How better to get back into the swing of things than sharing a family project?
Inspired by the serendipitous find of a metal-backed classroom-sized chalkboard (who just throws out a full sized chalkboard??!), we've embarked on an old-fashioned one room schoolhouse style experiment in teaching and learning Aramaic. But which dialect of Aramaic to use? Any dialect of Aramaic we chose would functionally become a private language in the hands (mouths?) of our family. We first considered Classical Syriac (a la Kthobonoyo) as it is a well-established literary dialect with a very wide vocabulary; however, Classical Syriac is admittedly only about 5-10% of what happens at Aramaic Designs.
Most of the translations I do focus upon reconstructing Old Galilean, i.e. Jesus' Dialect) which is, needless to say, rather obscure, rather slim in attestation... and rather *dead.* Eastern Aramaic dialects are by far more common and survive to present day, where Western Aramaic dialects, like Galilean are only survived by *one* example (Ma'loula).
Nevertheless, the challenge that the idea presented seemed to be intriguing: Adapting a form of Galilean Aramaic to be an at-home language that would allow my family greater understanding of my work (and perhaps even the spark to carry it on).
So the following plan was devised:
As a matter of keeping a family routine, every day I put a short lesson up on the board (small enough to go over in 5 minutes) and we keep it in mind during the day and reward ourselves.
In these lessons, I'd devise a way to make this ancient dialect applicable to modern life while keeping as many archaic features intact as possible. There will obviously be compromises, but a working knowledge of a language in modern context (which is what a large number of our clients are after) would certainly make things easier to cast back into older literary forms in the day-to-day work that I take part in.
So, now it's been about a month of lessons based on the alphabet and phrases relevant to our everyday lives, and it's amazing how quickly my wife and eldest daughter are picking things up.
Things were going so well, that about a week ago my wife inquired why I didn't put this up on DARIUS. I still felt that there were a number of kinks to work out, and that the lesson plans were very unstructured, but after some discussion, we realized that the way lessons were progressing was more of an advantage than a disadvantage.
Despite any drawbacks, sharing this on DARIUS looked like the best thing to do, not only to promote awareness, but to see who else was interested. So, I took the time to work out a consistent orthography and a rather "have at it" approach on whatever subjects come up in daily life.
The current lesson will always be up and available on DARIUS here for free:
The archives with extended commentary, exercises, and questions and answers will be available to access for less than a dollar a day. Anyone can enroll in the archive here:
Before the archive opens, I'm going to have at least a week's-worth of content ready to go, but preregistration, as well as the current day's lessons (as soon as they are posted in the morning) are both up and ready.
Tell me what you think. :-)
Labels: aramaic, DARIUS, Galilean