Monday, 4 February 2013

What Would Jesus Say?

Lot's of things in Aramaic!

This was Jesus' native langauge and one of the 50-90% of the world's languages likely to become extict in the next 100 years.

It's an ancient language, over 3,000 years old, originally spoken in the Middle East. However, the largest concentration of speakers is now in Chicago's northern suburbs. Here lives tens of thousands of Assyrians, who are Aramaic-speaking Christians, driven here by persecution and war.

Linguist, Geoffrey Khan of the University of Cambridge, has travlled to Chicago to try and record and document the different dialects of Aramaic. Even now, he tries to find elderly people who accents have been less mixed and influenced by their new surroundings.

Parts of the Bible and the Jewish Talmud were written in Aramaic and Jesus is quopted on several occasions speaking in this langauge. Even on the cross, he  cried out, “Elahi, Elahi, lema shabaqtani?” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
This important part of history and culture is already being 'lost' and Khan is desperate to preserve something of its remaining speakers.

Do you think it's important to document Jesus' native tongue? Is it significant that it is soon to die out? Do you think in 100 years time people will just speak English, Spanish and Mandarin as some people are predicting?

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