Mozarabic language

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לטן‎ / لتن
Extinctby the Late Middle Ages
Language codes
ISO 639-3mxi
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Linguistic map of southwestern Europe

Mozarabic, also called Andalusi Romance (Mozarabic: latino), was a continuum of related Romance dialects spoken in the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula, known as Al-Andalus. Mozarabic descends from Late Latin and early Romance dialects spoken in Hispania up to the 8th century and was spoken until around the 13th century when it was either replaced or merged with the northern peninsular Romance varieties, mostly Spanish (Castilian), Catalan and Portuguese.[1][page needed]

The Andalusi Romance dialects came to be called Mozarabic by 19th-century Spanish scholars who studied medieval Al-Andalus, though there never was a common language standard. These dialects were largely spoken by the Christian community, as a part of the Romance dialect continuum in the Iberian Peninsula, but it was also spoken by Jews, and Muslims, as large parts of the population converted to Islam.

The word Mozarab is a loanword from Andalusi Arabic musta'rab, مُستَعرَب, Classical Arabic musta'rib, meaning "who adopts the ways of the Arabs".

Native name[edit]

The name Mozarabic is today used for many medieval Romance dialects, no longer spoken, such as those of Murcia or Seville.[2] The native name (autonym or endonym) of the language was not Muzarab or Mozarab but Latin.[citation needed] In Iberia, as in much of Western Europe, the various Romance languages including Mozarabic were for many centuries thought of simply as dialects of Latin and so their speakers referred to their languages as Latin, including the Mozarabs. They did not call themselves "Mozarabs" either.

At times between persecution, Christian communities prospered in Muslim Spain; these Christians are now usually referred to as Mozárabes, although the term was not in use at the time (Hitchcock 1978)

It was only in the 19th century that Spanish historians started to use the words "Mozarabs" and "Mozarabic" to refer to those Christian people who lived under Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages, and their language. Another very common Arab exonym for this language was al-ajamiya ("stranger/foreign") that had the meaning of Romance language in Al-Andalus. So the words "Mozarabic" or "ajamiya" are exonyms and not autonyms of the language.

Roger Wright, in his book Late Latin and Early Romance in Spain and Carolingian France, states:

The Early Romance of Moslem Spain was known to its users as latinus. This word can lead to confusion; the Visigothic scholars used it to contrast with Greek or Hebrew, and Simonet (1888: XXIII-IV, XXXV-VII) established that in Moslem Spain it was used to refer to the non-Arabic vernacular (as was Arabic Al-Lathinī). [page 156]

The use of latinus to mean Latin-Romance, as opposed to Arabic, is also found north of the religious border. [page 158]

Latinus (from Latium, modern-day Lazio, Italy), that is, Latin, was the language spoken in ancient Rome. The Romance languages such as Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, etc., all evolved from Vulgar Latin and not from Classical Latin. Contemporary Romance speakers of the Iberian Peninsula, of the time of Moslem Spain, saw their vernacular spoken language as Latin. This happened because Classical Latin was seen as an educated speech, not as a different language. As Francisco Marcos-Marín (2015) has pointed out, following archaeological studies mainly by Juan Zozaya, Berber invaders could not have learnt to speak Arabic so soon. They used a continuum between Berber and Latin varieties. Latin was the cultural language of the Roman provinces of Africa before Arabic and continued in use (at least for some registers) until the 11th century. The interaction of these Afro-Romance varieties and Ibero-Romance has yet to be studied. Those African speakers also referred to their language as Latine.

Both Ladino, the name that Sephardic Jews gave to their spoken Romance language in Iberia, and Ladin, the name that an Alpine Romance speaking people, the Ladins, gave to their language, mean Latin.

In the Iberian Peninsula:

The word Ladino (< LATINUM) survived with the specific linguistic meaning of "Spanish written by Jews" (Roger Wright 1982, p. 158)

This is one of the main reasons why Iberian Jews (Sephardim) from central and southern regions called their everyday language Ladino - because this word had the sense of spoken Romance language (Ladino is today a Romance language more closely related to Spanish, mainly to Old Spanish, spoken by some Jews of Sephardic ancestry).

Language use[edit]

Mozarabic was spoken by Mozarabs (Christians living as dhimmis), Muladis (the native Iberian population converted to Islam) and some layers of the ruling Arabs and Berbers. The cultural language of Mozarabs continued to be Latin, but as time passed, young Mozarabs studied and even excelled in Arabic. Due to the northward migration of Mozarabs, Arabic placenames occur in areas where Islamic rule did not last long.[citation needed] With the deepening of Islamization and the advance of the Reconquista, Mozarabic was substituted either by Arabic or by Northern Romance varieties, depending on the area and century.

Mozarabic had a significant impact in the formation of Spanish, especially Andalusian Spanish, which explains why this language has numerous words of Andalusian Arabic origin.


Because Mozarabic was not a language of high culture, it had no official script. Unlike most Romance languages, Mozarabic was primarily written in the Arabic rather than the Latin script, though it was also written in Latin and to a lesser extent in the Hebrew alphabet. Mozarab scholars wrote words of the Romance vernacular in alternative scripts in the margins or in the subtitles of Latin-language texts (glosses).

The two languages of culture in Medieval Iberia were Latin in the north (although it was also used in the south by Mozarab scholars) and Arabic in the south (which was the principal literary language of Mozarab scholars). These are the languages that constitute the great majority of written documents of the Peninsula at that time.

Mozarabic is first documented in writing in the Peninsula as choruses (kharjas) (11th century) in Arabic lyrics called muwashshahs. As these were written in the Arabic script, the vowels had to be reconstructed when transliterating it into Latin script.

Morphology and phonetics[edit]

The phonology of Mozarabic is more archaic than the other Romance languages in Spain, fitting with the general idea that language varieties in more isolated or peripheral areas act as "islands of conservatism". Based on the written documents that are identified as Mozarabic, some examples of these more archaic features are:

  • The preservation of the Latin consonant clusters cl, fl, pl.
  • The lack of lenition of intervocalic p, t, c (k), as in the Mozarabic words lopa (she-wolf), toto (all) and formica (ant).
  • The representation of Latin /kt/ as /ht/ (as in /nohte/ "night" < noctem), thought[by whom?] to have been an intermediate stage in the transition /kt/ > /jt/, but represented nowhere else (Galician-Portuguese finished the transition, as shown by noite "night").
  • The representation of palatalized /k(e)/, /k(i)/ as /tʃ/ (as in Italian and Romanian), rather than /ts/ as elsewhere in Western Romance languages (except Picard).
  • The preservation (at least in some areas) of original /au/, /ai/.

The morphology of some words is closer to Latin than other Iberian Romance or Romance languages in general.[which?][citation needed]

Documents in Andalusi Romance (Old Southern Iberian Romance)[edit]

Some texts found in manuscripts of poetry in Muslim Iberian Peninsula (Al-Andalus), although mainly written in Arabic, have however some stanzas in Andalusi Romance (Latino) or in what seems to be Andalusi Romance. These are important texts because there are few examples of written Andalusi Romance. Proper Mozarabic (i.e. Christian) texts were written in Latin and are available in the accurate edition by Juan Gil.

In Late Latin and Early Romance Roger Wright also makes an analysis of these poetry texts known as kharjas:

Muslim Spain has acquired philological interest for a further reason: the kharjas. These are apparently bilingual (Arabic-Romance) or macaronic final stanzas of some verses in the Hispano-Arabic muwashshaha form discovered in some Arabic and Hebrew manuscripts (...). Analyses of these have been hampered in the past by the belief that we know too little about mozárabe Romance to discuss the "Romance" element on a sound basis; but this is not entirely true. (...) The detailed investigations by Galmés de Fuentes (e.g. 1977, 1980) on later documents and toponyms have established the main features of mozárabe phonology, and many features of its morphology (...). The conclusion seems to be that mozárabe Romance is not particularly different from that of other parts of Iberia.

However, a better knowledge of Andalusi Arabic, particularly due to the work of Federico Corriente, placed the xarajat (a term which should be preferred to kharjas) in the framework of Arabic Literature, and the linguistic diglossic situation of al-Andalus. Most xarajat, actually, were written in Andalusi Arabic. Those with Andalusi Romance elements usually combine them with Andalusi Arabic forms.

Sample text (11th century)[edit]

Mozarabic Aragonese Castilian Catalan Galician Portuguese Latin Standard Arabic Arabic transliteration English

Mío sidi Ibrahim,
ya wemne dolche!
vente mib
de nohte.
non, si non quieres,
iréyme tib:
garreme a ob

O mio sinyor Abrahán,
oh tu, hombre dulce!
Viene ta yo
de nueits.
Si no, si no quiers,
me'n iré ta tu,
di-me án

Mi señor Ibrahim,
¡Oh tú, hombre dulce!
Ven a mí
de noche.
Si no, si no quieres,
yo me iré contigo,
dime dónde

El meu senyor Ibrahim,
oh tu, home dolç!
Vine cap a mi
de nit.
Si no, si no vols,
me n'aniré jo amb tu,
digues-me on

Meu señor Ibrahim,
ou ti, home doce!
ven onda min
de noite.
Senon, se non quixeres,
irei onda ti,
dime onde
te atopar.

Meu senhor Ibrahim,
ó tu, homem doce!
Vem a mim
de noite.
Senão, se não quiseres,
irei até ti,
diz-me onde
te encontrar.

O domine mi Abrahami,
o tu, homo dulcis!
Veni mihi
Si non, si non vis,
ibo tibi,
dic mihi ubi
te inveniam.

،سيدي إبراهيم
.يا رجلًا حلوًا
تعال إليَّ
،وإن كنت لا تريد
.سآتي أنا إليك
قل لي أين

Sīdi ʾibrāhīm
yā rajulan ħulwan!
taʿāla ʾilay-ya
wa-ʾin kunta lā turīdu
sa-ʾātīʾanā ilay-ka
qul l-ī ʾayna

My lord Ibrahim,
O you, sweet man!
Come to me
at night.
If not, if you do not want to come,
I shall come to you,
tell me where
to find you.

Phonetic reconstruction and language comparison[edit]

The Lord's Prayer / Our Father:[3]

English Latin (lingua latina) Mozarabic (latino) Aragonese (aragonés) Asturian (asturianu) Spanish
Catalan (Català) Galician (galego) Portuguese (português) Occitan (occitan) French (français) Sicilian (sicilianu) Sardinian (sardu campidanesu) Italian (italiano) Romanian (limba română)

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.

Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur Nomen Tuum;

Patre nuestro que yes en el chelo,
santificato síad el tuyo nomne.

Pai nuestro, que yes en o cielo,
satificato siga o tuyo nombre,

Padre nuesu que tas en cielu:
santificáu seya'l to nome,

Padre nuestro que estás en el cielo,
santificado sea tu nombre.

Pare nostre, que sou al cel:
Sigui santificat el vostre nom.

Noso pai que estás no ceo,
santificado sexa o teu nome,

Pai nosso, que estais nos Céus,
santificado seja o vosso nome;

Paire nòstre que siès dins lo cèl,
que ton nom se santifique,

Notre Père, qui es aux cieux,
que ton nom soit sanctifié,

Patri nostru, ca siti nnô celu,
Fussi santificatu lu nomu vostru.

Babbu nostu chi ses in celu,
Santificau siat su nomini tuu.

Padre nostro che sei nei cieli,
sia santificato il tuo nome;

Tatăl nostru, care ești în ceruri,
sfințească-se numele tău;

Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

adveniat Regnum Tuum;
fiat voluntas Tua,
sicut in caelo, et in terra.

Venya a nos el tuyo reyno.
Fáchadse al tuya voluntád
ansi en al dunya com en el chelo.

vienga ta nusatros o reino tuyo y
se faiga la tuya voluntá
en a tierra como en o cielo.

amiye'l to reinu,
fáigase la to voluntá,
lo mesmo na tierra qu'en cielu.

Venga a nosotros tu Reino.
Hágase tu voluntad,
así en la tierra como en el cielo.

Vingui a nosaltres el vostre regne.
Faci's la vostra voluntat,
així a la terra com es fa al cel.

veña cara a nós o teu reino,
fágase a túa vontade
así na terra coma no ceo.

venha a nós o vosso reino;
seja feita a vossa vontade
assim na terra como no céu.

que ton rènhe nos avenga,
que ta volontat se faga
sus la tèrra coma dins lo cèl.

que ton règne vienne,
que ta volonté soit faite
sur la terre comme au ciel.

Vinissi n prescia lu regnu vostru,
Fussi faciuta la vostra Divina Vuluntati,
Comu nnô celu, d'accussì nnâ terra.

Bengiat a nosus su regnu tuu,
Siat fatta sa boluntadi tua,
comenti in celu aici in terra.

venga il tuo regno,
sia fatta la tua volontà, come in cielo così in terra.

Vie împărăția ta;
Facă-se voia ta, precum în cer, așa și pe pământ;

Give us this day our daily bread.

Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;

El nuestro pan de cata día danoslo wey

O pan nuestro de cada diya da-lo-mos güei,

El nuesu pan de tolos díes dánoslu güei,

El pan nuestro de cada día, dánoslo hoy

El nostre pa de cada dia,
doneu-nos, Senyor, el dia d'avui.

O noso pan dacotío, dánolo hoxe;

O pão nosso de cada dia nos dai hoje;

Dona-nos nòstre pan de cada jorn,

Donne-nous aujourd’hui notre pain de ce jour.

Ni dati sta jurnata lu nostru panuzzu cutiddianu,

Donasi oi su pani nostu de dogna dii,

Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano,

Pâinea noastră cea de toate zilele dă-ne-o astăzí.

And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.

et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;

e perdonanos las nuestras offensas
com nos perdonamos a los qui nos offenden.

perdona las nuestras faltas
como tamién nusatros perdonamos a os que mos faltan,

perdónanos les nueses ofienses,
lo mesmo que nós facemos colos que nos faltaren;

y perdona nuestras ofensas,
como también nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden.

I perdoneu les nostres culpes,
així com nosaltres perdonem els nostres deutors.

Perdoa-las nosas ofensas,
cal nós perdoamos ós que nos

perdoai-nos as nossas dívidas,
assim como nós perdoamos
aos nossos devedores;

perdona-nos nòstres deutes
coma nosautres perdonam
als nòstres debitors

Pardonne-nous nos offenses
comme nous pardonnons aussi
à ceux qui nous ont offensés.

E ni pirdunati li nostri piccati,
D'accussì nautri li pirdunamu ê nostri dibbitura.

Et perdonasi is peccaus nostus,
Comenti nosus perdonaus a is depidoris nostus.

rimetti a noi i nostri debiti,
come noi li rimettiamo
ai nostri debitori

Și ne iartă nouă greșelile noastre,
precum și noi iertăm greșiților noștri;

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.


et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a Malo.


E non nos layxes cader in tentachón
e líberanos d'el mal.


no mos dixes cayer en a tentación y libera-mos d'o mal.


nun nos dexes cayer na tentación,
y llíbranos del mal.


Y no nos dejes caer en la tentación, y líbranos de mal.


I no permeteu que nosaltres caiguem en la temptació,
ans deslliureu-nos de qualsevol mal.


e non nos levas á tentación;
pero líbranos do mal.


e não nos deixeis cair em tentação;
mas livrai-nos do mal.


e fai que tombèm pas dins la tentacion,
mas deliura-nos del mal.


Et ne nous soumets pas à la tentation,
mais délivre-nous du mal.


E mancu ni lassati a cascari nnâ tintazzioni,
Ma ni scanzati dû mali.


Et no si lessis arrui in tentatzioni,
Et liberasi de mali.


e non ci indurre in tentazione,
ma liberaci dal male.


Și nu ne duce pe noi în ispită;
ci ne izbăvește de cel rău.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ [Gómez-Ruiz, R. (2014). Mozarabs, Hispanics and Cross. Orbis Books.]
  2. ^ Leguay, Oliveira Marques, Rocha Beirante. Portugal das invasões germânicas à "reconquista". Editorial Presença, 1993. pg 209
  3. ^ * Ibero-Romance examples Archived 2013-03-09 at the Wayback Machine. Latin corrected to agree with standard version.

Further reading[edit]

  • Corriente Córdoba, Federico. (1993). "Nueva propuesta de lectura de las xarajât de la serie árabe con texto romance". Revista de filología española, ISSN 0210-9174, 73 / 1-2, 25-42
  • Gil, Juan. (1974) . Corpus scriptorum muzarabicorum. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. 2 v. Gil, Juan (1939-) & Instituto Antonio de Nebrija. "Corpus scriptorum muzarabicorum [Printed text]". Europeana. Archived from the original on 2015-02-04. Retrieved 2015-02-05.
  • Marcos Marín, Francisco. (1998). "Romance andalusí y mozárabe: dos términos no sinónimos", Estudios de Lingüística y Filología Españolas. Homenaje a Germán Colón. Madrid: Gredos, 335-341.
  • Marcos Marín, Francisco. (2015). "Notas sobre los bereberes, el afrorrománico y el romance andalusí", Hesperia.Culturas del Mediterráneo 19, 203-222.
  • Menéndez Pidal, Ramón. (2005). Historia de la Lengua Española (2 Vols.). Madrid: Fundación Ramón Menendez Pidal. ISBN 84-89934-11-8
  • Wright, Roger. (1982). Late Latin and Early Romance in Spain and Carolingian France. Liverpool: University of Liverpool (Francis Cairns, Robin Seager). ISBN 0-905205-12-X

External links[edit]