Transcription and Text
Shay Lamora is written in Rabbinic Hebrew cursive script,
and the language is Algerian Judeo-Arabic. The following
transcription of the Hebrew alphabet is used:
a b g d h w z H + y k l m n s e p c q r $ t
Letters with a diacritic are handled as follows:
- g with a superscript dot is j. g with a subscript dot is
- k with a superscript dot is x.
- e with a superscript dot is E
- p with a superscript dot is f.
- c with a superscript dot is D. Classical Arabic sad and dad are
represented by this single emphatic.
- w is often used for u/o (these vowels are not phonemically
distinct in this dialect) and initial u/o is often represented by
ww.(Journalists noted that Iraqis appear to speak of "President
- y usually represents e or i
- k with a medial dot normally occurs only at the end of an
Arabic word (in its long final form) and is distinguished from
Hebrew words which have no diacritic in this position and
represents x. k followed by · represents the final Arabic
- $ represents shin in Arabic words, and shin
- + represents the emphatic t, Hebrew tet. sin in Hebrew
words, with no visual distinction.
Sample Text and Translation
The text is taken from Shay Lamora Exodus, page 153b. It
is part of one of the book's numerous stories. Lingua Franca words
are emphasized here, but not in the original of course.
wswby+o qamw xrjw mn qwdam acwl+an wHyn wwcl
alwwq+ dnhar dy kanw fykcarw dljmwe e+a
wwrdyn acwl+an llxwja dyyalw wktb brawwt ljmye
alpapazyn wljmye gdwly hmlkwt dy flblad wzad gm kn
ktb brawwt lrbnym wlkbar dlyhwd wqallhwm rany n+lb mn fDlkm ba$
tHaDrw lywm qwdamy fsae lflanya prysyz mn eyr
tfry+ whayydk· car flmwmyn+w brwHw dy
fyqsarlhwm kanw kamlyn mjmweyn qwdamw.
And immediately they got up, went out from the Sultan's presence,
and when the time arrived on the day which they had fixed for the
assembly, the Sultan gave an order to his scribe, and he wrote
letters to all the priests and all the great ones of the kingdom
who were in the country, and he also wrote letters to the rabbis
and chief men of the Jews. And he said to them: I kindly request
that you be present before me at such-and-such a time precisely,
without any negligence. And this took place in the very moment
which he fixed for them, they were all assembled before him.
- subito usually means "suddenly" in Italian,
but in this text means "immediately." (We might compare the "sudden
service" of the deliverers of pizza.)
- fixar is made into an Arabic pluperfect
- The "great ones" is a Hebrew phrase.
- The "scribe" is literally a schoolmaster. The term is used also
as a polite form of address to non-muslims.
- precis is probably not the feminine form of
the French adjective, but rather the old masculine form where the
s was pronounced, and here is voiced.
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Alan D. Corré