Preliminaries to the Critical Edition of the Judeo-Italian Translation of the Siddur

In: Journal of Jewish Languages
Michael Ryzhik Bar-Ilan University Ramat Gan Israel

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This article analyzes five translations of the siddur (‘prayer book’) into Judeo-Italian. Three of the versions are manuscripts from the 15th century, one is the printed 1506 Fano edition, and the last is a manuscript from the 17th century. A common tradition underlies all of these translations and has much in common with Judeo-Provençal translations; this likely represents an ancient Judeo-Romance tradition of translation, which expresses itself differently in each manuscript. The 17th-century translation displays northern linguistic features; it is more Toscanized and normalized than the four other translations and has lost many typical traits of “classical” Judeo-Italian. The 15th-century translations also differ from one another in their spelling, phonology, morphology, vocabulary, and syntax. The main reason for this great variety seems to be the fact that the common old tradition prescribed only the general lines of translation. The biblical passages such as the Shema‘ Israel, are translated in a much more standardized way, but these passages nevertheless retain peculiarities. It therefore seems that a synoptic edition rather than a critical one must be made, in order to describe and analyze the different variations of the Judeo-Italian translations.

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