A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Turkish University Completes First Syriac Language Course

Artuklu University in the Turkish :Province of Mardin in the southeast has just awarded certificates in what's described as Turkey's first Syriac language course. As the Hurriyet story notes:
 "This is a historic step both for us and the academia,” the rector said.

“After the Ottoman Empire fell apart, some pro-monoculture administrations tried to lock the Arabic language in mosques, Syriac in churches and Kurdish into houses. Now a significant tradition is coming back to life,” Omay said. “Our university will keep supporting it. In September we will start working to start a Syriac-language undergraduate program.”
The university also offers courses on Kurdish studies, once banned in Turkey. (I suppose I should note, since a commenter probably will anyway, that the rector said nothing about Armenian. But I'll only note it. No way I'm going to get into that.)

This presumably refers to the Eastern forms of Syriac, spoken by Assyrian Christians in the Tur Abdin region of Turkey and, since the post-World War I era, mostly in Iraq and among the Assyrian diaspora abroad.

Since this is my second post on Syriac in two weeks, I guess I'm going to have to devote a longer post to the surviving instances of Syriac/Aramaic still spoken in the Middle East one of these days.

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