In Jerusalem

Documenting a dying language

With a grant from Mifal Hapayis, the Minerva Publishing House is documenting a collection of Jewish-Kurdish folktales in Aramaic.

French priest Brother J. Elihay compiled ‘The Olive Tree Dictionary'.
Photo by: Courtesy Minerva Publishing House
Language extinction is a very real, and very modern, phenomenon. The form of Aramaic spoken by Jews in the Iraqi-Kurdish city of Zakho is a good example. Because the last Jews from that city immigrated to Israel in the 1950s, there are no new native speakers of that language, and their descendants speak Hebrew.

Lishana Deni, as their language is called in Aramaic, has been identified by the Endangered Languages Project, an initiative launched by Google last year.



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