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Pronunciation[dʒuˌdɛoitaˈljaːno], [(ʔ)italˈkit]
EthnicityItalian Jews
Native speakers
200 in Italy, 250 in total (2022)[1]
Very few speakers are fluent as of 2007[1]
  • Northern Judeo-Italian†
  • Tuscan Judeo-Italian†
  • Central Judeo-Italian
Hebrew alphabet 10th-18th centuries Italian Alphabet 19th century onwards
Language codes
ISO 639-3itk
Linguasphere51-AAB-be & -bf
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Judeo-Italian (or Judaeo-Italian, Judæo-Italian, and other names including Italkian) is an endangered Jewish language, with only about 200 speakers in Italy and 250 total speakers today.[2] The language is one of the Italian languages and one of the Jewish Romance Languages.[3] Some words have Italian prefixes and suffixes added to Hebrew words as well as Aramaic, roots.[4] All of the language's dialects except one are now extinct.[5]

The term Judeo-Italian

The glottonym giudeo-italiano is of academic and relatively late coinage. In English, the term was first used (as Judæo-Italian) by Lazaro Belleli in 1904 in the Jewish Encyclopedia,[6] describing the languages of the Jews of Corfu.[7] In Italian, Giuseppe Cammeo referred to a gergo giudaico-italiano ('Judaico-Italian jargon') in a 1909 article.[8] That same year, Umberto Cassuto used the term giudeo-italiano, in the following (here translated into English):[9]

...It is almost nothing, if you will, even compared with other Jewish dialects, Judeo-Spanish for instance, that are more or less used literally; all this is true, but from the linguistic point of view, Judeo-German is worth as much as Judeo-Italian [giudeo-italiano], to name it so, since for the glottological science the different forms of human speech are important in themselves and not by its number of speakers or the artistic forms they are used in. Moreover, a remarkable difference between Judeo-German and Judeo-Italian [giudeo-italiano], that is also valuable from the scientific point of view, is that while the former is so different from German as to constitute an independent dialect, the latter by contrast is not essentially a different thing from the language of Italy, or from the individual dialects of the different provinces of Italy

Other designations

ISO and Library of Congress classifications

The International Organization for Standardization language code for Judeo-Italian / Italkian in the ISO 639-3 specification is itk; the ISO 639-2 collective language code roa (for Romance languages) can also apply more generally.

"Italkian" is not used by the US Library of Congress as a subject heading, nor does it figure as a reference to Judeo-Italian. The authorized subject heading is "Judeo-Italian language". Subheadings are:


Early History

The first Jewish communities in Italy emerged during the 2nd century BC and were Greek speaking with knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic. But by 1000 AD the Jewish community in Italy had abandoned Greek and adopted early forms of Italian.[12] By the 900's AD Hebrew loanwords had begun to find their way into the speech of Italian Jews and Italian writing begins appearing in Hebrew, though the amount of Hebrew influence varies widely.[12]

Later History

During the 16th expulsions led to a massive decline in the amount of Judeo-Italian literature.[14] During the 19th century Judeo-Italian had switched from using Hebrew letters to the latin alphabet.[12] The language began to decline in the early 19th century as Italian Jews were emancipated and began to switch to standard Italian instead of Judeo-Italian.[15] At the same time it began to be written down to preserve the language as it declines.[16] By 1900 30,000 people spoke the language today it is down to 250.[12] around 2015 Judeo-Piedmontese went extinct.[17] All of the dialects of Judeo-Italian except for Judeo-Roman are now extinct.[12]

Influence on other Jewish languages

According to some scholars, there are some Judeo-Italian loan words that have found their way into Yiddish.[3] For example, the word in Judeo-Italian for 'synagogue' is scola, closely related to scuola, 'school'. The use of words for 'school' to mean 'synagogue' dates back to the Roman Empire. The Judeo-Italian distinction between scola and scuola parallels the Standard Yiddish distinction between shul/shil for 'synagogue' and shule for 'school'. Another example is Yiddish iente, from the Judeo-Italian yientile ('gentile', 'non-Jew', 'Christian'), as differentiated from the standard Italian gentile, meaning 'noble', 'gentleman'[18] (even if the name can come from Judeo-French and French as well).

There are also several loanwords from Judeo-Italian dialects in Judeo-Gascon, due to the migration of a few Italian families to the Sephardi communities in Gascony during the 18th and 19th centuries.[19]


Judeo-Italian regional dialects (ghettaioli, giudeeschi), these:


Central Judeo-Italian

Tuscan Judeo-Italian

Northern Judeo-Italian



At least two Judeo-Italian varieties, based on the Salentino and Venetian languages, were also used in Corfu[24](see relevant section in Corfiot Italians).

Time based divisions

It is also divided into two time based varieties which are Early Judeo-Italian which is attested through writings made from 1200 to 1700 and Modern Judeo-Italian attested from 1700 onwards.[16]


All of the spoken Judeo-Italian varieties used combination of Hebrew verb stems with Italian conjugations (e.g., אכלר akhlare, 'to eat'; גנביר gannaviare, 'to steal'; דברר dabberare, 'to speak'; לכטיר lekhtire, 'to go'). Similarly, there are abstract nouns such as טובזה tovezza, 'goodness'. This feature is unique among Jewish languages, although there are arguably parallels in Jewish English dialect.

Also common are lexical incorporations from Hebrew, particularly those applicable to daily life. Terms from other Jewish languages such as Yiddish and Judeo-Spanish were also incorporated. Bagitto, spoken in Livorno, is particularly rich in loanwords from Judeo-Spanish and Judeo-Portuguese.

It was claimed by Cassuto that most Judeo-Italian dialects reflect the Italian dialect of places further to the south, due to the fact that since the expulsion of the Jews from the Kingdom of Naples, the general direction of Jewish migration in Italy had been northward.[9]

Compared to the non Jewish languages they're related to the Judeo-Italian languages are relatively similar to each other, with them all being mutually intelligible.[25]

The degree of variation between Judeo-Italian dialects and their base languages (Judeo-Venetian and Venetian, Judeo-Piedmontese and Piedmontese etc.) varies. With some like Judeo-Mantuan being more divergent, others like Judeo-Venetian being less divergent and some like Judeo-Livornese being in the middle.[26]

Works in Judeo-Italian

The oldest known Judeo-Italian text is found in the margin notes of a copy of the Mishnah written between 1072 and 1073 known as "Mishnah A". One of the most accessible ways to view the Judeo-Italian language is by looking at translations of biblical texts such as the Torah and Hagiographa. For example, the Judeo-Italian language is represented in a 1716 Venetian Haggadah, a Jewish prayer book typically used during a seder, some samples of which are available online.[27]

Today, there are two locations, the Oxford Bodleian Library, and the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, in which many of these texts have been archived.[28]

Some notable writers who wrote in Judeo-Italian are: Guido Bardina who wrote in Bagitto, and Annibale Gallico who wrote in Judeo-Mantuan.[20] A theater groups named Chaimme 'a sore 'o sediaro e 'a moje (Chaim, the sister, the chairmaker and the wife) performs plays in the Judeo-Roman dialect, and Crescenzo Del Monte wrote plays in Judeo-Italian.[5] And the play Gnora Luna in Judeo-Florentine.[22]

Sample Words

Judeo Italian English
Mezuzah Beautiful Woman
Chadan Bridegroom
Cala Bride
Undes Eleven
Ta'anid Fast day
Scigazzello Little Boy
Negro Miserable
Scuola School
Sciabad Shabbat
Ahlare/ Achlare To eat
Dabberare/ Dabrare To speak
Macom Toilet
Malmazal Unlucky

Sample Text

Judeo-Manutan[30] English[30]
Non ghe meti sal nè péver,

la contava Scarponsel:

Una volta Prosper Rever

è andá a scόla a far gomèl.

El moreno ghe demanda

che maccá gh’era succès.

Lu s’el tira de una banda

e ghe dis col cόr sospés:

M’è cascá dal davansal

la camisa de percal:

E se denter ghe fuss stá?

Ma che vaga in chelalá!”

I’ll add neither salt nor pepper

to what I heard from Scarponsel:

One time Prosper Rever

went to shul to make gomèl.

And when the rabbi asked him

what misfortune he had fled,

he took him to one side and with

a beating heart he said:

“My gingham shirt fell to the ground

from the windowsill.

What if I’d been in it?”

Said the rabbi, “You’d be dead!”

Judeo Italian[31] English[31]
tempo non vientempo de la casa de Idio acio che sia edificato the time has not come, time for the house of the Lord to be built
mangiando non e (in) sasieta bevendo non e (in) ebrieta vestendo e non a scaldarsi e quello che pilyia il presso eating, and not to fill up; drinking, and not to drunkenness; dressing, but not to warmth; and he who earns, earns
e conpiacero in esso e saro glorificato and I will take pleasure in it and be honored
per la qual cosa sopra a voi sono proibiti therefore above you they have withheld
prego nel cor vostro da questo di e per lo avvenire avanti che si ponga pietra sopra pietra prima che sieno venuti al cumulo e era veniva al torculare per suainare cinquanta some percossi voi di tempesta di rovegiene e di grandine please [set] your hearts from this day forward, before the placing of stone upon stone when they came to the heap and it was to the vat to draw fifty measures I struck you with blight and mildew and hail

See also


  1. ^ La'az or lo'ez is also used for the French or other Romance words used in Rashi's Biblical and Talmudic commentaries to explain the meanings of obscure Hebrew or Aramaic words.


  1. ^ a b Judeo-Italian at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "A language of Italy". Ethnologue. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b Jochnowitz, George. "Judeo-Italian: Italian Dialect or Jewish Language?". George Jochnowitz. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  4. ^ Waldman, Nahum (1989). The Recent Study of Hebrew. Hebrew Union College Press: 1989 Hebrew Union College. pp. 174–175. ISBN 0-87820-908-5.
  5. ^ a b "Judeo-Italian: Italian Dialect or Jewish Language?". Retrieved 2023-12-09.
  6. ^ Belleli, Lazaro (1904). "Judæo-Greek and Judæo-Italian". Jewish Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. pp. 310–313.
  7. ^ "JUDÆO-GREEK AND JUDÆO-ITALIAN -". Retrieved 2022-05-08.
  8. ^ Cammeo, Giuseppe (1909). "Studj dialettali". Vessillo Israelitico (in Italian). 57: 169.
  9. ^ a b Cassuto, Umberto (1909). "Parlata ebraica" [Hebraic speech]. Vessillo Israelitico. 57: 255–256. Infatti, mentre è universalmente nota l'esistenza di un dialetto giudeo-tedesco, quasi nessuno sospetta oltr'alpe che gli ebrei italiani abbiano pure, o almeno abbiano avuto, non dirò un loro dialetto, ma almeno una loro parlata con peculiari caratteri. Certo, praticamente l'importanza di essa, limitata all'uso quotidiano di poche migliaia di persone, è pressoché nulla di fronte a quella del giudeo-tedesco, il quale è parlato da milioni di individui che bene spesso non conoscono altra lingua, ed ha una propria letteratura, un proprio giornalismo, un proprio teatro, sì da assumere quasi l'importanza di una vera e propria lingua a sé .... è pressoché nulla, se si vuole, anche a paragone di altri dialetti giudaici, del giudeo-spagnuolo ad esempio, che sono più o meno usati letterariamente; è vero tutto questo, ma dal punto di vista linguistico tanto vale il giudeo-tedesco, quanto il giudeo-italiano, se così vogliamo chiamarlo, giacché di fronte alla scienza glottologica le varie forme del parlare umano hanno importanza di per sé e non per il numero di persone che le usano o per le forme d'arte in cui vengono adoperate. Piuttosto, una notevole differenza fra il giudeo-tedesco e il giudeo-italiano, che ha valore anche per il riguardo scientifico, è che, mentre quello è tanto diverso dalla lingua tedesca da costituire un dialetto a sé stante, questo invece non è essenzialmente una cosa diversa dalla lingua d'Italia, o dai singoli dialetti delle varie provincie d'Italia .... [E]ra naturale che il gergo giudeo-italiano in breve volger di tempo sparisse ....
  10. ^ Katz Nelson, Itzhak (2008). "Yiddish Language". Encyclopaedia iudaica.
  11. ^ de Pomis, David (1587). Tsemaḥ David: Dittionario novo hebraico, molto copioso, dechiarato in tre lingue. Venice: Apud Ioannem de Gara – via Google Books and National Library of Naples. In Latin and Hebrew.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Judeo-Italian". Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  13. ^ Birnbaum, Solomon (1944). "Jewish Languages". In Epstein, I.; Levine, E.; Roth, C. (eds.). Essays in Honour of the Very Rev. Dr. J. H. Hertz, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire, on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, September 25, 1942 (5703). London: E. Goldston. pp. 63, 67.
  14. ^ Minervini, Laura (2021). "Judeo-Romance in Italy and France (Judeo-Italian, Judeo-French, Judeo-Occitan)". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics: 9.
  15. ^ Maddalena Colasuonno, Maria. "Modern Judeo-Italian in the Light of Italian Dialectology and Jewish Interlinguistics through Three Case Studies: Judeo-Mantuan, Judeo-Venetian, and Judeo-Livornese": 122 – via ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ a b Maddalena Colasuonno, Maria (2018). "Modern Judeo-Italian in the Light of Italian Dialectology and Jewish Interlinguistics through Three Case Studies: Judeo-Mantuan, Judeo-Venetian, and Judeo-Livornese". Jewish Languages in Historical Perspective: 122.
  17. ^ Duberti, Nicola; Milano, Maria Teresa; Miola, Emanuele (2015-11-01). "A linguistic sketch of Judeo-Piedmontese and what it tells us about Piedmontese Jews' origins". Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie (in German). 131 (4): 1042–1064. doi:10.1515/zrp-2015-0072. hdl:11585/646734. ISSN 1865-9063.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Nahon, Peter (2018), Gascon et français chez les Israélites d'Aquitaine. Documents et inventaire lexical, Paris: Classiques Garnier, ISBN 978-2-406-07296-6, see pp. 24-25, 353-355.
  20. ^ a b c "Judeo-Italian". Jewish Languages. Retrieved 2023-12-06.
  21. ^ Ryzhik, Michael (2016). "Grammatica storica delle parlate giudeo-italiane , written by M. Aprile". Journal of Jewish Languages. 4 (2): 261–266. ISSN 2213-4387.
  22. ^ a b c d e Minervini, Laura (2021). "Judeo-Romance in Italy and France (Judeo-Italian, Judeo-French, Judeo-Occitan)". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics: 10.
  23. ^ a b c d "Modern Judeo-Italian in the Light of Italian Dialectology and Jewish Interlinguistics through Three Case Studies: Judeo-Mantuan, Judeo-Venetian, and Judeo-Livornese". Jewish Languages in Historical Perspective: 123. 2018.
  24. ^ [1][dead link]
  25. ^ "Judeo Italian". Retrieved 2023-12-30.
  26. ^ "Modern Judeo-Italian in the Light of Italian Dialectology and Jewish Interlinguistics through Three Case Studies: Judeo-Mantuan, Judeo-Venetian, and Judeo-Livornese". Jewish Languages in Historical Perspective: 152. 2018.
  27. ^ "Seder Haggadah Shel Pesah". Archived from the original on 26 January 2020. Retrieved 21 April 2020 – via Bauman Rare Books.
  28. ^ Rubin, Aaron D.; Kahn, Lily (2015). Handbook of Jewish Languages. "Brill's Handbooks in Linguistics" series. Vol. 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. pp. 297–299. ISBN 978-90-04-21733-1.
  29. ^ "Judeo-Italian: Italian Dialect or Jewish Language?". Retrieved 2023-12-06.
  30. ^ a b "Why There Was Never an Italian "Yiddish" (and Why There Will Never Be an American One)".
  31. ^ a b Rubin, Aaron (2020-01-01). "Judeo-Italian Biblical Glossaries: The Book of Haggai". Semitic, Biblical, and Jewish Studies in Honor of Richard C. Steiner.


  • Ferretti Cuomo, Luisa (1982). "Italchiano versus giudeo-italiano versus 0 (zero), una questione metodologica". Italia: Studi e ricerche sulla storia, la cultura e la letteratura degli Ebrei d'Italia (in Italian). 3 (1–2): 7–32.
  • Fortis, Umberto (2006). La parlata degli ebrei di Venezia e le parlate giudeo-italiane (in Italian). Firenze: La Giuntina. ISBN 88-8057-243-1.
  • Fortis, Umberto; Zolli, Paolo (1979). La parlata giudeo-veneziana. "Collana di cultura ebraica" series (in Italian). Vol. 13. Assisi/Rome: B. Carucci. ISBN 88-85027-07-5.
  • Gold, David L. (1980). "The Glottonym Italkian". Italia: Studi e ricerche sulla storia, la cultura e la letteratura degli Ebrei d'Italia. 2 (1–2): 98–102.
  • Jochnowitz, George (2002). Pugliese, Stanisalo G. (ed.). Judeo-Italian: Italian Dialect or Jewish Language?. Greenwood Press – via ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  • Levi, Joseph Abraham (Spring 1998). "La Ienti de Sion: Linguistic and Cultural Legacy of an Early Thirteenth-century Judeo-Italian Kinah". Italica. 75 (1): 1–21. doi:10.2307/479578. JSTOR 479578. Archived from the original on 13 November 2008 – via Orbis Latinus.
  • Massariello Merzagora, Giovanna (1977). Giudeo-Italiano. "Profilo dei dialetti italiani" series. Vol. 23. Pisa: Pacini.
  • Mayer Modena, Maria Luisa (1997). "Le parlate giudeo-italiane". In Vivanti, Corrado (ed.). Storia d'Italia: Gli ebrei in Italia, Vol. II: Dall'emancipazione a oggi [History of Italy: The Jews in Italy, Vol. II: From Emancipation to Today]. Turin: Einaudi. pp. 939–963.
  • Mayer Modena, Maria Luisa (2022). Vena Hebraica nel Giudeo-Italiano. Dizionario dell'Elemento Ebraico negli Idiomi degli Ebrei d'Italia. Milano: LED.