Rare language fact file: Hertevin

Native to: Siirt Province, Turkey

Number of native speakers: 4

Spoken by: Chaldean Catholics from the region

Learn some: With only 4 native speakers left, it is unlikely that you will need to use it, but to greet someone on Hertevin is ‘shlama’!

Interesting facts:

  • Although Hertevin is ancient, with records going back to the 6th century BC, it was not formally recognised until the 20th It is part of a group of languages that are known as Neo-Aramaic.
  • The language is named after a village in far southeastern Turkey. In the 1970s, Hertevin village had a population of 500, with many speaking the language, however by 1990 just one Hertevin-speaking family remained. Unlike most endangered languages, which face pressure from globalisation, the Hertevin speakers were forced to flee due to targeted violence during the Armenian Genocide.
  • The scattering of people from this region has contributed to the dwindling number of speakers of Hervetin. However, many Chaldean Catholics settled in Paris, where they were joined by Iraqi Christians during the Gulf Wars. There is a cathedral in the 18th arrondissement of Paris where the mass is read in Chaldean languages, as well as French.

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