- Zarphatic language
Zarphatic or Judæo-French (Zarphatic: "Tsarfatit") is an extinct
Jewish language, formerly spoken among the Jewish communities of northern Franceand in parts of what is now west-central Germany, in such cities as Mainz, Frankfurt am Main, and Aachen.
The word "Zarphatic" comes from the Hebrew name for France, "Tzarfat" (צרפת), the Biblical name for the
Phoenician city of Sarepta. Some have conjectured that Zarphatic was the original language of the Jews who eventually adopted Old High German, which led to the development of Yiddish.
Zarphatic was written using a variant of the
Hebrew alphabet, and first appeared in the 11th century, in glosses to texts of the Hebrew Bibleand Talmudwritten by the great rabbis Rashiand Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan. Constant expulsions and persecutions, resulting in great waves of Jewish migration, brought about the extinction of this short-lived, but important, language by the end of the 14th century.
One feature of Zarphatic spelling, that sets it apart from most other Indo-European Jewish languages, is that to represent
vowelsounds, rather than using Hebrew letters with no matching phonemes in the language, it instead made extensive use of the Tiberian system of niqqudot to indicate the full range of Old Frenchvowels.
Another interesting feature of Zarphatic is that it displays relatively few Hebrew
loanwords. This sets it apart from the vast majority of other Jewish languages, and may indicate that it is not actually a distinct language, rather a dialectof Old French, or simply Old French, written using a different orthography. (Old French did not have a written standard.)
*Information for this article draws heavily on the information presented on the [http://www.jewish-languages.org/judeo-french.html Jewish Languages project Judæo-French page]
*Information on the classification of Zarphatic was taken from [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=zrp the Ethnologue.com "Zarphatic" page]
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