Version classiqueVersion mobile

A Handbook and Reader of Ottoman Arabic

Esther-Miriam Wagner

II. Reader

22. A Judaeo-Arabic letter from the Prize papers collection, HCA 32/1208/126.2 (1796)

Matthew Dudley

Texte intégral


Arabic Transcription


  • 1 Although I have provided the direct transliteration ‘Bushʾara’ in line with that of Richard Ayoun ( (...)

1(1) With the help of God. (2) Tunis on the 21st of Cheshvan 5557, (3) Our beloved and dear Rav Shlomo Bushʾara1—may his Rock keep him and grant him life. (4) Much peace upon you in the name of God. I am sending these two letters in order to briefly inform you that I have received from (5) the messenger in between the letter of the respected Rav Daʾnos dated the fifteenth of the aforementioned month and having taken note what’s in it (6) and from it, I was happy to learn that you are well (thanks be to God) and your perspective in supervising me so that I should inform you of the sale of what the coffee (7) totals to on Saturday, informing you, sir, that you have ground coffee totalling one-hundred (8) sixty and one-hundred sixty-five [reales] per qantar and also the vessel arrived from Malta carrying the coffee, (9) yesterday a Dobra [Ragusan] vessel arrived from Algiers loaded with raisins and had with it the coffee (10) that the Muslim named Aramouche came bringing [with] one-hundred twenty qantar in hand, of inexperienced character (11) he told them surely it is worth granting its sale, on Saturday everyone likes selling and [through] that (12) which was sent we had previously informed you that it appears also for foodstuffs [there is] an agreeable sale in Constantine, (13) it is better selling there than in Tunis on Saturday, it is now wintertime and the coffee also was afflicted when it became unavailable, (14) and letting you know from the money for the others I sent [what] are the remaining balances (15) in their baskets, following your supervision in order to [meet that which] is on your mind and [awaiting] what you direct me to do with how (16) to handle them and also the time is short and I have nothing new in order to prolong [this letter], may (17) you be well and healthy, if there is anything else required command me and I will gladly carry it out, with great care, peace and happiness

  • 2 As with the recipient’s surname, the transliteration ‘Ṣemaḥ’ directly portrays the sender’s Hebrew (...)

2(18) Shlomo Ṣemaḥ,2 servant of God

3(19) a good Sefardi


4The letter features a variety of linguistic elements characteristic of Maghrebi Arabic. These components include the interrogatives āsh ( שא / شا ) and kīfāsh ( שאפיכ / شافيك ), as well as the conjunction bāsh ( שאב / شاب ) and the demonstrative pronoun hād ( דאה / داه ). Additionally, the author makes use of the common Maghrebi verbal construction ‘to be’, through the conjugation of يار in the third-person plural ( םוהאר / موهار ). Ṣemaḥ’s writing also demonstrates instances of code-switching to vocabulary from Judaeo-Spanish (line 11), and Hebrew (lines 4 and 16).

Sūq es Sebt

5Line 1

6עב ’’ ה – תרזעב םשה ‘with the help of God’ (lit. ‘with the help of the Name’) (Hebrew).

7Line 2

8’ שדוחל = חל ‘in the month’ (Hebrew).

9’ הנש = ש ‘year’ (Hebrew).

10Line 3

11ברה = ה " ר ‘the master’ (Hebrew).

12והרמשי ורוצ והיחיו = צי " ו ‘may his Rock keep him and grant him life’ (Hebrew; Hacker 2015, 75).

13Line 4

14ומשב = ב ’’ ש lit. ‘in His name’ (Hebrew).

15רחא תושירד ומולש = שדחא ’’ ו ‘after inquiring about your (lit. his) health’ (Hebrew).

16רוצקב ‘briefly’ (Hebrew).

17Line 5

18Line 6

19הדות לאל = ת ’’ ל ‘thanks be to God’.

20Line 7


21Line 8

22Line 10


23Line 11


24Line 16

25שודח ‘news’ (Hebrew).

26Line 17

27Line 18

28Line 19


1 Although I have provided the direct transliteration ‘Bushʾara’ in line with that of Richard Ayoun (2010), there is a great deal of variation in transliterations of this surname in primary sources related to HCA 32/1208. For example, in HCA 32/901/276 spellings range from ‘Bouchara’ (n.48r), ‘Bochara’ (n.41r), ‘Busciara’ (n.37r), and ‘Bocharra’ (n.35r). Most of the papers and letters in HCA/32/1208 appear to have belonged to Shlomo Bushʾara and were captured aboard the cargo ship Venus in late-October 1800, after the vessel ran aground in the port of Mahon.

2 As with the recipient’s surname, the transliteration ‘Ṣemaḥ’ directly portrays the sender’s Hebrew orthography. That said, alternate Latinised versions of the surname surely existed in the late-18th century. One example is the spelling ‘Semah’, which is attested in the 1784 communal census records of the Livornese Massari (Tribunale dei Massari, vol. 10, f. 388r, Archivio Storico della Comunità Ebraica di Livorno).

3 Shlomo Ṣemaḥ to Shlomo Bushʾara, 4 Kislev 5557, HCA/32/1208/126.1, British National Archives.

Table des illustrations

Fichier image/jpeg, 73k
Fichier image/jpeg, 68k
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1k
Fichier image/jpeg, 970 octets
Fichier image/jpeg, 969 octets
Fichier image/jpeg, 889 octets
Fichier image/jpeg, 916 octets
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,2k
Fichier image/jpeg, 823 octets
Fichier image/jpeg, 905 octets
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,5k
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,3k
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,0k
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,0k
Fichier image/jpeg, 971 octets
Fichier image/jpeg, 948 octets
Fichier image/jpeg, 774 octets
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,2k
Fichier image/jpeg, 874 octets
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,2k


Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search