Monday, February 23, 2004

WHATEVER ELSE Mel Gibson has done, good or bad, by making The Passion of the Christ, he has accomplished one good thing: it is now cool to know Aramaic.
Aramaic boosters hope for lift from Gibson's 'Passion' (Ha'aretz)
By Associated Press

At a small Jerusalem church, Aramaic, the ancient language that Jesus spoke, is little more than an echo these days.
An elder from the Syrian Orthodox congregation laments that he's got few people to speak to in Aramaic besides the monks. Parts of the liturgy have to be done in Arabic. And a nun who sings the Lord's Prayer says the words are just about the only ones she's able to recite in Aramaic.

Some say spoken Aramaic may vanish in just a few decades.

Linguists hope for a boost from Mel Gibson's new film "The Passion of the Christ," performed entirely in Aramaic and Latin.


Sami Barsoum, 69, a leader of the Syrian Orthodox community in Jerusalem, is one of the few who still speaks Aramaic fluently here. The community offers Aramaic in summer school, but there's little interest and fewer than half the 600 members speak the language. "Maybe the new generation will wake up and continue," he said.

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