The term ‘Judaeo-Arabic’ refers to a type of Arabic that was used by Jews and was distinct in some way from other types of Arabic. It is by no means a uniform linguistic entity and the term is used to refer to both written forms of Arabic and also spoken dialects. The first section of the chapter examines the various forms of written Judaeo-Arabic and their importance for the history of Middle Arabic and Arabic dialects. A classification of written texts into three broad periods may be made: these periods being Early Judaeo-Arabic, Classical Judaeo-Arabic, and Late Judaeo-Arabic. The second section of the chapter gives an overview of the Arabic dialects spoken by Jewish communities in the Middle East. Most of these dialects differ in some way from the dialects spoken by their Muslim and Christian neighbours. They are far more diverse in their structure than the various literary forms of Judaeo-Arabic.
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