Your Facebook Status, Now in Aramaic

In a bid to make Web chatter more unique while also tapping into ancient Jewish history, one Facebook user, a high-school student who wishes to remain anonymous, has created a page that translates Internet-speak into the Talmud's tongue.

Facebook users are always looking for ways to make their statuses stand out on the uber-popular social network. One user has put a unique spin on the quest for original updates, tapping into the ancient Semitic language of Aramaic to create an entire page in the Canaanite tongue.

And now, the person running a new page dubbed "Status B'Aramaic" (Status in Aramaic) is looking for likes.

“Anyone can post a status and like this page,” the Facebook page announces in Aramaic, the primary language of the Talmud and a close relative of ancient Hebrew. Unlike the millennia-old language in which it is written, "Status in Aramaic" is only two weeks old. Since March 2, it has accumulated more than 2,000 followers.

The person running the page prefers to remain anonymous, but says he is a young man about to begin his army service. Although he learned Aramaic in his Talmud classes, the content of his Facebook page is significantly more modern.

He said he thought it would be amusing to see Facebook in Aramaic, and set about making it so. His idea was simple: To take “statuses that appear on Facebook, which include well-known poems and fliers advertising films, and present them in a satirical manner in Aramaic,” he says. Indeed, at the top of the page are Aramaic translations of important social-networking words such as the name of Facebook itself (Sifra de-anpin), “status” (ktivta) and “like” (havivtei).

Statuses translated into Aramaic range from well-known songs or quotations to items that are popular in the digital world. For example, a reworking of the logo for the popular video game Temple Run, with its title translated into Aramaic, appears on the page, as does the translation of the theme song of the popular Israeli children’s program “Nice Butterfly” and Nathan Alterman’s song, “A Meeting Without End.” Items about Instagram, Facebook and clever 404 error messages also appear in Aramaic versions, and there is even a translation of John Denver’s hit song from the 1970s, “Country Roads.”

Other translations include items from Angry Birds and the home page of Haaretz’s own website.

The page’s audience can be hard to please. Some commenters made fun of its first status, which one commenter observed as “spoken Hebrew.” But others offered encouragement, and it was also easy reading for Hebrew-speakers who do not speak Aramaic, such as this writer. The situation changed later on as followers of the page drew upon their considerable knowledge of Aramaic to offer corrections of their own.

“We are looking for any man or woman who will translate into Aramaic the popular expression used by those who see some text or photograph that they like: LOL,” one status read. “The translator will be rewarded by Heaven.” The community gladly offered their suggestions, which included Aramaic versions of expressions such as “side-splitting” and “rolling on the floor” – better known by the acronym ROFL.

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