Figures in 1000.
Semitic 17,600 87.0%
Arabic 17,500 87.0%
North Levantine 13,300 66.0%
Mesopotamian 2,800 14.0%
Najdi 800 4.0%
North Mesopotamian 500 2.5%
Levantine Bedouin 100 0.5%
Aramaic 70 0.3%
Assyrian Neo 40 0.2%
Western Neo 15 0.1%
Turojo 10 <0.1%
Chaldean Neo 5 <0.1%
Iranian 2,000 10.0%
Kurdish 2,000 10.0%
Northern 2,000 10.0%
Indo-European 320 1.6%
Armenian 320 1.6%
Turkic 210 1.0%
Turkmen 130 0.6%
Azerbaijani 80 0.4%
Caucasian 65 0.3%
Circassian 65 0.3%
Adyghe 25 0.1%
Kabardian 40 0.2%
Indo-Aryan 10 <0.1%
Domari 10 <0.1%

Syria’s geography and location in the Middle East are the main preconditions for it has become one of the most verified countries, in terms of religions, people groups, and languages.

The dominating language is Arabic — this even applies to many of the Kurds, who represent a large group and form the majority in most of their regions.

There are two important dialect zones in Syria, where there is one dialect of Arabic around the city of Aleppo, and another around Damascus. Still, the two zones both are classified as North Levantine. Many scholars prefer to consider these zones as separate dialects.

Levantine Bedouin is spoken from the border to Jordan in the southwestern corner, coming north as far as 30 km south of Damascus.
Najdi is spoken in the desert regions that continue into Saudi Arabia, where Najdi is one of the two main dialects.

In the eastern parts of Syria, Kurdish is very much the only actively used language. Still, a large part of Kurds here have good conduct of Arabic.

There are also large groups of Kurdish speakers in Aleppo and Damascus.

Armenians living in Aleppo use the Armenian language between themselves, but being very active in public life, most Armenians speak perfect Arabic.

The Turkmen language is spoken by Turkmens settling here during the era of the Ottoman Empire. They mainly live in Latakia, Homs, and Hama.

Information varies, Ethnologue makes them Turkmen speakers, other sources indicate that they speak Azerbaijani or Arabic.

South Azerbaijani is spoken by small groups in Homs and Hama. Research into this group is now very old (the 1960’s), and it is quite possible that the language has gone extinct.

In about 30 villages north of Damascus, Aramaic is spoken. Over many generations, a clear majority of the ethnic Aramaics have taken up Arabic as their first language.

Assyrian Neo is spoken in the north, along the Khabur River. Western Neo is spoken in two villages in the mountains right north of Damascus.

The two dialects, or versions, of Circassian spoken in Syria, Kabardian has almost twice as many speakers as Adyghe.

Circassian languages are losing ground to Arabic; Circassians are quite successful in the Syrian society, being a small majority they are preferred for government jobs. Hence, there are positive incentives for language assimilation.

In modern times the languages of Lomavren and Mlahsö have gone extinct.


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