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Dov Cohen and Ora (Rodrigue) Schwarzwald

Abstract

It is commonly accepted that Hilkhot Sheḥiṭa u-Vdika (literally, ‘The Laws of Ritual Slaughter and Examination’—Constantinople ca. 1510) was the first publication ever printed in Judeo-Spanish. Yet scholars possessed no evidence that the work actually existed, and no information was available regarding its contents or language. Recently, however, the first four pages of the publication were discovered among the remnants of the Cairo Genizah. The current study is a preliminary description of this publication’s historical bibliography, halakhic sources, structure and contents, orthography and spelling (which reflect untrained writing and inconsistent pronunciation), and its special vocabulary, including the Hebrew component, which specifically relates to religion.

Gabi Abramac

Abstract

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1992) seeks to protect and promote regional and minority languages in Europe. The objectives and principles defined by the Charter include the recognition of regional and minority languages as cultural assets. The Charter also commits the signatories to promote the study of, and research on, regional and minority languages. Bosnia and Herzegovina signed the Charter in 2005 and officially ratified it in 2010, applying it to seventeen regional and minority languages including Ladino and Yiddish. This paper examines the disparity between the obligations entered into and the actual state of affairs. It also investigates the linguistic repertoire and language ideologies of the Jewish community in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the extent and nature of its interest in revitalizing Ladino.

Tamari Lomtadze and Reuven Enoch

Abstract

The Judeo-Georgian language has not yet been fully studied. Up to the end of the 20th century, only religion, traditions, and customs had been considered key identity markers of Georgian Jews. The first comprehensive scholarly works relating to Judeo-Georgian appeared at the turn of the century. This article builds on previous research on the speech varieties of Georgian Jews. The purpose of the present article is to demonstrate that alongside religion, customs, traditions, and culture, language was one of the main identity markers of the Jews in Georgia. The variety of Georgian spoken by the Jews differed from standard Georgian in prosodic (intonational), grammatical, and lexical features. The sociocultural and ethnolinguistic distinctiveness of their speech was reflected primarily in the use of Hebraisms.

Bryan Kirschen

Abstract

This study implements the Leipzig-Jakarta list as a word-elicitation task among speakers (n=20) of Judeo-Spanish in South Florida. Data demonstrate that while entirely different lexemes may be used to express similar meanings for a given token, variation is most demonstrable through phonological processes. An analysis of responses (n=2,000) reveals variation and innovation in the production of vowels (mid-vowel raising, apheresis, prothesis), consonants (de/voicing or palatalization of sibilants, preservation of etymological f–, metathesis), and stress (proparoxytonic vs. oxytonic). Data also reveal that of the basic lexicon in Judeo-Spanish (e.g., function words, body parts, living creatures, etc.), only 5% is of non-Hispanic origin. In addition, this study examines the sociolinguistic organization of Sephardim in South Florida, accounting for the vitality and endangerment of Judeo-Spanish in this diasporic community, while also exemplifying the linguistic ramifications of contact with other languages.

Cristina Guardiano and Melita Stavrou

Abstract

This paper investigates aspects of adjectival modification in Romance and Greek of Southern Italy. In Italiot Greek, prenominal adjectives obey restrictions that do not exist in Standard Modern Greek, where all types of adjectives are allowed in prenominal position. As far as postnominal adjectives are concerned, in the textual tradition of Calabria Greek there is evidence of postnominal adjectives systematically articulated in definite nominal structures (henceforth DP s), in a structure similar to the so-called polydefinite construction that is typical of Standard Modern Greek (and of Greek in general since ancient times). Some residual evidence of such a construction is also found in Salento. Yet, in the varieties currently spoken in the two areas, postnominal adjectives are never articulated. The paper explores these patterns, with particular attention to the mechanisms potentially responsible for the loss of polydefiniteness.

Ezra la Roi

Abstract

This paper challenges the commonly held view that the Classical Greek potential optative has a subjective epistemic semantics, the result of a conceptual confusion of subjectivity and epistemic modality inherited from our standard grammars. I propose that this view becomes less convincing when the optative’s unique interaction with the subjective particles ἦ and ἄρα is incorporated into the analysis. Rather, the potential optative has a non-subjective epistemic semantics presenting an epistemic judgment as interpersonally accessible to the conversational participants. Frequencies of combination with ἦ and ἄρα, linguistic tests for subjectivity on the potential optative, and contrastive contextual analyses corroborate this view.

From the editors

A new year, a new issue

Dag T.T. Haug, Brian D. Joseph and Anna Roussou

Francesco Mambrini

Abstract

We study the distribution of the nominal and copular construction of predicate nominals in a subset of authors from the Ancient Greek Dependency Treebank (AGDT). We concentrate on the texts of the historians Herodotus, Thucydides (both 5th century BCE) and Polybius (2nd century BCE). The data comprise a sample of 440 sentences (Hdt = 175, Thuc = 91, Pol = 174). We analyze the impact of four features that have been discussed in the literature and can be observed in the annotation of AGDT: (1) order of constituents, (2) part of speech of the subjects, (3) type of clause and (4) length of the clause. Furthermore, we test how the predictive power of these factors varies in time from Herodotus and Thucydides to Polybius with the help of a logistic-regression model. The analysis shows that, contrary to a simplistic opinion, the nominal construction does not drop into irrelevance in Hellenistic Greek. Moreover, an analysis of the distributions in the authors highlights a remarkable continuity in the usage patterns. Further work is needed to improve the predictive power of our logistic-regression model and to integrate more data in view of a more comprehensive quantitative diachronic study.