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Judaeo-Spanish is a Romance language, derived mainly from Old Castilian (Spanish). Speakers are exclusively Sephardic Jews. In popular usage, the language is often called Ladino.

Like Old Spanish, Judaeo-Spanish keeps the /S/ and /Z/ palatal phonemes, both changed to /x/ in modern Spanish. But unlike Old Spanish, Judaeo-Spanish has an /x/ phoneme taken over from Hebrew.

Judaeo-Spanish is normally - like Hebrew and Yiddish - written with the Hebrew alphabet although it is linguistically unrelated to Hebrew and very distantly related to Yiddish.

Until recent times, the language was widely spoken throughout the Balkans, Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa, having been brought there by Jewish refugees fleeing Spain following the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. Over time, a corpus of literature, both liturgical and secular, developed.

In the twentieth century, the number of speakers declined sharply: entire communities were eradicated in the Holocaust, while the remaining speakers, most of whom migrated to Israel, adopted Hebrew.

Most native speakers today are elderly immigrants, who have not transmitted the language to their children or grandchildren. In addition, Sephardic communities in several Latin American countries still use Ladino.

Here is a sample:
Non komo muestro Dio,
Non komo muestro Sinyor,
Non komo muestro Rey,
Non komo muestro Salvador.
It is also sung in Hebrew (Ein k'Eloheynu) but the tune is different.

See also: Judaism, Yiddish language, Hebrew

External link

  • Ladinokomunita (http://www.sephardicstudies.org/komunita), an email list in Judaeo-Spanish

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