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ܣܢܝܐ Senāya, ܣܘܪܝ Soray
Pronunciation /sɛnɑjɑ/, /soraj/
Spoken in Iran, western Europe, Australia, USA
Region Tehran and Qazvin
Total speakers 500
Language family Afro-Asiatic
Writing system Syriac abjad (Māḏnhāyā variant)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 syn

The Senaya language is a modern Eastern Aramaic or Syriac language. It is the language of Assyrians originally from Sanandaj in Iranian Kurdistan. Most Senaya speakers now live in California, United States and few families still live in Tehran, Iran. They are mostly members of the Chaldean Catholic Church.


Origin, history and use today

The city of Sanandaj is at the southeastern periphery of the area of spoken modern Aramaic languages. Its geography makes the Neo-Aramaic of Sanandaj quite distinct from other dialects. Two different colloquial Aramaic dialects developed in Sanandaj: Jewish Hulaula and Christian Senaya. The two languages developed along different lines, so that the two are not mutually comprehensible. One distinctive difference between the two is the sound change associated with the Middle Aramaic fricative θ (th), often rendered as l in Hulaula, and s in Senaya. For example, mîθa, 'dead', is mîsa in Senaya, and mîla in Hulaula.

Most Senaya speakers are members of the Chaldean Catholic Church, which broke away from the Assyrian Church of the East in the 16th century and entered into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. However, Senaya is incomprehensible to speakers of Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, also Chaldean Catholics, originally from Iraq. In the middle of the 20th century, the Chaldean Bishop of Senna (as Sanandaj is called in Senaya) was moved to Tehran. The Christian community soon followed, so that there are no native speakers of Senaya left in Sanandaj. In Tehran, Senaya has been heavily influenced by the Urmežnāya dialect of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic spoken by Church of the East community. Both church communities use classical Syriac in worship. Senaya is written in the Madnhāyâ version of the Syriac alphabet, which is also used for classical Syriac.


Senaya Music & Lyrics

"Melodies of a Distant Land" ,the first album which the music and lyrics in Senaya Language is written by Paul Caldani . A copy of this album is currently used as Senaya music reference at Harvard University Dept of Semantics, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Wolfhart Heinrichs.[1][2]



  • Heinrichs, Wolfhart (ed.) (1990). Studies in Neo-Aramaic. Scholars Press: Atlanta, Georgia. ISBN 1-55540-430-8.

See also

External links


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