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  • Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent and Eastern Arabia. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from the 4th to the 8th centuries, the classical language of Edessa, preserved in a large body of Syriac literature. It became the vehicle of Syriac Christianity and culture, spreading throughout Asia as far as the Indian Malabar Coast and Eastern China, and was the medium of communication and cultural dissemination for Arabs and, to a lesser extent, Persians. Primarily a Christian medium of expression, Syriac had a fundamental cultural and literary influence on the development of Arabic, which largely replaced it towards the 14th century. Syriac remains the liturgical language of Syriac Christianity. Syriac is a Middle Aramaic language, and, as such, it is a language of the Northwestern branch of the Semitic family. It is written in the Syriac alphabet, a derivation of the Aramaic alphabet.

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