Names of Syriac Christians


Names of Syriac Christians

The various communities of indigenous pre-Arab Neo-Aramaic-speaking people of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and the surrounding areas advocate different terms for ethnic self-designation. It may be the case that these groups are merely closely related and not in fact exactly the same people.

The terminological problem goes back to colonial times, but it became more acute in 1946, when with the independence of Syria, the adjective "Syrian" referred to an independent state. The controversy isn't restricted to exonyms like English "Assyrian" vs. "Aramean", but also applies to self-designation in Neo-Aramaic, the minority "Aramean" faction endorses both Sūryāyē (ܣܘܪܝܝܐ) and Ārāmayē (ܐܪܡܝܐ), while the majority "Assyrian" faction insists on Āṯūrāyē (ܐܬܘܪܝܐ) but also accepts Sūryāyē (ܣܘܪܝܝܐ) as Sūryāyē is generally accepted to be a derivative of Āṯūrāyē.

The question of ethnic identity and self-designation is sometimes connected to the scholarly debate on the etymology of "Syria". The question has a long history of academic controversy, but majority mainstream opinion currently strongly favors that Syria is indeed ultimately derived from the Assyrian term


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