Cuhuri, Жугьури, ז׳אוּהאוּראִ
Native toAzerbaijan, RussiaNorth Caucasian Federal District, spoken by immigrant communities in Israel, United States (New York City)
EthnicityMountain Jews
Native speakers
80,000 (2010–2018)[1]
Latin, Cyrillic, Hebrew
Language codes
ISO 639-3jdt
Judeo-Tat is classified as Definitely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (2010)
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-Tat or Juhuri (Cuhuri, Жугьури, ז׳אוּהאוּראִ) is a Judeo-Persian dialect of the Tat language historically spoken by the Mountain Jews, primarily in Azerbaijan, Dagestan, and today in Israel.[1] It belongs to the southwestern group of the Iranian division of the Indo-European languages with heavy influence from the Hebrew language. In the era of Soviet historiography, the Mountain Jews were mistakenly considered to be related to the Muslim Tats of Azerbaijan. However, they do not share a common linguistic heritage, as the Mountain Jews kept their native language (which itself was derived from their ancestors adopting Persian at an earlier date), while the Muslim Tats eventually adopted contemporary Persian. The words Juvuri and Juvuro translate as "Jewish" and "Jews".

Judeo-Tat features Semitic elements in all linguistic levels of the language. Uniquely, Judeo-Tat retains the voiced pharyngeal approximant, also known as ayin (ع/ע), a phoneme whose presence is considered to be a hallmark of Semitic languages such as Arabic and no longer found in Modern Hebrew; no neighbouring languages in Azerbaijan or Dagestan feature it. [3]

Judeo-Tat is an endangered language[4][5] classified as "definitely endangered" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.[6]


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


Vowel phonemes of Judeo-Tat[9]
Front Central Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close i y u
Near-close ɪ
Mid ɛ o
Open æ a
Consonant phonemes of Judeo-Tat
Labial Dental/
Velar Uvular Pharyn
Nasal m
voiceless p t͡ʃ k
voiced b d͡ʒ ɡ ɢ
Fricative voiceless f ʃ χ ħ h
voiced v
Approximant l j ʕ
Flap ɾ


Main article: Tat alphabet

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.

Script and phonemes of Judeo-Tat
Latin Aa Bb Cc Çç Dd Ee Əə Ff Gg Hh 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 ז׳ 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
IPA a b tʃ/ts d ɛ æ f g h ʕ ħ i j k l m n o p ɢ ɾ s ʃ t u v χ y z

Influences and etymology

Judeo-Tat is a dialect of the Southwest Iranian language family, which includes Persian. Compared to other Iranian languages spoken in the Caucasus [for example, Talysh, Ossetian, and Kurdish], Judeo-Tat has more similarities to modern Persian. Howeverer, it also bears strong influence from other sources:

Medieval Persian: Postpositions are used predominantly in lieu of prepositions, for example in 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, for example /ʕæsæl/ "honey" (Arab. عسل), /sæbæħ/ "morning" (Arab. صباح).

Hebrew: As in other Jewish dialects, the language also has many Hebrew loanwords, for example /ʃulħon/ "table" (Heb. שלחןshulḥan), /mozol/ "luck" (Heb. מזלmazal), /ʕoʃiɾ/ "rich" (Heb. עשירʻashir). 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/)

Azerbaijani: Vowel harmony and many loan words

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

Northeast Caucasian languages: /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:


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

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. ^ a b c Judeo-Tat at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Windfuhr, Gernot. The Iranian Languages. Routledge. 2009. p. 417.
  3. ^ Habib Borjian, “Judeo-Iranian Languages,” in Lily Kahn and Aaron D. Rubin, eds., A Handbook of Jewish Languages, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2015, pp. 234-295. [1].
  4. ^ Published in: Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages. Edited by Christopher Moseley. London & New York: Routledge, 2007. 211–280.
  5. ^ 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 18 Feb 2013.
  6. ^ UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger Archived 2009-02-22 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Habib Borjian and Daniel Kaufman, “Juhuri: from the Caucasus to New York City”, Special Issue: Middle Eastern Languages in Diasporic USA communities, in International Journal of Sociology of Language, ed. Maryam Borjian and Charles Häberl, issue 237, 2016, pp. 51-74. [2].
  8. ^ James B. Minahan, ed. Ethnic Groups of North, East, and Central Asia: An Encyclopedia: Juhuro.
  9. ^ (in Russian) Phonetics of the Mountain Jewish language
  10. ^ (in Russian) Language of the Mountain Jews of Dagestan Archived 2005-05-01 at the Wayback Machine by E.Nazarova

Further reading