A cryptolanguage of Georgian Jewish merchants

  • The merchant language of the Georgian Jews deserves scholarly attention for several reasons. The political and social developments of the last fifty years have caused the extinction of this very interesting form of communication, as most Georgian Jews have emigrated to Israel. In a natural interaction, the type of language described in this article can be found very rarely, if at all. Records of this communication have been preserved in various contexts and received different levels of scholarly attention. Our interest concerns the linguistic aspects as well as the classification. In the following paper we argue that the specific merchant language of Georgian Jews belongs to the pragmatic phenomenon of “very indirect language.” The use of mostly Hebrew lexemes in Georgian conversation leads to an unfounded assumption that the speakers are equally competent in Hebrew and Georgian. It is reported that a high level of linguistic competence in Hebrew does not guarantee understanding of the Jewish merchant language. In the Georgian context, the decisive factors are membership in the professional interest group of merchants and residential membership in the Jewish community. These factors seem to be equivalent, because Jewish members of other professional groups (and those from outside the particular urban residential area) have difficulties in following the language that are similar to those of the Georgian majority. We describe the pragmatic structure of interactions conducted with the help of the merchant language and take into account the purpose of the language’s use or the intention of the speakers. Relevant linguistic examples are analysed and their sociocultural contexts explained.

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Author:Zakharia Pourtskhvanidze, Nanuli Tskhvediani
Parent Title (English):Working Paper Series on Informal Markets and Trade ; No. 10
Series (Serial Number):Working Paper Series on Informal Markets and Trade (10)
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Document Type:Working Paper
Date of Publication (online):2021/09/16
Date of first Publication:2021/09/16
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2021/09/16
Page Number:15
Last Page:13
Institutes:Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 38 Handel, Kommunikation, Verkehr / 380 Handel, Kommunikation, Verkehr
JudaicaDoc | Jüdische Studien und Israel-Studien / Jüdische Studien - Sprache
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht