Documentation of the Beth Qustan Dialect of the Central Neo-Aramaic language, Turoyo
The Beth Qustan dialect of the Central Neo-Aramaic, Turoyo, which is the language of Tur 'Abdin, South Eastern Turkey, with an estimated 20 families remaining in the village. This project will document socio-cultural practices of the Turoyo speaking community in Tur 'Abdin, focusing on vernacular tales, particularly those that demonstrate cultural interaction between Muslims and Christians, including Muslim visitations to the shrines of Christian saints, and consultation of soothsayers by Christians.
This deposit focuses on speakers of North-Western Neo-Aramaic dialect of the Beth Qustan village of Tur 'Abdin in South Eastern Turkey, who have immigrated and settled in diaspora. These are among the last remaining inheritors of the Aramaic language, which was the lingua franca from ca 600 BC until 200 BC. It was the official language of the Achaemenian Persian dynasty, 559-330 BC. The Aramaic language was replaced by Greek following the conquests of Alexander the Great, who reigned 336–323 BC, and it became the official language throughout the former Persian empire. Nevertheless, the Aramaic language continued to be widely used until it was replaced by Arabic ca 650 AD.
Over the last few decades most of the speakers of these dialects have been forced, for many reasons, to abandon their original homelands and have settled down in diaspora. The younger generations of these communities are increasingly losing competence in these dialects due to their newly adopted homeland, culture and language. Consequently, all Aramaic dialects are now in danger of extinction.
The Modern Aramaic language of the mountainous region of Tur 'Abdin (literally in Syriac, ‘the mountain of worshippers’), South Eastern Turkey, is known to its native-speakers as Surayt or Turoyo, that is, ‘the language of the Tur 'Abdin’. It belongs to the Central Neo-Aramaic (CNA) language group. This group of languages is sometimes also referred to as North Western Neo-Aramaic (NWNA).
The Turoyo dialect of Central Neo-Aramaic has been spoken by Christians living in Tur 'Abdin and the surrounding areas. Spoken or vernacular dialects are, by definition, not written down (until modern times). It is only recently that scholars have started to look for evidence of its earlier use. Therefore, it is rather difficult to ascertain precisely how far back Turoyo was being spoken as a distinct language. Turoyo is related to the North Eastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA) dialects spoken by other ancient Christian and Jewish communities of Eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, and North Western Iran. Speakers of Central Neo-Aramaic cannot easily understand speakers of North Eastern Neo-Aramaic.Other languages sporadically included in the material are Syriac, German, Kurdish, Turkish and Arabic.
The data for this deposit was collected during the postdoctoral research of Mikael Oez, the principal investigator. The data was collected in August and September 2016, when Mikael Oez went on fieldwork in Gütersloh and Kirchardt in Germany.
Users of any part of the collection should acknowledge Mikael Oez as the principal investigator, the data collector and the researcher. Users should also acknowledge the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) as the funder of the project. Individual speakers whose words and/or images are used should be acknowledged by respective name(s). Any other contributor who has collected, transcribed or translated the data or was involved in any other way should be acknowledged by name. All information on contributors is available in the metadata.
To refer to any data from the corpus, please cite as follows:
Oez, Mikael. 2017. Documentation of the Beth Qustan Dialect of the Central Neo-Aramaic language, Turoyo. ID: Qustan[insert ID number here]. London: SOAS, Endangered Languages Archive. URL: https://elar.soas.ac.uk/Collection/MPI1035085. Accessed on [insert date here]
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