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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton February 28, 2014

Lessons from Judezmo about the Balkan Sprachbund and contact linguistics

  • Victor A. Friedman EMAIL logo and Brian D. Joseph


Kristian Sandfeld explicitly excluded Judezmo from consideration in the second footnote to his classic (1930 [1926]) work Linguistique balkanique, which laid the groundwork for Balkan linguistics as a discipline offering an empirical basis for Trubetzkoy's theory of the Sprachbund. To this day, Judezmo still receives relatively little attention from Balkanists. Nevertheless, the language offers some particularly important insights into the Balkan Sprachbund. As an Ibero-Romance language sufficiently different from contemporary forms of Spanish to be considered separate and distinct, it represents a second sub-branch of Romance found within the Balkans. Judezmo has importance for Balkan linguistics owing to its relatively late arrival in the Balkans, when compared to the other convergent languages, and to the relative social isolation of Judezmo-speaking Jewish communities in the region. Importantly, there are features on which Balkan Judezmo converges with other Balkan languages, but others on which it does not. There are also Judezmo dialects outside the Balkans, and so, in conjunction with comparisons to other Ibero-Romance languages and dialects, Judezmo provides a control for distinguishing convergence from coincidence. In this article, we develop these observations and draw conclusions about the nature of language contact in the Balkans involving Judezmo-speaking Sephardim, as well as that involving the other languages, by contrast.

Published Online: 2014-2-28
Published in Print: 2014-3-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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