Linguistic Variety of Judaeo-Arabic in Letters from the Cairo Genizah


The Cairo Genizah has preserved a vast number of medieval and post-medieval letters written in the Jewish variety of Arabic. The linguistic peculiarities of these letters provide an invaluable source for the understanding of the history of the Arabic language and the development of Arabic dialects. This work compares and contrasts various linguistic features of Judaeo-Arabic letters from different periods, and is one of the first studies to present a comprehensive linguistic investigation into non-literary Judaeo-Arabic. Its main focus is to provide an extensive diachronic linguistic description, while distinguishing between features of epistolary Arabic and vernacular phenomena. This study should be of interest to anyone working on the Arabic language, sociolinguistics, general historical linguistics and language typology.

" the extant volume she [Wagner] has clearly demonstrated that Judeo-Arabic letters are to be viewed as primary source material, capturing important aspects of language understanding of Jews and Judaism in the medieval and early modern Islamic world, and therefore providing essential insights into the linguistic function of a substandard language or ethnolect like Judeo-Arabic." Wout van Bekkum, BiOr no. LXX 3/4

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Esther-Miriam Wagner, Ph.D. (2008), University of Cambridge, is a Research Associate at the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, Cambridge University Library. Her main research interests include Judaeo-Arabic, historical Arabic linguistics, Semitic philology and historical Yiddish.
1. Introduction
2. General Methodology
3. Corpus
4. Phonology and Orthography
5. Morphology
6. Letter Style, Presentation and Lexicon
7. Syntax
8. General Trends in the Judaeo-Arabic Letters from the Genizah
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