Tag Archives: academics

Online Aramaic Course Pre-Sales Opening!

Want to learn Aramaic?

Sign up for the Introduction to Aramaic course today and enjoy first access to the lessons as they go up one at a time. Learn the basics of the Aramaic language in all its numerous dialects, build a core vocabulary of 500+ Aramaic words common to the many dialects, master grammar, and more through audio lectures, one-on-one course instructor support, and fully multimedia integrated lesson plans. Better still, do it at a discount by enrolling in “ARC101: An Introduction to Aramaic” before the full course hits the web!

Watch this space for sample lessons in the coming days. 馃檪


Multi Lingual Keyboard Frustration: Don’t Let This Happen To You

So, being both modern-tech and digital communications savvy as well as deeply involved in the study of ancient languages and old-fashioned correspondence… my everyday life tends to express irony.

I was trying to log into one of the many SQL databases (which I manage through this nifty program called phpMyAdmin), and the program was consistently denying me access, telling me that my password was incorrect. Believing that I simply might be mistaken with what password I used, I went through my entire password repertoire…

No luck.

I then figured that I must have improperly capitalized things, so I made sure that my shift key wasn’t stuck, and that my caps-lock key was up. A number of “dots” later in the password field and…

No dice.

Now I was getting frustrated! I figured that the SQL server must be down, which would then mean, by way of logic, that the website that was driven by it would also be down. Fearing that was the case I had to check, so I clicked up on the URL field of my web browser and entered in the address:


It then dawned on me: I was typing with the Hebrew keyboard in the password field.


It was me who was not working…

Don’t let this happen to you. 馃檪


PS: Challenge for techno-language-nerds like myself. 100 Points to whoever decodes the following cipher first:

讗 爪讗转讛讜诇讬爪 驻专讬注住转 讗谞讚 讗 专讗讘讘讬 驻讬谞讚 转讛注诪住注诇讜注住 住讬转转讬谞讙 谞注讻转 转讜 注讗爪讛 讜转讛注专 讜谞 讗 诇讜谞讙 讞讜讜专谞注讟 讗谞讚 住讜 讗驻转注专 住讜诪注 讛注住讬转讗转讬讜谞 住转讗专转 转讜 转讗诇讻 转讜 注讗爪讛讜转讛注专. 讗驻转注专 讚讬住爪讜住住讬谞讙 转讛注 砖注讗转讛注专 讗谞讚 住驻讜专转住, 转讛注 驻专讬注住转 转讜专谞住 转讜 转讛注 专讗讘讘讬 讗谞讚 住讗讟住 转讛讗转 讛注 转讛讜讜讙讛转 讬转 砖讗住 专讗转讛注专 住转专讗谞讙注 转讛讗转 注讛 砖讗住 谞讜转 讗诇诇讜砖注讚 转讜 注讗转 驻讜专讻, 讗谞讚 讗住讻注讚 讛讬诪 砖讛注转讛注专 讛注 注讜注专 讛讗讚.

转讛注 专讗讘讘讬 专注驻诇讬注讚, 鈥欁┳⒆溩, 砖讛注谞 讬 砖讗住 讗 住诪讗诇诇 讘讜讟, 讬 讚讬讚 讬谞 驻讗爪转 转讗住转注 讗 住诪讗诇诇 驻讬注爪注 讜驻 讘讗爪讜谞.鈥

鈥欁┳斪愖 砖讗住 讬转 诇讬讻注?鈥 讗住讻注讚 转讛注 驻专讬注住转.

转讛注 专讗讘讘讬 专注驻诇讬注讚: 鈥欁犠曌 谞注讗专诇讟 讗住 讙讜讜讚 讗住 住注讞.鈥

“Grandfather” – Another Mistaken Tattoo

This particular tattoo I came across is “correct.” Well… the problem is that it’s too correct. Bear with me as I try and explain why.

Generally, when you look up a word in an Aramaic or Hebrew dictionary, things are organized by lemma. What is a lemma you ask? A very good question, as (ironically) most dictionaries define this term with even more lexical jargon. I would see things as:

A lemma is a form of a word defined by convention for indexing purposes.

For example, say you go to an English dictionary to look up the word “went.” For those who are well versed in English, it’s obvious to turn to the G section and look up the verb “go.” This is because by convention in English dictionaries, verbs are listed by their roots rather than by inflected forms. So, in this case, “go” would be the lemma for “went.”

Now in Aramaic, the system of lemmas is slightly different (as it is with every language), and furthermore, Aramaic lemmas may be different between dialects. A good example of such a difference occurs between Jewish and Syriac Aramaic, but to understand why you need to know that in Aramaic, nouns have three forms:

  • The Absolute state (the general form of the word,); A masculine example 讟指讘 (t芒v: “good”/”good one”); A feminine example 讟指讘指讗 (t芒v芒: “good”/”good one”).
  • The Construct state (a form that indicates relationships between words); A masculine example 讟指讘 (t芒v: “good”; same as absolute); A feminine example 讟指讘址转 (t芒vath: “good”).
  • The Emphatic state (a form that originally indicated “definiteness” similar to “the” in English); A masculine example 讟指讘指讗 (t芒v芒: “the good”/”the good one”); A feminine example 讟指讘职转指讗 (tavth芒: “the good”/”the good one”).

Where Jewish Aramaic linguists have cataloged their words in the Absolute state, Syriac Aramaic linguists have cataloged their words in the Emphatic. Why? In Syriac dialects, the Emphatic state, over time, lost its original use as a way to determine definiteness and became the “regular” base form for words in everyday speech. To them, it made more sense to organize things by what was used the most in common vernacular, so that’s exactly what they did.

So what was the result? We have this historical fork in Jewish Aramaic classification and Syriac Aramaic classification, and for the longest time, never the twain would meet; however, in modern times, this generally has not been too much of a big deal. A new convention has been adopted by listing both the Absolute and Emphatic forms, one after another. The best of both worlds.

Now where does this leave us with the photo I showed you at the top of the page? Well, the owner believes that they have the word for “Grandfather” tattooed on their back.

Do they? Yes and yes. Twice. Our tattoo in question can be interpreted as:

住指讘指旨讗, 住指讘
s芒b芒, s芒v

住指讘旨指讗 (s芒b芒) is the Emphatic form of the word for “Elder” or “Grandfather.”
住指讘 (s芒v) is the Absolute form of the same word. Yikes!

What our friend above has tattooed on his back literally says “Grandfather, Grandfather” or (if the words were reversed and we were to ignore the comma) “Grandfather’s Grandfather.” He took the whole lexical entry, rather than the one piece he would need.

Now, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it hundreds of times on this blog: If you are planning on obtaining a tattoo in Aramaic (or any other foreign language for that matter) do not rely upon anything less than an expert who is able to explain every detail of what they give you.

  • Don’t trust looking things up in a dictionary on your own. As we’ve seen here, conventions between languages are different.
  • Don’t trust anything you get “for free” on the internet. Yahoo Answers, most messageboards, Wikipedia, and chatrooms are right out!
  • Always double-check your translation with a third party before getting it inked. Aramaic Designs does not only offer reliable translations, but a means of double-checking translations from other sources pro bono.


SBL 2008: Aramaic Studies Call for Papers

The Call for Papers is now open and updated for the Aramaic Studies section of the 2008 SBL conference.

Aramaic Studies

The Aramaic studies section is intended to provide a forum for scholars interested in various aspects of Aramaic language and its literature. Previous paper topics have included aspects of the Targumim, Qumran Aramaic, Peshitta, Samaritan papyri, and Elephantine Aramaic. The call for papers is open to any submissions in Aramaic studies. A brief business session will also be held to discuss the future of Aramaic studies.

All questions should be directed to Christian Brady (cbrady@psu.edu).

Perhaps I should actually sit down and write something this time around. 馃檪