Monday, February 07, 2005

Here Comes Carrot-Head

This story about the Assyrians in Iraq and in the United States reminded me of a very dear friend from my college days. I won't embarrass him by giving his name, but he was a Presbyterian pastor who also happened to be Assyrian. It was his own enthusiasm for his mother tongue (Urmi, a dialect of Neo-Aramaic) that first got me interested in Aramaic.

This is the first Aramaic sentence I learned: I had noticed that whenever a certain annoying person approached to join our conversation, the pastor would mutter, "Tileh, tileh jizareh..." Finally, I asked him privately what tileh jizareh meant. He laughed and said, "It means, Here comes carrot-head."

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