The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Language Awareness and Linguistic Choices in Twentieth–Century Judeo–Spanish/Ladino

Currently classified as “severely endangered” in the red list of languages threatened with disappearance (UNESCO 2010), the Judeo-Spanish/Ladino language has received lately some increased attention from both the national institutions (Ladino Language Academy established in Israel as a part of the Association of Spanish Language Academies) and the amateurs (Sephardic Jews or not) who participate in the social network initiatives for revitalising Judeo-Spanish/Ladino that bring on opportunities to speak and learn the language online. In this process, beside basic tools, like a grammar or a dictionary, the speakers who seek to learn the language also need more knowledge about the internal linguistic tradition and the expressive possibilities it offers. This paper aims at shedding light on the language awareness among Sephardic Jews as it is evidenced in the twentieth century Judeo-Spanish written texts. I focus especially on some specific linguistic strategies observed in the Balkan Judeo-Spanish press before the Second World War, like unstressed vowel variation or lexical variation, that can be related to the phenomenon of linguistic awareness.