On Mother Language Day

Feb. 21

Despite a wide array of international efforts to preserve it, the Assyrian language is steadily on the decline. Our believed mother tongue is losing out to English and other world languages, particularly among younger generations of Assyrians, as more and more become a part of the diaspora community.

Too often do we take it for granted. It’s almost as though because the language has survived thousands of years, through war and displacement, we feel that it will simply continue to do so without our active efforts. Think about this: Nearly everything you learned about in your history classes–from the Middle Ages to William Shakespeare to the signing of the Declaration of Independence–occurred while there were Assyrians somewhere in the world speaking their rich language.

It is our duty as Assyrians to pass the language on to future generations. Preserving an endangered ancient language is a huge undertakingand often times it might seem like too great of a challenge. We must make a choice to accept its preservation as our duty. Take the initiative to learn your language: Accepting this responsibility is the only way to ensure its survival.

“We understand the beauty of our mother tongue when we are abroad.”
George Bernard Shaw 

This International Mother Language Day, we’re sharing 10 small ways you can do your part:

    1. Subscribe to Bet Kanu–the “House of Creation.” Founded by a talented group of young and dedicated Assyrians in Syria, Bet Kanu offers a wide range of products designed to make learning the Assyrian language easy and enjoyable. Available in both Eastern and Western dialects, Bet Kanu products are used and loved around the world. From mobile apps to games, songs (click here to watch the “Finger Family” song in Assyrian), and videos, the team at Bet Kanu makes available modern resources to learn an ancient language. Be sure to check out KANU KIDS for adorable mini-series like the hit “Nino & Mia” that will spark interest in even the youngest Assyrian minds–teaching them the language and valuable lessons!
    2. Download Base 2 Applications apps. Take a look at their popular Assyrian apps available to you in the App store. Their apps will make learning the alphabet fun at any age.
    3. Visit LearnAssyrian.com. This website is a wonderful resource, but requires serious commitment. Grab a sheet of paper and a pen, and get ready to teach yourself using their free 41-page guide. If you’ve got little ones at home, Learn Assyrian is also home to the wildly popular Assyrian alphabet learning blocks. Order yours today!
    4. Attend classes at the ANCI. The Assyrian National Council of Illinois offers Assyrian language classes for both children and adults in the Chicagoland area. Take advantage of these free courses; before you know it, you’ll be reading right to left with ease. Assyrian language classes are offered across the United States. If you’re outside Illinois and looking for a class near you, feel free to contact us for help.
    5. Check out SargonSays.com. Sargon Says offers an English to Assyrian dictionary that is an incredible resource to those looking to refine their language skills, as well as those new to the language.
    6. Stop by The Ashurbanipal Library. Our library here at the AUAF has tons of resources available for anyone looking to learn the Assyrian language, like Dr. Simo Parpola’s famous Assyrian-English-Assyrian Dictionary.
    7. Enforce the popular “Assyrian Only” rule in your home–and not just when the grandparents are around.
    8. Challenge your friends. The next time you guys are hanging out, challenge each other to use only Assyrian. It may seem weird at first, but it can also be fun.
    9. Make a pledge to learn the Assyrian alphabet by the end of this year. Here’s a great video from Rinyo to help you do so!
    10. Watch video lessons created by Modern Assyrian on Youtube.