Tag Archives: class

Adapting Palestinian Vowels For Teaching Galilean Aramaic

As part of my kids’ curriculum, my wife and I have decided that we’re going to begin formally teaching (as opposed to the current “informally” teaching) French and Galilean Aramaic, both written and spoken.

Because of this, on the Galilean end I’ve been pondering about the best way to find a consistent notation for vowels. For the longest time, in my own personal use, I’ve used a modified form of Tiberian vowel pointing, mostly to mark words that are ambiguous.

However, the Tiberian system is a bit *too* particular for Galilean vocalization, as it covers many shades of vowels that aren’t represented in what we know of Galilean pronunciation. (“The Galileans are not careful with their speech,” rings the Babylonian Talmud.)

From the small snippets that have vowel markings and other means of analysis, we see that Galileans didn’t really differentiate between patah (/a/) and qamatz (/ɔ/) (patah often shows up where one would expect a terminal qamatz) or between segol (/ɛ/) and tzere (/e/), nor did they differentiate between the various types of hataf short-vowels (/ă/, /ɛ̆/, /ɔ̆/) (in fact, unstressed vowels of any sort tended to reduce to ambiguity as it was).

So I thought to myself: Should I simply use Tiberian as I have been? It’s kind of the wrong tool for the job. It’s far, far too granular and it would confuse the heck out of anyone reading it. (People are already confused enough when they’re exposed to Galilean.)

So what else should I use?

Why not Palestinian vowels?

Yes, they’re fairly obscure today (about as obscure as Galilean Aramaic, admittedly) but as early Palestinian Hebrew had a similar inventory of vowels to Galilean (and in some cases similar quirks of pronunciation), the earliest set of markings fits perfectly.

Since any choice of vowel markings for a language that mostly died off before vowel markings came in vogue is somewhat arbitrary, choosing a traditional set that fits well — I believe — is a good choice. It would also be distinct enough to tip off anyone reading it that it’s not the language they may mistakenly assume it is.

Palestinian vowels are (like Babylonian vowels) supralinear, or are written above the letters rather than below (like Tiberian). Some believe that they were developed before the Tiberian system, but were quickly supplanted by it as Tiberian became increasingly popular. As you can see in the picture at the top of this post, they map to Galilean very easily and it doesn’t take much effort to memorize them.

I’m going to write up a few lesson plans and see how it pans out, and I’ll relay my success (or failure) here after a few weeks.

Wish me luck. 🙂


SYR101 Almost Ready

The new Quiz module on DARIUS seems to be working fine and I’m almost done importing all of the old content from the Moodle install.

Now all that needs to be done is to reformat and clean up the index page, link everything back together, and import the quizzes and if all goes well we should be ready to roll again tomorrow evening (Wednesday).

But now… sleep.


Announcing: DARIUS


Where learning a new language is tough, learning rare, obscure or ancient languages that are no longer spoken is exceedingly difficult.

DARIUS: The Digital Aramaic Research Initiative for Students is an upcoming Internet-based tool that uses modern living-language techniques adapted for individuals who wish to learn various Aramaic dialects.

More information forthcoming. 🙂 I’m really excited about this.


Aramaic Class Preregistrations Open

Preregistration for the following classes over at Aramaic Designs has opened:

ARC010: The Aramaic Lord’s Prayer

This is a specialty 8-week course that was put together at Aramaic Designs for anyone who is interested in learning more about the Lord’s Prayer in Jesus’ mother tongue, Aramaic.

Duration: 8+ weeks.
Price: $50

[preregister here]

SYR101: Classical Syriac

This course will serve as a basic introduction to Classical Syriac Aramaic, a major literary dialect that was prominent between the 2nd and 8th centuries CE, most notably as the vehicle for Syrian Christianity, that stretched as far as China and India. Upon completion, the student will have a firm grasp of Syriac grammar and a sizeable vocabulary.

Duration: 15+ weeks.
Price: $100

[preregister here]

Both of these courses are set to open before the end of July. They are 100% online so you can enroll at any time and work through them at your own pace.

Preregistrants will have access to the material for an extended period of time and the ability to put in requests for additional material before the class open officially.


New Aramaic Class: The Aramaic Lord’s Prayer

A number of people have expressed their interest in the Aramaic classes that are offered over at Aramaic Designs, but that the price (in this economy) has been prohibitive.

Because of this a new class is in development that should be ready in the next couple of months that will be on the topic of the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer. The basic information at this time is as follows:

ARC010: The Aramaic Lord’s Prayer
Duration: 8 weeks (~2 months)
Enrollment: Rolling (you can enroll at any time)
Price: $50

Current Syllabus: (subject to change, but probably close to this)

  1. What’s So Special About The Lord’s Prayer?
    – Context & History
    – The Prayer in Greek
  2. A (Brief) History of Aramaic & the Language of Jesus
    – An Introduction to Aramaic & its Alphabet
    – The Aramaic of Jesus
  3. The Syriac Peshitta Lord’s Prayer
    – An Introduction to the Peshitta
    – The Peshitta Lord’s Prayer
  4. Other Syriac Lord’s Prayer Traditions
    – The Other Syriac Traditions and Their Relation to Each Other
    – Old Syriac, Harklean, etc.
  5. Scholarly Reconstructions of the Lord’s Prayer
    – Reconstructing the Words of Jesus
    – The Jesus Seminar
    – Individual Scholarly Reconstructions (Jeremias’, Fitzmeyer, Chilton, Brock, etc.)
  6. Modern Aramaic Traditions of the Lord’s Prayer
    – The Plight of Neo-Aramaic
    – Neo-Aramaic Examples (Neo-Assyrian, Ma`loula, etc.)
  7. Odd Translations of the Lord’s Prayer
    – An “Aramaic” Imagination
    – Notable Odd Translations (Ouseley, Lamsa/Errico, Douglas-Klotz, etc.)
  8. Conclusions, Thoughts & Final Paper
    – Aramaic and Prayer
    – Greater Historical Context
    – Final essay on any topic covered in the class, or other topic subject to professor approval (~500-1000 words).

All who are interested or wish to have more information, please email in to Information@AramaicDesigns.com.