movie revives "passion" for ancient languages (Aramaic and Latin)
Thread poster: Marcus Malabad

Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:42
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Feb 23, 2004

You must've all heard about Mel Gibson's Passion of Christ. This film, a labor of love for the devoutly Catholic Gibson, was shot in both Aramaic, the most commonly used language of first century Palestine, and "street" Latin. This is probably the first movie in cinematic history where the entire movie was shot in dead and dying languages.

The English script was translated into these languages by Rev. William Fulco.

From a linguistic point of view, this movie will prove to be exciting since we know so little about street Latin. Thousands of Latin inscriptions give us some small hint of ordinary language, from there it is a great leap to the Latin of the Vulgate.

Aramaic, according to recent census, is fast becoming extinct since it's not spoken but by small communities in Syria and scattered communities around the world, mostly in the Middle East.

Go and enjoy the movie as both linguists and cinephiles!

linguist and cinephile


English to Dutch
Greek Feb 23, 2004


United States
Local time: 04:42
English to Arabic
+ ...
Aramaic seems surviving and thriving, at least in CA and IL Feb 23, 2004


Although Aramaic has a small number of speakers (as compared to other major languages of the Middle East), the language seems to be surviving, if not thriving, in terms of its social and liturgical use among Iraqi Christian ethnic communities in California and Illinois.

The language is also taught to younger generations at several of their community centers.

Another rare / "low-density" language of the Middle East which can still be found is that spoken by the Druze minorities of Syria, Israel and Lebanon, some of whose members area settled in southern California.



Stephen H. Franke
San Pedro, California


Languages in The Passion Of Christ Mar 6, 2004

One criticism I have heard of the movie "The Passion" is that Latin is used when the lingua Franca of the eastern Roman Empire was actually Greek.

I think this is a valid criticism. Latin seems to have been used only in the East by the Roman Army and some of the administration. The civilian population used either Greek as their native language or as their second language after their native language (Mysian, Phrygian, Galatian, Syrian, Aramaic, Coptic etc.) This was the linguistic situation in the eastern Mediterranean until at least the late 6th century A.D. when Greek finally began eclipsing the remaining native languages.

--- Brian Costello
Seattle, Wa.

[Edited at 2004-10-02 06:22]


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movie revives "passion" for ancient languages (Aramaic and Latin)

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