Middle East Iraqis amid Mosul’s silent ruins fear the loss of a dialect

Iraqis amid Mosul’s silent ruins fear the loss of a dialect

Saad Mohammed Jarjis, walks amid the ruins of his family’s centuries-old home in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq.

Residents of Mosul have for centuries spoken a unique form of Arabic enriched by the Iraqi city’s long history as a crossroads of civilization. It’s a singsong dialect that many now fear will die out after years of war and displacement.

Much of Mosul’s Old City, where speakers of the dialect are concentrated, was completely destroyed in the war against the Islamic State group.

Thousands of residents were killed in months of heavy fighting, and tens of thousands fled, taking with them the city’s local patois and memories of its more cosmopolitan past.

Now many residents, known as Maslawis, fear that their dialect, like much of the city itself, may disappear. The dialect borrows words from Turkish, Persian and Kurdish, reflecting the tumultuous history of Mosul and the surrounding plains.

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