure I heard correctly.

“Yes, shlomo,” he insisted.

It is the Aramaic word for the Hebrew “shalom.”

It turns out that the tiny village of Adabashi on the Turkish-Syrian border is one of the few places in the world where people still speak Aramaic, the language of Abraham the Patriarch, the Talmud and Jesus.

It is the prayer language of the Assyrian Church. The church seceded from the main body of Christianity in the fifth century C.E., but the language is much older.

It was born in Mesopotamia, present-day Iraq, at least 3,500 years ago. It served as a common trade language among the various peoples of the ancient Middle East.

In Adabashi and among 400,000 Arab Christians — in places including Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Armenia — they still speak Aramaic at home.

They use “shlomo” for “shalom” and “halebo” for “halav,” milk in Hebrew.

“Beita,” the word for house, is similar to “beit” in Arabic and “bayit” in Hebrew.

“Kalba” is Aramaic for dog, similar to “kalb” in Arabic and “kelev” in Hebrew.

Another man, who acted as our host, introduced himself as “Abraham,” pronouncing it like the Hebrew “Avraham.”

When we introduced ourselves as Israeli journalists, he hugged us and kissed us on both cheeks three times, as if we were close relatives who had finally come home.

Durdu, the old man with the blue eyes, could not hide his excitement.

He pulled up his sleeves to show us a tattoo marking three dates — one for each of his visits to Jerusalem.

While his Muslim neighbors make their pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, he went to Jerusalem to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and to meet the small Assyrian community in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The Assyrians like to compare themselves to the Jews — always persecuted, forever tolerated only barely by the local majority, they say.

According to their tradition, they have lived in Turkey ever since the 5th-century split within the Christian church.

During World War I, many of them were massacred, along with the Armenians.

Until nine years ago, most of the people of Adabashi lived across the main road, in the nearby village of Grunyurdu.

But then they became victims of the bitter conflict between the Turkish authorities and the Kurdish underground, the PKK.

PKK fighters used to enter the village, asking for shelter, food, supplies—and money.

The Assyrians were caught in the middle between the Kurdish guerrillas and the Turkish soldiers. Anyone suspected of collaborating with the guerrillas was sentenced to long years in jail.

Eventually, Abraham and his family moved to Adabashi, close to the border, where a Turkish military presence deterred PKK activities.

Most of the people are elderly. After being forced from their homes in Grunyurdu, many of the younger generation emigrated.

Abraham’s son, Balan, happened to be there when we visited. He came following the death of his mother a month earlier.

During the past nine years, Balan has lived in Hamburg. He makes a good living working in a local restaurant, is married, owns a car and lives in a respectable neighborhood.

But Balan is determined to return home.

“I feel like a Jew in Germany,” he told me. “In recent years, many Germans no longer feel shameful over what happened during the war.

“Many openly voice their anti-Semitism, and they also hate us — other foreigners. I can make all the money in the world, but I will always be looked down at as an outsider, as someone who does not belong there.”

Balan wants to wait until after the Iraqi crisis is resolved — by war or otherwise — before moving back home.

“I know I will miss the comfort of Germany — but I will be home.”

Before we parted, Balan gave us a word of advice.

“Don’t give in to the Palestinians,” he said. “The Land of Israel should not be redivided. I am a devout Christian — and the Bible says that the country should not be divided.”

Our visit to Adabashi was short. And then we move on to our next stop along the border with Iraq.

But even as the world prepares for a possible war, Adabashi lingers in the mind, and it prompts me to make a suggestion for the Jewish tourist looking for new places to visit.

If the area ever opens up to tourism — as it was until only a few years ago — you should remember that you have friends in Adabashi, and they speak the language of your forefathers.

Actually, they are family.
15 posted on 02/02/2004 4:04:37 AM PST by a_Turk (Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice..)
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To: Talking_Mouse
Here it is.
16 posted on 02/02/2004 5:01:04 AM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: Charles Henrickson
Why not try Syriac-Aramaic at the same time.

It is the origin of the language in the Quran !
(although the moon-worshippers would hardly admit it)

"Luxenberg summarizes the cultural and linguistic importance of written Syriac for the Arabs and for the Quran. At the time of Muhammad, Arabic was not a written language. Syro-Aramaic or Syriac was the language of written communication in the Near East from the second to the seventh centuries A.D. Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, was the language of Edessa, a city-state in upper Mesopotamia. While Edessa ceased to be a political entity, its language became the vehicle of Christianity and culture, spreading throughout Asia as far as Malabar and eastern China. Until the rise of the Quran, Syriac was the medium of wider communication and cultural dissemination for Arameans, Arabs, and to a lesser extent Persians. It produced the richest literary expression in the Near East from the fourth century (Aphrahat and Ephraem) until it was replaced by Arabic in the seventh and eighth centuries. Of importance is that the Syriac-Aramaic literature and the cultural matrix in which that literature existed was almost exclusively Christian. Part of Luxenberg's study shows that Syriac influence on those who created written Arabic was transmitted through a Christian medium, the influence of which was fundamental."
17 posted on 02/02/2004 5:11:35 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: nuconvert; Pan_Yans Wife
18 posted on 02/02/2004 5:51:52 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith
19 posted on 02/02/2004 5:55:03 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (Say not, 'I have found the truth,' but rather, 'I have found a truth.'--- Kahlil Gibran)
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To: AdmSmith
"until it was replaced by Arabic in the seventh and eighth centuries."

Thanks for the ping
20 posted on 02/02/2004 6:13:46 AM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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