Classical Syriac II

Course Status: 
CEU credits: 
ECTS credits: 
Academic year: 
Start and end dates: 
12 Jan 2015 - 3 Apr 2015
István Perczel

Classical Syriac Beginner II:Introduction to Classical Syriac Language and Culture

Brief course description:

This course intends to deepen previously acquired skills in Classical Syriac reading, composition and speaking. It will consist of two modules: 1. a course of practice and grammar for continuing beginners and 2. a course of practice and grammar for advanced students needing a deepening of their grammatical skills.

Learning Outcomes:

Continuing beginners will l learn to read and understand simple Syriac texts and, by the end of the semester, will be capable to compose Syriac sentences orally and in writing. They will be further acquainted with Syriac grammar, more precisely the verbal system and syntax. Advanced students will receive grounding in morphology, the punctuation system, syntax, verbal forms. They will learn to be secure in understanding unvocalised texts. They will learn how to understand an unknown text written in Syriac. They will improve their skills of comprehension and of grammatical analysis.


The methodologies of learning modern and classical languages differ in the sense that in the case of modern languages one strives to acquire an active knowledge allowing to conduct conversations and correspondence as well as writing composition, while in the case of classical languages one is satisfied with the passive capability of reading and understanding texts. However, a number of classical languages, such as Hebrew, Classical Arabic and Sanskrit, are also living languages being actively used. To this group belongs also Syriac. Accordingly, the teaching/learning method will be a blend of the classical European grammar-based approach and of the methodology followed in the transmission of the language in the communities themselves. Thus, besides an introduction to grammar, there will be constant exercises in translating and composition.


During the term, the students will write three tests on the material studied (25%); however, as the classes are based on the students' active involvement, participation in the classes will remain the most important basis for assessment (75%).

Manuals and literature:

John F. Healey, Leshono Suryoyo: First Studies in Syriac (Piscataway NJ: Gorgias Press, 2005)

Abd al-Masih Naaman Karabash, Hergē d-Keryono [Reading Lessons] (Hengelo NL: Mar Yuhanun Kilisesi, 1985)

Sebastian Brock, An Introduction to Syriac Studies (Piscataway NJ: Gorgias Press, 2006)


J. Payne Smith, A Compendious Syriac Dictionary (Oxford: The University Press, 1902; reprint: Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1999)

Archpriest Zeki Zitoun, Burkho: English to Syriac Dictionary (Sydney: Archpr. ZekiZitoun, 2007)

The manuals and dictionaries will be provided by the instructor.


The actual schedule will depend on the constitution of the group, the initial level of the students and the pace of progress of the group. So it is impossible to break down the schedule to weeks etc.