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LINGUIST List 16.2949

Wed Oct 12 2005

Diss: Translation/Writing Systems: Strolovitch: 'Old...'

Editor for this issue: Meredith Valant <av8736wayne.edu>

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        1.    Devon Strolovitch, Old Portuguese in Hebrew Script: convention, contact, and convivência

Message 1: Old Portuguese in Hebrew Script: convention, contact, and convivência
Date: 11-Oct-2005
From: Devon Strolovitch <dls38cornell.edu>
Subject: Old Portuguese in Hebrew Script: convention, contact, and convivência

Institution: Cornell University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Devon L Strolovitch

Dissertation Title: Old Portuguese in Hebrew Script: convention, contact, and convivência

Dissertation URL: http://www.jmrg.org/strolovitch/disspage/

Linguistic Field(s): Translation
                            Writing Systems

Subject Language(s): Hebrew (heb)
                            Portuguese (por)
Language Family(ies): Romance

Dissertation Director:
Wayne Harbert
Gary A Rendsburg
Carol G Rosen
John Whitman

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation explores the process undertaken by medieval writers to
produce Portuguese-language texts using the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Through detailed philological analyses of five Judeo-Portuguese texts, I
examine the strategies by which Hebrew script is adapted to represent
medieval Portuguese in the context of other Roman-letter and
Hebrew-language writing. I focus on the writing system in order to
challenge the conception of such texts as marked or marginal, a view that
misleadingly equates language and script. I argue that the adaptation of
Hebrew script for medieval Portuguese is neither derivative of Roman-letter
writing nor entirely dependent upon the conventions of written Hebrew. Nor
is it an adaptation performed anew by each writer and influenced primarily
by spoken language. The perspective I adopt thereby rejects the premise
that the patterns manifested in this unconventional orthography are ad hoc
creations by its writers, that it requires extra effort from its readers,
or that it is less 'native' than the dominant, more conventionalized,
Roman-based adaptation that normally bears the title 'written Portuguese.'

In the first chapter I introduce the phenomenon of adaptation of scripts in
the context of linguistic borrowing and conventionality in writing, and the
uniqueness of Hebrew script in this field. In chapter 2, I present a
survey of adaptations of Hebrew script for languages other than Hebrew,
from biblical Aramaic to late-nineteenth-century English, leading to a more
detailed analysis of the Judeo-Portuguese writing system in chapter 3. In
chapter 4, I present a new critical edition of a handbook for manuscript
illumination. Chapter 5 presents a 27-page excerpt of a
previously-unpublished 800-page astrological treatise. Chapter 6 presents
editions of three shorter texts, vernacular rubrics from two Hebrew prayer
books and a short medical prescription. Chapter 7 summarizes the archaic
and vernacular features attested by the texts in chapters 4-6. In the
final chapter, I offer a proposal for a Judeo-Portuguese 'alphabet,'
along with a sketch of some further problems of adaptation and
interpretation that arise from the process of editing Hebraicized texts and
of transforming them from manuscript to computer screen.

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