The Syriac Alphabet

Syriac is an Abjad writing system that consists of 22 consonants and  additional diacritics. The consonants also have a numeric value and double as a numeral writing system. The language that it is used to write is Aramaic, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic or Syriac which was largely supplanted by Arabic in it’s area of use.Initially derived from the Aramaic alphabet, Syriac has a variety of forms, most notably; Serṭā(meaning line) or Pšīṭā (meaning simple) which is commonly used to write Western Syriac, Madnḥāyā (meaning eastern) or Swādāyā(conversational or contemporary) which is commonly used to write Eastern Syriac, or Esṭrangelā which is the oldest form of Syriac and is only commonly used for for formal titles, scholarly publications and inscriptions (

This Western Asian script originally had no symbols to depict vowel sounds but in later years adopted a variation of the Greek vowel system (

The Syriac timeline starts at about the first century A.D., appearing in it’s Esṭrangelā form before dividing into the 2 common strands seen today following the division in the Syrian Christian church in 489 A.D. This division caused the Jacobite (followers of Jacob) or Serto population to develop the distinct Serṭā style by the 700s and the Nestrorian branch to form the Madnḥāyā script style by the 1100s. Demonstrated below in is the Madnḥāyā script used to label the sections of a heart.

“HEART PARTS IN ASSYRIAN SYRIAC” by Man2fly2002 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


  •,. ‘Ancient Scripts: Syriac’. N.p., 2015. Web. 4 Apr. 2015.
  • Daniels, Peter T, and William Bright. The World’s Writing Systems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.
  •,. ‘How To Write Aramaic – Learn The Syriac Cursive Scripts’. N.p., 2015. Web. 4 Apr. 2015.
  •,. ‘Syriac Alphabet, Languages And Pronunciation’. N.p., 2015. Web. 4 Apr. 2015.

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