Juhuri language: Wikis


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çuhuri / жугьури / ז'אוּהאוּראִ
Spoken in Azerbaijan (Baku, Quba, Krasnaya Sloboda, Oğuz)
Russia (Derbent, Makhachkala, Nalchik)
United States (New York)
Region Caucasus
Total speakers 101,000 (est.)
Language family Indo-European
Writing system Roman, Cyrillic, Hebrew
Official status
Official language in no official status
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1
ISO 639-2 ira
ISO 639-3 jdt

Juhuri, Juwuri or Judæo-Tat (çuhuri / жугьури / ז'אוּהאוּראִ) is a form of the Tat language and is the traditional language of the Mountain Jews of the eastern Caucasus Mountains, especially Azerbaijan and Dagestan.

The language is related to Persian; it belongs to the southwestern group of the Iranian division of the Indo-European languages. A similar, but still different language is spoken by the Muslim Tats of Azerbaijan, a group to which the Mountain Jews were mistakenly considered to belong during the era of Soviet historiography. The words Juhuri and Juhuro literally translate as "Jewish" and "Jews."

Juhuri has Semitic (Hebrew/Aramaic/Arabic) elements on all linguistic levels. Juhuri has the Hebrew sound "ayin" (ע) while no neighboгring languages have it.



The language is presently spoken by an estimated 101,000 people:


Vowel phonemes of Judæo-Tat
Front Near-front Central Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close and Near-close i y ɪ   u
Mid ɛ     o
Open æ     a  
Consonant phonemes of Judæo-Tat
Bilabial Labio-
Dental Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
Plosives and
p b t d t͡ʃ d͡ʒ k ɡ ɢ
Nasals m n
Fricatives f v s z ʃ χ ħ h
Approximants l j ʕ
Taps ɾ



In the early 20th century Juhuri used the Hebrew script. In the 1920s Latin script was adapted for it; later it was written in Cyrillic characters. Recently, the use of the Hebrew alphabet has enjoyed renewed popularity.

Latin Aa Bb Cc Çç Dd Ee Əə Ff Gg Hh Ḩḩ Ħћ Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Şş Tt Uu Vv Xx Yy Zz
Cyrillic Аа Бб Чч Жж Дд Ее Ээ Фф Гг Гьгь ГӀгӀ ХьХь Ии Йй Кк Лл Мм Нн Оо Пп Гъгъ Рр Сс Шш Тт Уу Вв Хх Уьуь Зз
Hebrew אַ בּ 'ג'/צ ד אי א פ ג ה ע ח אִ י כּ ל מ נ אָ פּ ק ר ר ש ת אוּ ב כ או ז

Influences and etymology

Judæo-Tat/Juhuri is a Southwest Iranian language (as is modern Persian) and is much more closely related to modern Persian than most other Iranian languages of the Caucasus e.g. Talysh, Ossetian, and Kurdish. However, it also bears strong influence from other sources:

Medieval Persian: Postpositions are used predominantly in lieu of prepositions e.g. modern Persian: باز او => Juhuri: æ uræ-voz "with him/her".

Arabic: like in modern Persian, a significant portion of the vocabulary is Arabic in origin. Unlike modern Persian, Juhuri has almost universally retained the original pharyngeal/uvular phonemes of Arabic e.g. /ʕæsæl/ "honey" (Arab. عسل), /sæbæħ/ "morning" (Arab. صباح).

Hebrew: As other Jewish dialects, the language also has many Hebrew loan words e.g. /ʃulħon/ "table" (Heb. שלחן), /mozol/ "luck" (Heb. מזל), /ʕoʃiɾ/ "rich" (Heb. עשיר). Hebrew words are typically pronounced in the tradition of other Mizrahi Jews. Examples: ח and ע are pronounced pharyngeally (like Arabic ح‎, ع‎ respectively); ק is pronounced as a voiced uvular affricate (like Persian ق/‎غ‎). Classical Hebrew /w/ (ו) and /aa/ (kamatz), however, are typically pronounced as /v/ and /o/ respectively (similar to the Persian/Ashkenazi traditions, but unlike the Iraqi tradition, which retains /w/ and /aa/)

Azeri: Vowel harmony and many loan words

Russian: Loan words adopted after the Russian Empire's annexation of Daghestan and Azerbaijan

Northeast Caucasian languages: e.g. /tʃuklæ/ "small" (probably the same origin as the medieval Caucasian city name "Sera-chuk" mentioned by Ibn Battuta, meaning "little Sera")

Other common phonology/morphology changes from classical Persian/Arabic/Hebrew:

  • /aa/ => /o/, /æ/, or /u/ e.g. /kitob/ "book" (Arab. كتاب), /ɾæħ/ "road/path" (Pers. راه), /ɢurbu/ "sacrifice" (Arab. or Aramaic /qurbaan/)
  • /o/ => /u/ e.g. /ovʃolum/ "Absalom" (Heb. אבשלום)
  • /u/ => /ü/, especially under the influence of vowel harmony
  • Stress on final syllable words
  • Dropping of the final /n/, e.g. /soχtæ/ "to make" (Pers. ساختن)


Being a variety of the Tat language, Judæo-Tat itself can be divided into several dialects:

  • Quba dialect (traditionally spoken in Quba and Krasnaya Sloboda)
  • Derbent dialect (traditionally spoken in the town of Derbent and the surrounding villages), has been used as a standard form of Judæo-Tat
  • Kaitag dialect (spoken in the North Caucasus)

The dialects of Oğuz (formerly Vartashen) and the now extinct Jewish community of Mücü have not been studied well and thus cannot be classified.[2]


External links



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