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Did the Jewish inhabitants of Safed and Jerusalem (contemporaries of Rav Yosef Karo and the Ari) speak Hebrew when they learned Torah or did they speak Arabic, Ladino or some other language?

I saw a reference (quoting Rav Ovadiah Yosef) which claimed that they spoke Hebrew and therefore their seforim flow better than seforim authored by Yiddish speakers who mentally had to translate their Yiddish into Hebrew.

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I would assume that they spoke either a dialect of Arabic or Aramaic. –  Noach mi Frankfurt May 28 at 18:38
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@NoachmiFrankfurt maybe Arabic. Aramaic was not spoken since the time of Amoraim so that sends very unlikely to me. But I need a source. Thanks! –  Yoni May 29 at 13:51

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As I write in my upcoming book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, and Hebrew:

His slightly younger colleague, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (1534–1572), also known as Arizal, is said to have been careful to exclusively speak Lashon HaKodesh on the Sabbath, and only use foreign languages as needed to clarify elaborate Torah-related complexities.
Source: Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar HaShabbos (end of Ch. 21). A later account of Arizal’s behavior mentions that he was particular not to speak to anyone—even his wife—in a language other than Lashon HaKodesh. See S. Ashkenazi, Doros B’Yisrael (Tel Aviv: Don Publishing House, 1975) pg. 165.

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Was this unique to the Arizal, but the people (including the Mechaber) spoke something else? –  Yishai May 28 at 19:00
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From your answer it sounds like this was not the general practice. My question is not about the Ari but more about what the lingua franca used in general when learning Torah. –  Yoni May 28 at 19:20

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