Jewish Monferrato

The Jewish-Piedmontese dialect

In Piedmont, as in other regions of Italy, the Jews introduced in the local dialect some Hebrew expressions, often changed to be more similar to Italian, thus creating new original languages.

By adding words from the Sacred Texts in Hebrew or in Aramaic, Jews could communicate without letting non Jews, often servants or merchants, understand. This dialect nevertheless became so common that often even non Jews used it.

The Jewish-Piedmontese dialect was also used to write comedies, poems and ballads, as La gran battaja dj’ abrei d’Moncalv (The big battle of the Jews in Moncalvo), which talks about a quarrel among many Jews in the ghetto of Moncalvo, stopped immediately when they heard that a non Jewish policeman was arriving.

This dialect got in disuse after the Emancipation in 1848, when the Jews began wanting to efface the differences between them and the other Italian citicens.