Friday, 20 November 2015
What about speech? From the Middle Ages onwards, the Jews of the diaspora created a number of unique 'combination' languages, Yiddish and Ladino being two survivors. But what about in antiquity?
The Jews of antiquity, however, did not. The common language of the Jews of the Roman empire (perhaps including Palestine) was Greek. Literate Jews (like Philo) spoke a literate Greek, while illiterate Jews spoke a Greek that was the target of sneers from the educated.
Just like today, then - the speakers of Estuary English attracting comments from those who aspire to Received Pronunciation :-)
A certain Roman emperor orderd the expulsion of all Egyptians from Alexandria in 215 CE; they could be recognised by their speech and manners. Cohen wryly concludes:
No Greek or Roman ever made such comments about Jews; Jews spoke Greek like everyone else.