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The Secret Language Of Cairo's Jewelry Merchants

Jewelry merchants of the Khan al-Khalili market in Cairo use a secret code that originates in ancient Hebrew to outsmart their (non-Israeli) customers.
A worker stands in front of his gold jewellery shop at the market of Khan el-Khalili in Old Cairo October 10, 2012. Goldsmiths at the market say they are lacking customers and feeling unsafe, and are asking for a stronger security presence. Picture taken October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh  (EGYPT - Tags: BUSINESS SOCIETY) - RTR397KI
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An Israeli tourist walking the alleyways of the great market of Cairo, Khan al-Khalili, is bound to hear some familiar words about the price of this or that product or praise of its quality coming from the Egyptian merchants, particularly the jewelry merchants. These words are a secret language that the merchants adopted to outsmart customers, so discovered Israeli researcher Gabriel M‫.‬ Rosenbaum of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

After he first heard the Khan al-Khalili merchants speaking Hebrew, professor Rosenbaum decided to research this phenomenon in-depth and discovered a whole new world. It turns out that the origin of the code used by the jewelry merchants dates back to the Middle Ages, when most of them were Karaite Jews.

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