The Linguist

The Linguist 58-1 Feb-Mar2019

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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28 The Linguist Vol/58 No/1 2019 FEATURES It is interesting to note the way in which Spanish, as the core language, has maintained such close links to Ladino as it was spoken in the late 15th century. We know this because Antonio de Nebrija produced both a grammar and a dictionary, the first in 1492 and the second in 1495, with 30,000 terms. This is of particular value as we can see the extent to which the language of the period has been conserved in the enclosed communities of Ladino speakers. The spellings are indicative of the pronunciation of the time: huvo for hubo ('had'), dodze for doce ('twelve'), scola for escuela ('school'). More curious, perhaps, is the switch from 'n' to 'm' in words such as muestro ('our'). As is to be expected, Hebrew terms have been adopted, with particular reference to religious and cultural items. Arabic is also evident, especially in Haketia, a form of Ladino spoken in Morocco and other locations along the coast of North Africa, as well as in Gibraltar. Equally, the language of each country of settlement is apparent, particularly through the former Ottoman Empire, which by and large gave sanctuary to the Jews. Political upheavals, of course, had a powerful impact on Ladino and its ability to survive, particularly with regard to the break- up of empires in the 20th century, and the almost terminal damage inflicted on many communities by the Holocaust, of which Thessaloniki remains a tragic example. And yet this also led to the greater spread of Ladino, as refugees and migrants fled to the United States and Latin America (having been banned from travelling to the Spanish Empire during colonial times). These migratory movements have had a curious impact in that both Spain and Portugal, in the last three years, have welcomed the return of the Sephardis (Sefarad being the Hebrew word for Iberia). Law 12/2015 gave a three-year timescale for Sephardic Jews to apply for Spanish citizenship, and this has now been extended How the language, also known as Judaeo-Spanish, has survived in the face of adversity. By Tim Connell M uch has been said about the state of languages around the world, and there has been a lot of speculation that the number of languages will be drastically reduced in a hundred years' time. It is therefore encouraging to see that some languages have been revived in recent years, ensuring not only that customs and cultures endure (though sometimes only in historical recorded form), but also that we continue to have insights into the workings of language in the human brain. But few languages seem to have survived such challenging trials and tribulations as Ladino, the language of the Sephardic Jews (also known variously as Judaeo-Spanish, Judezmo and Spaniolit). Expelled from Spain in 1492, and from Portugal five years later, the Sephardic communities spread across the north coast of Africa and into the Balkans, to the extent that the influence of Portuguese may be seen to the west of the Balkans, and of Spanish further to the east. Saving Ladino IMAGES © SHUTTERSTOCK

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