Suret or Sureth (ܣܘܪܝܬ or ܣܘܪܬ [ˈsu:rɪtʰ], [ˈsu:rɪθ]), also known as Syriac, Assyrian, or Chaldean, is the varieties of Northeastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA) spoken by Christians, primarily the Arameans, Assyrians and Chaldean Catholics. The various NENA dialects descend from Old Aramaic, the lingua franca in the later phase of the Assyrian Empire, which slowly displaced the East Semitic Akkadian language beginning around the 10th century BC. They have been further heavily influenced by Classical Syriac, the Middle Aramaic dialect of Edessa, after its adoption as an official liturgical language of the Syriac churches, but Suret is not a direct descendant of Classical Syriac.
|ܣܘܪܝܬ, ܣܘܪܬ Sūreṯ|
|Native to||Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey|
|Region||northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, northeastern Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Armenia|
|587,320 (152,000 in Iraq) or 828,930|
|Dialects||Urmian, Iraqi Koine, Tyari, Jilu, Nochiya, Nineveh plain (Chaldean), Barwari, Baz, Gawar|
Suret speakers are native to Upper Mesopotamia, northwestern Iran, southeastern Anatolia and the northeastern Levant, which is a large region stretching from the plain of Urmia in northwestern Iran through to the Erbil, Kirkuk and Duhok regions in northern Iraq, together with the northern regions of Syria and to southcentral and southeastern Turkey. Instability throughout the Middle East over the past century has led to a worldwide diaspora of Suret speakers, with most speakers now living abroad in such places as North and South America, Australia, Europe and Russia. Speakers of Assyrian and Turoyo are ethnic Assyrians and are the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia.
SIL distinguishes between Chaldean and Assyrian as varieties of Suret on non-linguistic grounds. Suret is the largest extant Syriac-Aramaic language (828,930 speakers), with Turoyo (103,300 speakers) making up most of the remaining Syriac-Aramaic speakers. Suret is mutually intelligible with some NENA dialects spoken by Jews, especially in the western part of its historical extent. Its mutual intelligibility with Turoyo is partial and asymmetrical, but more significant in written form.
Suret is a moderately-inflected, fusional language with a two-gender noun system and rather flexible word order. There is some Akkadian influence on the language. In its native region, speakers may use Iranian, Turkic and Arabic loanwords, while diaspora communities may use loanwords borrowed from the languages of their respective countries. Suret is written from right-to-left and it uses the Madnḥāyā version of the Syriac alphabet. Suret, alongside other modern Aramaic languages, is now considered endangered, as newer generation of Assyrians tend to not acquire the full language, mainly due to emigration and acculturation into their new resident countries.