Throughout their travels, the Sefardim have taken with them their lingua franca, a language which originated in Spain and was changed by the fact that it was written in the Hebrew alphabet, by its separation from mainstream Spanish, by its intimate association with the dominant languages in the areas of settlement, and, especially in the Ottoman territories, by the Alliance Israélite Universelle schools, which provided elementary and secondary education for Sefardic youngsters, all in French. The latter circumstance explains why a majority of material written by Sefardim appears in that language. Not even native speakers agree on what to call what, in the academic world, is generally known as Judeo-Spanish; there are those who refer to it as "Ladino," "Judezmo," "Spanyolit," "El Kasteyano Muestro," and even simply "Espaniol." How to write the language using the Roman alphabet has also been problematic. Some circumstances indicate that Jewish Castilian was recognizably different from non-Jewish Castilian before the expulsion of 1492, but its subsequent relative exile from mainstream Spanish has widened that difference. Given over five centuries of separation, its similarities to mainstream Spanish are more surprising than the differences between the two.

Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 4-14
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.