Syrian villagers keep Jesus' language alive. From the SF Chronicle.
Marian Shanees had never seen the letters of her native language of Aramaic. Now, a new program in Maaloula, one of the few places where Aramaic is still spoken, will change that.
"This is the first time I'm seeing my alphabet," said 7-year-old Marian, who started learning the language in early July at the Aramaic Language Institute. "I'm really happy to be studying the language of my ancestors."
Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus and a Semitic tribe thousands of years ago. Today, it is still spoken in three Syrian villages, Jabaadeen, Serkha and Maaloula - all within an hour's bus ride of the Syrian capital of Damascus.
I hope to visit this village in October insha'allah. My cousin R is married to a man from Maaloula; furthermore my late father was always telling me with pride about the Aramaic spoken in Maaloula and other Syrian villages. Maaloula is largely Melkite, my father's ancestral church. Melkite liturgy was still sung in Aramaic in his childhood and he knew some verses in that language. I feel that through my father and his culture I have a living connection to the language Jesus spoke.