For over a millenium, until about the 8 th century AD, Aramaic (Semitic) was the lingua franca of the Middle-East. It was then replaced by Arabic throughout most of the region. Yet Neo-Aramaic is still spoken today in some areas. We discuss the North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic group of dialects (NENA), which contains over a hundred dialects spoken by Jewish and Christian communities originating in villages and towns in western Iran, southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq east of the Tigris river (Khan 2007). Fig. 1. The North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic dialect area We argue that NENA is an ergative language, the only ergative language in the Semitic family. Ergativity in NENA has the following characteristics, which are quite common among ergative languages: it is split ergativity (only attested in the perfective aspect) and it is marked by verbal agreement affixes rather than by Case. 1.1. The marking of transitive verbs All transitive verbs are marked, both in the perfective and imperfective aspect, by two agreement suffixes, optionally separated by the past tense marker –wa
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