Aramaic is spoken by 2 million people of the Assyrian diaspora, mainly across the Middle East. The original language of Babylonia, Mesopotamia and Hebrew Bible brings in the naming tradition strongly based on religious context.
Aramaic language, Semitic language of the Northern Central, or Northwestern, group that was originally spoken by the ancient Middle Eastern people known as Aramaeans. It was most closely related to Hebrew, Syriac, and Phoenician and was written in a script derived from the Phoenician alphabet. Aramaic is thought to have first appeared among the Aramaeans about the late 11th century BCE. By the 8th century BCE it had become accepted by the Assyrians as a second language. The mass deportations of people by the Assyrians and the use of Aramaic as a lingua franca by Babylonian merchants served to spread the language, so that in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE it gradually supplanted Akkadian as the lingua franca of the Middle East. It subsequently became the official language of the Achaemenian Persian dynasty (559–330 BCE), though after the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greek displaced it as the official language throughout the former Persian empire.