From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
çuhuri / жугьури / ז'אוּהאוּראִ
Native to Azerbaijan (Baku, Quba, Qırmızı Qəsəbə, Oğuz)
Russia (Derbent, Makhachkala, Nalchik)
Spoken by immigrant communities in Israel, United States (New York)
Native speakers
unknown (ca. 80,000[1] cited 1989–1998)[2]
Latin, Cyrillic, Hebrew
Official status
Official language in
no official status
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jdt
Glottolog jude1256[4]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Judeo-Tat or Juhuri (çuhuri / жугьури / ז'אוּהאוּראִ) is the traditional language of the Mountain Jews of the eastern Caucasus Mountains, especially Azerbaijan and Dagestan, now mainly spoken in Israel.[5]

The language is a form of Persian; it belongs to the southwestern group of the Iranian division of the Indo-European languages. The Tat language, a similar, but still different language is spoken by the Muslim Tats of Azerbaijan, a group to which the Mountain Jews were mistakenly considered to belong during the era of Soviet historiography. The words Juvuri and Juvuro literally translate as "Jewish" and "Jews".

Judeo-Tat has Semitic (Hebrew/Aramaic/Arabic) elements on all linguistic levels. Judeo-Tat has the Hebrew sound "ayin" (ע), whereas no neighbouring languages have it.

Judeo-Tat is an endangered language[6][7] classified as "definitely endangered" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.[8]


The language is spoken by an estimated 101,000 people:


Vowel phonemes of Judeo-Tat
Front Near-front Central Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close and near-close i y ɪ u
Mid ɛ o
Open æ a
Consonant phonemes of Judeo-Tat
Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive and
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ ɢ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ χ ħ h
voiced v z
Approximant l j ʕ
Flap ɾ



In the early 20th century Judeo-Tat used the Hebrew script. In the 1920s the Latin script was adapted for it; later it was written in Cyrillic. The use of the Hebrew alphabet has enjoyed renewed popularity.

Latin Aa Bb Cc Çç Dd Ee Əə Ff Gg Hh Ḩḩ Ħћ Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Şş Tt Uu Vv Xx Yy Zz
Cyrillic Аа Бб Чч Жж Дд Ее Ээ Фф Гг Гьгь ГӀгӀ Хьхь Ии Йй Кк Лл Мм Нн Оо Пп Гъгъ Рр Сс Шш Тт Уу Вв Хх Уьуь Зз
Hebrew אַ בּ 'ג'/צ ד אי א פ ג ה ע ח אִ י כּ ל מ נ אָ פּ ק ר ס ש ת אוּ ב כ או ז

Influences and etymology

Judeo-Tat is a Southwest Iranian language (as is modern Persian) and is much more closely related to modern Persian than most other Iranian languages of the Caucasus e.g. Talysh, Ossetian, and Kurdish.[citation needed] However, it also bears strong influence from other sources:

Medieval Persian: Postpositions are used predominantly in lieu of prepositions e.g. modern Persian: باز او > Judeo-Tat æ uræ-voz "with him/her".

Arabic: like in modern Persian, a significant portion of the vocabulary is Arabic in origin. Unlike modern Persian, Judeo-Tat has almost universally retained the original pharyngeal/uvular phonemes of Arabic e.g. /ʕæsæl/ "honey" (Arab. عسل), /sæbæħ/ "morning" (Arab. صباح).

Hebrew: As other Jewish dialects, the language also has many Hebrew loan words e.g. /ʃulħon/ "table" (Heb. שלחן), /mozol/ "luck" (Heb. מזל), /ʕoʃiɾ/ "rich" (Heb. עשיר). Hebrew words are typically pronounced in the tradition of other Mizrahi Jews. Examples: ח and ע are pronounced pharyngeally (like Arabic ح‎, ع respectively); ק is pronounced as a voiced uvular plosive (like Persian ق/غ). Classical Hebrew /w/ (ו) and /aː/ (kamatz), however, are typically pronounced as /v/ and /o/ respectively (similar to the Persian/Ashkenazi traditions, but unlike the Iraqi tradition, which retains /w/ and /aː/)

Azeri: Vowel harmony and many loan words

Russian: Loan words adopted after the Russian Empire's annexation of Daghestan and Azerbaijan

Northeast Caucasian languages: e.g. /tʃuklæ/ "small" (probably the same origin as the medieval Caucasian city name "Sera-chuk" mentioned by Ibn Battuta, meaning "little Sera")

Other common phonology/morphology changes from classical Persian/Arabic/Hebrew:

  • /aː/ > /o/, /æ/, or /u/ e.g. /kitob/ "book" (Arab. كتاب), /ɾæħ/ "road/path" (Pers. راه), /ɢurbu/ "sacrifice" (Arab. or Aramaic /qurbaːn/)
  • /o/ > /u/ e.g. /ovʃolum/ "Absalom" (Heb. אבשלום)
  • /u/ > /y/, especially under the influence of vowel harmony
  • Stress on final syllable words
  • Dropping of the final /n/, e.g. /soχtæ/ "to make" (Pers. ساختن)


Being a variety of the Tat language, Judeo-Tat itself can be divided into several dialects:

  • Quba dialect (traditionally spoken in Quba and Qırmızı Qəsəbə)
  • Derbent dialect (traditionally spoken in the town of Derbent and the surrounding villages), has been used as a standard form of Judeo-Tat
  • Kaitag dialect (spoken in the North Caucasus)

The dialects of Oğuz (formerly Vartashen) and the now extinct Jewish community of Mücü have not been studied well and thus cannot be classified.[10]


  1. 24,000 in Azerbaijan in 1989; 2,000 in Russia in 2010; and 70,000 in Israel in 1998. Because ca. 2,000 a year emigrate to Israel, perhaps 20,000 may have been double-counted.
  2. Judeo-Tat at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. Windfuhr, Gernot. The Iranian Languages. Routledge. 2009. p. 417.
  4. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Judeo-Tat". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Judeo-Tat at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  6. Published in: Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages. Edited by Christopher Moseley. London & New York: Routledge, 2007. 211–280.
  7. John M Clifton. "Do the Talysh and Tat languages have a future in Azerbaijan?" (PDF). Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session. Retrieved 18 Feb 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
  9. (Russian) Phonetics of the Mountain Jewish language
  10. (Russian) Language of the Mountain Jews of Dagestan by E.Nazarova

External links