Judaeo-Catalan: in search of a mediaeval dialect that never was

Judaeo-Catalan: in search of a mediaeval dialect that never was

Feliu, Francesc  and Ferrer, Joan

Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1, March (2011)


The idea that there once existed a mediaeval dialect of Catalan specific to Jews living in Catalan-speaking areas has been accepted and reported in various sources with little critical scrutiny. There is, however, no strong linguistic evidence in support of this view, but rather the contrary. This article consists of an analysis of a Hebrew document from Gerona that dates from the mid-fifteenth century and includes a large number of Catalan words that clearly demonstrate not only the Catalonian provenance of the Jewish writer of the document but also an absolute correspondence, in all lexical, morphological, and phonetic elements that can be detected, with what we know about the local form of the Catalan language at the time. The study of this remarkable Hebrew-Catalan document can only lead to the conclusion that a Judaeo-Catalan dialect, distinct from that of Christian speakers of Catalan, never existed.

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