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Stefan Schorch


In the 10th/11th century, Arabic became both the vernacular and literary language of the Samaritan community, along with the two languages of the liturgy: Samaritan Hebrew and Samaritan Aramaic; Samaritan Neo Hebrew was also employed at this time mainly for the composition of religious poems. Together with the introduction of the Arabic language, the Samaritans started to use the Arabic script, along with the Samaritan Hebrew formal and cursive scripts. In comparison with the use of the Arabic script, the Samaritan Hebrew script served mostly for more sacred texts or was employed in order to mark certain textual passages with a higher degree of sacredness. Allography of Arabic in Samaritan Hebrew letters is attested in Samaritan manuscripts since the beginning of the 13th century, although it was introduced most probably at an earlier date. This allography is employed mainly for the Arabic translation of the Samaritan Torah, for the Arabic translations of prayers, and for Samaritan Hebrew or Samaritan Aramaic quotes in Arabic texts. The replacement of Arabic by Modern Israeli Hebrew as the primary vernacular among the Samaritans living in the State of Israel led to a revival of Samaritan Hebrew allography for Arabic texts in the 20th century, mainly in festival poems in Arabic language, which are performed at certain occasions, although not all congregants are still familiar with the Arabic language and script. A close analysis demonstrates that Samaritan Hebrew allography of Arabic is the result of an intense contact between two scribal cultures, both of which were well established amongst the Samaritans. The allographic use of the Samaritan Hebrew script for writing Arabic texts originally did not aim to make these texts more accessible to Samaritan readers, but rather was employed to mark Arabic texts as belonging to the realm of the sacred.

Bedross Der Matossian


Armeno-Turkish played an important role in the lives of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. At a time in which more than half of the Armenians of the Empire did not speak Armenian, Armeno-Turkish came to fill an important gap. It led to the proliferation of literacy among Armenians and allowed them to mark and strengthen their ethno-religious boundaries vis-à-vis other ethno-religious groups in the Ottoman Empire, while simultaneously allowing for the crossing of these boundaries which, in general, were characterized by fluidity. The 19th century represents an important phase in the development of Armeno-Turkish. Its development cannot be attributed to one factor; rather to a host of factors that include the impact of the Armenian Zart‘ōnk‘ (awakening), the spread of Catholicism and Protestantism, the impact of the Tanzimat Reforms (1839–1876), the development of Armenian ethno-religious boundaries, and the role of print culture. Finally, Armeno-Turkish raises important questions regarding identity formation, belonging, and cross-cultural interaction.

Tamar Zewi


Saadya ben Joseph al-Fayyumi (Saˁīd b. Yūsuf al-Fayyūmī, Saadya Gaon, b. Egypt 882—d. Baghdad 942) translated the Pentateuch as well as several other parts of the Bible into Arabic in the first half of the 10th century. The translation, named tafsīr by Saadya himself, was transmitted in two versions, one in Hebrew letters, probably intended for and used by Jewish-Rabbanite communities, and another in Arabic letters, probably intended for and used by other communities. Several manuscripts holding a Saadyan version in Arabic letters were used by Christian communities in the Near East. Some of these manuscripts probably reached the Samaritans, or at least one Samaritan community. The main source consisting of the Samaritan version of Saadya Gaon’s translation of the Pentateuch is MS London BL OR 7562. The article discusses the status of this manuscript among the other Samaritan Arabic translations, its characteristics, and demonstrates the reflections of Arabic and Syriac vocabulary in its Samaritan script.

Spanish Islam in Arabic Script

Language, Identity, and Community Boundaries in the Literature of Religious Polemics of the Muslims of Late Medieval Christian Iberia

Mònica Colominas Aparicio


The present study discusses language as a tool of identity construction by Muslims from the Late Medieval and Early Modern Christian Iberian Peninsula who could practice Islam by law in exchange for paying taxes (Mudejars). Their writings, as well as those of the group who were later forced to convert to Christianity (Moriscos), are in various languages and scripts. The Arabic (Aljamiado) used to transcribe Romance is distinctive and abundant evidence of it is left from the later Morisco period. The earlier uses of language by the Mudejars are nonetheless essential to understand how Muslims negotiated their community boundaries within a Christian majority society. My analysis will concentrate on two Mudejar polemics against the Christians and the Jews, which were most likely composed in fourteenth-century Aragon. In these works, approaches to language and the interplay of Arabic—both as a target language and as a script—with Romance escape discrete definitions of religion and culture.1

E. Khayyat


Beginning late nineteenth century Ottoman-Turkish intellectuals fought for an orthographic revolution to change the spelling of the name Türk—which was once used to refer to the “simple folk” or Muslims generally and was written as ‮ترك‬‎ (t-r-k) in Arabic letters—by adding the letter ‘wāw’ (‮و‬‎) to it, spelling the name as ‮تورك‬‎ (t-u-r-k) in print. The additional letter was a necessity in the minds of the revolutionaries to make visible the Turkish nation as opposed to the multitude. The paper interprets these intellectuals’ thoughts and assumptions on scripts, writing and language as they relate to politics and identity and as part of the history of Ottoman-Turkish literary modernity, which would culminate in the adoption of Roman letters in the modern Turkish Republic.

Jonas Karlsson


This article presents the Turkic Garshuni prayers found in the 18th century Chaldean manuscript Uppsala O Hebr. 47. Out of a total of eight prayers, five have previously been described in the scholarly literature and three are here presented for the first time. The previously described prayers are compared to other (manuscript) witnesses with respect to orthography and textual tradition, and the new prayers are also briefly introduced. Then the orthography used for writing Turkic Garshuni in Uppsala O Hebr. 47 is discussed in more general terms. It is suggested that two different orthographic traditions are represented in the manuscript: one where ʿayn is used as a mater lectionis and ḥēṯ is used as a homophone of kāf with rukkāḵā, and one in which these features are absent. Different ways of writing /ŋ/ are also commented on.

Meira Polliack


This article complements my article on “Single-Script Mixed-Code Literary Sources from the Cairo Genizah” (2018). It begins with introductory comments on the phenomenon of mixed code in Judeo-Arabic, as a continuously spoken and written Jewish language from medieval to modern times. While the documentary sources in the Cairo Genizah (a Jewish medieval archive found in the loft of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo) have drawn scholars’ attention to this phenomenon, there are few discussions of code switching in dual script Judeo-Arabic literary sources. The article presents and discusses two Genizah sources of this kind (as well as one new documentary source), which feature both Hebrew and Arabic scripts in the space of the same fragment. It argues that the haphazard appearance of code switching in such fragments is misleading. The analysis shows there are specific conditions that govern the mixing of Hebrew and Arabic scripts, and highlights its sociolinguistic background. Code switching is a dominant feature of single script Judeo-Arabic literary sources as well, meaning, those penned solely in Hebrew or Arabic script, which lie beyond the scope of the present study. A systematic survey and study of the Genizah literary sources relevant to both categories (single and dual scripts) is therefore a desideratum, and is bound to lead to a better understanding of the sociolinguistic functions of mixed code in Judeo-Arabic writings and culture.

A Functional Approach to Garshunography

A Case Study of Syro-X and X-Syriac Writing Systems

George A. Kiraz


It is argued here that functionalism lies at the heart of garshunographic writing systems (where one language is written in a script that is sociolinguistically associated with another language). Giving historical accounts of such systems that began as early as the eighth century, it will be demonstrated that garshunographic systems grew organically because of necessity and that they offered a certain degree of simplicity rather than complexity. While the paper discusses mostly Syriac-based systems, its arguments can probably be expanded to other garshunographic systems.