This chapter concerns Old Italo-Romance Jewish texts written in Hebrew characters from the 11th century to the first half of the 16th century. The earliest vernacular elements can be found in the marginal glosses in a manuscript of the Mishna (11th c.), while the first known literary text is the Elegy for the 9th of Av (13th/14th c.), both written in local Southern-Italian dialects. In the late Middle Ages, Judaeo-Italian served mostly for the translation of sacred Hebrew texts, such as the Bible, the Siddur, and the Mahzor. The Judaeo-Italian used in this period is characterized as a central-southern Italian koine, as it shows many traits that are common to Central and Southern Italian dialects. This type of writing still existed in the first half of the 16th century, but in the middle of the century it disappeared in favor of literary Italian and Hebrew. After a brief introduction, the chapter presents the sources of Medieval Judaeo-Italian. This is followed by overviews on graphemics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. Finally, the developments in the 16th century that led to the end of Medieval Judaeo-Italian are illustrated through a comparative analysis of some text samples.
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- Central-Southern Italian dialects
- Judaeo-Italian sermons
- Siddur and Mahzor translations