Native to France (Provence)
Extinct 1977, with the death of Armand Lunel
Language codes
ISO 639-3 sdt
Glottolog (insufficiently attested or not a distinct language)

Shuadit (also spelled Chouhadite, Chouhadit, Chouadite, Chouadit, and Shuhadit), also called Judeo-Occitan or less accurately Judæo-Provençal or Judeo-Comtadin, is the Occitan language as it was historically spoken by French Jews. It was not a distinct language, and was indistinguishable from the Occitan spoken by non-Jews (Banitt 1963, Pansier 1925, Guttel & Aslanov 2006:560).[2] Shuadit is known from documents dating to as early as the 11th century in France, and after suffering drastic declines beginning with the charter of the Inquisition in France, finally died out with the death of its last known speaker, Armand Lunel, in 1977.


Shuadit writings consist of two distinct varieties: religious texts and popular prose, written using modifications of the Hebrew alphabet.

Religious texts contain a significantly higher incidence of Hebrew loanwords, and reflect an overall more "educated" style, containing many words from Old French, Franco-Provençal, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin. These texts include a fragment of a 14th-century poem lauding Queen Esther, as well as a woman's siddur. This siddur contains an uncommon blessing, found in few other locations (including medieval Lithuania), thanking God, in the morning blessings, not for making her "according to His will" (she-asani kirtzono), but for making her as a woman.

The extant texts comprising the collections of popular prose contain far fewer borrowings, and are essentially Occitan written using the Hebrew script, possibly indicating a Jewish preference, prevalent at the time, for not using the Latin script, regarded widely as synonymous with the oppressive Christian régimes. These texts demonstrate the extent to which the Jewish community of Provence was familiar with Hebrew, as well as the extent to which the community was integrated into the larger surrounding Christian culture of the region.


Shuadit displays a number of phonological characteristics that make it unique among Jewish languages. The name "Shuadit" literally means "Jewish", and is the Occitan pronunciation of the Hebrew word "Yehudit" (initial *j became /ʃ/, and *h was often elided between vowels).

In words inherited from Hebrew and Aramaic, the letters samekh, sin and thav are all pronounced /f/, the same as fe. The conjecture is that the two former /s/ phonemes merged with the /θ/ phoneme, and then merged with the phoneme /f/. This observation gives particular validity to the theory that Shuadit is an outgrowth of a much older Judæo-Latin language, rather than an independent development within southern France, since the second step also occurred during the development of Latin from Proto-Italic.

In words derived from Latin, there is a tendency to diphthongize /l/ following plosives, and to de-lateralize /ʎ/ to /j/. Additionally, the phonemes /ʒ/ and /ʃ/, as well as /dʒ/ and /tʃ/, are reduced to the single phoneme /ʃ/. Thus, the Provençal words plus, filho, and juge occur as pyus, feyo, and šuše, respectively, in Shuadit.


A fundamental source for inferring information about the phonology of Shuadit is the comedy Harcanot et Barcanot. (See Pansier in the References section of this article.)

Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil recorded a number of bilingual Hebrew-Shuadit religious poems.


In 1498, the French Jews were formally expelled from France. Although the community was not finally compelled to depart until 1501, much of the community had by then become dispersed into other regions, notably Genoa, and the underdeveloped regions of Germany. However, the Comtat Venaissin was then under the direct control of the Pope, and a small Jewish community continued to live there in relative isolation. From the time of the French Revolution, when French Jews were permitted to live legally anywhere in France as full citizens, the status of Shuadit began to decline rapidly. The last known native speaker, Armand Lunel, died in 1977.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Shuadit". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Hammarström (2015) Ethnologue 16/17/18th editions: a comprehensive review: online appendices
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/23/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.