Jewish Languages -- European

By William Brinner



Ladino -- La'az, originally a foreign gloss of Hebrew transliteration, based on _ " 'am lo'ez" in Psalms 114:1. Probably from _ _ "Lleshon 'am zar".
In Italy: latinar, in Spain ladinar, (also in Provence), or romancar in France aromancer.
Major classical work: _ "Me'am Lo'ez" -- 18th century CE. Started by Ya'akov Kulli, d. 1730, completed by others. An ethico-homiletical work. For a long time, the only literature of Sephardic families, reading considered a religious duty.
A "Diaspora language", like Yiddish. In North, Amsterdam and London. Ladino is not the spoken "Judeo-Spanish," Judezmo is. It is written, but so is Judezmo. It is the product of the word for word translation of Hebrew texts -- Biblical and liturgical -- into a Spanish that goes back to the 13th century. Earliest documents in Ladino from 1540. A semi-sacred language transformed into a vernacular: Judezmo. The latter now very francified because of Alliance (Israelite Universalle) schools. Termed Ladino by Turkish Jews to cover their Jewish identity. Kol Yisra'el broadcasts in - _ Lingua Judio-Espanyol It looks like this.
Judezmo in Mediterranean area:

According to Haim Vidal Sephina, "Ladino is to Judezmo, as Israelite is to Jew." Rashi script, Romanized after Ataturk and in Alliance schools.
Here is an example of a poem in Ladino. More information can be found at the Judeo-Spanish page.

Zarphatic -- once of great importance, now essentially gone. Spoken in the Rhine-Moselle area, mother tongue of French in Middle Ages, what is now called Old French. Jews of Normandy spoke a Norman dialect; in Troyes, Champagnois; in Dijon, Burgundian.
Rabbinical decisions given in Old French, sometimes even language of prayer: Hebrew Gallicized: agin = hayim;
religious terms as well: bonteable = hasid; plain = p'shat.
Jewish names --
Colon = Yonah;
Bendit Barukh;
Vives = Hayim
Quinet = Ya'akov (Jaquinet);
Monet = Shim'on (Simonet)
From 12th century, la'az glosses appeared in French and English Jewry. 6 or more glossaries of Bible from 13th century tens of thousands of old French words. Rashi alone had 1300 glosses in Bible, 3500 in Talmud.

Shuadit -- this name for Judeo-Provencal first used in 1803 by non-Jews in satires and comedies. Oldest texts are glosses in Ittur by Isaac ben Abba Mari of Marseilles between 1170-1193. Other commentaries of 13th and 14th centuries give examples of Shuadit and Catalanit. Only full text preserved are fragments of Esther, 14th century, and translation of Siddur from the 14th or 15th century. Composed in vernacular for women.

Hebrew-French declined in use after the Revolution. Called ebraico vulgari . One feature:t,s, tz all become f.
perat --> peraf ;
emet --> emef ;
sekhel --> () fekhe(l) ;
tzurah --> furah .

Also, y becomes sh (ch):
yehudit --> shuadit ;
yayin --> chayin ;
yuge --> chuche .

Italkian -- Italian Jews called Latino or Volgare. Dialect of the 13th century Rome, influenced by other central Italian provinces. Became frozen after Jews were confined to the Ghetto in Rome from 1555 CE.
Earliest literature from 13th century, a lamentation for _ Tish b'Av. 'Arukh of Natan ben Yehiel of Rome , form late 11th century, contains 600 Italian words. Creation of words from Hebrew roots:
achannoso From chen ;
dabberare from dabber;
achlone from akhlan;
- _ - mal-mazzale mangia-tora (one who reads with great speed);
- perdi-zeman = time-waster;
serichoddi from S'likhot;
tongheva from to'eva = crucifix ;
beridde from b'rit = penis ;
ngarrele from 'arel = uncircumsized.

Yevanic -- a parchment MS of Yonah found in Crete, sale date 1263 CE, is the earliest known document. Closer to ancient Greek than any relic of early Byzantine literature. It is continued to be spoken and written in Janina, Larissa, Chalcis, Corfu, Zante.
Under Nazis some Greek Jews used Yevanic to communicate. Today, except for Ladino speakers, Greek Jews use standard Greek.

Tat -- Tats presumably descend from Iranian military colonies established during Sassanian period, 226-641 CE. Originally a Southwest Iranian dialect. Tati influenced by NW Iranian and Turkish. Chiefly found in Makhachkala, Derbet, Kuba.
Before 1917 written in Hebrew characters, forced to Romanize in 1929, to Cyrilize in 1939, One of the 9 official and literary languages of Daghestan, in 1959 30,000 Jews listed as their mother tongue.

Jewish langauge page
S. Toulmin's Cosmopolis
Reproduction of cover of S. Toulmin's Cosmopolis.

(To Modernity)


Copyright © 1996-today Ovid C. Jacob and William Brinner