Related Scripts

Quick Facts
LocationWest Asia
Time7th century CE to Present
DirectionRight to Left

The Mandaic script was used by members of the the Mandaean religion to write their local variety of the Aramaic language. It developed from the common Aramaic script into its own distinctive form around the 7th century CE and thrived in what is now southern Iraq and southwestern Iran near the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It is still used in the present day to write the Mandaic language both for liturgical rites and, to a much lesser extent, everyday speech.

The following table is the basic Mandaic alphabet.

Note: the text in blue is the name of the letter, where as the text in red is the traditional transliteration of the letter.

Of particular interest is that the letters , , , and originated from Aramaic consonant letters that were also used to represent vowels only in limited situations, but in Mandaic they have fully evolved into exclusively vowel letters. The letter (ʼaleph in Aramaic) comes to represent [a], (Aramaic waw) represents [o], [u], and [w], and (Aramaic yod) represents [e], [i], and [y]. The letter represents [e] when it is at the beginning of a word, but it could also be used as a placeholder for [i] or [u] at the beginning of a word when combined with or , respectively.

Also, note that two of the letters are actually morphemes. The letter actually represents the relative particle di- (like 'which', 'who', etc), and is exclusively used to denote the third person singular suffix.

Persecution of Mandaeans intensified drastically after the Iraq War of 2003, causing a large number to leave the country. With the breakup of the community, the survival of the Mandaean culture and Mandaic language is in great peril. Only time will tell if they will survive this ordeal.

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