Sunday, December 11, 2005


Thanks to Don Osborn for mentioning this in qalam.

Old Portuguese in Hebrew Script: convention, contact, and convivência

"This dissertation explores the process undertaken by medieval writers to produce Portuguese-language texts using the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Through detailed philological analyses of five Judeo-Portuguese texts, I examine the strategies by which Hebrew script is adapted to represent medieval Portuguese in the context of other Roman-letter and Hebrew-language writing. I focus on the writing system in order to challenge the conception of such texts as marked or marginal, a view that misleadingly equates language and script.

I argue that the adaptation of Hebrew script for medieval Portuguese is neither derivative of Roman-letter writing nor entirely dependent upon the conventions of written Hebrew. Nor is it an adaptation performed anew by each writer and influenced primarily by spoken language. The perspective I adopt thereby rejects the premise that the patterns manifested in this unconventional orthography are ad hoc creations by its writers, that it requires extra effort from its readers, or that it is less 'native' than the dominant, more conventionalized, Roman-based adaptation that normally bears the title 'written Portuguese.' "

More about Texts in Hebrew Script here.

"Medieval Judeo-Portuguese texts can be found in libraries all around the world. The oldest known document is a treatise on the art of manuscript illumination dating from 1262, written in Portuguese with Hebrew characters – O livro de como se fazem as cores. It is a document of prime importance for the history of Hebrew manuscript illumination, as the instructions contained in the text were used for the illumination of an elaborate Bible manuscript in Corunna, Galicia, in 1476 (Blondheim 1929-1930).

The oldest known liturgical text is a Spanish Mahzor in Hebrew script, published in Portugal around 1485, which includes ritual instructions in Portuguese Aljamiado (Metzger 1977). "

I have found images of Ladino or Sephardic manuscripts on the internet but none so far that are Judeo-Portuguese. Maybe some other time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are some images of Judeo-Portuguese manuscripts:

5:04 PM  

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