Formation and Diversity of Jewish Languages and of Judeo-Arabic in North Africa I. Middle Judeo-Arabic and its Forms of Hybridization

in Journal of Jewish Languages
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



The article deals with the evolution of Middle Judeo-Arabic in North Africa. The study examines the linguistic processes and the hybridized uses of Judeo-Arabic in a theoretical framework oriented toward the main sociopragmatic features of Jewish languages. These include diglossic functioning, endolectal appropriation of a non-Jewish language, hybridization of grammatical and lexical structures, and discursive and textual diversity. Middle Judeo-Arabic is considered here in three different periods of its formation and use in North Africa. The first period, the classic period, lasted from the tenth to the thirteenth century. It generated religious, philosophical, literary, and epistolary texts that are documented by the archives of the Cairo Genizah and by the seminal works of famous scholars. The second period began after the settlement of the Megorashim in urban centers of North Africa at the end of the fifteenth century and lasted until the nineteenth century. During this period, Jewish poets turned their attention to some remnants of Middle Judeo-Arabic texts, mostly paraliturgical, to heighten the language of their Judeo-Arabic poems. The third period was characterized by a new kind of literary Judeo-Arabic used by journalists and writers in Tunis at the end of the nineteenth century.

Formation and Diversity of Jewish Languages and of Judeo-Arabic in North Africa I. Middle Judeo-Arabic and its Forms of Hybridization

in Journal of Jewish Languages



AbramsonShraga Nissim Gaon—Libelli quinque: Operum reliquias recensuit praepationibus notis et indicibus instruxit 1965 Jerusalem Sumptibus Societatis Mekize Nirdamim (in Hebrew)

Alexander-FrizerTamarBentolilaYaakov La palabra en su hora es oro: El refrán judeo-español del Norte de Marruecos 2008 Jerusalem Ben-Zvi Institute (in Hebrew and Spanish)

ApplebaumSimon Greeks and Jews in Ancient Cyrene 1969 Jerusalem The Bialik Institute (in Hebrew)

Bar-AsherMoshe Le commentaire biblique Leshon Limmudim de Rabbi Raphaël Berdugo 2001 Jerusalem The Bialik Institute (in Hebrew) 3 vols.

BaumgartenJean Le yiddish: Histoire d’une langue errante 2002a Paris Albin Michel

BaumgartenJean “Les recherches sur la dialectologie yiddish et leurs répercussions sur le champ linguistique” Revue Germanique Internationale 2002b 17 64 79

BaumgartenJeanBunisDavid Le yiddish: Langue culture société 1999 Paris CNRS Editions

BeckerDan La Risāla de Judah ben Kuraish: Edition critique 1984 Tel Aviv University of Tel Aviv (in Hebrew)

BenichouPaul “Observaciones sobre el judeo-español de Marruecos” Revista de Filologia Hispánica 1945 9 228 229

BenolielJose Dialecto Judeo-Hispano-Marroqui o Hakitía 1977 Madrid

Ben-SassonMenahem The Emergence of the Local Jewish Community in the Muslim World: Qayrawan 800–1057 1997 Jerusalem The Magnes Press (in Hebrew)

BenvenisteEmile Problèmes de linguistique générale 1966–1974 Paris Éditions Gallimard 2 vols.

BlancHaim Communal Dialects in Baghdad 1964 Cambridge, MA Harvard University Press 1964

BlauJoshua Studies in Middle Arabic and Its Judaeo-Arabic Variety 1988 Jerusalem Magnes

BlauJoshua The Emergence and Linguistic Background of Judaeo-Arabic: A Study of the Origins of Middle Arabic 1999 Jerusalem Ben-Zvi Institute

BlauJoshua “Ancient Bible Translations to Judeo-Arabic” Peʿamim 2000 83 4 14 (in Hebrew)

BlauJoshuaHopkinsSimon “Judeo-Arabic Papyri—Collected, Edited, Translated and Analysed” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 1987 9 87 160

BlauJoshuaFentonPaulYahalomJoseph Judah Alharizi Kitāb al-Durar: A Book in Praise of God and the Israelite Communities 2009 Jerusalem Ben-Zvi Institute (in Hebrew)

BrodyRobert The Geonim of Babylonia and the Shaping of Medieval Jewish Culture 1998 New Haven Yale University Press

BunisDavid M. A Lexicon of the Hebrew and Aramaic Elements in Modern Judezmo 1993 Jerusalem Magnes Press

BunisDavid M. Judezmo: An Introduction to the Language of the Sephardic Jews of the Ottoman Empire 1999 Jerusalem The Magnes Press (in Hebrew)

BunisDavid M. TobiYosefKurzonDennis “Native designations of Judezmo as a ‘Jewish Language.’ ” Ḥikrei Maʿarav u-Mizraḥ: Studies in Language Literature and History Presented to Joseph Chetrit 2011 2 Jerusalem Carmel 41 81

ChetritJoseph “National-Hebrew Modernity against French Modernity—The Hebrew Haskalah in North Africa at the end of the XIXth Century” Miqqedem Umiyyam 1990 3 11 76 (in Hebrew)

ChetritJoseph The Written Judeo-Arabic Poetry in North Africa: Poetic Linguistic and Cultural Studies 1994 Jerusalem Misgav Yerushalayim (in Hebrew)

ChetritJoseph Diglossie hybridation et diversité intra-linguistique. Études socio-pragmatiques sur les langues juives le judéo-arabe et le judéo-berbère 2007a Paris and Louvain Éditions Peeters

ChetritJoseph Cohen-TannoudjiDenis “Haskala hébraïque et Haskala judéo-arabe à Tunis à la fin du XIXème siècle” Entre Orient et Occident: Juifs et Musulmans en Tunisie 2007b Paris Editions de l’Eclat 289 320

ChetritJoseph NatafClaude “La question linguistique dans la presse judéo-arabe de Tunis à la fin du XIXème siècle.” Actes de la journée d’études à la mémoire de Paul Sebag 2008 Paris Editions de l’Eclat 47 79

ChetritJoseph Trésors et textures d’une langue: Etudes socio-pragmatiques sur le judéo-arabe en Afrique du Nord et son composant hébraïque: articles poèmes récits et proverbes 2009 Jerusalem Bialik Institute (in Hebrew)

ChetritJoseph Bar-AsherMosheFraadeStevan D. “Music and Poetry as a Shared Cultural Space for Muslims and Jews in Morocco.” Studies in the History and Culture of North African Jewry 2011 Jerusalem and New Haven Hebrew University and Yale University 65 103

ChetritJoseph “Rénovation linguistique et resémiotisation du monde: La presse judéo-arabe d’Afrique du Nord en quête d’une langue journalistique” Cahiers de la Méditerranée 2012 85 47 168

CohenDavid “Le comparatisme sémitique: L’Épître à la communauté juive de Fès de Jehuda Ibn Quraish” Annuaire de l’École pratique des hautes études 1978/1979 Paris École pratique des hautes études 194 198

CorcosDavid Studies in the History of the Jews of Morocco 1976 Jerusalem Rubin Mass

CorrienteFederico A Grammatical Sketch of the Spanish Arabic Dialect Bundle 1977 Madrid Instituto Hispano-Árabe de Cultura

CorrienteFederico Gramática métrica y texto del Cancionero hispanoarabe de Aban Quzman: Reflejo de la situación lingüistica de Al-Andalus tras concluir el periodo de las Taifas 1980 Madrid Instituto Hispano-Árabe de Cultura

CorrienteFederico “The Metres of the Muwaššaḥ, an Andalusian adaptation of ʿAruḍ: A Bridging hypothesis” Journal of Arabic Literature 1982 13 76 82

CorrienteFederico “South Arabian features in Andalusi Arabic” Studia linguistica et orientalia memoriae Haim Blanc dedicata 1989 Wiesbaden Harassowitz 94 103

CorrienteFederico Poesía dialectal árabe y romance en Alandalús: Cejeles y “xarajat” de “muwaššaḥat.” 1998 Madrid Editorial Gredos

DroriRina The Emergence of Jewish-Arabic Literary Contacts at the Beginning of the Tenth Century 1988 Tel Aviv The Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics and Hakibutz Hameukhad (in Hebrew)

DroriRina Models and Contacts: Arabic Literature and Its Impact on Medieval Jewish Culture 2000 Leiden Brill

FergusonCharles A. “Diglossia” Word 1959 15 325 340

FerrandoIgnacio 23 contratos comerciales escritos por los judíos de Toledo entre los siglos XIII y XIV: Edición completa y estudio lingüístico de los datos judeo-árabes y andalusíes 1994 Zaragoza University of Zaragoza

FishmanJoshua A. “Bilingualism with and without Diglossia. Diglossia with and without Bilingualism” Journal of Social Issues 1967 3 2 29 38

FreemanAndrew YoussiAbderrahim “A Working Model for Diglossia. How Can We Accommodate the Arab Perception that Arabic Is a Single Linguistic System?” Aspects of the Dialects of Arabic Today 2002 Rabat Amanpatril 276 287

GilMoshe In the Kingdom of Ishmael—Studies in the Jewish History in Islamic Lands in the Early Middle Ages 1997 vols. 1–4 Jerusalem Bialik Institute (in Hebrew)

GrandguillaumeGilbert Arabisation et politique linguistique au Maghreb 1983 Paris Maisonneuve & Larose

GreenfieldJonas C. GellerMarkhamGreenfieldJonas C.WeitzmanM. P. “Aramaic and the Jews” Studia Aramaica: New Sources and New Approaches 1995 Oxford Oxford University Press 1 18

HalkinAbraham S. “Classical and Arabic Material in Ibn ʿAknin’s ‘Hygiene of the Soul.’ ” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 1944 14 25 147

HalkinAbraham S. “Judeo-Arabic Literature” Encyclopaedia Judaica 1972 vol. 10 Jerusalem Keter 410 423

HazanEphraim La poésie hébraïque en Afrique du Nord 1995 Jerusalem Editions Magnes (in Hebrew)

HirschbergHaim Z. A History of the Jews in North Africa 1974 Vol. 1 Leiden Brill

KatzDovid FishmanJoshua A. “Hebrew, Aramaic and the Rise of Yiddish” Readings in the Sociology of Jewish Languages 1985 Leiden Brill 85 103

LeckerMichael Jews and Arabs in Pre- and Early Islamic Arabia 1998 Aldershot Ashgate

LevySimon “Repères pour une histoire linguistique du Maroc” Estudios de Dialectologia Norteafricana y Andalusi 1996 1 127 137

LevySimon AguadeJordiCressierPatriceVicenteAngela “Problématique historique du processus d’arabisation du Maroc: une histoire linguistique du Maroc” Peuplement et arabisation au Maghreb Occidental 1998 Madrid and Zaragoza Casa de Velasquez 11 26

MamanAharon BunisDavid M. “Midrash ʿaseret ha-diberot be-Mughrabit Yehudit Nosaḥ Sefru” [The Midrash ‘The Ten Commandments’ in Moroccan Judeo-Arabic of Sefrou] Leshonot Yehudei Sfarad ve-ha-Mizraḥ ve-Sifruyoteihem [Languages and Literatures of Sephardic and Oriental Jews] 2009 Jerusalem Bialik Institute and Misgav Yerushalayim 242 255 (in Hebrew)

MarçaisWilliam Articles et conférences 1961 Paris Adrien-Maisonneuve

NewbyGordon D. A History of the Jews of Arabia: From Ancient Times to their Eclipse under Islam 1988 Columbia, SC University of South Carolina Press

PoliackMeiraSomekhSasson “Two Hebrew-Arabic Biblical Glossaries from the Cairo Geniza” Peʿamim 2000 83 15 47 (in Hebrew)

RabinChaim “What Constitutes a Jewish Language?” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 1981 30 19 30

SasakiTsuguya “Ha-Markiv ha-ʿIvri-Arami be-Yidish: Torat ha-Ṣurot ve-Torat ha-Mashmaʿut [The Hebrew-Aramaic component of Yiddish: Morphology and semantics].” Massorot 1993 7 129 144

SasakiTsuguya MoragShelomo “Which Derivatives of Hebrew Roots Entered Yiddish: A Tentative Formulation” Vena Hebraica in Judaerum Linguis: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on the Hebrew and Aramaic Elements in Jewish Languages (Milan October 23–26 1995) 1999 Milan University of Milan 244 269

SchippersArie JonesAlanHitchcockRichard “Some Remarks on the Present-Day Tradition of Andalusian Muwashshaḥāt in North Africa” Studies on the Muwashshaḥ and the Kharja: Proceedings of the Exeter International Colloquium 1991 Oxford University of Oxford Press 149 159

SchippersArie LentinJérômeGrand’henryJacques “The Middle Arabic of Nissim Ibn Šāhīn (990–1062)” Moyen arabe et variétés mixtes de l’arabe à travers l’histoire 2008 Louvain-la-Neuve Publications de l’Institut Orientaliste de Louvain 423 438

SchwarzwaldOra(Rodrigue) BenabuIsaacSermonetaJoseph “The Fusion of the Hebrew-Aramaic Lexical Component in Judeo-Spanish” Judeo-Romance Languages 1985 Jerusalem The Hebrew University and Misgav Yerushalayim 139 159

SchwarzwaldOra MoragShelomoBar-AsherMosheMayer-ModenaMaria “Hierarchy among the Hebrew Elements in Ladino Translations as Determined by Geographical, Textual and Religious Factors” Vena Hebraica in Judaeorum Linguis: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on the Hebrew and Aramaic Elements in Jewish Languages (Milan October 23–26 1995) 1999 Milan University of Milan 183 202

SephihaHaim V. Le ladino ( judéo-espagnol calque): Deutéronome versions de Constantinople (1547) et de Ferrare (1553) 1973 Paris Editions Hispaniques, La Sorbonne

SephihaHaim V. “Problématique du judéo-espagnol” Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris 1974 69 1 149 189

SephihaHaim V. L’agonie des judéo-espagnols 1977 Paris Editions de l’Entente

ShmerukKhone Sifrut Yidish: Perakim le-Toldoteha [Yiddish Literature: Some Chapters of Its History] 1978 Tel Aviv Mif ʿalim Universita’iyim (in Hebrew)

ShmerukKhone BaumgartenJeanBunisDavid “Hébreu, yiddish, polonais: une culture juive trilingue” Le yiddish. Langue culture société 1999 Paris CNRS Editions 177 209

SlouschzNahum “Etude sur l’histoire des juifs et du judaïsme au Maroc (1re partie: les origines)” Archives Marocaines 1905 4 1 347 411

SlouschzNahum “Les Juifs marocains de l’invasion arabe à la persécution des Almohades (1146)” Archives Marocaines 1906 6 1 167

StarckAstrid Westjiddisch: Le Yiddish occidental. Actes du colloque de Mulhouse 1994 Aarau Verlag Sauerländer

SternKaren B. Inscribing Devotion and Death: Archaeological Evidence for Jewish Populations of North Africa 2008 Leiden Brill

StillmanNorman A. Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World 2010 vol. 3 Leiden Brill

Tirosh-BeckerOfra “Karaite Judeo-Arabic Translations of Mishna Rosh ha-Shana: On the Meaning of Baʿalil” Jewish Quarterly Review 2006 95 3 630 666

Tirosh-BeckerOfra Ginzei ḤZ”L ba-Sifrut ha-Karʿait b-Imei ha-Benayim [Rabbinic Excerpts in Medieval Karaite Literature] 2012 Jerusalem Ben-Zvi Institute (in Hebrew) 2 vols.

TobiYosef TobiYosef “Ha-Pereq ha-Shishi be-Ṭibb al-Nufūs le-Rav Yosef Ibn ʿAqnin” [The sixth chapter of Ṭibb al-Nufūs of Rav Yosef Ibn ʿAqnin] Le-Rosh Yosef: Texts and Studies in Judaism Dedicated to Rabbi Yosef Qāfih 1996 Jerusalem Afikim 311 342 (in Hebrew)

TobiYosef Poetry Judeo-Arabic Literature and the Geniza 2006 Tel Aviv Tel Aviv University (in Hebrew)

TobiYosef ZackLisbethSchippersArie “Written Judeo-Arabic: Colloquial Versus Middle Arabic” Middle Arabic and Mixed Arabic: Diachrony and Synchrony 2012 Leiden Brill 265 272

VasselEusèbe La littérature populaire des Israélites tunisiens avec un essai ethnographique et archéologique sur leurs superstitions 1904–1907 Paris Ernest Leroux

WeinreichMax “History of the Yiddish Language: The Problems and their Implications” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 1959 103 1 563 570

WeinreichMax History of the Yiddish Language 2008 2nd edition New Haven Yale University Press

WexlerPaul Explorations in Judeo-Slavic Linguistics 1987 Leiden Brill

WexlerPaul Three Heirs to a Judeo-Latin Legacy: Judeo-Ibero-Romance Yiddish and Rotwelsch 1988 Wiesbaden Harassowitz

WexlerPaul The Balkan Substratum of Yiddish: A Reassessment of the Unique Romance and Greek Components 1992 Wiesbaden Harassowitz

YahalomJosephBlauJoshua The Wanderings of Judah Alharizi: Five Accounts of His Travels 2002 Jerusalem Ben-Zvi Institute (in Hebrew)

ZwartjesOtto Love-songs from Al-Andalus: History Structure and Meaning of the Kharja 1997 Leiden Brill


See Hirschberg 1974chap. 1 for an attempt at a historical synthesis concerning that period. See also Slouschz 1905.


Cf. Rabin 1981; Chetrit 2007a:8–18419–424.


Cf. Weinreich 19592008; Wexler 1987 1988 1992; Baumgarten 2002a 2002b; Baumgarten and Bunis 1999.


Cf. Benoliel 1977:3–8; Benichou 1945; Wexler 1988; Alexander-Frizer and Bentolila 2008:9–15.


Cf. Ferguson 1961; Marçais 1961:83–88; Fishman 1967; Freeman 2002.


Cf. Blau 19881999; Drori 1988 2000.


On Western Yiddish see Starck 1995.


Cf. Chetrit 2007a:139–158424–432; Chetrit 2009:16–29 and passim.


Cf. Sephiha 19731974; Schwarzwald 1985 1999; Bunis 1993.


For Morocco see Chetrit 2007a:41–116chapter 2: “Tradition du discours et discours de la tradition.”


Ms. Hébreu Paris 1438fols. 4a–5a of the Bibliothèque Nationale; Chetrit 1994:140.


For more details see Chetrit 1990; 2007a:379–404; 2007b; 2008; 2009:105–222; 2012.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 34 34 6
Full Text Views 28 28 22
PDF Downloads 4 4 2
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0