Sunday, October 17, 2021

Had Gadya in the Arabic dialect of Constantine Jews

Seeing as you can't turn on the news in France these days without hearing a certain more-French-than-thou provocateur fulminating against Arabs, I thought it might be interesting to have a look at the Arabic dialect his parents or grandparents must have grown up speaking. There are a couple of recordings of the "Judeo-Arabic" of Constantine; a nice easy one to transcribe is Michael Charvit's recording of the originally Aramaic children's song Had Gadya, as traditionally sung at the Passover (Pesah) festival (translation here):
حاد ڨاديا، حاد ڨاديا، اللي شرالي بابا بزوج افلوس، زوج افلوس
وجات القطّوس، وكلات الجدي، اللي شرالي بابا بزوج افلوس، زوج افلوس
وجات الكلبة، وڨدمت القطّوس، اللي كلات الجدي، اللي شرالي بابا بزوج افلوس، زوج افلوس
وجات العصا، وضربت الكلبة، اللي ڨدمت القطّوس، اللي كلات الجدي، اللي شرالي بابا بزوج افلوس، زوج افلوس
وجا النار، وحرق العصا، والدي لي ضربت الكلبة، والدي ڨدمت القطّوس، والدي لي كلات الجدي، لي الدي شرالي بابا بزوج افلوس، زوج افلوس
وجا الما، وطفّى النار، الدي حرق العصا، اللي ضربت الكلبة، اللي ڨدمت القطّوس، اللي كلات الجدي، الدي لي شرالي بابا بزوج افلوس، زوج افلوس
وجا التور، وشرب الما، اللي طفّى النار، اللي حرق العصا، الدي ضربت الكلبة، اللي ڨدمت القطّوس، اللي كلات الجدي، الدي شرالي بابا بزوج افلوس، زوج افلوس
وجا الدبّاح، دبّح التور، اللي شرب الما، اللي طفّى النار، اللي حرق العصا، اللي ضربت الكلبة، اللي ڨدمت القطّوس، اللي كلات الجدي، اللي شرالي بابا بزوج افلوس، زوج افلوس
وجا ميلخ همّاڥات، ودبح الدبّاح، اللي دبح التور، اللي شرب الما، اللي طفّى النار، اللي حرق العصا، اللي ضربت الكلبة، اللي ڨدمت القطّوس، اللي كلات الجدي، اللي شرالي بابا بزوج افلوس، زوج افلوس
وجا اقّادوش باروخ هو، ودبح ميلخ همّاڥات، اللي دبح الدبّاح، واللي دبح التور، واللي شرب الما، واللي طفّى النار، واللي حرق العصا، واللي ضربت الكلبة، واللي ڨدمت القطّوس، واللي كلات الجدي، واللي شرالي بابا بزوج افلوس، زوج افلوس
ħ̣ad gadya, ħ̣ad gadya, li šrali baba bzuz əflus, zuz əflus
u ğat əlqəṭṭus, u klat əlždi, lli šrali baba bzuğ əflus, zuğ əflus
u ğat əlkəlba, u gədmət əlqəṭṭus, lli klat əlždi, lli šrali baba bzuğ əflus, zuğ əflus
u ğat əlʕṣa, u dŭṛbət əlkəlba, lli gədmət əlqəṭṭus, əldi klat əlždi, əlli šrali baba bzuğ əflus
u ğa ʔənnaṛ, u ħṛəq əlləʕṣa, u ddi li ḍəṛbət əlkəlba, u əldi gədmət əlqəṭṭus, u ldi li klat əžždi, li ldi šrali baba bzuğ əflus, zuğ əflus
u ğa ʔəlma, u ṭəffa ʔənnaṛ, əldi ħrəq əlləʕṣa, əlli ḍəṛbət əlkəlba, əlli gədmət əlqəṭṭus, əlli klat əlždi, əldi li šrali baba bzuğ əflus, zuğ əflus
u ğa əṭṭuṛ, u šṛŭb əlma, əlli ṭəffa nnaṛ, əlli ħrəq əlləʕṣa, əldi š ḍəṛbət əlkəlba, əlli gədmət əlqəṭṭus, əlli klat əlždi, əldi šrali baba bzuğ əflus, zuğ əflus
u ğa ʔəddəbbaħ, dəbbəħ əlṭuṛ, əlli šṛŭb əlma, əlli ṭəffa nnaṛ, əlli ħrəq əlʕṣa, əlli ḍəṛbət əlkəlba, əlli gədmət əlqəṭṭus, əlli klat əžždi, əlli šrali baba bzuğ əflus, bzuğ əflus
u ğa milax həmmạvat, u dbaħ əddəbbaħ, əlli dbaħ əttuṛ, əlli šṛəb əlma, əlli ṭəffa nnaṛ, əlli ħrəq əllʕṣa, əlli ḍəṛbət əlkəlba, əlli gədmət əlqəṭṭus, əlli klat əžždi, əlli šrali baba bzuğ əflus
u ğaaaaaaaaa qqaduš baṛux huuuuuuuu u dbaħ milax əmmạvat əlli dbaħ əldəbbaħ ulli dbaħ əttuuṛ ulli šṛəb əlmaaaa ulli ṭəffa nnaaaaaaaaṛ ulli ħrəq əlʕṣaaaaa ulli ḍəṛbət əlkəlbaaa ulli gədmət əlqəṭṭuuuuuus ulli klat əžždiiiii ulli šrali baba bzuğ əflus, zuğ əfluuuuuuuuuus

This recording should in itself be sufficient to dispel any misguided notion that "Judeo-Arabic" was a different language. All of it should be perfectly transparent to any Algerian Arabic speaker except a couple of phrases specific to Jewish culture: ħ̣ad gadya is Aramaic for "one kid goat" (the name of the song), milax həmmạvat is Hebrew for "the Angel of Death" (ملك الموت‍), and qqaduš baṛux hu is Hebrew for "the Holy One, Blessed be He" (referring to God). The word dəbbaħ ("slaughterer"), while obviously Arabic, might also be a religiously specific term for "shohet" (a kosher butcher) rather than the generic term for "butcher" - I'm not sure. Otherwise, every word in the rhyme is etymologically Arabic, although qəṭṭus "cat", zuğ "two", and flus "small coins" are ultimately from Latin or Greek. (Note the complete absence of Berber vocabulary.)

Nevertheless, we do see a few slightly unusual dialectal features. The most striking is the variation between different forms of the relative pronoun: normal əlli coexists with əldi, əddi, hesitant combinations of the two with li, and, oddly enough, ulli, as if this were coordination rather than subordination. The use of əldi, in particular, is reportedly characteristic of Jewish religious registers of Arabic; it looks as though the speaker was in the habit of using əlli in his normal speech, but aimed for əldi in this religious and formulaic context. We also find variation between (eastern) zuz and (central/conservative) zuğ for "two", and assimilation or non-assimilation of the article in əlždi or əžždi "the kid goat", probably a result of the deaffrication of ğīm before d. The loss of interdentals is fairly normal for old urban dialects.

7 comments:

Athel Cornish-Bowden said...

"Seeing as you can't turn on the news in France these days without hearing a certain more-French-than-thou provocateur fulminating against Arabs"

Alas how true! However, I have the impression he fulminates more against Muslims than Arabs as such.

Whygh said...

I see a ton of Moroccan Ḥad Gadyā versions on the Tube. If you want to take the time to listen to those... "Goat kid" would be a very plausible word to be borrowed from Berber, if any were.

Why milax and not malax?

Could dəbbaħ just as easily be Hebrew טַבָּח ?טַבָּח is generically 'butcher', though not a ritualistic שׁוֹחֵט, as you say. (In Israeli Hebrew טַבָּח is 'cook', שׁוֹחֵט is one who works in a slaughterhouse, kosher or not, and קַצָּב is one who runs a butcher shop.)

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

Athel: I suppose he does hate Muslims even more than Arabs, but I think in his mind they merge together into a vague notion of "beurs". There's a reason he makes a point of his supposed Berber origins despite thin evidence...

Whygh: dəbbaħ is definitely Arabic - טַבָּח would have been borrowed as ṭəbbaħ (and Arabic ṭəbbax is a cook). But in Arabic I've never heard it used for "butcher", just for someone who slaughters a lot.

:Why milax and not malax?

Not sure, but I guess because of some confusion between "angel" and "king". (The two words often seem to be confused in North African Arabic, especially in the plural.)

Etienne said...

Lameen-

"zuğ "two", and flus "small coins" are ultimately from Latin or Greek".

What are the etyma + history of these words?

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

zuğ < zawğ < Greek ζεῦγος "pair"
flus < fulūs pl. of fals < Latin follis "small bronze coin" < "purse"

Anonymous said...

The Aramaic text refers to bitrei zuzei.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuz_(Jewish_coin)
So it looks to me like the Arabic text was "repaired" from e.g., zug [zooj] zuz to zug [zooj] aflus.

Tait Immobiliare Torino said...

Well, thanks for sharing that.