New Perspectives on Judeo-Spanish and the Linguistic History of the Sephardic Jews


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At the intersection of Jewish studies and linguistic research, the essays assembled in this book approach the topic of the languages of Sephardic Jews from different perspectives, spanning chronologically from the Middle Ages to the present day. Drawing on diverse sources – from medical glossaries to inquisition archives, from rabbinic responsa to recordings of today's speakers – the scholars collaborating on this project have endeavoured to reconstruct fragments of a complex and elusive linguistic reality, which over the centuries has been shaped by the historical experience of its speakers. An innovative collection of rigorously conducted synchronic and diachronic studies that contributes to expanding our knowledge and opening new perspectives on crucial issues, such as the effects of contact on the linguistic structures, the possibility of a norm for polycentric languages, the relationship between the lexicon of a language and the vitality of its speech community.

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Laura Minervini, PhD (1991), is Professor of Romance Philology and Linguistics in the University of Naples ‘Federico II’. She has published extensively on Judeo-Romance languages and linguistic contact in the Middle Ages and the early modern period. She has edited a corpus of Castilian and Aragonese texts in Hebrew script (Testi giudeospagnoli medievali, 1992) and a narrative poem on the biblical story of Joseph (Las coplas de Yosef, 2006, with Luis Girón Negrón); she has written the entries on Judeo-Italian, Judeo-French, and Judeo-Occitan for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics (2021).

Frank Savelsberg, Ph.D. (2008) at Freie Universität Berlin, is Senior Lecturer in Romance Philology at Georg-August University Göttingen. He finished his studies of Romance and German Philology and Jewish Studies at the University of Cologne with a Master thesis about the role of Jewish mysticism in the work of the Galician author José Ángel Valente. His Ph.D.-thesis was dedicated to the satirical work of Francisco de Quevedo. One of his main research interests is the medico-botanical terminology of Old Romance in Hebrew script (Medical synonym lists of Medieval Provence, 2011, with Gerrit Bos, Martina Hussein, and Guido Mensching) and he is one of the editors of the Manual of Judaeo-Romance Linguistics and Philology (2023, with Guido Mensching).
List of Figures
List of Tables
Notes on Contributors

Laura Minervini and Frank Savelsberg

Part 1 Languages and Language Usage of the Jews in Medieval Iberia

1 Old Castilian Words in Hebrew Characters Transmitted in Medico-Botanical Glossaries and Synonym Lists
Gerrit Bos, Guido Mensching and Julia Zwink

2 The Presence of the Hebrew Language and Literature in Inquisitorial Files against Judaizers from Medinaceli (Soria)
Manuel Nevot Navarro

3 Historical Lexicography of Judeo-Spanish and the Diccionario del Español Medieval Electrónico (DEMel)
Rafael D. Arnold

Part 2 The Emergence of a New Language—Variation, Koineization, and Language Contact

4 Forms of Address at the Dawn of Judeo-Spanish
Elisabeth Fernández Martín

5 Linguistic Variation in the Sephardic Community of Pisa (17th Century)
José Javier Rodríguez Toro

6 Loke in Judeo-Spanish
Olga Kellert

7 Language Contact and the Development of Judeo-Spanish Syntax
Susann Fischer

8 On the Influence of German on Judeo-Spanish
Carsten Sinner, Elia Hernández Socas and Encarnación Tabares-Plasencia

Part 3 Linguistic Features and Sociolinguistic Perspectives on Present-Day Judeo-Spanish

9 Intonational Patterns in the Last Generation of Native Judeo-Spanish Speakers Born in Turkey: A Preliminary Study
José Ignacio Hualde and Aldina Quintana

10 Vocalic Alternations in Istanbul Judeo-Spanish: A Pilot Study on Semi-Spontaneous Speech Data
Christoph Gabriel, Jonas Grünke and Aldina Quintana

11 Lexical Availability in Contemporary Judeo-Spanish
Cristóbal José Álvarez López

12 Spanish and Judeo-Spanish Today: A Glottopolitical Perspective
Yvette Bürki

Scholars and (mostly graduate) students of Jewish languages and Hispanic linguistics. Academic libraries, especially if specialised in linguistics; libraries of Spanish cultural institutions worldwide, such as Instituto Cervantes.
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