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Gabriel Aframs dictionary or the "assyrian" propaganda carava

By:Sait B.-K.-Danho

It has now been the third time that "Assyrian" organizations e-mailed us about the glorious news concerning Mr. Gabriel Afram, who finally published his long-awaited dictionary "Assyrian-Swedish". On this dictionary, which purportedly contains some 100,000 items, he seems to have spent 15 years.

For us, United-Suryoye, being a Syriac/Aramaic association, the annunciation came as less laudable, if not exasperatingly, when the news reached us.

It reminded us of a similar case. In 1984, there appeared in like manner an "Assyrian-German" dictionary by an "Assyrian" author, Issa Hanna, with the support of the "Assyrian" Mesopotamien Verein (Mesopotamia Union).

A short time thereafter, however, the Diocese Council of the Syriac-orthodox Church of Central Europe in Glane/Losser (the Netherlands), requested from Prof. Dr. Otto Jastrow, a leading linguist/Aramaist from the Erlangen-Nürnberg University, to submit an academic response with special regard to the use of the nomenclature "Assyrian".

In his elucidation of May 20th,1985, the professor admitted to the Council that, as a scholar, one ought to raise his voice if erroneous assertions are spread among the general public. And so he did. The general public, Prof. Jastrow, noted, is being confused and even mislead, highly motivated by an "Assyrian" (political) ideology. Some of the admonishing words of Prof. Jastrow merit to be quoted verbatim:

“What is, however, absolutely unacceptable and can only be called blatant ignorance, is the fact that Issa Hanna provides the Old-Syriac with the name Assyrian. Mr. Hanna’s dictionary contains not a single word Assyrian; it is a dictionary of the Old-Syriac, also called Classical Syriac, or the (here I quote Carl Brockelmann) ‘literary language of the Christians of North-Syria and Mesopotamia, which emerged from Edessa.’ To designate an Old-Syriac dictionary as Assyrian, is a deception of the general public and should not be accepted." (See

With the recently-appeared dictionary of Mr. Gabriel Afram, the general public again is being misinformed in the same way. Just like Mr. Issa Hanna’s dictionary, Mr. Afram’s dictionary on the whole, too, includes no lexical items in the Assyrian language, but rather in Classical Syriac, i.e. an Aramaic dialect that sprang forth from Edessa and its near environment. This lexicon, it seems, was consciously provided with the erroneous title of "Assyrian-Swedish" in order to carry forth the "Assyrian" propaganda and to convince the world that the modern "Assyrians" are directly linked to the Assyrians of Antiquity. Also, an “Assyrian” union promoted the mentioned "Assyrian-German" lexicon with a propelling strength. This time, however, the "Assyriska Kulturhuset," that is, the “Assyrian Culture House” based in Södertälje (Sweden), is responsible for the publication of a Syriac lexicon with a deceiving title.

Since until now no Syriac-Swedish dictionaries have appeared on the market, many people presumably will buy copies of this work. We, the United-Suryoye association, recommend the purchasers who care about the Aramaic heritage to cut off the wrong title of the dictionary and return it to the author with the reproof: "Hereby I send you your falsification back." We finally ask the Syriac/Aramaic unions and institutions to undertake judicial steps against this kind of deception of our/their Aramaic language.


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