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Author Topic: Beginning to learn Syriac  (Read 1711 times) Average Rating: 0
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lovesupreme
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« on: September 07, 2014, 04:33:51 PM »

Hello,

I work professionally as a writer and I would like to one day work in translation. I have asked around and it seems like Christian Syriac texts are in need of translation. I would like to one day aid in that effort, but first I need to learn the language.

Are there any resources I can use right away to get familiar with the language (alphabet, common words, etc.)? Perhaps one day I could go to school, but for now I'd like to "get my feet wet" as it were and see if I can muster up the dedication to learn a new language.

If it helps, I know some Aramaic from my Jewish days, but I imagine Talmudic Aramaic is pretty different from Middle Syriac.

Anyone else travel down this road?

I appreciate your help in advance. Thank you.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2014, 04:34:02 PM by lovesupreme » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2014, 04:50:52 PM »

I speak syriac/aramaic and its my first languge.
As we speak im in the process of learning to read and type.
Pm me so that we can speak more
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dzheremi
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« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2014, 05:10:42 PM »

I have various Syriac grammars and other works. Many resources can be quite expensive, as they are meant for scholars and specialists, but some of the older works have been reprinted recently and cheaply via self-publishing venues like lulu.com, such as Rev. Thomas Arayathinal's misleadingly-titled two volume "Aramaic Grammar" (which teaches Syriac, not Aramaic). Something like that might be a good bet to get the basics, if you don't want to spend $75-$100 minimum on Gorgia's Press materials (though I have heard good things about Kiraz's Intro to Syriac, published by Gorgia's and actually available right now on Amazon for a bit less than that; I've never actually used it myself, though). I know that Noldeke's grammar has been reprinted, too (as part of the Ancient Language Resources series that also gave us the reprint of Crum's epic and still unequaled Coptic dictionary), and I would figure that this is probably worth owning if you're serious about learning from standard references.

(I only put the bit about "standard references" in because I have noticed that there are a lot of books you can find on Syriac that are pushing a certain agenda vis-a-vis Syriac primacy and even sometimes some weird theological ideas, too -- i.e., the works of Lamsa and his students like Rocco A. Ericco and others. I actually have one of Errico's books myself, only because it was the cheapest option at the time that also came with audio recordings, but I don't use it very much because the audio recordings are of poor quality. Anyway, you shouldn't need to put up with any weird nonsense just to learn the basics of the language.)
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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2014, 05:49:38 PM »

English please, we're British and not from the Middle East.  Cheesy
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lovesupreme
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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2014, 06:03:52 PM »

English please, we're British and not from the Middle East.  Cheesy

I don't follow. I'm not British...
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« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2014, 06:16:14 PM »

In case you haven't already looked it up:

https://www.google.com/search?q=syriac+teach+yourself&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb

Hope this helps. Smiley
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lovesupreme
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« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2014, 08:03:43 PM »


This was perhaps the most polite "Let Me Google That For You" that I have ever encountered.  Cheesy

In other news, it's good to see you using the latest stable version of Firefox. Wink
« Last Edit: September 07, 2014, 08:04:24 PM by lovesupreme » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2014, 09:00:29 PM »

Thank you for your recommendations, dzheremi.

I went ahead and ordered the Kiraz and Noldeke books.

While I wait for those to ship, I will complete these exercises.

This site seems promising, but it seems to teach the Eastern variation... is that an issue? Also, I detect a hint of the supremacy you hinted at, although you would be a better detector of that than I.

EDIT: I noticed a lot of Aramaic resources come from Protestants trying to "recapture" the authentic language in which Christ presumably spoke. Is that something to be wary of? I was looking at copies of the Peshitta and found that Messianic Protestants are significant contributors.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2014, 09:05:36 PM by lovesupreme » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2014, 11:14:25 PM »

Hi guys, my books came in today. I am now a fluent Syriac speaker!

ܐܒܐ ܓܒܐ ܕܕܐ
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2014, 11:26:01 PM »

Thank you for your recommendations, dzheremi.

I went ahead and ordered the Kiraz and Noldeke books.

While I wait for those to ship, I will complete these exercises.

This site seems promising, but it seems to teach the Eastern variation... is that an issue? Also, I detect a hint of the supremacy you hinted at, although you would be a better detector of that than I.

EDIT: I noticed a lot of Aramaic resources come from Protestants trying to "recapture" the authentic language in which Christ presumably spoke. Is that something to be wary of? I was looking at copies of the Peshitta and found that Messianic Protestants are significant contributors.
Not really. Most seem unaware that Christ spoke Aramaic, not Syriac (yes, there is a difference).

There is a difference with the Eastern variation.  Whether that's an issue depends on what you are doing with it.

Between Noldeke (a reference Grammar) and Kiraz (more of a primer) is Thackston.
http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Syriac-Wheeler-M-Thackston/dp/0936347988/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410924334&sr=1-1&keywords=thackston+syriac

Kiraz does a lot of excellent things, like his word count of the Peshitta.
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2014, 11:28:35 PM »

Btw, the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon is always interesting
http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/index.html
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« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2014, 11:33:58 PM »

Thank you ialmisry. Kiraz does indeed mention books to look at after finishing his and the Thackston does come up. I'll check it out if, God willing, I get that far.

The Kiraz text did a great job explaining to me the differences between the Eastern variation. For now, I'll be focusing on Western "Serto" script (which I did not use in that simple sentence above, oddly enough).
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 11:34:24 PM by lovesupreme » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2014, 01:06:33 AM »

I wasn't sure if Thackston would be a good first choice for a self-study student, given the apparent typographical errors present in the key, and even some in the text itself (according to Amazon reviewers, anyway), which may or may not kind of defeat the purpose of using it for self-study (I wouldn't know, never having used it myself, but such things do give me pause).
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