A student of Jewish languages reads Michał Németh’s Unknown Lutsk Karaim Letters in Hebrew Script (19th–20th Centuries). A Critical Edition

David L. Gold

(Stany Zjednoczone)


The Karaite language has justifiedly attracted the attention of Turkologists though it should also be of interest to students of Jewish languages (= the languages of Rabbanite and Karaite Jews); and what students of Jewish languages have to say about it should interest Turkologists, just as what the latter have to say should interest the former.

By looking at Karaite (as exemplified in Michał Németh’s Unknown Lutsk Karaim Letters in Hebrew Script (19th–20th Centuries): A Critical Edition)from the viewpoint of other Jewish languages, researchers can:

  1. Add new questions to the agenda of Karaite research. For example, the existence of an idiosyncratic type of periphrastic verb in at least Karaite, Judezmo, Yidish, and Ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazic English prompts the question of what the genetic relationships between the tokens of that type are.
  2. Reopens old questions. For example, the derivation proposed for Karaite כניסא '[Karaite (and/or Rabbanite?)] synagog', with phonological variants, according to which the word comes from Arabic. The author proposes a different etymology (possibly not original with him) , involving only Jewish languages (a more appropriate derivation for a Karaite word having that meaning), which takes the Karaite word back to Hebrew and/or to Jewish Aramaic.

Słowa kluczowe:

Jewish intralinguistics, Karaimi, Języki słowiański, Jidysz, Hebrajski-Aramejski


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Gold, D. L. (2017). A student of Jewish languages reads Michał Németh’s Unknown Lutsk Karaim Letters in Hebrew Script (19th–20th Centuries). A Critical Edition. Almanach Karaimski, 6, 17–118. https://doi.org/10.33229/ak.2017.6.02


David L. Gold 
Stany Zjednoczone

He holds a doctorate in Romance philology from the University of Barcelona and from 1975 to 1990 was a  member of the Department of Hebrew Language and of the Yidish Studies Program at the University of Haifa,  where in 1975 he became the first in the world to teach courses in Jewish intralinguistics (the study of the speech and writing of Jews). During that time, he edited and contributed to seven volumes of Jewish Language Review and two of Jewish Linguistic Studies. In 1990 he resigned his position at the University to devote himself fully to research and publishing. He is now composing a discursive dictionary of Yidish influence on Polish (a sample appeared in 2017) and another on Yidish influence on Israeli Hebrew.


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