ḤAKETÍA , the Judeo-Spanish of North Africa. The Judeo-Spanish dialect spoken until two or three generations ago in the Jewish North African communities of *Morocco and *Algeria, and also the city Gibraltar, is known as Ḥaketía, Jaquetía, or Ḥakitíya. It is based on the language spoken by the Jews in *Spain before their expulsion. Ḥaketía is distinct from Judesmo, spoken in *Turkey and in the Balkans, hence its distinct name, the etymology of which is unknown – the root may be Arabic ḥky or ḥkt in the sense of speaking or conversing. The term thus applies only to the spoken dialect, which has borrowed many words from the neighboring Maghreb dialects, both Jewish and Muslim, and even from Spanish Arabic. This use of Arabic decreases with the rise in register, and may become negligible. So while the term Ḥaketía may be applied for convenience to the dialect as a whole, it must be remembered that the dialect also contains literary registers which use the general Judeo-Spanish koiné, namely Ladino, although Ḥaketía has its own distinct features. The most prominent is the high incidence of a velar-fricative realization [X] of the phoneme spelled in Hispanic Spanish with the letter "j" (jota) alongside the alternants characteristic of Judeo-Spanish, namely a voiced or voiceless post-alveolar sibilant [Z] or [S].
In contrast with the Eastern Judesmo, Ḥaketía retained links with the Spanish of the Iberian Peninsula throughout the ages following the Expulsion because of its geographical proximity as well as Spanish and Portuguese presence in various North African coast cities: Ceuta, Melilla, Oran, Tangier, Arcila, and Larache. Its decline was greatly accelerated by the massive Spanish presence in Northern Morocco since 1860 when the city of Tetuan was conquered by Spain for two years, and more so since the establishment of the Protectorate in 1912. The intensive daily interaction between the entire Jewish population (not just merchants and the like) and the Spaniards greatly accelerated the transition from a "Hispanicized" form of Ḥaketía to almost pure Spanish. Sons of Ḥaketía speakers began to restrict their dialect to domestic circles (home and community) and to defined functions. In the resulting diglossia, Ḥaketía was the Low variety. This state of affairs was due to the threat, perceived by the young generation, of Ḥaketía to their linguistic image, as they were aspiring for education, progress, and cultural emancipation. Most of them did indeed achieve this goal, and modern Spanish, with all its assets, became their primary language. Today Ḥaketía remains in partial usage, limited to certain registers in the speech of these community members, most of whom have since emigrated from Morocco to Israel or to various Western countries. At this distance it seems Ḥaketía no longen poses a threat; it is no longer regarded as broken Spanish but rather as a language in its own right, with its own merits and history. Now people have begun to relive it, reconstruct some of its usages, and compose and act plays in it, albeit restricted to humoristic genres; Ḥaketía will probably never again be used in serious contexts.
The first to write a detailed, scientific account of the dialect was Joseph Benoliel in the 1920s. Most of what we know about Ḥaketía today is based on this account. Benoliel has salvaged much material belonging to the cultural tradition (oral texts, proverbs, etc.), grammar (phonology and morphology), and lexicon. He remembered the dialect as he had heard it in the second half of the 19th century, when it was still in current, spontaneous use. Respanification was already in progress, as was later verified with the discovery of the 1861–1875 protocols of the Tangier community committee, which showed many influences from Standard Spanish. Admittedly, these protocols represent an official register, but Spanish influence was also found in manuscripts of folktales and chronicles from the beginning of the 19th century.
Judeo-Arabic was also current in these communities. Judeo-Spanish/Judeo-Arabic bilingualism may explain the high portion of Arabic words in Ḥaketía. Further research could ascertain whether bilingualism was a communal or individual phenomenon, whether it was limited to men or included women, to what extent and what purposes each dialect served, whether a certain kind of diglossia emerged, and what part was played by forasteros ("strangers," i.e., immigrants from other Moroccan communities). The massive shift to modern Spanish in these communities can only be explained if we assume that the Arabic element was secondary in their speech. Further proof of that is the suppression of any Arabic elements as soon as the register was raised. High-register Ḥaketía is not represented in literary works, which are nonexistent in this dialect; it occurs rather in religious sermons, miscellaneous manuscripts, and prescriptive essays, such as Dat Yehudit ("Jewish Religion"), introducing women to their specific observance practices, by Abraham Laredo and Isaac Halevy, first printed in Livorno in 1827.
Scholars of both Spanish and non-Spanish origin have shown an interest in Ḥaketía (see bibliography). Important research has been conducted in academic institutions such as the Arias Montano Institute in Madrid, subsequently the csic (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas). Most of the researchers, of cultural-historical orientation, were keen to collect documentation of the oral-literary tradition, romances, coplas, elegies, wedding songs, etc. These collections represent a high linguistic register, inclining towards "pure" Spanish, both old and new. Therefore the picture they supply of vernacular Ḥaketía is only partial. Most of the dialectal research conducted so far has concentrated on its description as a Romance language. The Arabic element is still unexplored, and the Hebrew element only partially studied. One major advantage of Benoliel's works is his concept of the dialect as a living vernacular, not just a literary language. Similarly, Iacob Hassan, who has dedicated a large number of studies to revision and analysis of literary texts, shows a keen interest in aspects of the vernacular. Both these scholars are also distinguished in their study of the Hebrew element in Ḥaketía.
Noteworthy fieldwork has been conducted by Alegria Bendelac, who interviewed and recorded hundreds of informants, publishing her studies in three volumes. Bendelac's Los Nuestros… (1987) is a book aspiring to sketch a portrait of the Ḥaketiphonic community in its native land by means of scores of transcribed texts acquired at recorded interviews. These texts reflect the spoken, everyday dialect in its diversity and registers. Bendelac's Voces Jaquetiescas (1990) is a kind of glossary of Ḥaketian expressions, where the writer notes that, despite its far-reaching overlap with Standard Spanish, it is still "alive and kicking," especially by virtue of its distinct intonation, phraseology, and connotations. In 1995 Bendelac published a dictionary that comprises not only what the writer found in Benoliel's book, but also material she collected in her recordings, including authentic quotations that demonstrate actual linguistic usage.
As stated, some of the current scholarly activity in the domain of Ḥaketía is conducted by both scholars and laymen who thereby express their longing for the past of the community, a past which looms up in the distance and projects its glory over the present. Of note is "Centro de estudios sefardíes de Caracas," which publishes books and a periodical called Maghen. Some individuals took the initiative to actively collect texts, such as Benazeraf's 1978 collection of Haketía proverbs, while others continue to do so. This endeavor is most prominent in the field of modern artistic creativity: humoristic sketches, such as those written and performed by Solly Levy and the tapes recorded by the brothers Esther Aflalo and Mozi Cohen. These writers display an impressive mastery of the dialect. Although the Ḥaketía in their writings is reconstructed, their memory and praiseworthy talent can be relied upon, and the authenticity of their materials is convincing. The protocols of the Tangier community committee and other written documents may now be found on scholars' desks. As this work progresses, so will our state of knowledge in this field.
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[Yaakov Bentolila (2nd ed.)]