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Lexical Variation among South Florida’s Judeo-Spanish-speaking Sephardim

In: Journal of Jewish Languages
Author: Bryan Kirschen1
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  • 1 Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY, USA
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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.

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