What language was spoken in Valencia before the Reconquista?

sound shift

Senior Member
English - England
A simple question, but an answer that has eluded me till now. We read a lot about the languages that were taken to Valencia by the Christians who came down from the north and wrested Valencia from the Muslims, but I haven't read anything about the language that was displaced.
 
  • jmx

    Senior Member
    Spain / Spanish
    In all of Muslim Spain, there were a number of Romance dialects, collectively known as 'Mozarabic', living as diglossic B varieties alongside Arabic. We know very little about them, let alone about how these varieties were different between each area.
     

    XiaoRoel

    Senior Member
    galego, español
    Está claro (para los ingüistas que el valenciano es un dialecto occidental del catalán. Los mozarabes serían casi inexistentes después de la expedición de Jaume I. Como mucho habrá influído el hispanoárabe de los moriscos (abundantes en el reino hasta su expulsií a principios del XVII, y de hecho se nota en hechos de vocabulario (¿y quizás en la característica apitxat de Valencia ciudad?). A ello habrá que añadir hasta el s XVI de las hablas aragonesas, la popular por la frontera común, y la cancilleresca por la burocracia del reino de Aragón.
    Otra cosa (absolutamente descabellada: sólo hay que leer sus teorías con una mínima formación filológica e histórica para darse cuenta de que los datos o se mal usan o se ignoran. Es un montaje (político y caciquil) que no es científicamente serio (ninguna universidad admite tal engendro que sólo vive en la enseñanza primaria y secundaria y por mandato legal.
     

    germanbz

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain/Catalan (Val)
    Five years ago, a local writter translated a poem book from Al-Russafí, a valencian muslim writer who lived in the XI Century into modern valencian (catalan dialect) language. Even though Al Russafi was born in Valencia (Balansiya) he was living most of his life in Malaga. In any case, this was of course a translation from XI century arabic language into modern valencian catalan. Well, that was a magnificient opportunity to some local politicians to show how far their ignorance could reach. As they looked Al Russafi poems wrote in valencian, they claimed that that thing demonstrated valencian language was spoken two centuries before Jaime I of Aragon, arrived to Valencia.
    This can give us an idea about the arguments and cultural and scientifical foundations in which those people usually supports theirs "linguistic theories".

    Of course one can discuss and disagree about how some valencian formal adaptations could have been done, but disagree about the origin of the valencian is like to defend the earth is plane.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Isn't it the case that Romance forms were spoken before the Muslim conquest and that they "merged" with Arabic to form the Mozarabic dialects?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozarabic_language
    I think the word "merged" is much too strong. Mozarabic borrowed extensively from Arabic, but there's no reason to think its structure was anything but Romance. Probably a situation similar to that of Yiddish, or Ladino, or the like. It seems fairer to say that whatever was left of Mozarabic when the Christians from the north took over merged with their Romance languages. In the final centuries, by the time of the Emirate of Granada, I've read that Romance was no longer used at all in the Muslim-dominated lands, only Arabic.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Isn't it the case that Romance forms were spoken before the Muslim conquest and that they "merged" with Arabic to form the Mozarabic dialects?

    Mozarabic language - Wikipedia

    I agree with Outsider. They didn't really "merge". I think the name Mozarabic is unfortunate -some have proposed Andalusi Romance or Romandalusi- because it seems to lead people to think it's a sort of mixture, but they were first-stage Romance evolutions that simply happened to have (Andalusi) Arabic as their referential language of education instead of Latin, the one the rest of Romance languages had.

    It is likely that within that Andalusi Romance there were also differences between several urban centres, so that Seville, Toledo and Valencia didn't speak exactly the same type of Mozarabic. But probably the Mozarabic in Valencia and in southern Catalonia and southern Aragon was closer. A sort of continuum between Aragonese, "Eastern" Mozarabic and Western Catalan would probably have made assimilation faster, provided that Mozarabic was still spoken at the time when Catalans and Aragonese arrived, which isn't clear at all. While modern Valencian is clearly Western Catalan, many of the differences with respect to northern Western Catalan probably have to do with early influence from either an Aragonese or Mozarabic stratum.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    What do Arabic sources from Al-Andalus say about these dialects? Do they mention them at all? Were they spoken by Muslims or only by Christians?
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    What do Arabic sources from Al-Andalus say about these dialects? Do they mention them at all? Were they spoken by Muslims or only by Christians?

    It seems not much. Indeed there is not a lot of evidence at all of what the language was like. It were spoken principally by the Mozarabs, that is assimilated Christians who lived under Muslim rule; it was also spoken by some Jews and converts to Islam. At the time the learned languages in the Iberian Peninsula were Latin in the north and Arabic in the south and it is not only the Mozarabic dialects which lack significant written records.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    There are the jarchas that were discovered last century. They were written in Mozarabic using Arabic script. You can see it's clearly Romance but very different than modern Spanish.
    Just to say, this is not necessarily Valencian, just Mozarabic from somewhere in Al-Andalus before the reconquista.

    ¡Tant' amáre, tant' amáre,
    habib, tant' amáre!
    Enfermiron welios nidios
    e dólen tan málē.


    ¡De tanto amar, de tanto amar,
    amigo, de tanto amar!
    Enfermaron unos ojos antes sanos
    y que ahora duelen mucho.
    Báayse méw quorażón de mib.
    ¡Yā Rabb, ši še me tōrnarād?
    ¡Tan māl me dólēd li-l-habīb!
    Enfermo yéd: ¿kuánd šanarád?


    Mi corazón se va de mí.
    ¡Ay señor, no sé si me volverá !
    ¡Me duele tanto por el amigo!
    Está enfermo, ¿cuándo sanará?
    Garīd boš, ay yerman ēllaš
    kóm kontenēr-hé mew mālē,
    Šīn al-ḥabī bnon bibrēyo:
    ¿ad ob l' iréy demandāre?


    Decid vosotras, ay hermanillas,
    ¿cómo he de atajar mi mal?
    Sin el amigo no puedo vivir:
    ¿adónde he de ir a buscarlo?
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    There are the jarchas that were discovered last century. They were written in Mozarabic using Arabic script. You can see it's clearly Romance but very different than modern Spanish.
    Just to say, this is not necessarily Valencian, just Mozarabic from somewhere in Al-Andalus before the reconquista.
    Transliteration of the kharjas is still debated, so it's hard to be completely sure about how the Mozarabic varieties would have fully developed in the end.

    One can see some common things with Aragonese and Asturian but different from Castilian:

    - welyos, like Aragonese uellos and Asturian güeyos, unlike Spanish ojos
    - yed, like ye in Aragonese and Asturian, unlike Spanish es
    - yermanellas, as in the rest of Iberia except for Spanish, which has g- dropping​
    And parts that are clearly Arabic: habib, ya Rabb, garid


    Several words in Valencian Catalan are regarded as Mozarabic in origin. I can think of clòtxina 'shell' right now, but there are more. Some think that the famous Valencian orxata is also from a Mozarabisation of the Latin hordiata, but it was more probably taken from the Italian orzata, with the same Latin origin --original orxata seems to have been made of barley rather than tiger nut.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)

    Thank you. As the long explanation says, either of the two theories -from Italian or from Mozarabic- could be possible, because the -t- is maintained in both. A natural evolution in Catalan would have been *horjada.

    However, given the dates of the first attestations, already in the 18th century, I'd wager that the Italian one is a safer bet.

    What is an obvious but funny folk etymology is the one of the King saying 'girl, this is gold!' (això és or, xata!) :D. But hey, you'll find people convinced it's the true origin...
     
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