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Krimchak Language


KRIMCHAK LANGUAGE (or dialect). The spoken and written language of the Krimchaks, which is close to the Crimean-Tatar language or basically a variant of the latter. However, it is today considered an independent language belonging to the Kipchak group of Turkic languages.

Of the total population of approximately 2,000 Krimchaks today, several members of the older generation still know the Krimchak language.

A distinguishing feature of the language is a broad lexical stratum of Hebrew-Aramaic origin, e.g. adoni – sir, hodesh – month, mazon – food, nes – miracle.

In the Krimchak language, written in the Hebrew script, Hebrew words undergo phonetic adaption; the letter ṣade (צ) is pronounced "ch" (e.g., rachon – wish, will), the Hebrew tav without a dagesh (ת) as "s" as in Yiddish and Ashkenazi pronunciation (e.g., akosev, from ha-Kotev, the writer). Krimchak appears in two variations: the spoken language, and the literary language (the language of the Bible translation). Almost all printed works in Krimchak consist of religious literature translated from Hebrew published in the early 20th century in Russia and in Ereẓ Israel. A number of these translations contain Hebrew-Krimchak glossaries. Transcriptions of the rich Krimchak folklore has partially been published in scientific editions. The Krimchak language also had a connection to Yiddish as well as to Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish (for example, the word pastel, a kind of pastry, in all likelihood derives from Judeo-Spanish).

[Wolf Moskovitz /

The Shorter Jewish Encylopaedia in Russian]

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