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
Lang Status 60-DE.svg
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 the traditional language of the Mountain Jews of the eastern Caucasus Mountains, especially Azerbaijan and Dagestan, now mainly spoken in Israel.[1]

The language is a dialect of Persian which belongs to the southwestern group of the Iranian division of the Indo-European languages, albeit with heavy Jewish influence. The Iranic Tat 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 though the languages probably originated in the same region of the Persian empire. The words Juvuri and Juvuro translate as "Jewish" and "Jews".

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


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 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]. 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 loanwords e.g. /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: 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:


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]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Judeo-Tat at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) closed access
  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