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Djudeo-espanyol of Thessaloniki: An endangered language and heritage

4:00pm-5:30pm on Thursday 14 March

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 26th March. For events on or after 27th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Site Sidgwick Avenue, CB3 9DA

PLEASE NOTE VENUE CHANGE! - New Venue:,0.108993,18

Djudeo-espanyol (see also Judeo-Spanish, Ladino, Djudesmo) is a Romance language, spoken by the descendants of those Jews that left the various kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula in the aftermath of the persecutions (see, for instance, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile’s shameful Edict of Exile in 1492), expulsions and forced conversions that took place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Expelled Jews found shelter in the Ottoman Empire, which was looking to expand her commercial activities at the time. Many Jews settled in the buoyant Byzantine city of Thessaloniki (Salonica), which later became known as “Jerusalem of the Balkans”. However, the linguistic history of this community is neither unified nor well-documented. To start with, it is unclear whether arriving Jews (as opposed to the ones established since late antiquity) were already speaking a distinct variety of Old Spanish; or just a local variety of Old Spanish; or, rather, their language morphed into what later became Judeo-Spanish once in contact with other Romance vernaculars of the time and Balkan languages such as Greek, etc. By 16th C., in Thessaloniki there were synagogues named after Jews’ native lands: Castilia, Majorca, Lisbon, Sicilia, Calabria, etc.; thus, indicating the multilingual origins of Judeo-Spanish since its emergence until its sudden decline due to the atrocities of the Nazis.

This is an interactive recounting of the vanishing language of Djudeo-espanyol, an Ibero-Romance language spoken by Jews in Thessaloniki and diaspora. To explore the rich Sephardic heritage as it evolved in the city after the 15th Century, Prof. Ioanna Sitaridou is joined by Dr Željko Jovanovi? (INALCO, Paris), an expert on Sephardic culture in the Balkans and Prof. Andrés Enrique Arias (Universitat de les Illes Balears), dialectologist and director of Once Upon a Time at 55th and Hoover.

Link for online attendance:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 935 7643 2934

Passcode: 269318

Booking/Registration is: REQUIRED

Additional Information

Age: Adults, Young Adults 12 – 18
Format: Other
Timing: Live Stream
Cost: Free
Event Capacity: 400
Theme: Society
Accessibility: Full access
Image copyright: Copyright: Wikimedia Commons

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