JEWISH ARAMAIC.

A thread from last year had some very interesting comments from speakers of Neo-Aramaic, but as far as I know they are all Christian. I recently ran across a book in the library called The Jews of Kurdistan and discovered there was a whole population of Jewish speakers of what they called Targum, most of whom are now in Israel. The book didn’t have much about the language, but I found a nice site on Jewish Aramaic and discovered a reference to Yona Sabar‘s A Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dictionary, so I thought I’d pass it along.

Comments

  1. Another treatment of modern Jewish Aramaic is:
    Irene Garbell’s The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Persian Azerbaijan. London: Mouton. 1965. I read this quite a few years ago. The language has an interesting “flatness” (in Jakobson’s sense) harmony.

  2. Andrew Joscelyne says:

    I thought ‘targums’ were actually spoken Aramaic translations of Hebrew scripture made in the synagogue, rather than a kind of ‘language’. They began as improvised oral translations but over time became fixed in writing, and can therefore be consulted.
    ‘Targum’ is cognate with Arabic ‘tarjman’ (used for example to describe the Syraic and later Arabic versions of Greek texts) and pseudo-Turkish ‘dragoman’, the guys (often Jewish or Armenian?) who would act as translator-guides to 19th century orientalists doing their grand tours of the Middle East.

  3. That’s the dictionary meaning, but “Targum” is what the speakers of this dialect called it.

  4. In Yiddish, targem loshn means Aramaic or gibberish.

  5. I wonder if the name Targum for the language might reflect the same history as the name Yiddish. Yiddish has been called many things over time, but yidish is, I think, pretty late (earlier names include loshn ashkenaz, and comes from the phrase yidish-taytsh, i.e. “Bible gloss in the Jewish language.” Maybe Targum got its name in the same way.

  6. Sounds likely to me.

  7. Kobi Haron says:

    I have my hair cut by a guy from Givatayim, Israel, who is from Kurdistan. His mother tongue is Aramaic.

  8. Cool! Ask him what he calls his language next time you get a haircut.

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