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Judeo-Berber language

Region Israel
Native speakers
2,000  (1992)[1]
Hebrew alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jbe
Glottolog jude1262[2]

Judeo-Berber (Berber: Tamazight Tudayt, Hebrew: ברברית יהודית‎) is a term used primarily for the Berber varieties traditionally spoken by the Jewish communities of certain parts of central and southern Morocco. Speakers emigrated to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s. While mutually comprehensible with the Tamazight spoken by most inhabitants of the area (Galand-Pernet et al. 1970:14), these dialects are distinguished by the use of Hebrew loanwords and the pronunciation of š as s (as in many Jewish Moroccan Arabic dialects).


  • Geographic distribution 1
  • Usage 2
  • Example 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • External links 7

Geographic distribution

Communities where Jews spoke Judeo-Berber included Tinerhir, Ouijjane, Asaka, Imini, and Ait Bou Oulli (in the Tamazight-speaking Middle Atlas), and Oufrane and Illigh (in the Tasheliyt-speaking Sous). (Galand-Pernet et al. 1970:2)

Almost all speakers of Judeo-Berber left Morocco in the years following its independence, and their children have mainly grown up speaking other languages. In 1992, about 2,000 speakers remained, mainly in Israel; all are at least bilingual in Judeo-Arabic.


Apart from its daily use, Judeo-Berber was used for explaining religious texts, and occasionally written, using Hebrew characters; a manuscript Pesah Haggadah written in Judeo-Berber has been reprinted (Galand-Pernet et al. 1970.) A few prayers, like the Benedictions over the Torah, were recited in Berber.[3]


Taken from Galand-Pernet et al. 1970:121 (itself from a manuscript from Tinghir):

יִכְדַמְן אַיְיִנַגָא יפּרעו גְמַצָר. יִשוֹפִגַג רבי נּג דְיְנָג שוֹפוֹש נִדְרע שוֹפוֹש יִכיווֹאַנ
ixəddamn ay n-ga i pərʿu g° maṣər. i-ss-ufġ aġ əṛbbi ənnəġ dinnaġ s ufus ən ddrʿ, s ufus ikuwan.
Rough word-for-word translation: servants what we-were for Pharaoh in Egypt. he-cause-leave us God our there with arm of might, with arm strong.
Servants of Pharaoh is what we were in Egypt. Our God brought us out thence with a mighty arm, with a strong arm.

See also


  1. ^ Judeo-Berber at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Judeo-Berber". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Jews and Berbers PDF (72.8 KB)


  • P. Galand-Pernet & Haim Zafrani. Une version berbère de la Haggadah de Pesaḥ: Texte de Tinrhir du Todrha (Maroc). Compres rendus du G.L.E.C.S. Supplement I. 1970. (French)

External links

  • Judeo-Berber, by Haim Zafrani (French)
  • Except from Haggadah
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