Northeastern Neo-Aramaic
Traditionally spoken northeast to the plain of Urmia in Iran, southeast to the plain of Mosul in Iraq, southwest to Al-Hasakah Governorate in Syria and as northwest as Tur Abdin in Turkey. Diaspora speakers in North America, Europe and Israel (the Jewish dialects).
Linguistic classificationAfro-Asiatic

Northeastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA) is a grouping of related dialects of Neo-Aramaic spoken before World War I as a vernacular language by Jews and Assyrian Christians between the Tigris and Lake Urmia, stretching north to Lake Van and southwards to Mosul and Kirkuk. As a result of the Assyrian genocide, Christian speakers were forced out of the area that is now Turkey and in the early 1950s most Jewish speakers moved to Israel. The Kurdish-Turkish conflict resulted in further dislocations of speaker populations.[1][2] As of the 1990s, the NENA group had an estimated number of fluent speakers among the Assyrians just below 500,000, spread throughout the Middle East and the Assyrian diaspora. In 2007, linguist Geoffrey Khan wrote that many dialects were nearing extinction with fluent speakers difficult to find.[1]

The other branches of Neo-Aramaic are Western Neo-Aramaic, Central Neo-Aramaic (Turoyo and Mlahso), and Mandaic.[1] Some linguists classify NENA as well as Turoyo and Mlahso as a single dialect continuum.[3]


The NENA languages contain a large number of loanwords and some grammatical features from the extinct East Semitic Akkadian language of Mesopotamia (the original language of the Assyrians) and also in more modern times from their surrounding languages: Kurdish, Arabic, Persian, Azerbaijani and Turkish language. These languages are spoken by both Jews and Christian Assyrians from the area. Each variety of NENA is clearly Jewish or Assyrian.

However, not all varieties of one or other religious groups are intelligible with all others of the group. Likewise, in some places Jews and Assyrian Christians from the same locale speak mutually unintelligible varieties of Aramaic, where in other places their language is quite similar. The differences can be explained by the fact that NENA communities gradually became isolated into small groups spread over a wide area, and some had to be highly mobile due to various ethnic and religious persecutions.

The influence of classical Aramaic varieties – Syriac on Christian varieties and Targumic on Jewish communities – gives a dual heritage that further distinguishes language by faith. Many of the Jewish speakers of NENA varieties, the Kurdish Jews, now live in Israel, where Neo-Aramaic is endangered by the dominance of Modern Hebrew. Many Christian NENA speakers, who usually are Assyrian, are in diaspora in North America, Europe, Australia, the Caucasus and elsewhere, although indigenous communities remain in northern Iraq, south east Turkey, north east Syria and north west Iran, an area roughly comprising what had been ancient Assyria.[4]


See also: Category:Northeastern Neo-Aramaic dialects

Northeastern Neo-Aramaic is located in East Upper Mesopotamia
Koy Sanjaq (Christian, Jewish)
Koy Sanjaq (Christian, Jewish)
Urmia (Christian, Jewish)
Urmia (Christian, Jewish)
Sanandaj (Christian, Jewish)
Sanandaj (Christian, Jewish)
Red markers represent Christian Neo-Aramaic varieties while blue represents Jewish ones and purple represents both spoken in the same town.

SIL Ethnologue assigns ISO codes to twelve NENA varieties, two of them extinct:

List of dialects

Below is a full list of Northeastern Neo-Aramaic dialects from the North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic Database Project (as of 2023):[6]

Dialect Religion Country Region
Sulemaniyya, Jewish Jewish  Iraq NE
Qaraqosh (Baghdede) Christian  Iraq NW
Tisqopa Christian  Iraq NW
Aradhin, Christian Christian  Iraq NW
Karəmlesh Christian  Iraq NW
Derabun Christian  Iraq NW
Ankawa Christian  Iraq NE
Billin Christian  Turkey SE
Ashitha Christian  Turkey SE
Umra d-Shish Christian  Iraq NW
Baṭnaya Christian  Iraq NW
Sanandaj, Jewish Jewish  Iran W
Shōsh-u-Sharmən Christian  Iraq NW
Alqosh Christian  Iraq NW
Peshabur Christian  Iraq NW
Koy Sanjaq, Jewish Jewish  Iraq NE
Arbel Jewish  Iraq NE
Bēṣpən Christian  Turkey SE
Mēr Christian  Turkey SE
Išši Christian  Turkey SE
Baznaye Christian  Turkey SE
Gaznax Christian  Turkey SE
Harbole Christian  Turkey SE
Hertevin (Artun) Christian  Turkey SE
Sardarid Christian  Iran NW
Bohtan Christian  Turkey SE
Sanandaj, Christian Christian  Iran W
Rustaqa Jewish  Iraq NE
Dobe Jewish  Iraq NW
Ruwanduz Jewish  Iraq NE
Saqǝz Jewish  Iran W
Telkepe Christian  Iraq NW
Iṣṣin Christian  Iraq NW
Mar-Yaqo Christian  Iraq NW
Tən Christian  Iraq NW
Barzan Jewish  Iraq NW
Betanure Jewish  Iraq NW
Shǝnno Jewish  Iran NW
Bokan Jewish  Iran W
Amedia, Jewish Jewish  Iraq NW
Zakho, Christian Christian  Iraq NW
Zakho, Jewish Jewish  Iraq NW
Urmi, Jewish Jewish  Iran NW
Diyana-Zariwaw Christian  Iraq NE
Sablagh Jewish  Iran W
Jilu Christian  Turkey SE
Challək Christian  Iraq NW
Darband Christian  Iran NW
Bebede Christian  Iraq NW
Dere Christian  Iraq NW
Nargəzine-Xarjawa Christian  Iraq NW
Aqra (Xərpa) Christian  Iraq NW
Aqra (town) Christian  Iraq NW
Xarjawa Christian  Iraq NW
Mangesh Christian  Iraq NW
Bidaro Christian  Iraq NW
Hamziye Christian  Iraq NW
Gargarnaye Christian  Turkey SE
Barwar Christian  Iraq NW
Nerwa, Jewish Jewish  Iraq NW
Salamas, Christian Christian  Iran NW
Bne Lagippa Christian  Turkey SE
Kerend Jewish  Iran W
Koy Sanjaq, Christian Christian  Iraq NE
Tikab Jewish  Iran W
Qarah Ḥasan Jewish  Iran W
Bijar Jewish  Iran W
Bariṭle Christian  Iraq NW
Baqopa Christian  Iraq NW
Sharanish Christian  Iraq NW
Zawitha Christian  Iraq NW
Solduz Jewish  Iran NW
Sulemaniyya, Christian Christian  Iraq NE
Ḥalabja Jewish  Iraq NE
Xanaqin Jewish  Iraq NE
Qaladeze Jewish  Iraq NE
Nerwa, Christian Christian  Iraq NW
Meze Christian  Iraq NW
Shaqlawa, Christian Christian  Iraq NE
Hassana Christian  Turkey SE
Marga Christian  Iraq NW
Bersive Christian  Iraq NW
Qarawilla Christian  Iraq NW
Challa, Jewish Jewish  Turkey SE
Sāt Christian  Turkey SE
Bāz (Maha Xtaya) Christian  Turkey SE
Ṭāl Christian  Turkey SE
Sarspido (duplicate?) Christian  Turkey SE
Van Christian  Turkey SE
Halana Christian  Turkey SE
Bnerumta (Upper Tiyari) Christian  Turkey SE
Tel Tamməṛ (Upper Tiyari) Christian  Turkey SE
Walṭo (Upper Tiyari) Christian  Turkey SE
Sarspido (Lower Tiyari) Christian  Turkey SE
Halmun Christian  Turkey SE
Txuma Gawaya Christian  Turkey SE
Txuma Mazṛa Christian  Turkey SE
Txuma Gudəkθa Christian  Turkey SE
Txuma Gəssa Christian  Turkey SE
Txuma Bərəjnaye Christian  Turkey SE
Arbuš Christian
Bāz (Khabur) Christian  Turkey SE
Dīz Christian  Turkey SE
Jilu (Khabur) Christian  Turkey SE
Šamməsdin Nočiya Christian  Turkey SE
Šamməsdin Iyyəl Christian  Turkey SE
Šamməsdin Marbišo Christian  Turkey SE
Barwar of Qočanəṣ Christian  Turkey SE
Gawar, Christian Christian  Turkey SE
Qočanəṣ Christian  Turkey SE
Van (Timur, Khabur) Christian  Turkey SE
Saṛa (Khabur) Christian  Turkey SE
Saṛa (Armenia) Christian  Georgia,  Armenia
Lewən Christian  Turkey SE
Urmi, Christian Christian  Iran NW
Bne ~ Mne Maθa (Lower Tiyari) Christian  Turkey SE
Bne ~ Mne Belaθa (Upper Tiyari) Christian  Turkey SE
Bāz (Aruntus) Christian  Turkey SE
Mawana Christian  Iran NW
Gawilan Christian  Iran NW
Salamas, Jewish Jewish  Iran NW
Komane Christian  Iraq NW
Derəgni Christian  Iraq NW
Bədyəl Christian  Iraq NE
Enəške Christian  Iraq NW
Təlla Christian  Iraq NW
Darbandoke Christian  Iraq NE
Shiyuz Christian  Iraq NW
Qasr Shirin Jewish  Iran W
Bāz (Shwawa) Christian  Turkey SE
Bāz (Aghgab) Christian  Turkey SE
Shahe Jewish  Iraq NW
Bəjil Jewish  Iraq NW
Umra Christian  Turkey SE
Gargarnaye (Azran) Christian  Turkey SE
Dohok, Jewish Jewish  Iraq NW
Jənnet Christian  Turkey SE
Hoz Christian  Turkey SE
Harmashe Christian  Iraq NW
Dohok, Christian Christian  Iraq NW
Hawdiyan Christian  Iraq NE
Aradhin, Jewish Jewish  Iraq NW
Azax Christian  Iraq NW
Bāz (Rekan) Christian  Iraq NW
Yarda Christian  Iraq NW
Alanish Christian  Iraq NW
Gzira Jewish  Turkey SE
Gawar, Jewish Jewish  Turkey SE
Dawadiya Christian  Iraq NW
Challa, Christian Christian  Turkey SE
Nəxla (Gerbish) Christian  Iraq NW
Nəxla (Dinarta) Christian  Iraq NW
Nuhawa Christian  Iraq NW
Nəxla (Sanaye) Christian  Iraq NW
Sandu Jewish  Iraq NW
Shaqlawa, Jewish Jewish  Iraq NE
Dehe Christian  Iraq NW
Gramun Christian  Turkey SE
Tazacand Christian  Iran NW
Amedia, Christian Christian  Iraq NW


  1. ^ a b c Khan, G. (1 January 2007). "The North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic Dialects". Journal of Semitic Studies. 52 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1093/jss/fgl034.
  2. ^ Bird, Isabella, Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan, including a summer in the Upper Karun region and a visit to the Nestorian rayahs, London: J. Murray, 1891, vol. ii, pp. 282 and 306
  3. ^ Kim, Ronald (2008). ""Stammbaum" or Continuum? The Subgrouping of Modern Aramaic Dialects Reconsidered". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 128 (3): 505–531. ISSN 0003-0279. JSTOR 25608409.
  4. ^ Heinrichs, Wolfhart (ed.) (1990). Studies in Neo-Aramaic. Scholars Press: Atlanta, Georgia. ISBN 1-55540-430-8.
  5. ^ "Redirected". 19 November 2019.
  6. ^ Khan, Geoffrey. "Dialects". The North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic Database Project. Retrieved 2023-10-07.