A series of unique books, published in the years 2008-10 by a private publisher in Qiryat 'Eqron, describe episodes of Jewish life in the northern province of Yemen during the first half of the twentieth century. These books constitute a rare source for the study of the cultural, social, religious and linguistic world of this community, the members of which have meanwhile emigrated from Yemen, predominantly to Israel. The author, Rabbi Dr Aharon Ben-David, uses multilayered Hebrew, into which he interweaves whole sections in the Arabic dialect which was spoken by the Jews while in Yemen, and which in many cases continues to serve as a means of communication among community members after their immigration to Israel as well. The Arabic sections appear in the books in vocalized Hebrew characters, using a unique transcription method developed by the author. These texts form a rich and rare source for the study of a Judaeo-Arabic dialect, which is doomed to disappear within the coming years. This paper describes the main characteristics of the transcription used in these books, as the anomalous use of hātēp-patah, the qāmes, šûreq and qibbûs, dāgēš and and other dots inside letters, as well as the marking of vocalic Anlauts. I shall also discuss a few instances of component merger in speech, which become apparent by virtue of the unique transcription.
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- Rambi Publications