Skip to main content

Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Assyrian (Atoraya)


Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, USA (Philimon Darmo)

Assyrian (Atoraya)
Language Profile


As speakers of the Eastern dialect of the Assyrian Language are scattered all over the world, no official figures are available for each individual country.  A rough educated estimate would place the number somewhere between 0.7-1 million.


The historical home of the Assyrian language is Iraq, North-Eastern Turkey and Iran. The majority still reside in the Middle Eastern countries of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Gulf region.


The modern national language of the Assyrian people, who have not had a national home of their own since the fall of the Assyrian Empire in 612 B.C., has evolved from the Akkadean (Assyrian and Babylonian) which was the ancient language of the people of Mesopotamia. It is written in the Eastern Syriac alphabet and diacritics. Over the centuries it has developed a close relationship with and has been used side by side with the Classical Syriac which continues to be the liturgical language of the Assyrian and Chaldean churches. The Classical Syriac was and remained as the only written language until about the middle of the nineteenth century when the written form of the modern Assyrian language was developed mainly through the efforts of the American and European Christian missionaries, in co-operation with a number of learned native Assyrians, in the Urmia region of North-West Iran.

The original written form was largely based on the Urmia dialect, simply because that is where the Christian missionaries established their headquarters and printing presses. Since then, a more standard written language, incorporating some features of the major dialects, has evolved. The Classical Syriac has been relied on, to some extent, as a source for the development of a rich vocabulary and syntax. After the advent of computers and the internet and satellite television, the modern Assyrian literature has thrived and continues to grow, both in its historical homeland in Iraq and also among the Assyrian migrant communities outside the Middle East.