Grammaire juhuri, ou jude'o-tat, langue iranienne des Juifs du Caucase de Vest. By GILLES AUTHIER. Beitrage zur Iranistik, vol. 36 / Bibliotheque iranienne, vol. 76. Wiesbaden: LUDWIG REICHERT, 2012. Pp. 336. 88 [euro].
Juhuri is an autonym for the better-known term Judeo-Tat, the language of the Mountain Jews of the southeastern Caucasus. The historical domain of Judeo-Tat extends from the mountainous valleys of Dagestan (now a "republic" in the Russian Federation) southward to the plains and piedmonts of Sharvan, which at the present time forms the northern part of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In the study of Judeo-Tat it is important to recall that before its Russian annexation in the nineteenth century, the south Caucasus was administratively and culturally an integral part of Persia.
Judeo-Tat is a dialect of the Caucasian Tat language group; the other dialects are spoken by Muslims of both Shi'i and Sunni denomination and on a much smaller scale by a group of Christians that recently migrated to Armenia. The Tat language belongs to the Southwest Iranian family but geographically is a distant outlier. The closest relative of Tat is Persian and it is generally assumed that Tat branched off from Persian, but whether this happened before or after the standardization of Persian in the tenth to twelfth centuries is an open question. Whatever the time of parting may have been, the isolation has been long enough for the Tat language to undergo such profound structural changes that it has become mutually unintelligible with any known variety of Persian. The changes in Tat are not only intra-linguistic but are also due to strong areal influences from the neighboring languages of Caucasian and Turkic stock, above all Azerbaijani Turkish. Another source of influence on Tat, especially on its vocabulary, is Persian, the lingua franca of the Persianate world.
Former studies of Caucasian Tat include A. L. Grjunberg's important volume Jazyk severo-azerbajdzanskix tatov (Leningrad, 1963), followed by several articles of his on the dialects spoken by Muslim Tats. Judeo-Tat was the subject of an early study by V. F. Miller at the turn of the nineteenth century. During the earlier Soviet decades (1920s to 1940s), Judeo-Tat gained official status in Dagestan, and was adapted to the Latin and then Cyrillic alphabets, in which periodicals and textbooks were printed. An important manifest of this literary period was the systematic grammar of N. A. Anisimov...