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Hunched over a thick book, George Zaarour uses a magnifying glass to decipher Aramaic script -- the biblical language of Jesus that is starting to disappear from everyday use in his village. The 62-year-old is one of the last in Syria to specialize in the ancient language, which has survived for 2,000 years in the village of Maaloula -- one of the world's oldest Christian settlements. In the mountain village, Aramaic was once widely used, but today few people still speak the tongue.Regime forces recaptured it in April 2014, seven months after the rebels first entered the village.An author of some 30 books on the Aramaic language and its history in Maaloula, Zaarour is well-known in Syrian academic circles.Maaloula, which means "entrance" in Aramaic, is the most famous of three villages around Damascus where the language is still used.In Syria's northeast, Syriac, which is derived from Aramaic, is also still spoken. The village has fared better than other parts of Syria, but it has not been spared completely.
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