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  1. 1. 1 LANGUAGE(S) OF THE SEPHARDIC TOMBSTONES DECIPHERED THROUGH THE CONCEPTUAL BLENDING THEORY DERYA FAZILAAGIS GIRNE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSLATION AND INTERPRETING e-mail: / Fauconnier and Turner (1998) developed the theory of Conceptual Blending in order to interpret metaphors and metonymies correctly. This theory demonstrates how we can understand texts full of metaphors, such as caricatures and poems. Sephardim came to the Ottoman Empire in 1492, after the Spanish Queen Isabelle had expelled them, and today they are the citizens of the Republic of Turkey. They have several scientific, economic, and cultural contributions to the Turkish society. In this study, I intend to analyze the poetic and metaphoric language of the Sephardic tombstones, found in the Sephardic cemeteries in the region of Marmara of Turkey. When all the metaphoric words in the writings of these tombstones are interpreted correctly, we obtain a lot of information, regarding the family, profession, friends, languages spoken by the dead person, and the reasons why s/he died. Besides, these tombstones were written in several languages, such as French, Judeo-Spanish, Turkish, or in a mixture of these languages. The language(s) in which the tombstones were written demonstrate us the period in which the dead person lived and died. A Sephardi can use Judeo-Spanish before 2000s. However, today Turkish is used in tombstones, if the dead is young, and did not learn Judeo-Spanish as her / his native language. Additionally, Turkish is used also by those who lived in the period of the Administrative Reforms in the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, the tombstones written in French belong to the period in which l’Alliance Israélite Universelle was effective in the education of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire. Some words in all of these languages are metaphoric; one has to possess sufficient linguistic and cultural knowledge in order to interpret them. In this case, Conceptual Blending Theory is very useful.
  2. 2. 2 Briefly, I intend to explain the meanings of the linguistic and cultural metaphors in Sephardic tombstones of the region of Marmara of Turkey within the framework of Conceptual Blending Theory, developed by Fauconnier and Turner (1998). When we analyze the language(s) of these tombstones, we decipher various elements belonging to a culture that involves both Spanish and Turkish values and traditions full of symbolic activities to be understood via a semiotic analysis. In deciphering these, Conceptual Blending Theory is very useful. Key Words: Conceptual Blending Theory, Sephardic Culture, Tombstones, Metaphors 1. Introduction This study deals with the metaphoric language use in the Sephardic tombstones. As Sephardim have lived in various countries, after having been expelled from Spain, their language, thus, the Judeo-Spanish language involves elements belonging to each land where they have lived: some symbols, some metaphors, and some words entered Judeo-Spanish, a language formed as a result of being in-between various cultures. After we will have mentioned how we gathered our data, we will explain what the Conceptual Blending Theory is, and we will analyze the inscriptions on Sephardic tombstones within the framework of the Conceptual Blending Theory. 1. 1. Methodology In this study, the symbolic language of the Sephardic tombstones will be analyzed within the framework of the Conceptual Blending Theory of Fauconnier and Turner (1998) in order to understand the effects of the interaction of different cultures on language change and culture. First, we will explain how we gathered our data, and second, we will talk about the Conceptual Blending Theory in this section.
  3. 3. 3 1. 1. 1. Data We obtained our data, which consist of various inscriptions on Sephardic tombstones from the Sephardic researcher Sibel Bicaci who is from Istanbul. She gathered these inscriptions from different tombstones in Jewish cemeteries in the Marmara Region of Turkey. 1. 1. 2. Conceptual Blending Theory Conceptual blending or conceptual integration is a process that occurs in our mind when we compare two different situations one of which is a real event and the other of which is used metaphorically. The similarities between these events are blended in the formation of the latter metaphorical event description: Conceptual Blending is a general theory of cognition. According to this theory, elements and vital relations from diverse scenarios are "blended" in a subconscious process known as Conceptual Blending, which is assumed to be ubiquitous to everyday thought and language. Insights obtained from these blends constitute the products of creative thinking, though conceptual blending theory is not itself a theory of creativity, inasmuch as it does not illuminate the issue of where the inputs to a blend actually come from. Blending theory does provide a rich terminology for describing the creative products of others, but has little to say on the inspiration that serves as the starting point for each blend. The theory of Conceptual Blending was developed by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner. The development of this theory began in 1993 and a representative early formulation is found in their online article Conceptual Integration and Formal Expression. Mark Turner and Gilles Fauconnier cite Arthur Koestler´s 1964 book "The Act of Creation" as an early forerunner of conceptual blending: Koestler had identified a common pattern in creative achievements in the arts, sciences and humor that he had termed "bisociation of matrices" - a notion he described with many striking examples, but did not formalize in algorithmic terms. Conceptual Blending theory is also not
  4. 4. 4 formalized at the level of algorithmic detail, but its various optimality principles provide some guidance for those building computational models (“Conceptual Blending,” 2008). Furthermore, “the theory of conceptual blending has been applied in cognitive neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, linguistics, music theory, poetics, mathematics, divinity, semiotics, theory of art, psychotherapy, artificial intelligence, political science, discourse analysis, philosophy, anthropology, and the study of gesture and of material culture” (“Blending and Conceptual Integration,” n. d.). According to this theory, Input 1 consists of the real event, whereas Input 2 of the metaphorical event description; the qualities of both events are contrasted in the generic space, and then the similarities lead to the formation of blends, as we see this in the following scheme from “Blending and Conceptual Integration” (n. d.): Figure 1. Spaces in the Conceptual Blending Theory (from: “Blending and Conceptual Integration,” n. d.) 1. 1. 3. Literature Review Freemann (2005) demonstrates that “Fauconnier and Turner’s conceptual integration network or ‘blending’ theory can provide an integrated and coherent account of the cognitive mechanisms by which poetry is constructed and construed. Taking as its example Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘The Applicant,’ a poem already analyzed by Elena Semino from the perspectives of discourse, possible worlds, and schema theories,” Freemann (2005) indicates that “a complex blending of conceptual metaphors in the poem that reveal the poet’s own conflicted attitudes about marriage and the empty promises of a consumer society just four months before her suicide” (p. 25).
  5. 5. 5 Moreover, Moschovakis (2006) defends that topical identifications appear as conceptual blends “in an authors mind, an actor's, or those of audiences and/or later critics” (p. 127). These researches lead us to a study about the Sephardic tombstones that has never been conducted previously. As Sephardic tombstones involve inscriptions that have a poetic language, we thought that it would be interesting to work on these inscriptions mainly in Judeo- Spanish. However, we encounter other inscriptions in some other languages. Talking about the languages used in Sephardic tombstones in the Marmara region of Turkey, it is convenient to introduce the Judeo-Spanish language to other researchers. 2. Judeo-Spanish and Language Change The Judeo-Spanish language has various other names, including Ladino, Sefardi, Djudio, Dzhudezmo, Judezmo, and Spanyol (“Ladino Language,” 2007, Name of Language, para. 1). The development of the Judeo-Spanish language can be divided into five diverse stages, which are listed in the following subsections. 2. 1. The Period of Pure Judeo-Spanish or Castilian Kahane (1973), Perles (1925), Révah (1964, 1970), Lazar (1972), Sephiha (1971, 1973), and Malinowski (1979) defend that the Spanish language spoken by the Jews before their expulsion from Spain in 1492 was the same as that spoken by the Christians of Spain; however, Wagner (1930), Blondheim (1925), Benardete (1982), and Marcus (1962) suggest that “the language of the Jews in Spain was already different in certain aspects of its lexicon, morphology, and phonology from that of the Christians by the Middle Ages” (as cited in Harris, 2005, p. 99). Wexler (1977) mentions that the speakers of Judeo-Spanish tended to use Arabic and Hebrew expressions rather than the Latin ones, and this fact shows that there was a ‘Jewish variant of Spanish’ before the expulsion of 1492 (as cited in Avcıkurt, 1991, p. 45). Besides, Clewlow (1990) argues that the Sephardim used to say, ‘el Dio’ (‘the God’) instead of ‘Dios,’ (‘Gods’) as the plural noun ending with ‘-s’ refers to the Trinity, and ‘alhad’ in place of ‘domingo,’ (‘Sunday’) as the word alludes to Christianity (p. 86). The Spanish noun ‘domingo’ derives
  6. 6. 6 from the Latin noun ‘domus’ (‘house’); the word refers to the cathedral where the Christians go to pray on Sundays. 2. 2. After 1492 Jews came to the Ottoman Empire after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. In Turkey, the Jews, coming from Spain, were speaking Spanish, those from Portugal Portuguese, and some were speaking Greek, since it was the language of Byzantines (Shaul, 1994, p. 12). Additionally, in Turkey there were Venetians and Genovans, who could speak Italian (Shaul, 1994, p. 12). The words of all of these languages together with those of Turkish entered the language in the Ottoman Empire. 2. 3. After the Declaration of the Chief Rabbi of Istanbul in 1840 During the period of Tanzimat (Administrative Reforms - between 1839 – 1876), in 1840, the chief Rabbi of Istanbul, Moshe Fresko proposed that Turkish should have been learnt by each Jew, who has been living in the Ottoman Empire (Besasel, 1999, p. 151). 2. 4. The Period of l’Alliance Israélite Universelle L’Alliance Israélite Universelle was established in Paris in 1860 for protecting the Jews all around the world; in 1865, its first school was opened in Istanbul; by 1912, there had been 115 Alliance schools in Turkey (Sephiha, 1977, p. 43). After the arrival of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, several French words were borrowed by Judeo-Spanish, since French had been the language of education since the establishment of this universal alliance (Shaul, 1994, p. 13). 2. 5. After the Establishment of the Turkish Republic The Turkish Republic was proclaimed in 1923; Turkish became the compulsory language of education in all the primary schools (Altabev, 2003, p. 63). Today some children whose grandparents are native speakers of the Judeo-Spanish learn the language from them, or they attend language courses. Additionally, some Judeo-Spanish music
  7. 7. 7 concerts have been held all around the world, and Hülya Deniz’s short story ‘Sabra’, written in Judeo-Spanish won the Cervantes Institute’s Mediterranean Literature prize in 2006 (Bakır, 2006). Several journals have been published in this language, such as El Amaneser and Aki Yerushalayim. 2. 6. Blends Formed by Inscriptions on Tombstones In this section, we will analyze French and Judeo-Spanish tombstones within the framework of the Conceptual Blending Theory. The blends demonstrate that the mental constructions of metaphors are culture-specific. 2. 6. 1. Tombstones in French The following tombstone is from the European side of Istanbul ( 1) 5190119 Tu fus pour nous un père Devoue, tendre et sincere Tu nous traitant avec amour Malgré ton âge tu souriais à la vie Dans un court de temps À nous tu fus ravi Dors en paix cher papa Dors à côté de maman Car il n'ya pas eu de père Aussi attaché a notre mère You were a father for us Devoted, tender, and sincere You were taking care of us with love In spite of your age, you were smiling to the life As the time passed
  8. 8. 8 You overjoyed us Sleep in peace, dear father Next to our mother As there was no father so attached to our mother In this tombstone from the European side of Istanbul, we see the following blends between concepts: Life <-> person (here the life is personified) Smiling <-> happiness (a happy person smiles, smiling stands for happiness metonymically) Time <-> aging (as time passes, one gets older) Sleep <-> death (in both cases, the person lies down in a bed or in the tomb) The qualities assigned to the father are those required from a father: devotion, tenderness, and sincerity, and fidelity to his wife. Besides, in the tombstone the concept of life is associated with a living person. In fact, the concept of life is associated with the concept of a friend, since one smiles a person whom s/he regards as a friend, whom s/he loves, and who makes her / him happy. Besides, the concept of time alludes to getting older here. Moreover, the concept of sleep indicates death, as in both cases the person lies down without being able to do anything, and without being aware of what is happening around. These associations found in the generic space lead to the formation of the blend depicted by the tombstone: a good and tender father passed away and his family is mourning. The father was loving life, but he got older and died as all the other mortal creatures in the world, and now he is sleeping, as he died and he cannot come back to life for talking to his family again. (2) is another tombstone in French found also in the European side of Istanbul. The tombstone’s inscription is written by the lover of the dead person. (2) 5190132 Repose en paix mon cher Eli
  9. 9. 9 et attend moi sur le seuil de l'éternité Have a rest in peace My dear Eli And wait for me On the doorway of eternity We see the following mappings in (2): Having a rest <-> death (in both cases the person lies down and does not do anything) In peace <-> happiness (as one is happy, one is in peace) The doorway of eternity <-> other world (there is another world; when a person dies, her / his soul goes there and lives there) Eli was the lover of the person who wrote the inscription on the tombstone. The person who is still alive wants Eli to have a rest in peace, i.e. to be happy being away from the terrible events happening all around the world. Besides, as the life is eternal, there is another world after life, the person orders Eli to wait for her. The concept of eternity is associated with a house or a mountain, as a person passes away, metaphorically s/he passes through the door of another unknown world. There is another world where people are punished or awarded by God in accordance with their previous behavior on the earth. After the formation of these associations in the generic space, we arrive to the blend where a mourning lover prays and wishes the dead loved one to wait for her until the day she will have died and come next to him. In the next section, we will analyze a Judeo-Spanish tombstone. 2. 2. Tombstones in Judeo-Spanish In (3) we find another inscription on a tombstone again in the European side of Istanbul. (3) 5190158
  10. 10. 10 Baruh Agozer Kanser ah! Kruela maladia No la desho ver buen dia Yoran ijo marido i famia Azer buendad le plazia Moz manko madre kerida ... Rogan al Dyo su alma pura La resiva Dyo de la altura Anyo 5725 Cancer ah! Cruel illness You did not let her see a nice day The son, the husband, and the family cry She was loving to make good We miss our dear mother ... They ask God about the pure soul God took her from high above Year 5725 “Baruh Agozer” is a Jewish prayer for the happiness of the soul in the other world. We encounter the following mappings between the two different inputs in the inscription: Cancer <-> person (both can make somebody suffer) Cruel <-> it leads to pain and suffering Crying <-> crying stands for pain The pure soul <-> the good person goes to the paradise, when s/he dies High above <-> the other world, God’s omnipotence (a place high above in the sky cannot be reached and is unknown)
  11. 11. 11 Cancer is associated with a cruel person who makes another suffer, threatening her / him terribly. Cancer is a terrible disease that cannot be cured easily. The pureness of the soul implies that the person has not committed any sins in his / her life on earth. As the other world is far away in the sky, God is also there. God must be at a higher space due to his omnipotence and superiority. After these descriptions in the generic space, our blend is formulated: the person died suffering from cancer; she was a good wife and a mother. Therefore, her family is mourning for her departure from the world. As she was a good person, she must be in the paradise. 3. Conclusion Judaism suggests that when a person dies, her / his body transforms into its original form, thus into soil, and the soul continues to live eternally (Alalu, Arditi, Asayas, Basmaci, Ender, Haleva, Maya, Pardo, & Yanarocak, 2001, p.143). The Sephardic tombstones represent various cultural elements through blends which are results of cognitive processes. 4. References Alalu, S., Arditi, K., Asayas, E., Basmacı T., Ender, F., Haleva, B., Maya, D., Pardo, N. & Yanarocak, S. (2001). Yahudilikte Kavram ve Değerler: Dinsel Bayramlar - Dinsel Kavramlar - Dinsel Gereçler. In Y. Altıntaş. Istanbul: Gözlem Gazetecilik Basın ve Yayın A.Ş. Altabev, M. (2003). Judeo-Spanish in the Turkish Social Context: Language Death, Swan Song, Revival or New Arrival? Istanbul: Isis. Avcıkurt - Ulmer, A. (1991). Non-Regional Variation in Present-Day Judeo-Spanish in Istanbul. Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey, PhD thesis. Bakır, B. (2006, November 30). Gerçeküstü Öyküsüyle bir Dili Literatüre Geçirdi. Milliyet, the page entitled 'Kültür ve Sanat' ['Culture and Art']. Besasel, Y. (1999). Osmanlı ve Türk Yahudileri. Istanbul: Gözlem Gazetecilik Basın ve Yayın A.Ş.
  12. 12. 12 Blending and Conceptual Integration. (n. d.). Retrieved April/15/2008 from Clewlow, D. F. (1990). Judeo-Spanish: An Example From Rhodes. University of British Columbia. M.A. thesis. Conceptual Blending. (March/13/2008). Retrieved April/02/2008 from Fauconnier, G. & Turner, M. (1998). “Conceptual Integration Networks.” Cognitive Science 22: 2, pp. 133-187. Freeman, M. H. (2005). The poem as complex blend: conceptual mappings of metaphor in Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Applicant.’ Language and Literature, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 25-44. Harris, T. (1996). Turkish Elements in Judeo-Spanish. In D. F. Altabe, E. Atay, I. J. Katz, R. Dalven & T. L. Ryan de Heredia (Eds.), Studies on Turkish - Jewish History: Political and Social Relations, Literature and Linguistics (pp. 73 - 87). New York: Serper-Hermon Press, Inc. Ladino Language. (2007, April 05). Retrieved April 09, 2007, from Wikipedia: Moschovakis, N. R. (2006). Topicality And Conceptual Blending: Titus Andronicus and The Case of William Hacket. College Literature - 33.1, Winter 2006, pp. 127-150 Sephiha, H. V. (1977). L'Agonie des Judéo-espagnols. Paris: Entente. Shaul, E. (1994). Folklor de los Judios de Turkiya. Istanbul: Isis.