Betanure Jewish Neo-Aramaic

Betanure Jewish Neo-Aramaic
lišānā deni / lišā́n huðāye / huðəθ~huðəθkí / amrāni~amrāní
Region Israel, previously Betanure[1]
Native speakers
at most 3 dozen (2008)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog beta1257[2]

Betanure Jewish Neo-Aramaic, the local dialect of Betanure, is among the rarest and most seriously endangered varieties of Aramaic spoken at the present time.[1] It is also one of the most conservative of the Jewish Neo-Aramaic languages, and among the Northeastern Aramaic languages.[1]


In the 1940s, Betanure Jewish Neo-Aramaic was spoken by seventeen large families in the Jewish village of Betanure.[1] The community migrated in its entirety to Israel in 1951.[1] Ever since the dialect has been facing erosion from Israeli Hebrew and from other Neo-Aramaic varieties spoken in Israel.[1]


Labial Dental/Alveolar Postalveolar/Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
Plosive/Affricate p (ṗ) b (ḅ) t ṭ d (ḍ) č č̣ j k g q ʼ
Fricative f (v) θ ð (ð̣) s ṣ z (ẓ) š ṣ̌ ž (ẓ̌) x ɣ ḥ ʻ h
Nasal m ṃ n
Liquid w n l ḷ r ṛ y


The literary register of the dialect has some differences in vocabulary, e.g. ʼāhu for ʼāwa 'he', ʼāhi for ʼāya 'she', məskenūθa for faqirūθa 'poverty'.

A secret register called lišanəd ṭəšwa was used to make speech unintelligible to adjacent Muslims and Christians. This involved using a special set of 'cryptic' words to replace their regular counterparts.

Regular Cryptic Gloss
surāya dlá-gzāra,čila Christian
gfāhəm gdāqe he understands
lá-mḥākət lá-mharbət don't speak
dugle šinqoreš lie
pāre č̣oʼe money
yabiše məšxuryāθa raisins
beʼe baʻšāne eggs

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Mutzafi (2008:xii-xiii)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Bétanure". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.


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