Jilu, is a region located in the province of Hakkari, Turkey. One of the oldest churches in the world, named Mar Zaia, is found in Jilu. The church was built in the 4th century AD

Characteristics of the "Jilu" Neo-Aramaic dialect

The Jilu dialect is one of the most distinct Neo-Aramaic dialects of Southeastern Turkey. It falls under the Northern Assyrian Neo-Aramaic group, (similar to the Bazi and Gawar/Gavar dialects). It has some elements of Turkish and Kurdish vocabulary and grammar.

Examples of common vocabulary and verb conjugations in the Jilu dialect:

English Urmian Standard Jilu Koine
to come b'taya b'ya
to go b'rikhsha or b'khasha b'zala
come here! ta! heeya!
house beyta beeya
girl brata kitchi
Syriac (male) Sooryaya Soorah
Syriac (female) Sooreyta Sooriya
Jilu (male) Jiluwaya Jilwa
Jilu (female) Jiluweyta Jilwiya
mother yimma daiy
father's brother mamooni mami
I will see you (to female) b'khǎsinakh b'khasnanaekh
I will see you (to male) b'khasinookh b'khasnanu
I want (male) E' bǎyihn E' bana
I want (female) E' bǎyǎn E' bayan
for qa dla
Eucharist qurbana kurbana
drink (command) (plural) shteymun shtemu
you (plural) akhnokhun akhnokhu or akhtu

There exists also sub-tribes within the Jilu tribe, some with their own distinct pronunciation or verb conjugations. The Jilu read Urmian Standard based literature and read and write in Urmian Standard. Most Jilu can switch back and forth from Jilu to Urmian Standard when conversing with Assyrians of other tribes.


The Jilu dialect is said to "soften" Urmian standard Neo-Aramaic vocabuly terms (e.g. a softer "k" sound replaces the guttural "q" sound in qurbana and becomes "kurbana", see above table).

Verb conjugations There are variances in the way verbs are conjugated in the Jilu dialect. Some speakers tend to adopt a form of verb conjugation that is closer to the Urmian Standard, this may be considered the Koine Jilu because it is the most widely used. The Koine Jilu may be attributed to the growing exposure to Urmian Standard based literature, media, and the liturgical language of the Assyrian Church of the East. The Jilu Koine may also be attributed to the social exposure of the Jilu to Assyrians of other tribes, especially to Assyrians speaking the Urmian dialect. The majority of Jilu Koine speakers are from/descendants of Jilu Assyrians from Iraq. Some Jilu from Syria tend to have a verb conjugation system that is similar to the Jilu Koine but further from the Urmian Standard. This other dialect also has vocabulary terms that are foreign to Jilu Koine speakers from Iraq. Some speakers of Syrian(from Syria) Jilu claim that their dialect is more pure than that of the Iraqi speakers, although it is disputed.

Examples of verb conjugations,

English Urmian Standard Jilu Koine Syrian Jilu
What is the matter with you (ppl)? malokhun? malkhu or malokhu?

(It should be noted that speakers of Syrian Jilu are the descendants of the Jilu that relocated to Syria during the 1930s and 1940s from Iraq.)

Vowel pronunciation

Jilu of the B'Nehmaye tribe pronounce their "a"'s as "eh" when speaking.

English Urmian Standard Jilu Koine Jilu Koine - B'Nehmaye
tea chǎi chai chey
good spǎy spahy spey

Some Jilu sub-tribes

  • Bismal
  • Biskharyah
  • Alisnaye
  • B'Namaye
  • B'Nehmitnaye
  • Ishtaznaye
  • Nehriknaye
  • Nehraye
  • Zeeryaya
  • Yekmala
  • Zarnaye
  • B'Talanaye

Famous Jilwayeh

  • Albert Quryaqus - A founding member of the "Concerned Members of Mar Zaya Church"
  • Sargon Dadesho - Creator and president of AssyriaSat
  • Mar Sargis Yousip - Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East in Baghdad, Iraq. Currently resides in Modesto, California.
  • Mar Meelis Zaya (disputed Jilwa) - Bishop of Australia and New Zealand.
  • Mar Aprem Khamis - Bishop of Western United States.
  • Mar Iskhaq Yousip - Bishop of Nuhadra (northern Iraq) and Russia. Relative of Mar Aprim Khamis.
  • Qasha Kando D. Kando - Former Qasha at Mar Zaya Towana Assyrian Church of the East in Modesto, California, USA. First cousin and brother-in-law of Mar Aprim Khamis.
  • Malik Kambar d'Jilu - one of the Assyrian National Leaders in the beginning of the 20th Century
  • David Adamov - President of the Assyrian International Congress of Georgia
  • George Mansur - Assyrian singer from Sydney Australia.
  • Malik Endreios - Malik of Jilu in early 1920's. He was deported with Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII. He was from Zerni village of Jilu. Grandson Awikan Shamasha Giwargis is still alive.
  • Jimmy Giwargis- A founding member of the Mar Zaya Church Tel Koran, Syria. (narajhk.jeeran.com )

List of the Assyrian villages of Jilu

  • Alsan
  • Medhi
  • Nahra
  • Zerini
  • Mata d Mar Zaya
  • Ummud
  • Talana
  • Be Bukra
  • Nerik
  • Ori
  • Zer
  • Serpel
  • Bu Bawa
  • Samsiki
  • Mata d Oryaye
  • Musperan

See also

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