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Judeo-Provençal, Judæo-Occitan or Judæo-Comtadin, are the names given to the varieties of Occitan or Provençal languages historically spoken and/or written by Jews in the South of France, and more specifically in the Comtat Venaissin area.
|Native to||France (Provence)|
|Region||South-East of France|
|Glottolog||(insufficiently attested or not a distinct language)|
In many recent secondary sources, Judeo-Provençal has been mistakenly referred to under the name Shuadit, a word invented in 1948 by a Polish scholar, Zosa Szajkowski, notwithstanding the fact that the language had never been known under that name by its speakers.
Judeo-Provençal is known from documents dating to as early as the 11th century in France, and remained in use up to the 19th century. Then, most of its speakers assimilated to French and it is now regarded as extinct. Though often written in Hebrew script, the dialect was mutually intelligible with the Occitan spoken by non-Jews.
Judeo-Provençal writings came in two distinct categories, religious texts and popular prose. They were predominantly written by adapting the Hebrew script.
Religious texts contained a significantly higher incidence of loanwords from Hebrew and reflected an overall more "educated" style, with many words also from Old French, Provençal, Greek, Aramaic and Latin. The texts include a fragment of a 14th-century poem lauding Queen Esther, and a woman's prayer book containing an uncommon blessing, found in few other locations (including medieval Lithuania), thanking God, in the morning blessings, not for making her "according to His will" (שעשני כרצונו she'asani kirṣono) but for making her as a woman.
The extant texts comprising the collections of popular prose used far fewer borrowings and were essentially Occitan written with the Hebrew script. This may have simply reflected Jews' then-prevalent avoidance of the Latin alphabet, which was widely associated with oppressive Christian régimes. The texts demonstrate the extent to which the Jewish community of Provence was familiar with Hebrew as well as the extent to which the community was integrated into the larger surrounding Christian culture of the region.
Judeo-Provençal had a number of phonological characteristics that are not found in other Occitan dialects.
In words derived from Latin, there was a tendency to diphthongise /l/ after plosives and to delateralize /ʎ/ to /j/. Also, both /ʒ/ and /ʃ/, as well as /dʒ/ and /tʃ/, merged to the single phoneme /ʃ/. Thus, the Provençal words plus, filha, and jutge were respectively pyus, feyo, and šuše in Judeo-Provençal.
In words inherited from Hebrew, the letters samekh, shin and taw were all pronounced /f/, the same as fe. The conjecture is that the first two /s/ phonemes merged with the /θ/ phoneme, which then merged with the phoneme /f/.
A fundamental source for inferring information about the phonology of Judeo-Provençal is the comedy Harcanot et Barcanot. (See Nahon in the References section.)
There are also a number of bilingual Hebrew-Provençal religious poems, known as Obros.[where?]
In 1498, the French Jews were formally expelled from France. Although the community was not finally compelled to depart until 1501, much of the community had by then become dispersed into other regions, notably Northern Italy, Germany and the Ottoman Empire. However, the Comtat Venaissin was then under the direct control of the Pope until 1790, and a small Jewish community continued to live there in relative isolation. From the time of the French Revolution, when French Jews were permitted to live legally anywhere in France as full citizens, the status of Judeo-Provençal began to decline rapidly. It has been claimed that the last known native speaker, Armand Lunel, died in 1977.
- ^ Nahon, Peter. n.d. Judeo-Provençal. Jewish Language Website, Sarah Bunin Benor (ed.). Los Angeles: Jewish Language Project. https://www.jewishlanguages.org/judeo-provencal. Attribution: Creative Commons Share-Alike 4.0 International.
- ^ Hammarström (2015) Ethnologue 16/17/18th editions: a comprehensive review: online appendices
- Blondheim, D. S. 1928. Notes étymologiques et lexicographiques. Mélanges de linguistique et de littérature offerts à M. Alfred Jeanroy par ses élèves et ses amis. Paris: Champion. 71-80.
- Jochnowitz, G. 1978 "Shuadit: La langue juive de Provence." Archives juives 14: 63-67.
- Jochnowitz, G. 2013. "The Hebrew Component in Judeo-Provençal." In Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan et al., vol. 2, pp. xxxx. Leiden: Brill.
- Nahon, Peter (2020), "La singularisation linguistique des juifs en Provence et en Gascogne : deux cas parallèles ou opposés ?", La Linguistique, 56: 87–113 Link to full-text.
- Nahon, P. 2021. "Modern Judeo-Provençal as Known from Its Sole Textual Testimony: Harcanot et Barcanot (Critical Edition and Linguistic Analysis)," Journal of Jewish Languages. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/22134638-bja10014
- Pansier, P. 1925. "Une comédie en argot hébraïco-provençal de la fin du XVIIIe siècle." Revue des études juives 81: 113-145.
- Pedro d'Alcantara (Dom Pedro II of Brazil). 1891. Poésies hébraïco-provençales du rituel comtadin. Avignon: Séguin Frères
- Zosa Szajkowski, Dos loshn fun di yidn in di arbe kehiles fun Komta-Venesen (The Language of the Jews in the Four Communities of Comtat Venaissin), New York, published by the author and the Yiddish Scientific Institute—YIVO, 1948.