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Secret Languages, Hebrew in: Yemenite Judeo-Arabic

(1,103 words)

Author(s): Shachmon, Ori
For their daily communication, Yemenite Jews used a mixed language, which was for the most part a variant of the local Arabic dialect with an integrated Hebrew component, often used instinctively and unconsciously. Yet in certain circumstances Hebrew and Aramaic words were deliberately used as secret elements with the aim of concealing specific meanings from unwanted listeners. The extent of the use of secret expressions correlates with the nature of the relations between the Jews and their Muslim neighbors. In the cities, where the pressure of the go…

Judeo-Arabic, Yemen, Hebrew Component in

(2,575 words)

Author(s): Shachmon, Ori
1. Knowledge of Hebrew in Yemen Yemenite Jews have a reputation for extraordinary competence in Hebrew. Outsiders are often impressed by their proficiency in reading, writing and even active speaking. However, this is by no means true of all Yemenite Jews in all Yemenite communities. According to Goitein’s card catalogue (described in Goitein 1953), the Jews of Yemen dwelled in more than a thousand different localities throughout this vast country, some in cohesive communities, others as just a few families in an isolated Muslim village…

Yemenite Judeo-Arabic

(2,064 words)

Author(s): Shachmon Ori
For daily communication, Yemenite Jews used Arabic dialects that were typologically similar to the local Muslim vernaculars. The dialects spoken by the Jews of Yemen are therefore classified in accordance with the general classification of Yemenite Arabic dialects (Vanhove 2013), with clear-cut isoglosses differentiating between Sanʿa and the central mountains, the northern province of Saʿda, the southern high plateau, the Habban region in eastern Yemen, and Aden. Linguistic differences existed between the speech of Jews and Muslims in the same area, but were m…