Actualizado: 17 sept 2019
In the article "Jaquetía, Sephardies' ancient language in danger" it was preseted the Jaquetía’s history and evolution. Today, I want to explain, briefly, what was the origin of this particular language.
Previous to the expulsion of the Jews of Spain in 1492, in the Iberian Peninsula (especially in the Al-Andalus’s), the Muslim, the Jews and the Christians were co-existing in a situation of more or less reciprocal tolerance. This cultural mix was known as the “Three Cultures” and had its maximum representatives in the cities of Cordoba and Toledo witnesses of the rising of an intense intellectual, social and cultural life.
The language that was spoken at this time in these territories by the non-Muslim population (and also by some of this people too) was the Castizo (old Castillan) that arose from Latin and was enriched with many words from Arab and Hebrew languages.
This language is the root of “Judeo-Spainsh” language spoken by the Sephardies that lived for almost fifteen centuries in the Iberian Peninsula (till 1492) and was also the “base” for another language called “Ladino” a “semi-liturgical” language that translated the Jewish Sacred Text from Hebrew into Castizo.
All of these divisions provoked the situation that the “Castizo” evolved into different forms, according to the different places of “arrival” of the original speakers.
The first generation of expelled people maintained its Judeo-Spanish mother tongue, with some peculiarities of the region of origin (accents, words, sayings, etc), but from the second generation on, a linguistic standard independent from the original Castizo evolved in the following linguistic varieties:
-Judeo-Spanish of the East (Oriental) called Judezmo, spoken in the Middle East, Turkey, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean Islands, whose most important centers were in Salonica (Greece) and in Istanbul (Turkey). Here, on the Castizo and Hebrew base come the additions of Greek and Turkish elements. This is a language culturally respected, that uses the Hebrew’s alphabet and has a rich heritage of documents.
-Judeo-Spanish of the West (Occidental) called Jaquetía, spoken in the cities of North Morocco and Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish exclaves). On its Castizo and Hebrew base come the additions of Arab and Portuguese elements. This is fundamentally a “colloquial” language with rich oral heritage but almost non-existent written records, and the few written texts uses latin alphabet.
-Ladino, this language is definitely of the West (Occidental) because it is written in Latin alphabet; it is a separated and older linguistic variety than the previous two and its use was for a specific reason, the translation in Castizo (old Castilian) of the Jewish Sacred texts in Hebrew, so that the members of the Sephardic communities not well versed in the Jewish scriptures and liturgy in Hebrew, could learn them better in the language of daily use.
Today we can say that judezmo enjoys "good health" while jaquetia is in serious danger of extinction.