Jewish Languages in Historical Perspective is devoted to the diverse array of spoken and written language varieties that have been employed by Jews in the Diaspora from antiquity until the twenty-first century. It focuses on the following five key themes: Jewish languages in dialogue with sacred Jewish texts, Jewish languages in contact with the co-territorial non-Jewish languages, Jewish vernacular traditions, the status of Jewish languages in the twenty-first century, and theoretical issues relating to Jewish language research. This volume includes case studies on a wide range of Jewish languages both historical and modern and devotes attention to lesser known varieties such as Jewish Berber, Judeo-Italian, and Karaim in addition to the more familiar Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, Yiddish, and Ladino.
Books, Censorship, and the Evolution of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation of London as a Linguistic Community, 1663–1810
In Lost in Translation, Found in Transliteration, Alex Kerner examines London’s Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ congregation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as a community that delineated its identity not only along ethnic and religious lines, but also along the various languages spoken by its members. By zealously keeping Hebrew and Spanish for prayer and Portuguese for community administration, generations of wardens attempted to keep control over their community, alongside a tough censorial policy on book printing. Clinging to the Iberian languages worked as a bulwark against assimilation, adding language to religion as an additional identity component. As Spanish and Portuguese speaking generations were replaced with younger ones, English permeated daily and community life intensifying assimilationist trends.