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Mlahsô language

ܡܠܚܬܝܐ Mlaḥsô, ܣܘܪܝܝܐ Suryô
Native to Syria, Turkey
Region Qamishli in northeastern Syria, two villages in Diyarbakır Province of southeastern Turkey
Extinct 1998, with the death of Ibrahim Ḥanna
Language codes
ISO 639-3 lhs
Glottolog mlah1239[1]

Mlaḥsô (Syriac: ܡܠܚܬܝܐ), sometimes referred to as Suryoyo, is a Modern West Syriac language, a dialect of Aramaic. It was traditionally spoken in eastern Turkey and northeastern Syria by members of the Assyrian people. Additionally, many Mlaḥsô speakers residing in Mlaḥsô village were Christians of Jacobite faith.[2] Aside from their native language, Mlaḥsô, speakers were fluent in Armenian, Kurdish, and Zaza.

The last speaker of Mlaḥsô, Ibrahim Ḥanna, died in 1998 in Qamishli. His daughters, Munira in Qamishlo, Shamiram in Lebanon, and son Dr. Isḥaq in Germany are the only left who can speak the language, but they have no one to converse with.


  • General Information 1
    • Etymology 1.1
    • Current status 1.2
    • Reasons for Extinction 1.3
  • Vocabulary 2
  • Example Phrases 3
  • Example Sentences 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

General Information

The village in which Mlaḥsô was spoken, the village of Mlaḥsô, was established by two monks from the Tur Abdin.

The Ṣurayt of Mlaḥsô is closely related to the Ṣurayt of Turabdin. It was spoken in the villages of Mlaḥsô and ˁAnsha near Lice, Diyarbakır, Turkey.

Mlaḥsô is more conservative than Turoyo in grammar and vocabulary, using classical Syriac words and constructions while also preserving the original Aramaic form.[3] However, it is phonologically less conservative than Turoyo. This is particularly noticeable in the use of s for classical θ and y (IPA /j/) for ġ. Mlaḥsô renders the combination of vowel plus y as a single, fronted vowel rather than a diphthong or a glide.


The name of the village and the language is derived from the earlier Aramaic word mālaḥtā, 'salt marsh'. The literary Syriac name for the language is Mlaḥthoyo. The native speakers of Mlaḥsô referred to their language simply as Suryô, or Syriac.[4]

Current status

On 3 May 2009, a historical event in the history of the Mlaḥsô Ṣurayt language took place. This day, the Suroyo TV program series Dore w yawmotho was about the village Mlaḥsô (and Tamarze). Dr. Isḥaq Ibrahim was a guest and spoke in the Ṣurayt of Mlaḥso with his siblings (sister Shamiram in Lebanon, and a sister Munira in Qamishlo) on the phone live. Turabdin Assyrians/Syriacs viewers and those present at the show could for the first time ever in modern time hear the language live.

Reasons for Extinction

The Mlaḥsô language has gone into extinction due to:

  • The Syrian population shifting to Arabic
  • The location of the Assyrian Genocide was in the area where Mlaḥsô was strongest, resulting in a disproportionate loss of speakers compared to Turoyo and Aramaic.


English Mlaḥsô
person nṓšo
father avó
paternal uncle dozó
trouble renyó
donkey ḥmṓrō
one ḥā
door tár'ṓ
goat ḗzō
great, big rābṓ
house baytṓ
ten 'esrṓ
grapes 'envḗ
mouth pēmṓ
morning safrṓ
three tlōsō
sleep šensṓ
hand īzṓ
seven šav'ṓ
today yōmā́n
in, into lġāv
brother āḥṓ
why lmūn
what mūn
much, many, very sāy
town mzītṓ
cock toġó

Example Phrases

English Mlaḥsô
They sleep dōmxī́
I wash māsī́ġno
He loved rhī́mle
She gave hī́vla
I sold zābḗnli
He demanded tlī́ble
He stole gnī́vle
His house baytā́v
His place duksā́v
From him mēnā́v

Example Sentences

English Mlaḥsô
Where is my hen? eyko-yo talġuntézi

See also


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Mlahso".  
  2. ^ Jastrow, Otto (1985). "Mlaḥsô: An Unknown Neo-Aramaic Language of Turkey". Journal of Semitic Studies 30: 265–270.  
  3. ^ Kim, Ronald. 2008. "Stammbaum or Continuum? The Subgrouping of Modern Aramaic Dialects Reconsidered." In Journal Of The American Oriental Society 128, no. 3, 505-531.
  4. ^ Jastrow, Otto. 1997. "Der Neuaramaische Dialek von Mlahso." In British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, reviewed by Geoffrey Khan. 299-300. British Society for Middle Eastern Studies.
  • Jastrow, Otto (1994). Der neuaramäische Dialekt von Mlaḥsô. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-03498-X.

Further reading

  • Goldenberg, Gideon. 2000. "Early Neo-Aramaic and Present-day Dialectical Diversity." In Journal Of Semitic Studies XLV/1, 69-86. Jerusalem.
  • Hoberman, Robert D. 1988. "The History of the Modern Aramaic Pronouns and Pronominal Suffixes." In Journal of the American Oriental Society 108, no. 4, 557-575. American Oriental Society.
  • Jastrow, Otto. 1997. "16. The Neo-Aramaic Languages." In The Semitic Languages, edited by Robert Hetzron, 334–377. New York: Routledge.
  • Jastrow, Otto. 1996. "Passive Formation in Turoyo and Mlahso." In Israel Oriental Studies XVI: Studies in Modern Semitic Languages, edited by Shlomo Izre’el, 49–57. Leiden: Brill.
  • Jastrow, Otto. 1994. Der neuaramäische Dialekt von Mlaḥsô. Semitica Viva 14. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz
  • Khan, Geoffrey. 1999. "The Neo-Aramaic Dialect Spoken by Jews from the Region of Arbel (Iraqi Kurdistan)." In Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 62, no. 2, 213-225.
  • Khan, Geoffrey. 2003. "Some Remarks on Linguistic and Lexical Change in the North Eastern Neo-Aramaic Dialects." In Aramaic Studies 1, no. 2, 179-190.
  • Mutzafi, Hezy. 2006. "On the Etymology of Some Enigmatic Words in northeastern Neo-Aramaic." In Aramaic Studies 4, no. 1, 83-99.

External links

  • Suroyo TV 2009-05-03 Dore w yawmotho - Mlaḥso & Tamarze
  • Semitisches Tonarchiv: Dokumentgruppe "Aramäisch/Mlahsô" (text in German)
  • Endangered Languages Project - Mlahso
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