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Paul Noorlander


Dr. P.M. Noorlander
+31 71 527 2125

Stretching back 3,000 years, the modern Aramaic languages, once vibrant in the Middle East but now largely confined to diaspora communities across the globe, are key to the complex cultural history of West Asia and pertinent issues in linguistics. the complex cultural history of Western Asia and major, sophisticated issues in linguistics. In close collaboration with Professor Geoffrey Khan and his team at University of Cambridge we are rising to what has been repeatedly called one of the most urgent challenges in Semitic linguistics, to document and archive these highly endangered languages for future generations and stimulate their usage.

More information about Paul Noorlander

Fields of interest

  • Aramaic, especially Eastern modern varieties
  • Historical linguistics
  • Language contact
  • Cultural history of West Asia
  • Comparative Semitic Linguistics (Hebrew, Arabic etc.)
  • Clause structure (agreement, alignment, voice phenomena, non-canonical subjects)


Together with Professor Geoffrey Khan at Cambridge I am involved in the documentation of the modern varieties of Aramaic (also known as Chaldean, Assyrian, Syriac or Surayt) and stimulating its usage among diaspora communities and communities in the traditional territory. Aramaic was once one of the main languages of West Asia from the first millennium BC well into the Islamic period. Nowadays the modern Aramaic languages are highly endangered and spoken in diaspora communities across the globe. Stretching back 3,000 years, they show a fascinating degree of variation and innovations and a unique historical depth. The once vibrant eastern Aramaic speaking area encompassed the Jewish and Christian speech communities of North West Iran, North Iraq, and South East Turkey. Most of them have fled the area in the previous century.

Together with IT specialists we are in the process of launching a new, imrpoved version of the North Eastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA) Database (nena.ames.cam.uk) at Cambridge fed with new data from the NENA Archive and recent fieldwork. My current research is aimed at documenting the most vunerable dialects and is funded by the Rubicon Fellowship from the Dutch Organization of Scientific Research (NWO).

Teaching activities

  • Lecturer for B.A. Hebrew and Jewish Studies & Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Leiden University, 2011–2014.
  • Lecturer for M.A. Hebrew and Aramaic Studies, Leiden University, 2011–2014/2016–2017.
  • Courses (co-)taught: Introduction to Neo-Aramaic, Aramaic Cultural History, Biblical Hebrew, Comparative Semitics, Reading Source Texts (Old Aramaic, Sam’alian).

    Summer School Classes
  • Issues in Neo-Aramaic Linguistics, Turkic–Iranian Language Contact in the Southwest Caspian Area Lecture Series, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, 08/2018– 09/2018.
  • Introduction to Mandaic, Linguistics Summer School, Leiden University, (co-taught with Professor Gzella), 07/2018.
  • Introduction to Neo-Aramaic Linguistics, Linguistics Summer School, Leiden University, 07/2014.

Curriculum vitae


  • PhD Linguistics, Leiden University, 2018. Thesis: Alignment in Eastern Neo-Aramaic Languages from a Typological Perspective. Promotor: Professor Holger Gzella.
  • MPhil Linguistics, Leiden University, 2009–2011 (92 credits towards MPhil. degree)
  • MA Hebrew and Aramaic Languages and Cultures (with distinction) Leiden University, 2011
  • BA Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (with distinction) Leiden University, 2009

Projects and Fellowships

  • Saving Vanishing Tales and Tongues, Rubicon Grant (NWO SSH, ranked number 1), Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship, Leiden University & University of Cambridge, 06/2019, 24 months.
  • Documentation, Protection and Revitalization of the Aramaic Oral Heritage of Minority Communities in Iraq, GCRF Pump Priming Grant, University of Cambridge, 02/2019, six months.
  • Language Diversity in the World, LUCL High-Profile Research Area, Junior Research Fellowship, Leiden University, 08/2018, six months
  • Alignment in Eastern Neo-Aramaic Languages, LUCL High-Profile Research Area, PhD Project (one of two fully funded positions awarded from over fifty applications) Leiden University, 09/2011.

Conference presentations

  • Prospective and Avertive Semantics in Eastern Neo-Aramaic Dialects in light of Kurdish and Arabic
    (International Symposium on the Perspective as a Grammatical Category: Evidence from Turkic, Iranian and beyond, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, organized by Dr. Agnes Korn and Prof. Dr. Irina Nevskaya, Institute for Empirical Linguistics, 23-25 September 2013)
  • Kurdish and Eastern Neo-Aramaic in Contact: Reviewing Some Possible Contact Phenomena
    (International Workshop on Variation and Change in Kurdish, Otto-Friedrich Universität Bamberg, organized by Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Haig and Dr. Ergin Öpengin, Department of General Linguistics, Institute of Oriental Studies, 29-30 August 2013)
  • Neo-Aramaic Alignment in a Historical Perspective: Some Preliminary Remarks
    (Semitics Philology Seminar, University of Cambridge, organized by Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Khan, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, 3 December 2012)
  • Alignment Splits in Eastern Neo-Aramaic
    (Syntax Circle, Leiden University, organized by Prof. Dr. Lisa Cheng, LUCL, 17 February 2012)
  • A Historical Comparative Analysis of Alignment Change in North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic
    (PhD Project Presentation, Leiden University, LUCL, 21 October 2011)


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics
  • LUCL Taalwetenschap


No relevant ancillary activities

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