Extr-territorial Italophone communities

Seth Jerchower, Ph.D. sejerchower at JTSA.EDU
Mon Dec 7 15:02:20 UTC 1998

Dear all,

I am currently working with a 1700 ca. Corfiote manuscript, which primarily
contains Judeo-Italian readings for the fast of the 9th of Av (included are
also compositions, one Judeo-Spanish and one Judeo-Greek).  While the
grammar of these texts fall into the catagory of Judeo-Italian koiné, the
"patina" of this particular Judeo-Italian decidedly extreme belongs to  the
southern dialect group (Sicilian, Calabrian, Salentine).  My first hunch
was, given the preponderance of the Judeo-Corfiote ethnonym "Apulian", that
I may have been dealing with a Judeo-Salentine tradition, I have
reconsidered this on the basis of the texts transmitted, which are likely to
have provened from the Sicilian Jewish migrations, and unlike the Apulian
Jewish rites, were Sephardic and not Italian.

My question is essentially this:  can anyone provide me with paralles
Italophone migrations of ethnic and/or religious groups whose own language
continued to flourish and perhaps even achieve some cultural prestige
(parallel to the occurrences of Franco-Provencal Waldese communities in
Calabria and Sicily).  As a final note, a dichotomy of Italophone usage
arises in Corfu, 1) in these (probably) Sicilianate readings for the 9th of
Av, and 2) in administrative and "standard" Judaic documents, including
later translations of the Psalms, which correspond to a more current
literary Venetian AND Italian usage.

Any thoughts, references, etc., would be greatly appreciated.

To anyone who is interested in seeing a preliminary transliteration and
transcription of these texts, point your (frames-enabled) browser to:


I recommend the d/l of the fonts for those who are interested in the
transliteration from the Hebrew characters.  Barring few errors here and
there, the transcriptions should give a general idea of how these texts were
read (one important exception may be the use of <g> which I've interpreted
as a palatal before palatal consonants, but I believe may also be taken at
"face" value as a prepalatal [g'], as in the Sicilian "figghiu" (son).

Best to all,  Seth Jerchower

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