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Formation and Diversity of Jewish Languages and of Judeo-Arabic in North Africa I. Middle Judeo-Arabic and its Forms of Hybridization

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AbstractThe article deals with the evolution of Middle Judeo-Arabic in North Africa. The study examines the linguistic processes and the hybridized uses of Judeo-Arabic in a theoretical framework oriented toward the main sociopragmatic features of Jewish languages. These include diglossic functioning, endolectal appropriation of a non-Jewish language, hybridization of grammatical and lexical structures, and discursive and textual diversity. Middle Judeo-Arabic is considered here in three different periods of its formation and use in North Africa. The first period, the classic period, lasted from the tenth to the thirteenth century. It generated religious, philosophical, literary, and epistolary texts that are documented by the archives of the Cairo Genizah and by the seminal works of famous scholars. The second period began after the settlement of the Megorashim in urban centers of North Africa at the end of the fifteenth century and lasted until the nineteenth century. During this period, Jewish poets turned their attention to some remnants of Middle Judeo-Arabic texts, mostly paraliturgical, to heighten the language of their Judeo-Arabic poems. The third period was characterized by a new kind of literary Judeo-Arabic used by journalists and writers in Tunis at the end of the nineteenth century.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Hebrew Language, University of HaifaIsrael


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