Sephardic Jews - Language

One major distinction between Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews was language. The language of Sephardic Judaism was Ladino (Judeo-Spanish, Judezmo, Hakatia), which originated in Spain and was later spoken in Sephardic communities in Turkey, North Africa, and the Balkans. Ladino is best described as a dialect of Castilian Spanish, with loanwords from Hebrew, Turkish, and other languages. Originally, Ladino was written with Hebrew characters and later with the Latin alphabet. It is unlikely that Ladino is now the day-to-day Language in any Sephardic community, as most Sephardic Jews now speak the language of the nations where they live. However, there are individuals who still speak Ladino, and systematic efforts are under way to record the language. Sephardic Jews in Portugal and in diaspora communities mainly spoke Portuguese, although many also spoke Spanish.

Sephardic Judaism has an especially rich literature Including religious works written in Hebrew, literature written in Spanish and Ladino, translations into Spanish and Ladino, political tracts written and translated into various Languages, biblical commentaries, inspirational works, and a rich folk literature in Ladino, featuring ballads ( romancero ), a number of which have now been recorded and are still performed.


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