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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Middle Eastern Studies
Research Associate in Hebrew & Aramaic Studies
Email address: 
+44 (0)1223 764648
Fellow of: 
St Edmund's College
Photo of Dr Paul Noorlander

Dr. Paul Noorlander studied at Leiden University and thereafter contributed to several projects at the University of Cambridge, concentrating on the endangered Neo-Aramaic languages and their documentation, typology and history. He is the author of Ergativity and Other Alignment Types in Neo-Aramaic: Investigating Morphosyntactic Microvariation (2021, Brill: Leiden). He has published widely in the field of Semitic languages and linguistics, including on ancient Epigraphic Northwest Semitic, Ugaritic, Biblical Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac. His current research focus is the reconstruction of contact between Semitic and Iranian in the historical regions of East Anatolia and Upper Mesopotamia.

Teaching responsibilities: 

Dr Paul Noorlander teaches at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, and Divinity: 

Introduction to the Contemporary Middle East (MES7; instructor, supervisor)

Introduction to the History and Culture of the Middle East (MES6; instructor, supervisor)

Comparative Semitic Linguistics (MES41/Li35; convenor, instructor, supervisor) 

Jewish Aramaic, Biblical Aramaic, Syriac (MES18; convenor, instructor, supervisor)

Classical Hebrew (MES 13; supervisor)

Biblical Hebrew (Divinity; supervisor) 

Sounds and Words (Li1; supervisor) 

Historical Linguistics (Li11; supervisor)

Linguistic Typology (Li17; supervisor)

Research interests: 

North Eastern Neo-Aramaic Database


This project aims to document the highly endangered North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic dialects and make data accessible to academia and the public.


Peace-Building Through the Documentation of Endangered Oral Culture in Iraq

(Cambridge, British Academy, Heritage, Dignity and Violence)

The main objective is to produce parallel corpora of Neo-Aramaic and Kurdish folktales to foster an understanding of shared cultural heritage between Christian and Muslim communities.


Echoes of Vanishing Voices in the Mountains: A Linguistic History of Mino-rities in the Near East

(Cambridge, European Research Council)

This project aims to reconstruct the complex, socioreligious past of the disappearing Aramaic-speaking communities in contact with Iranian.


Post-Predicate Elements in Iranian: Inheritance & Contact

(Bamberg, Alexandor von Humboldt Stiftung)

This project studies the typologically unusual and hitherto largely ignored Object-Verb-Goal word order type within West Irania and in unrelated languages in contact with Iranian, namely Neo-Aramaic.


European research network on linguistics and languages of the Anatolia-Caucasus-Iran-Mesopotamia area

(INALCO, Paris)

An European network of linguists engaged in scientific research on the languages ​​of Anatolia, the Caucasus, Iran and Mesopotamia.


Contact Linguistics In Cross-border Kurdistan


An international cooperation which focuses on language contact multilingualism in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and the neighbouring countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.


Surayt-Aramaic Online

(Erasmus+, Stockholm, 2019-2020)

This project contributed to the development of an online course and teaching materials for Turoyo Aramaic.


WOWA - The Word Order in West Asia Corpus - Multicast

(Bamberg 2020-present)

A spoken-language-based corpus for investigating areal effects in word order variation, maintaineded by the University of Bamberg. The principle aim of this research network is to provide an accessible and transparent source of data for corpus-based approaches to word order typology, focussing on the languages spoken in the region designated here as Western Asia.


Main fields:

  • Linguistics: Areal, Historical, Comparative, Typological, Corpus, Descriptive, Socio

    • Syntax and Morphology of Subjects and Objects

  • Languages: Semitic

    • Aramaic, Hebrew, Arabic

    • Language Documentation of Endangered Neo-Aramaic Dialects

  • Literature

    • Oral Narratives: Discourse Analysis, Storytelling

  • History

    • Jewish and Christian Linguistic Minorities in Turkey and Iraq

    • Language and Identity of Syriac Christians and Kurdish Jews

  •  Ancient Texts

    • Hebrew-Aramaic Bible

    • Syriac Peshitta, including translations of the Greek New Testament

    • Epigraphic Northwest Semitic (Sam’al, Ugarit)