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cuhuri, ?,
Native toAzerbaijan, Russia - North Caucasian Federal District, spoken by immigrant communities in Israel, United States (New York City)
EthnicityMountain Jews
Native speakers
(ca. 101,000[1] cited 1989-1998)[2]
Latin, Cyrillic, Hebrew
Official status
Official language in
Dagestan, enlisted as Tat
Language codes
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, ?, ‎) is the traditional language of the Mountain Jews of the eastern Caucasus Mountains, especially Azerbaijan and Dagestan, now mainly spoken in Israel.[4]

The language is a form of Persian which belongs to the southwestern group of the Iranian division of the Indo-European languages. The 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" (?/?), whereas no neighbouring languages have it. [5]

Judeo-Tat is an endangered language[6][7] classified as "definitely endangered" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.[8]


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

  • Israel: 70,000 in 1998
  • Azerbaijan: 24,000 in 1989
  • Russia: 2,000 in 2010[4]
  • United States: 5,000[9]
  • Canada[10]


Vowel phonemes of Judeo-Tat
Front Central Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close i y u
Near-close ?
Mid ? o
Open æ a
Consonant phonemes of Judeo-Tat
Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyn
Nasal m n?
Stop voiceless p t? k
voiced b d? ? ?
Affricate voiceless t
voiced d
Fricative voiceless f s? ? ? ? h
voiced v z?
Approximant l j ?
Flap ?



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.

Latin Aa Bb Cc Çç Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Xx Yy Zz
Cyrillic ? ? ? ? ?
Hebrew /? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
IPA a b t?/ts d? d ? æ f g h ? ? i j k l m n o p ? ? s ? t u v ? 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: > 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. /?æsæl/ "honey" (Arab. ), /sæbæ?/ "morning" (Arab. ?).

Hebrew: As other Jewish dialects, the language also has many Hebrew loanwords e.g. /?ul?on/ "table" (Heb. ?shul?an), /mozol/ "luck" (Heb. mazal), /?o?i?/ "rich" (Heb. ??ashir). Hebrew words are typically pronounced in the tradition of other Mizrahi Jews. Examples: ?‎ and ?‎ are pronounced pharyngeally (like Arabic ?‎, ? respectively); ?‎ is pronounced as a voiced uvular plosive (like Persian ?/?). Classical Hebrew /w/ (?‎) and /a:/ (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 /a:/)

Azeri: Vowel harmony and many loan words

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

Northeast Caucasian languages: e.g. /t?uklæ/ "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:

  • /a:/ > /o/, /æ/, or /u/ e.g. /kitob/ "book" (Arab. ?), /?æ?/ "road/path" (Pers. r?h), /?urbu/ "sacrifice" (Arab. or Aramaic /qurba:n/)
  • /o/ > /u/ e.g. /ov?olum/ "Absalom" (Heb. Abshalom)
  • /u/ > /y/, especially under the influence of vowel harmony
  • Stress on final syllable words
  • Dropping of the final /n/, e.g. /so?tæ/ "to make" (Pers. s?khtan)


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

  • Quba dialect (traditionally spoken in Quba and Q?rm?z? Q?s?b?).
  • Derbent dialect (traditionally spoken in the town of Derbent and the surrounding villages), has been used as a standard form of Judeo-Tat.
  • Kaitag dialect (spoken in the North Caucasus).

The dialects of O?uz (formerly Vartashen) and the now extinct Jewish community of Mücü have not been studied well and thus cannot be classified.[12]


  1. ^ 24,000 in Azerbaijan in 1989; 2,000 in Russia in 2010; and 70,000 in Israel in 1998. Because ca. 2,000 a year emigrate to Israel, perhaps 20,000 may have been double-counted.
  2. ^ Judeo-Tat at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Windfuhr, Gernot. The Iranian Languages. Routledge. 2009. p. 417.
  4. ^ a b Judeo-Tat at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  5. ^ 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].
  6. ^ Published in: Encyclopedia of the world's endangered languages. Edited by Christopher Moseley. London & New York: Routledge, 2007. 211-280.
  7. ^ 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. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger Archived 2009-02-22 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ 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].
  10. ^ James B. Minahan, ed. Ethnic Groups of North, East, and Central Asia: An Encyclopedia: Juhuro.
  11. ^ (in Russian) Phonetics of the Mountain Jewish language
  12. ^ (in Russian) Language of the Mountain Jews of Dagestan Archived 2005-05-01 at the Wayback Machine by E.Nazarova

Further reading

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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