Assyrian / Neo-Assyrian is spoken by some 3 million people
in parts of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria, and among the Assyrian
diaspora mainly in the USA and Europe. Assyrian is also known
as Assyrian Neo-Aramaic.
The Assyrian language and it's dialects are usually classified
as belonging to the Aramaic branch of Semitic languages, which
belong to the Afro-Asiatic language family. The better term for
it would be "Ashuric" or "Ashuro-Mesopotamian", however scholars
are still debating its proper classification. Assyrian prefer not
to use the term Semitic as it is a religiously-based term which
derives from the Greek form (Σημ - Sēm) of
Shem, one of the sons of Noah in the Bible, and the Assyrians
predate Shem by thousands of years, thus predating the term Semitic itself.
Assyrian / Neo-Assyrian is usually written in the madnhāyā
version of the Syriac alphabet. Ways of writing the language with the
Latin and Cyrillic alphabets were developed in the Soviet Union
during the 1930s.
Sample text in Eastern Assyrian (Lishana Ashuraya)
Kulleh birnasheh ina biryeh kheereh U' damyaneh B' iqara U' zitqeh.
Biryena B' parmeta U' hona, U' shart awi min oudaleh B' roukha D' akhunawoota.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)