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Secret Languages, Hebrew in: Judeo-Italian

(858 words)

Author(s): Modena, Maria Luisa Mayer
As is true with the lexis of most Jewish Languages, Hebrew elements are chosen for a number of different reasons in Judeo-Italian: (1) the lack of suitable specific vocabulary in the local language (in cases such as לולב lulav ‘palm frond’ [used on the holiday of Sukkot]); (2) the prestige of the Holy Tongue; and (3) the need for a solution to linguistic taboos, as happens in naming misfortunes to be avoided (e.g., חולי ḥoli > holi ‘sickness’, מכה makka > makkà ‘disgrace’, פגר peger > peger ‘corpse’ and, with an Italian ending, the verb > pegariare ‘to die’), or with the so-called ‘decency…