Jewish Languages from A to Z  book cover
1st Edition

Jewish Languages from A to Z

ISBN 9781138487307
Published September 14, 2020 by Routledge
246 Pages 52 Color Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $42.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Jewish Languages from A to Z provides an engaging and enjoyable overview of the rich variety of languages spoken and written by Jews over the past three thousand years.

The book covers more than 50 different languages and language varieties. These include not only well-known Jewish languages like Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino, but also more exotic languages like Chinese, Esperanto, Malayalam, and Zulu, all of which have a fascinating Jewish story to be told. Each chapter presents the special features of the language variety in question, a discussion of the history of the associated Jewish community, and some examples of literature and other texts produced in it. The book thus takes readers on a stimulating voyage around the Jewish world, from ancient Babylonia to 21st-century New York, via such diverse locations as Tajikistan, South Africa, and the Caribbean. The chapters are accompanied by numerous full-colour photographs of the literary treasures produced by Jewish language-speaking communities, from ancient stone inscriptions to medieval illuminated manuscripts to contemporary novels and newspapers.

This comprehensive survey of Jewish languages is designed to be accessible to all readers with an interest in languages or history, regardless of their background—no prior knowledge of linguistics or Jewish history is assumed.

Table of Contents




  1. Amharic
  2. Arabic, Medieval
  3. Arabic, Modern
  4. Aramaic, Ancient and Medieval
  5. Aramaic, Modern
  6. Armenian
  7. Catalan
  8. Chinese
  9. English
  10. Esperanto
  11. French
  12. Georgian
  13. German
  14. Greek
  15. Hebrew, Inscriptional
  16. Hebrew, Biblical
  17. Hebrew, Rabbinic and Medieval
  18. Hebrew, Enlightenment
  19. Hebrew, Modern
  20. Hungarian
  21. Israeli Sign Language
  22. Italian
  23. Karaim (and Krymchak)
  24. Ladino (and Spanish)
  25. Latin
  26. Malay
  27. Malayalam
  28. Maltese
  29. Papiamentu (and Other Creoles)
  30. Persian
  31. Polish (and Czech)
  32. Portuguese
  33. Provençal
  34. Russian
  35. Tajik (Bukhari)
  36. Tat (Juhuri)
  37. Turkish (and Uzbek)
  38. Urdu (and Marathi)
  39. Yiddish, Old and Early Modern
  40. Yiddish, Modern Standard
  41. Yiddish, Modern Hasidic
  42. Zulu (Fanagalo)


View More



Aaron D. Rubin is Malvin E. and Lea P. Bank Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Jewish Studies, and Linguistics at Penn State University.

Lily Kahn is Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Languages at University College London.


'Finally! A book for the general public about Jewish languages that’s as informative as it is enjoyable... This book is a must-read for anyone interested in languages, Jewish history, or both.'

- Sarah Bunin Benor, Director of the Jewish Language Project and co-editor of the Journal of Jewish Languages

'At last a book on Jewish languages worldwide for curious readers beyond the academy! This book tells us all about not only Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino and Jewish Persian, but Jewish Provençal and a dictionary in Yiddish of pidgin Zulu for Jews working in early 20th-century South Africa! A buffet in book form.'

- John H McWhorter, Professor of Linguistics, Columbia University

'From Amharic to Zulu, Aaron Rubin and Lily Kahn's delightful new book looks at the linguistic heritage of Jews across the world... Such examples of English written in Hebrew are notably few, particularly considering the language is the most common now spoken among diaspora Jews. For as Aaron D Rubin and Lily Kahn show in their new book, Jewish Languages From A to Z, Jewish communities in the past often transcribed the language of their countries of residence into Hebrew characters.'

- Simon Rocker, How Maimonides is linked to the first mention of pizza, The Jewish Chronicle,, October 26, 2020