[b-hebrew] ALEF-LAMED (in handwritten form) example from Sephardic correspondence

Yigal Levin Yigal-Levin at utc.edu
Thu Jul 10 10:46:06 EDT 2003


At 10:30 AM 7/10/2003 -0400, David Sheby wrote:
>Group: This is response to multiple comments about space saving, technical 
>pre-printing examples, etc.
>The alef-lamed ligature was often used
>in handwritten correspondence among
>Sephardim. I have a number of LATE examples
>from the Ottoman Empire, nearby Balkans,
>and Egypt from the mid 1800's to early 1900's.
>The letter is of a unique shape that combines the
>alef and lamed and it is treated as a separate letter.
>I have often wondered what the name of this special letter was  and how it
>referred to: I saw a teaching manual from Istanbul (Constantinople) in the 
>mid 1920's
>being sold on Ebay that referred to the letter as "alef i lamed".
>The existence of the letter in script also raises questions about any 
>effort to provide
>technical descriptions of the letter.
>You'll find the ALEF i LAMED used in spelling of words
>like "s-AL-u-d-o-s " although not all writers used it.
>I have posted an example, in PDF file, of how the
>city name s-AL-o-n-y-k-o (Salonika) was written on two
>pieces of correspondence: 1 from Salonika dated 1890 where the ALEF LAMED 
>is used
>and 1 from Constantinople, 1913, where 2 distinct letters are used.
>The example in PDF format is posted at:
>and I will leave it there through next  week.
>If anyone wants more examples of the "alef i lamed" in other words send me 
>a request
>and I will try to pull together other examples in another PDF file.
>The question of the alef-lamed ligature has been discussed several
>times on various Sephardic -theme discussion lists and the opinion
>is split on whether it's space saver (not reasonable as there are better
>letter combinations to save space, ), a precaution against writing a
>restricted name of the Divinity (probably due to the very
>specific  restrictions in Talmud). There are individual handwriting
>styles that combine two letters into what seems like a unique ligature
>but one can see the two letter components: the alef-lamed ligature
>appears quite distinct.
>I have a vague memory of reading a paper by Norman Golb (???) about seeing
>alef lamed on old headstones  (in Sicily???) that far exceeded the start of 
>In the paper he talks about misinterpretations resulting from a researcher 
>not knowing
>about the alef-lamed ligature. Does anyone know the reference to this paper?
>Is my recollection correct or faulty ?
>As Sephardic cursive script (solitreo)  does not have any vowels I can't 
>address the question
>of individual "voweling" :

To my untrained eye, the 1890 spelling does not look like it has any Aleph
at all, but rather a "defective" Samekh-Lamed... Is this possible, or was
Saloniki/o always spelled with an Aleph?


>Dr. David Sheby
>VP, Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture 
>Secretary, Ottoman and Near East Philatelic Society (www.oneps.org)
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Dr. Yigal Levin
Dept. of Philosophy and Religion
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
615 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga TN 37403-2598

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