Judeo-Provençal

Description by George Jochnowitz

Armand Lunel, last known speaker of Judeo-Provençal.

Judeo-Provençal is also known as Judéo-Comtadin, Hébraïco-Comtadin, Shuadit, Chouadit, Chouadite, Chuadit, and Chuadite. The age of the language is a matter of dispute, as is the case with other Judeo-Romance languages. Blondheim maintained that the Judeo-Romance languages go back to a common Judeo-Latin. Banitt has argued that in the 11th and 12th centuries, the Jewish communities of Western Europe were influenced by the Languedoc school of exegesis with Narbonne at its center and that the similarities among West European Jewish languages date from that period.

Judeo-Provençal documents fall into two categories: religious texts, written in Hebrew characters but quite similar to Provençal, and popular writings that reflect the spoken language. The relationship of these two categories to each other is also a matter of dispute, once again reflecting similar disputes among scholars of other Jewish languages.

Religious texts include a fragment of a 14th-century poem about Queen Esther and a woman's prayer book, perhaps about the same age. The prayerbook includes a unique blessing: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who made me a woman."

Quick facts


Names of language:

Judeo-Occitan, Judéo-Comtadin, HébraïcoComtadin, Hébraïco-Provençal, 
Shuadit, Chouadit, Chouadite, Chuadit, and
Chuadite

Territories where it was/is spoken:

originated: Southern France

heyday: Southern France

today: extinct
 

Estimated # speakers:
- 1900: 20?
- 2019: none
 

Vitality:

extinct
 

Writing systems:

Originally Hebrew, later Latin letters


Literature:

Prayer books, religious texts, plays, poems

 

Language family/branch:

Romance - a variant of the language that today is called Occitan

In words of Hebrew-Aramaic origin, the letters שׂין, סמך and תו are all pronounced [f]. Presumably, there was an earlier stage when תו was a voiceless interdental fricative. Later סמך and שׂין merged with this sound, which then became the acoustically similar [f].

In words of Romance origin, we find the spellings pius instead of plus ('more'), feyo instead of filho ('son'), and chuche instead of juge ('judge'). An important source of information about the spoken language is the comedy Harcanot et Barcanot, edited by Pansier. The first reflection of the spoken language may be a comic poem by a non-Jew. It is entitled Lou Sermoun di Jusiou ('the sermon of the Jew') and was probably composed in the 16th century. There were also parodies of Jewish speech in Christmas carols (Noué jusioou). There is an edition of bilingual Hebrew-Shuadit religious poems by the Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil.

Jews were expelled from southern France in 1498, although they didn't have to leave until 1501. The area of the Comtat-Venaissin, however, belonged to the Pope, and Jews could live there in relative isolation. After the French Revolution, it was legal for Jews to live anywhere in France, and the language began to disappear. The last known speaker was Armand Lunel, who died in 1977.

Selected Bibliography (* = Basic References)

  • Amado, P. 1959. Un document judéo-comtadin du XVIIIe siecle: La Reine Esther, pièce en 2 actes. L'arche 27: 36-39.

  • Asher, A. 1844. Hebräisch-provenzalische Volkslieder. Der Orient 5: 733-4.

  • Banitt, M. 1963. Une langue fantôme: le judéo-français. Revue de linguistique romane 27: 245-294.

  • Bardinet, L. 1880, Antiquité et organisation des juiveries du Comtat Venaissin. Revue des e'tudes juives 1: 262-292.

  • Ben Abba Mari, Y. 1608 [written 12th century]. ספר העיתור. Venice.

  • Bernfeld, M. 1948. 'שואַדית: דאָס אונטערעגעגאַנגענע לשון פֿון די קאָמאַדינער ייִדן. קיום 12: 725-727.

  • 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.

  • Boyer, R., 1956, Un piyout judéo-comtadin inédit. Evidences 59: 27-29.

  • Brun, G., 1975, Les Juifs du Pape à Carpentras. Carpentras. [especially pp. 157-179]

  • Carmi, E. 1767. סדר התמיד. Avignon.

  • Carmi, M. 1829. הואיל משה באר על סדר התמיד. Avignon.

  • * Guttel, H. 1971. Judeo-Provençal. Encyclopaedia Judaica 10: 439-441.

  • Hirschler, R. 1894 Petit vocabulaire comprenant à peu près tous les mots et expressions judéo-provençales employés par les israélites dits cotmadins avec étymologie. Calendrier à l'usage des israélites pour l'année religieuse 5655. Toulouse. 26-32.

  • Ink, A. 1845. Uebersetzung und Umschreibung des von Herrn Asher mitgeteilten ... hebräisch-französischen Volksliedes. Der Orient 6: 90-92.

  • Jochnowitz, G. 1978. Judeo-Romance Languages. In H. Paper (ed.), Jewish Languages: Theme and Variations. Cambridge, MA: Association for Jewish Studies. 65-74.

  • Jochnowitz, G. 1978 Shuadit: La langue juive de Provence. Archives juives 14: 63-67.

  • Jochnowitz, G. 1981. ...Who Made Me a Woman. Commentary 71/4: 63-4.

  • Jochnowitz, G. 1985. Had Gadya in Judeo-Italian and Shuadit (Judeo-Provençal). In J. A. Fishman (ed.), Readings in the Sociology of Jewish Languages. Leiden: Brill. 241-5.

  • * Jochnowitz, G. 1986. Judeo-Provençal. In R. Straker (ed.), Dictionary of the Middle Ages. New York. 7: 178-179.

  • *Jochnowitz, G. 2018. Judeo-Provençal in Southern France. In B. Hary & S. B. Benor (eds.), Languages in Jewish Communities, Past and Present. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 129-144.

  • Lunel, A. 1926. Esther de Carpentras ou le Carnaval Hébraïque. Paris.

  • Lunel, A. 1964. Quelques aspects du parler judéo-comtadin. L'arche 94: 43-45.

  • Lunel, A. 1967-68. Les conversations chez les judéo-comtadins. Les nouveaux cahiers 2: 51-54.

  • Meyer, P. & Neubauer, A. 1892. Le roman provençal d'Esther par Crescas dy Caylar, médecin juif du XIVe siècle. Romania 21: 194-227.

  • Nahon, P. 2017. Du judéo-provençal au français des Israélites provençaux : jalons pour une revalorisation. L’Écho des Carrières 83.

  • Pansier, P. 1925. Le roman d'Esther de Crescas du Cailar. Annales d'Avignon et du Comtat Venaissin 11: 5-18.

  • * Pansier, P. 1925. Une comédie en argot hébraïco-provençal de la fin du XVIIIe siècle. Revue des études juives 81: 113-145.

  • Pansier, P., 1927. Vocabulaire de l'argot hébraïco-provençal. Histoire de la langue provençale à Avignon du XII au XIX siècle 3. Avignon: Aubanel Frères.

  • Pedro d'Alcantara (Dom Pedro II of Brazil). 1891. Poésies hébraïco-provençales du rituel comtadin. Avignon: Séguin Frères.

  • Riquier, R. 1928. Un poème rituel judéo-provençal. Le feu: organe du régionalisme méditerranéan 22: 151-152.

  • Sabatier, E. 1874. Chansons hébraïco-provençales des Juifs comtadins, réunies et transcrites. Nîmes.

  • Sabatier, E., 1876, Chansons hébraïco-provençales. Famille de Jacob 17: 348-351, 18: 367-72.

  • Saboly, N. [lived 1615-75] 1824 [new edition]. Noué Juzioou. Avignon.

  • Sadolet, J. (Cardinal) (?) 1517. Lou sermoun di Jusiou. [Copy in Bibliothèque Inguimbertine, Carpentras; Printed version in Armana Prouvençau 21 (1875): 27-32]

  • Schwab, M. 1909. Livre de Comptes de Mardochée Joseph (manuscrit hébréo-provençal). Notes et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale et d'autres bibliothèques 39: 469-502.

  • * Silberstein, S. M. 1973. The Provençal Esther Poem Written in Hebrew Characters c. 1327 by Crescas de Caylar: Critical Edition. PhD Dissertation. University of Pennsylvania. [See Dissertation Abstracts 34/8, Feb. 1974, 5124-A].

  • Strich, A. (with G. Jochnowitz). 2015. Judeo-Occitan (Judeo-Provençal). In L. Kahn and A. D. Rubin (eds.), Handbook of Jewish languages. Leiden: Brill. 517–551.

  • * Szajkowski, Z. 1948. דאָס לשון פֿון די ייִדן אין קאָמטאַ-ווענעסען. New York: Author (with the aid of YIVO).

  • W., J. (?) 1861. Lo libre de Ester la reyna, com fes desliurar de mort los Juzieus. Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen 30: 159-67.

  • Wexler, P. 1981. Jewish Interlinguistics: Facts and Conceptual Framework. Language 57: 99-149.

  • Wexler, P. 1989. Judeo-Romance Linguistics: A Bibliography (Latin, Italo-, Gallo-, Ibero- and Rhaeto-Romance except Castillian). New York & London: Garland.

1/1

Copyright © 2002-2019    Jewish Language Website 
Editor: Sarah Bunin Benor      Last update: 2019-1-31