Yevanic language

Yevanic language

Romaniyot, Judeo-Greek
Native to Originally Greece, more recently Israel, Turkey, USA
Native speakers
unknown (undated figure of 50)[1]
Hebrew alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3 yej
Glottolog yeva1238[2]
Linguasphere 56-AAA-am

Yevanic, otherwise known as Judeo-Greek or Romaniyot,[3] was the dialect of the Romaniotes, the group of Greek Jews whose presence in Greece is documented since the Hellenistic period. Its linguistic lineage stems from the Hellenistic Koine and includes Hebrew elements. It was mutually intelligible with Greek of the Christian population. The Romaniotes used the Hebrew alphabet to write Greek and Yevanic texts.

The term "Yevanic" is an artificial creation from the Biblical word Yāwān referring to the Greeks and the lands that the Greeks inhabited. The term is an overextension of the Greek word Ἰωνία (Ionia in English) from the (then) easternmost Greeks to all Greeks.

There are no longer any native speakers of Yevanic, for the following reasons:

The Jews have a place of note in the history of Modern Greek. They were unaffected by Atticism and employed the current colloquial which they transcribed in Hebrew letters. There is a small literature in this Jewish-tinged Greek, which may be termed Yevanic (Hebrew Yevanim "Greeks", lit. "Ionians"); it dates from the early part of the modern period, the most extensive document being a translation of the Pentateuch. In its context, this exceptional cultivation of the vernacular has its analogue in the choice of Hellenistic Greek by the translators of the Septuagint and in the New Testament.[4]


  1. ^ Yevanic at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Yevanic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Spolsky, B., S. B. Benor. 2006. “Jewish Languages.” In Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 120-124.
  4. ^ Lockwood, W. B. 1972. "A Panorama of Indo-European Languages." Hutchinson. London.

Further reading

  • Balodimas-Bartolomei, Angelyn, Nicholas Alexiou. 2010. “The Inclusion of Invisible Minorities in the EU Member States: The Case of Greek Jews in Greece.” In Changing Educational Landscapes, 155-182.
  • BimBaum, Soloman A. 1951. “The Jewries of Eastern Europe.” In The Slavonic and East European Review, 29(73), 420-443.
  • Connerty, Mary C. Judeo-Greek: The Language, The Culture. Jay Street Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-889534-88-9
  • Davis, Barry. 1987. “Yiddish and the Jewish Identity.” In History Workshop, 23, 159-164.
  • Gold, David L. 1989. “A sketch of the linguistic situation in Israel today.” In Language in Society, 13(3), 361-388.
  • Krivoruchko, Julia G. 2011. “Judeo-Greek in the era of globalization.” In Language & Communication, 31(2), 119-129.
  • Naveh, Joseph, Soloman Asher Bimbaum, David Diringer, Zvi Hermann Federbsh, Jonathan Shunary & Jacob Maimon. 2007. “Alphabet, Hebrew.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1, 689-728.
  • Spolsky, Bernard, Elana Goldberg Shohamy. 1999. “The Languages of Israel: Policy, Ideology, and Practice. Multilingual Matters.UK.

External links

  • Jewish Language Research Website: Judeo-Greek
  • Yevanic Language Endangered Languages Project Website