[Ads-l] Turkish Jews fighting to preserve Ladino

Margaret Winters mewinters at WAYNE.EDU
Fri Jan 3 23:48:34 UTC 2020

When I was in Spain in the fall, I found an edition of "Le Petit Prince" (Saint Exupéry's "The Little Prince") translated into Ladino (I already have the Yiddish translation).  It is bi-graphic (is there such a word?) with the text written in the Hebrew alphabet as it was adapted to Ladino and including all the original illustrations; starting from the other end of the book, the same text (without illustrations) is printed using the Latin alphabet.  It isn't really a transliteration since Ladino is now written, I believe, generally using the Latin alphabet, but it will certainly help a Romanist like me to learn to read the Hebrew letters used for a Romance language.

Just apropos it is available in Hawai'ian too.

Former Provost
Professor Emerita - French and Linguistics
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI  48202

mewinters at wayne.edu

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Mark Mandel <markamandel at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Friday, January 3, 2020 11:14 AM
Subject: Turkish Jews fighting to preserve Ladino

*Istanbul Jews fight to save their ancestral tongue  *

*Ladino is a unique mix of medieval Castilian and Hebrew, with sprinklings
of Turkish, Arabic and Greek*


AFP / January 2, 2020

Istanbul (AFP) - If there's one thing Dora Beraha regrets in her twilight
years, it is not passing on the 500-year-old language of Istanbul's Jews,
Ladino, now on the point of extinction.

"After us, will there still be people who speak this language?" says
90-year-old Beraha.

"Surely, very few. It is possible that it will disappear."

Turkey now has the largest community of Jews in the Middle East outside of
Israel -- around 15,000 -- some of whom are belatedly fighting an uphill
battle to preserve the language before it disappears.

Ladino was passed down through the generations, peaking in popularity in
the 19th century, but increasingly fell out of use in favour of French
among Jews in the later Ottoman period.

Minority cultures and languages were deliberately suppressed when modern
Turkey was formed in the 1920s. "Citizens, speak Turkish!" was a rallying
cry of the new republic.

Beraha made a conscious decision to avoid teaching Ladino to her children,
wanting them to assimilate as much as possible. "We wanted them to
succeed," she says.

- Saving Ladino -

Turkey's neutrality during the Second World War spared Ladino-speakers the
decimation of Jewish communities in other parts of the region, but today
the remaining practitioners are mostly advanced in age.

According to UNESCO, more than 100,000 people still speak Ladino around the
world, mostly in Israel where tens of thousands of Jews from the former
Ottoman empire have immigrated to in recent decades.

Technically, 'Ladino' refers to a different language used by Spanish rabbis
to teach Hebrew texts, but it has become the common name for Judeo-Spanish,
which is also known as Judesmo and Spanyolit.


Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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