Alternate History

Mozarabic (Of Lions and Falcons)

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Latino / לטן / لتن
Andalusi Romance
Spoken in Iberia (Al-Andalus and Spain)
Ethnicity Mozarabs and Muladis
Language family
  • Italic
    • Romance
      • Western
        • Pyrenean–Mozarabic
          • Mozarabic
Standard forms
Toledano (standard form since late 13th century)
Writing system Arabic
Aljamía Novel (standards script since early 14th century)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Mozarabic, more accurately Andalusi Romance or Latino, is a continuum of closely related Romance dialects spoken in the Muslim controlled areas of Al-Andalus by part of the general population. Mozarabic descends from Late Latin and early Romance dialects spoken in the Hispania from the 5th to the 8th centuries.

It is spoken by Mozarabs (Christians living as dhimmis), Muladis (the native Iberian population converted to Islam) and some layers of the ruling Arabs and Berbers. Large Mozarabic speaking enclaves are located in the large Muslim cities such as Toledo, Cordoba and in Christian cities like Zaragoza and Lisboa.

Because Mozarabic was not a language of high culture, it had no official script until the 14th century. Unlike most Romance languages, Mozarabic was primarily written in the Arabic rather than the Latin script, though it was also written in Latin and to a lesser extent in the Hebrew alphabet.

Mozarab scholars wrote words of the Romance vernacular in alternative scripts in the margins or in the subtitles of Latin- language texts (glosses). The two languages of culture in Medieval Iberia were Latin in the north (although it was also used in the south by Mozarab scholars) and Arabic in the south (which was the principal literary language of Mozarab scholars). These are the languages that constitute the great majority of written documents of the Peninsula at that time.

A common standard Mozarabic did not appear until the late 13th century and is mainly based on the Toledan dialect. Its main merit is that its written form standardized vowel writing in Arabic script that became the New Mozarabic Aljamiado (Aljamía Novel). The vowels are written as separate character and not as diacritics. The Aljamía Novel can be transliterated into Latin alphabet, although is not exactly letter to letter. The Latin alphabet is mainly used in Spain.

Aljamía Novel quickly spread and by the 14th century it had built a large writing corpus that began copying classical Arabic poetic forms styles and evolved in its own forms. In 1402 the Mozarabic Rite was published in this standard containing the Lord's Prayer and a collection of hymns and psalms. Later a Missal and Breviary were also published.

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