By Matras, Yaron

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Long vowels Vowel lengthening in Domari may have its roots in the language’s ancient Indo-Aryan precursor, hence forms within the inherited vocabulary stock, such as >GR৸ਥP͑@ G‫ڟ‬PH ‘the Doms’, could show historical continuation of the long vowel. But there is little doubt that vowel quantity is nowadays strongly influenced by lengthening patterns in Arabic. Firstly, Arabic length contrasts are preserved: cf. >EԌਥ]]঱ľEW@ ELॳॳDEW ‘precisely’, >ਥ]঱ľ৸EԌW@ ॳčELW ‘officer’. Second, a tendency is emerging to correlate length with stress.

It is also fracturing the traditional overlap between ethnic identity and socio-economic identity, which had existed previously among the Dom, giving rise to a feeling of an ethnicity vacuum. The Dom are Sunni Muslims, like their Palestinian neighbours, with whom they appear to share most of their customs and way of life. Traditional dress and tattoos are found only among very elderly women in the community, and there are virtually no remaining stories, songs, or marriage or other customs or habits that are unique to the Dom.

When the British set up municipal services in Jerusalem, in the early 1920s, the Dom abandoned their traditional professions and sought paid employment in the service of the municipality, as sweepers, in rubbish disposal, and as caretakers in public lavatories. By the 1940s the community came to rely on wage labour and the Dom abandoned their tents and moved into permanent dwelling within the Old City walls. The bulk of the Dom population of Jerusalem still lives in rented accommodation in BƗb l-ѽX߮߮D in the northeastern corner of the Muslim quarter of the Old City, just north of Lions Gate and the northern entrance to the ѽáram, the compound which includes the Dome of the Rock and Al-’Aq߅a Mosques.

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A Grammar of Domari by Matras, Yaron


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