Reference Resource of the Week

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages

Need some facts about the languages of antiquity? Are you curious about the writing systems, phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicons of languages that are no longer spoken? If so check out this resource, the first comprehensive reference work treating all of the languages of antiquity! Included is a discussion of those several languages of which too little evidence remains to allow for a comprehensive linguistic description, as well as an examination of the methodology for recovering languages or linguistic stages which precede any historical documentation.

Did you know that…? “Aramaic is a member of the Semitic language family and forms one of the two main branches of the Northwest Semitic group within the family, the other being Canaanite. The language most closely related to Aramaic is Hebrew. More distantly related languages include Akkadian and Arabic. Of all the Semitic languages, Aramaic is one of the most extensively attested, in both geographic and temporal terms. Aramaic has been continuously spoken for approximately 3,500 years (c. 1500 BC to the present) and is attested throughout the Near East and the Mediterranean world. Aramaic was originally spoken by Aramean tribes who settled in portions of what is now Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq… In later times, the language was spoken and used as a lingua franca throughout the Near East by both Arameans and non-Arameans until it was eclipsed by Arabic beginning in the seventh century. Aramaic is still spoken today in communities of eastern Syria, northern Iraq, and southeastern Turkey, though these dialects have been heavily influenced by Arabic and/or Kurdish.”

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