Chaldee Language is the name by which the elder or Eastern form of the Aramaic idiom is generally distinguished (see the Introd. to Winer's Chald, Grammn. 2d ed. tr. by Prof. Hackett, N. Y. 1851, p. 9 sq.). Whether there is any authority in the Old Testament for applying this designation to the Aramaic language is a question which depends on the sense in which the expression "tongue of the Chaldees," in Da 1:4, is to be taken, and which involves such important historical points that it does not come within the scope of this article (see Hengstenberg, Authentie des Daniel, p. 310). Another preliminary question is, whether there is any propriety in the common definition of the Chaldee language as the Eastern, and especially as the Babylonian dialect — or, indeed, even as a dialect at all — of the Aramaic. Hupfeld strenuously maintains the negative of all these propositions in the Theologische Studien for 1830, p. 290 sq. Avoiding these debatable points, however, we apply the name Chaldee language to that Aramaic idiom which, in our present text of the Old Testament; is employed in the passages of Daniel, from Da 2:4, to Da 7:28; in Ezra, from Ezr 4:8, to Ezr 6:18,7, from 12 to 26; in Ge 31:47; and in Jer 10:11; as also to that in which several translations and paraphrases of portions of the Old Testament, the so-called Targums, are written. The language is thus distinguished, as to the nature of the documents in which it is employed, into Biblical and Targumical Chaldee. Winer, however, regarding linguistical characteristics chiefly, distinguishes three grades of its purity: the language, as found in the Targum of Onkelos, as most free from Hebraisms; the Biblical Chaldee, which, as it frequently intermixes certain peculiarities of Hebrew (as the ה of the article, the plural ending ִאּאִּם, the dual form, and the conjugation Hophal), ranks below the first class; and the idiom of the other Targums, which not only abounds with foreign words, but possesses several peculiar formations bordering on those of the Syriac and of Rabbinical Hebrew. SEE TARGUM. The language of the Talmud is also usually called Chaldee; and, if we except the Mishnah (which is written in an idiom not so very far removed from Biblical Hebrew, with a tincture of Chaldee), it is true of the Gemaras that they are written in such very corrupt Chaldee that their idiom is more properly designated as the Talmudical dialect. SEE TALMUD.
Under the article ARAMJEAN LANGUAGE have been noticed those several features which the Chaldee possesses in common with the Syriac; and it now remains to define those, certainly not marked, characteristics by which it is distinguished from it. These are — the predominance of the A sound where the Syriac has O; the avoidance of diphthongs and of otiant letters; the use of dagesh-forte; the regular accentuation of the last syllable; and the formation of the infinitives, except in Peal, without the preformative מ. The mode of writing is also much less defective than in Syriac.
Works auxiliary to the study of the Chaldee: — GRAMMARS: Cellarius, Grammat. Ling. Chald. (Cizae, 1684); Opitz, Chaldaismus Targum. Talmud. Rabbin. (Kiel, 1696); Hegelmaier, Chaldaismi Biblici frndamenta (Tab. 1770); J. D. Michaelis, Grammatica Chaldaica (Gotting. 1771); Hexel, Anweisung zum Chald. (Lemgo, 1787); Schroeder, Institut. ad Chaldaism. Biblicum (1787, 1810); Wittich, Grundziige d. bibi. u. targ. Chaldaismus (Leipzig, 1824); Hirzel, De Chaldaismi biblici orig. et auct. critica (Lips. 1830); Dietrich, De sermonis Chaldaici proprietate; Longfield, Introduction to Chaldee (Lond. 1859); Riggs, Manual of Chald. Language (N. Y. 1858); Guriel (a Chaldaean priest), Elementa linguae Chaldaicae (Rome, 1860); Fürst, Lehrgebäude der aram. Idiome
(Leipz. 1835). The best manual is Winer's Grammatik (Lpz. 1824), 2d ed. translated by Professor Hackett, Grammar of the Chaldee Language as contained in the Bible and Targuums (N. Y. 1851). The most complete LEXICON is Buxtorf's Lexicon Chaldico-talmudico-rabbinicum (Basil, 1639; a new ed. by Fische and Gelbe is announced, Lpz. 1866 sq., 4to). There are also Landau's Rabbinisch-aramäisch-deutsches Wörterb. (Prague, 1819-24), new ed. by Sperling (Lemberg, 1857); Levy. Chald. Wosterbuch (Lpz. 1866, sq.). The Biblical Chaldee words are contained in the Hebrews lexicons. CHRESTOMATHIES have been edited by Bauer (Norimb. 1792); J. Jahn (Wien, 1800); Grimm (Lemgo, 1801); Winer, Chald. Lesebuch a. d. Targumirm, m. Anmerk. u. Wortregister (Leipzig, 1825); P. Ewald, "Pirke Aboth," übers. u. erklärt nebst punctirte Texte u. Wortregister (Erlang. 1825); Petermann (Berol. 1840). The Biblical Chaldee is contained in the Hebrews Bible.