vowels in Syriac Aramaic

After the dissolution of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great as a result Greek influence and culture spread all over the Middle East.It was then that Aramean scholars first became familiar with the Greek alphabet which already had a fully developed and quite accurate vowel system.

On the other hand the Aramaic script indicated basically consonants and its weakness was thus exposed due to this contact.So Arameans thought they could use vowels to the benefit of their own script.

The result was the development of two vowel systems the Eastern and Western after the split of the Syriac church into the Western branch under Byzantine rule and Eastern branch under Sassanid Persia.

The Western borrowed directly the Greek vowels themselves which were written above the letter.The second used one or two dots above or below the letter to indicate vowels.Later appeared a combined system of the two.

The Estrangela script originally made no use of vowels and these two systems initially developed for Serto and the Nestorian script.Nowadays Greek vowels are used with the Estrangela script as well.

The vowels are five and their Syriac names are Ftoho,Rboso,Hboso,Zqofo and Csoso.

Western Syriac (Greek) vowels

Eastern Syriac vowels (under Sassanid Persia).


Below follows the first line of John's Gospel written in the Estrangelo script with Greek vowels.

In the beginning was the Word

You should also take into account that dots do not always mark vowels but they are used for other purposes as well (consonant doublication,pronounciation,etc)

Read also
The double-dot (seyame) in Classical Syriac.
The Niqqud vowels for Aramaic.
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