Judeo-Spanish: A Vital and Living Language

Carlos Yebra Lopez


This course finds its origin in my perceived need to highlight the relevance of Judeo­Spanish less as an exotic token of contemporary multiculturalism or trauma voyeurism than in terms of a representative sample of the polyphonic nature of both medieval and modern Iberia. 

Informed by the above­-described spirit, this course will address both faces of the Judeo-Spanish coin, i.e., the historical and linguistic origins of Judeo­Spanish in medieval Iberia on the one hand, and contemporary expressions of Judeo­Spanish, on the other (as well as the continuity between the medieval and the modern periods). Thus, as regards the first section, this course is concerned with the place that Judeo­Spanish occupies within the convivencia narrative, the terminological dispute between the notions of Ladino, Judeo­Spanish, proto­Spanish and Djudezmo (to name but a few), the brief characterization of the grammatical, lexical and alphabetical elements of Judeo­Spanish, and the nature of the Alhambra Decree of Expulsion. Concerning the presence and prospects of Judeo­Spanish in the contemporary world, this syllabus addresses the koinétic origins of Judeo­Spanish as an in­diaspora lingua franca, the evolution of music written in Judeo­Spanish, the development and emergence of (new) genres of Sephardic literature and poetry, the place of Judeo­Spanish in worldwide academia, its relevance for glotto­political purposes and ideological struggles, its role vis­à­vis the recently issued Right of Return and, of course, its relationship with the Holocaust, as well as its overall survival prospects.


Spanish, ladino, sephardic, Jewish, Iberian Peninsula

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