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Lishán Didán is the vernacular language of the Jewish people in Urmia, Iran. Aramaic itself was the lingua franca of Mesopotamia. The many dialects of the ancient language began losing popularity in favor of Arabic with the rise of the Arabian Empire. However, many Jewish and Christian communities in the near east held onto features of their mother tongues, leading to the formation of Neo-Aramaic.


Lishán Didán is a part of a dialect group called North Eastern Neo Aramaic. A map that showcases the names and locations of these dialects is below. Note that Lishán Didán is referred to as Urmi, as it was spoken by Jews in Urmia. Many of the dialects center around North-Eastern Iraq, which leads scholars to believe that the dialects in Western Iran and South-Eastern Turkey were spoken by communities that migrated from Iraq.


Lishán Didán has no written vocabulary. It was a vernacular language for the Jewish community in North-Western Iran. In addition, most Lishán Didán speakers are now in diaspora, leading to the moribund state of the language.

The course is designed to teach important vocabulary, as well as verb conjugations. The purpose of this course is primarily to educate those interested in Neo-Aramaic and to give those with ancestors who speak it a chance to learn it. This work was created to inspire people who speak any endangered Jewish language/dialect (or have family that speak it) to participate in documenting it.
This course was created by recording the speech of Angel Mordekhay. Angel lives in Southern California, and comes from a family of native Lishán Didán speakers from Iran. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, many speakers of Neo-Aramaic decided not to teach their children their language in the effort to help their families assimilate. Though this is understandable considering the history of the Jewish people in the region, Angel chose to do the opposite. She finds great pride in her language and taught it to all of her four children, just as her parents taught her.
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