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Aramaic

Aramaic (ârəmā´Ĭk), language belonging to the West Semitic subdivision of the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages (see Afroasiatic languages). At some point during the second millenium BC, the Aramaeans abandoned their desert existence and settled in Syria, bringing their language, Aramaic, with them. By the beginning of the 7th cent. BC, Aramaic had spread throughout the Fertile Crescent as a lingua franca. Still later the Persians made Aramaic one of the official languages of their empire.

After the Jews were defeated by the Babylonians in 586 BC, they began to speak Aramaic instead of Hebrew, although they retained Hebrew as the sacred language of their religion. Although Aramaic was displaced officially in the Middle East by Greek after the coming of Alexander the Great, it held its own under Greek domination and subsequent Roman rule. Aramaic was also the language of Jesus. Following the rise of Islam in the 7th cent. AD, however, Aramaic began to yield to Arabic, by which eventually it was virtually replaced.

In the course of its long history the Aramaic language broke up into a number of dialects, one of the most important of which was Syriac. Parts of the books of Ezra and Daniel in the Bible were written in an Aramaic dialect, as were some notable Jewish prayers, such as the kaddish. Other important documents in Aramaic include portions of the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds and the Targum Onkelos, a commentary on the Pentateuch. Nabataean (the form of Aramaic current among the Nabataean Arabs), Samaritan, and Palmyrene were other significant ancient dialects of Aramaic. Modern forms of the language (including Syriac) are still spoken today, though not by more than a few hundred thousand people scattered in the Near and Middle East.

Grammatically, Aramaic is very close to Hebrew. The Aramaic alphabet is a North Semitic script that is first attested in the 9th cent. BC After c.500 BC its use became widespread in the Middle East. Descended from the Aramaic alphabet are the Square Hebrew alphabet, which is the ancestor of modern Hebrew writing; the Nabataean, Palmyrene, and Syriac scripts; and the Arabic alphabet, among others. It is believed that the alphabetic writing systems of India and Southeast Asia also have the Aramaic script as their source.

See F. Rosenthal, ed., An Aramaic Handbook (4 vol., 1967).

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Aramaic

Aramaic Ancient Semitic language used as a means of everyday communication in Palestine and other parts of the Middle East at the time of Christ. Originally the language of nomadic groups who established small states in Mesopotamia during the late 2nd millennium bc, it became the common spoken and written language of the Middle East under the Persian Empire until replaced by Arabic. Parts of the Old Testament were originally written in Aramaic, and it was the language that Jesus spoke. Minor dialects still persist today in small Christian communities of the Near and Middle East.

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Aramaic

Aramaic a branch of the Semitic family of languages, especially the language of Syria used as a lingua franca in the Near East from the 6th century bc, later dividing into varieties one of which included Syriac and Mandaean. It replaced Hebrew locally as the language of the Jews, and though displaced by Arabic in the 7th century ad, it still has about 200,000 speakers in scattered communities.

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Aramaic

Ar·a·ma·ic / ˌarəˈmāik/ • n. a Semitic language that was used as a lingua franca in the Near East from the 6th century bc. It replaced Hebrew as the language of the Jews and was itself supplanted by Arabic in the 7th century ad. • adj. of or in this language.

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Aramaic

Aramaic. A Semitic language written generally in Hebrew script. Ancient (from 700 BCE) inscriptions have been found as far afield as Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and the Caucasus. In the later period of the second Temple, the Pentateuch was translated into Aramaic (these translations are known as targumim (targums)).

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Aramaic

Aramaicartic, brick, chick, click, crick, dick, flick, hand-pick, hic, hick, kick, lick, mick, miskick, nick, pic, pick, prick, quick, rick, shtick, sic, sick, slick, snick, spic, stick, thick, tic, tick, trick, Vic, wick •alcaic, algebraic, Aramaic, archaic, choleraic, Cyrenaic, deltaic, formulaic, Hebraic, Judaic, Mishnaic, Mithraic, mosaic, Pharisaic, prosaic, Ptolemaic, Romaic, spondaic, stanzaic, trochaic •logorrhoeic (US logorrheic), mythopoeic, onomatopoeic •echoic, heroic, Mesozoic, Palaeozoic (US Paleozoic), Stoic •Bewick •disyllabic, monosyllabic, polysyllabic, syllabic •choriambic, dithyrambic, iambic •alembic •amoebic (US amebic) •aerobic, agoraphobic, claustrophobic, homophobic, hydrophobic, phobic, technophobic, xenophobic •cherubic, cubic, pubic •Arabic, Mozarabic •acerbic • apparatchik • dabchick •peachick

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