SYRIAC. I. The language is a dialect of the Aramean, anciently spoken through out Syria, the form preserved in literature being probably that of Edessa. After the Mohammedan conquest, 636 A.D., it was gradually displaced by the Arabic; and since the 13th c. it has been used only as an ecclesiastical language in the Syrian churches, and spoken corruptly in a few districts of mount Lebanon and on lake Oroomiah- This last has by the labors of the American missionaries been spade a written language. The Syrian alphabet contains 22 letters, all consonants, read from right to left, and 5 vowels denoted by diacritical points. In grammar it shares the Aramaic peculiarities; its vocabulary contains Persian, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Tartar, and even French and Eng lish words—traces of the nations that have ruled Syria. II. The literature corresponding so the condition of the country—which was continually subject to foreign dominion— has no freshness, is made up of translations, and largely on religious subjects. It may be
divided into three periods: I. Before the Mohammedan conquest, 636. Syriac was then a spoken language, and the universities of Edessa and Nisibis were famous through the east. It produced the Peshito (i.e. the simple) version of the Bible, the oldest Syriac hook extant, and accepted among all parties in the Syrian church. The Old Testament version was made by Christian translators directly from the Hebrew, and the New was made at Edessa in the 2d c., or the beginning of the 3d. II. 613-1318 was the period of decay; at the beginning Syriac and Arabic were both spoken, and at the eud both were iused in books. III. From 1318 to the present time. Arabic is the spoken language; and -Syriac is cultivated only as an ecclesiastical language, and chiefly iu the Maronite college mt Rome.