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A study of the Beirut dialect of Judeo-Spanish as spoken by one informant Taylor, Dorothy-Ann

Abstract

This thesis is a study of the Beirut dialect of Judeo-Spanish as spoken by one informant of that community now living in Vancouver, B.C. The analysis of the dialect was based upon oral material which was tape-recorded. The study describes the phonology, lexicon, morphology, and syntax as they appeared in the corpus which consisted of about 33,000 words. Pertinent features are compared to both the Judeo-Spanish norm and to Old Spanish, noting the conformations, and differences, and indicating the reason for variances. The informant's speech contained many archaisms especially in the vocabulary. Archaic features of the phonology, however, have become obscured through the influence of superstrata and cannot provide any conclusive evidence which would corroborate certain phonetic distinctions of Old Spanish. There is also some variance between the phonology of this dialect and other Sephardic dialects. Also evident in the dialect studied here were: impoverishment of vocabulary, the introduction of neologisms and new formations, analogical changes common to Sephardic Spanish and some other analogical changes peculiar to this dialect only. While other dialect studies of Judeo-Spanish show a dominant number of Turkish loans, this dialect has a far greater number of Gallicisms of apparently recent introduction. Widespread social and cultural changes in the life of the Sephardim in recent years have radically affected these dialects. The increasing pressure of external influences is obscuring many phonological and syntactical patterns hitherto used by Judeo-Spanish and the existence of many anomalies and much free variation is evidence of the advanced state of decay of this dialect.

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