The Language of Jesus

peshitta1Ariel Sabar, a writer for the Smithsonian Magazine, documents the decline in the use of Aramaic, the language of Jesus that was once spoken throughout Asia but is now restricted to a few regions in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. The death of languages is not unique to Aramaic: according to Sabar, “Fifty to 90 percent of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken today are expected to go silent by century’s end.” In their place, the “oligarchy” of English, Mandarin, and Spanish will undoubtedly gain greater currency, further reducing the shockingly narrow linguistic range on the planet (Sabar observes that at the present time, “94 percent of the world’s population speaks 6 percent of its languages.”)

How to Save a Dying Language