Jewish-Languages Mailing List

May 2002

Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 00:26 -0700
From: Yona Sabar <sabar @>
Subject: Fwd: baqasha

Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 00:20:21 -0700
To: Alexander Tamar, nstillman2001 @
From: Yona Sabar <sabar @>
Subject: baqasha

> Dear Colleagues
> Can you please help me explaining the puzzling words at the end of this
> Ladino eHad mi yodea' : following Uno es nuestro Dio en los cielos
> y en la tierra, follows: la illa illa 'Allah, la illa w'adar hu,
> singa musa catarulala (see this website and hear it as well:
> Obviously it is a Judaized version of
> the Islamic shahada formula with some words corrupted (singa =
> sidna? w'adar hu = waHdahu? catarulala = ikhtara allah?). Have
> you seen it elsewhere? Also notice also that instead of "thirteen
> midayya" it has thirteen tefillin...

Tamar, can you please forward this email to my friend Ya'acov Ben
Tolila as well?

Toda, kol Tuv,


Yona Sabar, Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1511
(home) 310-474-6430
(office) 310-206-1389
Fax: to Prof. Sabar at (310) 206-6456.

Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 11:06 -0700
From: K I Weiser <kiw2 @>
Subject: Introduction

I am presently a post-doctoral fellow in Jewish Studies at the
University of Washington in Seattle. I will be joining the faculty
of York University in Toronto, Canada in autumn as professor of
Holocaust and Eastern European Jewry. My interests include Jewish
languages (esp. Yiddish and Hebrew), Jewish interlinguistics, and
modern Jewish history. I have recently written a dissertation about
Jewish politics and Yiddishism in pre-WWII Poland and also researched
questions in the standardization of Yiddish spelling and pronunciation
(forthcoming articles).

KI Weiser
University of Washington

Date: Thu, 16 May 2002 11:48 -0700
From: Sarah Bunin Benor <sbenor @>
Subject: introductions

Thank you to K I Weiser for sending an introduction to the list upon
joining. I'd like to remind others who have joined recently that it's nice
to tell the list who you are and what languages you're interested in.

Chag sameach,
Sarah Bunin Benor
Moderator, Jewish Languages Listserve

Date: Thu, 16 May 2002 12:55 -0700
From: Yona Sabar <sabar @>
Subject: Re: introductions

Dear Colleagues,

May I suggest using capital H for transliteration of Hebrew Het,
rather than ch, because it is more neutral in terms of the various
Jewish languages in east and west. So let us wish each other :
Hag Shavu&ot sameaH (and so Happy Hanukkah, rather than Chanukkah, etc.).

kol Tuv (T for Tet)

Yona Sabar

Date: Sun, 19 May 2002 19:01 -0700
From: Sarah Bunin Benor <sbenor @>
Subject: Solitreo re-request

Jacob Nachnias, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is still
looking for someone to decipher his Solitreo letter from Bulgaria from
1900. The letter is six lines long and written in very flowery
handwriting. If you are willing to transliterate it into Latin letters,
please contact Jacob Nachmias directly <nachmias @>
to arrange details of payment.

-Sarah Bunin Benor

Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 09:13 -0400
From: Weiser, Jonathan M. <jweiser @>
Subject: Re: introductions

For my part, I cannot sign on to the H, or the ampersand for &Ayin,
either. Please accept my old-fashioned fuddy-duddiness as a personal
quirk rather than as a political statement. A Git Shviyis and a Git
Zimmer to all.

Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 22:50 +0900
From: Tsuguya Sasaki <ts @>
Subject: SAMPA - IPA mapped onto ASCII

Dear Colleagues,

Speaking of transcription, you may be interested to know that there is a
rather widely used proposal called SAMPA (and its extention X-SAMPA)
- the International Phonetic Alphabet mapped onto ASCII:

Tsuguya Sasaki

Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 10:41 -0400
From: Weiser, Jonathan M. <jweiser @>
Subject: Re: SAMPA - IPA mapped onto ASCII

Fine, fine. The IPA can also be stretched to fit around the
pronunciations that more accurately reflect how our holy language,
and the languages that we have sanctified, have been our vessels of
thought and meaning throughout generations of exile. Standardizing
Hebrew transcription to reflect some purportedly neutral, apolitical
version of the language, after all, inflicts a great disservice on
students and scholars of spoken languages.

For what it is worth, I recommend a standard, non-vocalized
letter-for-letter correspondence of 22 even randomly chosen Latin
symbols, without regard for dual letters (bege"d-kefe"s or mantzefa"ch,
etc.). This method would be no more than a way of writing Hebrew in the
characters of a more universal script. It would facilitate cataloguing,
alphabetization, computer use, and the like, and would work precisely as
writing in actual Hebrew would, thus freeing readers to render the words
phonetically as they are comfortable. Where necessary, standard symbols
for vowels could also be employed, and these could be placed
interconsonantally, but I recommend that the vocalized versions of words
be conventionally presented parenthetically behind the non-vocalized
version) in order not to disrupt expectations relating to
alphabetizations and the like.

The IPA or some other system could be adopted for phonetic/phonemic
representations, each chosen to reflect the sound system that is relevant
to the work in which a given representation, which, for clarity might
appear between slashes or some other convention, is incorporated. At all
events, I believe that it is high time for scholars of Jewish languages
to formalize the distinction between the written and the spoken word and
to stop pretending that great Chasidic thinkers, for example, had any
thoughts at all on the Galut, Shabbat, or Merkavot; at least I have never
heard any Rebbe utter those words, and I have spent many a Shalishidis by
them (and nary a "se&udah shelishit(h)"). To take another example, is
"Halut(h)" or "Chalois" the origin of the Yeshivishe word "Chalois"?
Furthermore, is it even normatively correct to say that Halut(h) is itself
the origin of Chalois? Is Chalois Yiddish, while Halut(h) is Hebrew,
Aramaic, Talmudic, whatever?

Enough said, I guess that I mean only that a conventionalized distinction
among, non-vocalized Hebrew, vocalized Hebrew, and spoken Jewish languages
is a proposition that I find attractive, that's all. Regards to all.

Mind you, K I Weiser and I have discovered no family ties, so do not hold
my ideas against him.

Mon, 20 May 2002 11:10 -0400
From: Weiser, Jonathan M. <jweiser @>
Subject: Re: SAMPA - IPA mapped onto ASCII

Just one little story, if I may indulge. My uncle, Miklos-bacsi, used
to say jokingly that kabbulas haToireh was so important that the yomtov
commemorating it has two full masechtos in the gemooreh, both pronounced
"shviyis." Go transcribe that in Oxford.

Jonathan M. Weiser
Morris, James, Hitchens & Williams LLP
222 Delaware Avenue
10th Floor, P.O. Box 2306
Wilmington, DE 19899**
*Not admitted to practice in Delaware
**For courier deliveries, the Zip Code is 19801
Phone: (302) 888-5849
Fax: (302) 888-6989

Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 12:49 -0700
From: Yona Sabar <sabar @>
Subject: &al HeT she-HaTanu

Dear Colleagues,

In my previous email I neglected to mention why I object to using ch
for Hebrew Het even in Ashkenazi>Israeli pronunciation. The letters
ch in English do NOT stand for this sound (cf. Charles, church,
etc.) and indeed I hear &amkha worshippers in the synagogues often
pronounce them as is common in English (and many Gentiles pronounce
ch in chuzpah and Chanukkah as in chattanuga and chicken...), and
not as intended, and as in German (cf. Ich). Similarly kaf rafa
should be transliterated as kh, not ch, hence the famous Genesis 12
parashah should be Lekh Lekha, rather than Lech Lecha.

bi-vrakha ve-khol Tuv,

Yona Sabar
Dr. Yona Sabar, Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic, Dept. of Near
Eastern Languages and Cultures, UCLA, Los Angeles, Ca 90095-1511; Tel
(310) 474-6430 (H); (310) 206-1389 (O); Fax (310) 206-6456.

Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 17:53 -0700
From: Yona Sabar <sabar @>
Subject: Re: &al HeT she-HaTanu

Hayim yaqiri,

Thanks. Add to it pronunciations of family names such as Chyet,
Chazen (<Y. Xayet, Xazen < H HayyaT "Taylor", Hazzan "Cantor") which
have totally lost their etymological roots...


> Dear Yona:
> I agree with you one hundred procent. I am amazed that the name of William
> Chomsky is pronounced Xomski, while the name of his son Noam
> frequently sounds as Chomsky with /ch/ like in chisbat, Chile.
> Be-shalom, berakhot ve-hoqarah rabbah,
> Hayim.
> ========
> Dr. Hayim Y. Sheynin
> Adjunct Professor of Jewish Literature
> Head of Reference Services
> Tuttleman Library of Gratz College
> 7605 Old York Rd.
> Melrose Park, PA 19027
> tel. 215 635-7300, ext. 161 fax: 215 635-7320
> e-mail: hsheynin @

Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 22:07 -0400
From: Seth Jerchower <sethj @>
Subject: Re: &al HeT she-HaTanu

Dear colleagues,

I'm not quite certain about why the surprise of /H/, /tS/ <-- [ch]. I would
simply refer to Saussure (BSR ed.) Introduction VI §4. Such changes indeed
take place during the shared lifetimes of two generations, such as in the
example of William and Noam.

My own last name, if we are to go on both orthographic and pronunciation
history guarantee the original /#y/ (the passport my great grandfather was
Rumanian, and in Roman characters; his generation pronounced the surname
/#'yæR Xo veR#/; my grandfather (the eldest) and his siblings pronounced it
/#dj@r 'kau ^w^r\#/; my grandfather survived his son, my father, whose
generation (and those succeeding) pronounced and still pronounce it /#'dj@r\
Sau^w:r\#/). Recent contact with third cousins (descendents from my great
grandfather's brothers) confirm the exact and independent trend of
pronunciation in their branches. Interestingly, since I am the only in my
family to have returned to Europe and maintain contacts abroad, my surname
"Jerchower" is typically read as /#'yEr ko ver#/ .

As for the surname's origin, this is up for speculation. Since the [#j] =
/#y/ among those who first brought it to the USA (ca. 1900), the /y/ seems
reasonably assured, in contrast with the type "Tcherikover". The final
[-er#] is likely toponymic. Could it be that some errant ancestor provenent
from the German town Jerichow (Sachsen-Anhalt) first bore it (the area is
known as "Jerichower Land" (I have found both Jews and non-Jews with the
surname Jerichower)? The pass from /#"yæ Ri 'Xo veR#/ to /#'yæR Xo veR#/
would result from a not unusual syncopation. But, alas, all we know is that
my great grandfather and his siblings were born in Iasi; their father's
place of birth is lost to posterity, as are his ancestors and their origins.

Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 04:04 -0400
From: Gloria Ascher <gascher @>
Subject: Requesting Judeo-Spanish curricular info for UNESCO conference

Dear Colleagues,

I will be participating in the conference on Ladino (Judeo-Spanish)
sponsored by UNESCO to be held in Paris June 17-18, 2002. As one of
several representatives of the U.S., I have been asked to speak on the
teaching of Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) language and culture in the U.S. In
order to present the most accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive report
possible, I am asking you for relevant information: programs, courses
(on Judeo-Spanish language, history, music, etc.), chairs, new
developoments, and any other activities at your institution. Please send
your information in time to reach me by Friday, June 7, before my
departure, by e-mail or directly to my home: 43 Lafayette St., Quincy,
MA 02169 (phone: 617-773-6715). Also, tell me if you are also planning
to attend the conference. Munchas grasias - thank you very much in
advance for your prompt response.