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Judæo-Persian: Wikis


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Persian language

Regional and social varieties:


Language features:

Writing systems:

Judæo-Persian or Jidi (IPA: /ʤiːdiː/, also spelled as Dzhidi or Djudi), refers to both a group of Jewish dialects spoken by the Jews living in Iran and Judæo-Persian texts (written in Hebrew alphabet). As a collective term, Dzhidi refers to a number of Iranian languages or dialects spoken by Jewish communities throughout the formerly extensive Persian Empire. On a more limited scale, spoken Dzhidi refers to the Judæo-Persian dialect spoken by the Jewish communities of the area around Tehran, Mashhad. Judaeo-Persian dialects are generally conservative in comparison with those of their Muslim neighbours: for example, Judaeo-Shirazi remains close to the language of Hafiz.

Another name used for some Judaeo-Persian dialects is Latorayi, sometimes interpreted by folk etymology as "not [the language] of the Torah". This refers to a form of the language in which the number of Hebrew and Aramaic loanwords is deliberately maximised to allow it to function as a secret code. In general, however, the number of such loanwords is small compared with that in other Jewish languages such as Yiddish or Judaeo-Spanish.


Persian words in Hebrew and Aramaic

The earliest evidence of the entrance of Persian words into the language of the Israelites is found in the Bible. The post-exilic portions, Hebrew as well as Aramaic, contain besides many Persian proper names and titles, a number of nouns (as "dat" = "law"; "genez" = "treasure"; "pardes" = "park") which came into permanent use at the time of the Achæmenidæ.

More than five hundred years after the end of that dynasty the Jews of the Babylonian diaspora again came under the dominion of the Persians; and among such Jews the Persian language held a position similar to that held by the Greek language among the Jews of the West. Persian became to a great extent the language of everyday life among the Jews of Babylonia; and a hundred years after the conquest of that country by the Sassanids an amora of Pumbedita, Rab Joseph (d. 323), declared that the Babylonian Jews had no right to speak Aramaic, and should instead use either Hebrew or Persian. Aramaic, however, remained the language of the Jews in Israel as well as of those in Babylonia, although in the latter country a large number of Persian words found their way into the language of daily intercourse and into that of the schools, a fact which is attested by the numerous Persian derivatives in the Babylonian Talmud. But in the Aramaic Targum there are very few Persian words, because after the middle of the third century the Targumim on the Pentateuch and the Prophets were accepted as authoritative and received a fixed textual form in the Babylonian schools. In this way they were protected from the introduction of Persian elements.


There is an extensive Judæo-Persian poetic religious literature, closely modelled on classical Persian poetry. The most famous poet was Meulana Shahin Shirazi (14th century C.E.), who composed epic paraphrases of parts of the Bible, such as the Musa-nama (history of Moses); later poets composed lyric poetry of a Sufi cast. Much of this literature was collected around the beginning of the twentieth century by a Persian rabbi who had moved to Israel.

See also


  • Judæo-Persian (from the 1906 Public Domain Jewish Encyclopedia)
  • Vera Basch Moreen (tr. and ed.), In Queen Esther's Garden: An Anthology of Judeo-Persian Literature (Yale Judaica): Yale 2000, ISBN 978-0300079050

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