Shortly after the Babylonian Exile, Jews found Hebrew Scriptures (Torah) more and more difficult to understand. There was a growing need for oral and written translations-explanations, such as the classical Aramaic Targums, which began with Ezra, and continued until modern times. All traditional Jewish education includes teaching a traditional translation in the local language, be it Aramaic, Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, or English. The book of Daniel is unique, since most of it is already in Aramaic. So, how does a traditional Neo- Aramaic speaker (of ca. 1960s CE) cope with a Biblical Aramaic text (of ca.160 BCE)? Sabar, himself a native speaker of Aramaic, will discuss the general nature of the translation and offer samples of the types of translations and mistranslations he encountered.


Yona-cAbout the Speaker: Yona Sabar is a Professor of Hebrew language at UCLA and one of the world’s foremost experts in Jewish Aramaic language, literature and folklore. Born in Zakho, Iraqi Kurdistan, Sabar was the last boy bar-mitzvahed in his town before the mass exodus of Iraqi Jews to Israel in the early 1950s. Sabar has published over one hundred works both academic, e.g. Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dictionary (2002), and popular. He also writes the “Hebrew Word of the Week” column in the Jewish Journal.

Moderator: Lev Hakak (UCLA)

Faculty/Student Book Seminar

Sponsored by the
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies

Funding provided by the
NEH Endowment in Jewish Civilization

Cosponsored by the
UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures