יהודיותא Hûla'ûlā, לשנא נשן Lišānā Nošān
Native toIran, Iraq
RegionIsrael, originally from Iranian Kurdistan and small parts of Iraqi Kurdistan
Native speakers
(10,000 cited 1999)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3huy

Trans-Zab Jewish Neo-Aramaic, also known as Hulaulá (lit.'Jewish'),[2] is a grouping of related dialects of Northeastern Neo-Aramaic originally spoken by Jews in Iranian Kurdistan and easternmost Iraqi Kurdistan. Most speakers now live in Israel.


Speakers sometimes call their language Lishana Noshan or Lishana Akhni, both of which mean 'our language'. To distinguish it from other dialects of Jewish Neo-Aramaic, Hulaulá is sometimes called Galiglu ('mine-yours'), demonstrating different use of prepositions and pronominal suffixes. Scholarly sources tend simply to call it Persian Kurdistani Jewish Neo-Aramaic.

In terms of internal classification of Trans-Zab Jewish Neo-Aramaic, Mutzafi (2008) suggests a three-way split based on the various forms of the positive present copula: Western Trans-Zab, including the dialect cluster in Arbel North Eastern Trans-Zab, including the dialect cluster in Urmi and adjacent Irani and Turkish areas South Eastern Trans-Zab, in Iranian Kurdistan and areas to the south, as well as Iraqi towns Sulemaniyya, Halabja, Penjwin and Khanaqin.[3]


Oral history in Lishan Noshan (Jewish Neo-Aramaic).

Hulaulá sits at the southeastern extreme of the wide area over which various Neo-Aramaic dialects used to be spoken. From Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan Province, Iran, the area extended north, to the banks of Lake Urmia. From there, it extended west to Lake Van (in Turkey), and south onto the Plain of Mosul (in Iraq). Then it headed east again, through Arbil, back to Sanandaj.

The upheavals in their traditional region after the First World War and the founding of the State of Israel led most of the Persian Jews to settle in the new homeland in the early 1950s. Most older speakers still have Kurdish as a second language, while younger generations have Hebrew. Hulaulá is the most widely spoken of all the Jewish Neo-Aramaic languages, with around 10,000 speakers. Almost all of these live in Israel, with a few remaining in Iran, and some in the United States.


Hulaulá is somewhat intelligible with the Jewish Neo-Aramaic dialect of Urmia (and Iranian Azerbaijan more broadly). It is also somewhat intelligible with its western neighbor, Inter-Zab Jewish Neo-Aramaic. However, it is unintelligible with the Christian Neo-Aramaic dialect of Senaya. Christians and Jews spoke completely different Neo-Aramaic languages in the same region. Like other Judaeo-Aramaic languages, Hulaulá is sometimes called Targumic, due to the long tradition of translating the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, and the production of targums.


The various dialects of Hulaulá were clustered around the major settlement areas of Jews in the region: the cities of Sanandaj and Saqqez in Kurdistan Province, Iran, with a southern outpost at Kerend, and a cluster in the Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah. Hulaulá is full of loanwords from Hebrew, Akkadian, Persian, and Kurdish.

Writing System

Hulaulá is written in the Hebrew alphabet. Spelling tends to be highly phonetic, and elided letters are not written.


In general, the Trans-Zab dialect bundle has many isoglosses, such as final stress, e.g. gorá "man" vs. góra "elsewhere", merged interdentals /ṯ/ and /ḏ/ into /l/, e.g. belá "house" (< *bayṯā) and ʾelá "festival" (< *ʿeḏā), lexemes, e.g. băruxa "friend2, the definite suffix -aké borrowed from Gorani, and verb-final word order influenced by Iranian. Though most Trans-Zab dialects are similar, Trans-Zab Jewish Neo-Aramaic is unique in its definite suffix, -aké. The final é could have been borrowed from Akre or through contraction of -aka-y in Sorani.[3]

All Trans-Zab varieties are verb-final, and its sentence structure is SOV.[3]

Hulaulá exhibits many phonological and morphosyntactic innovations. The most widely applicable are listed below:

See also


  1. ^ Hulaulá at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ (Endangered Languages of) The Middle East and North Africa Charles G. Häberl
  3. ^ a b c Mutzafi, Hezy (2008). "Trans-Zab Jewish Neo-Aramaic". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Further reading