Aramaic language

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Aramaic is a Semitic language belonging to the Afroasiatic language family. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic subfamily, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic group of languages, which also includes Canaanite languages such as Hebrew and Phoenician. Aramaic script was widely adopted for other languages and is ancestral to both the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets.

During its 3,000-year history,[3] Aramaic has served variously as a language of administration of empires and as a language of divine worship. It was the day-to-day language of Israel in the Second Temple period (539 BCE – 70 CE), was the original language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, the Gospel of Matthew,[4] was the language spoken by Jesus, and is the main language of the Talmud.[5]

Aramaic's long history and diverse and widespread use has led to the development of many divergent varieties which are sometimes treated as dialects. Therefore, there is no one singular Aramaic language, but each time and place has had its own variation. Aramaic is retained as a liturgical language by certain Eastern Christian churches, in the form of Syriac, the Aramaic variety by which Eastern Christianity was diffused, whether or not those communities once spoke it or another form of Aramaic as their vernacular, but have since shifted to another language as their primary community language.

Modern Aramaic is spoken today as a first language by many scattered, predominantly small, and largely isolated communities of differing Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups of West Asia[6]—most numerously by the Assyrians in the form of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and the Chaldean Christians in the form of Chaldean Neo-Aramaic—that have all retained use of the once dominant lingua franca despite subsequent language shifts experienced throughout the Middle East. The Aramaic languages are considered to be endangered.[7]

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