January 2, 2017

Did you know there is a non-Spanish-language that derived from Old Spanish?

Old Spanish was spoken between the 10th century and the 15th century, and from this language, Judaeo-Spanish (Ladino) was born as Modern Spanish did. The reason why this language derived differently from Modern Spanish is that Spain expelled Jewish people who did not want to convert in Christian in 1492. Thus, Old Spanish Speaking communities spread to various regions in Europe, Balkans, Anatolia, northern Africa, and islands in Mediterrane. This Judaeo-Spanish is spoken by Sephardic Jews, Jewish people who live in Iberica Penninsula. Because they are spread to many different places and had contact with so many different people, Ladino has borrowed many lexicons from Arabic, Turkish, and English. Yet, this language is very interesting to look at since this is a different version of Modern Spanish that used to be the exact same language 500 years ago.

Here are a sentence in Judaeo-Spanish and its Spanish translation.


Muestrs avuelos de la Espanya kon krueltad fueron echados, yevaron muncha sufriensa y munchos  fueron matados.


(Nuestros abuelos de España con crueldad fueron echados, llevaron mucho sufrimiento y muchos fueron matados.)

Some words are the same but some words are different just by only one letter.


Interestingly, Judaeo-Spanish has different pronunciations between letters v and b, while Spanish only pronounce them as [b].

Here are the subject pronouns, and verbal conjugations in present and simple past in indicative.

Personal PronounsSingularPlural
1st Personyomozotros
2nd Persontuvos/vozotros
3rd Personel/eyaeyos/eyas

the word, “vos” has not changed since the Old Spanish where Modern Spanish do not have the plural “vos” anymore. By looking at these samples, it seems that they do not use “ll” and apply “y” to where Spanish would write with “ll”.


favlar (hablar)SingularPlural
1st Personfavlofavlamos
2nd Personfavlasfavlásh
3rd Personfavlafavlan
komer (comer)SingularPlural
1st Personkomokomemos
2nd Personkomeskomésh
3rd Personkomekomen
bivir (vivir)SingularPlural
1st Personbivo
2nd Personbives
3rd Personbive

By seeing the regular conjugations in the present tense, same endings are used as Spanish except for “vosotros”. Stem parts of these three verbs are also very similar to the Spanish equivalents, and it is easy to understand that they are from the same language.


favlar (hablar)SingularPlural
1st Personfavlífavlimos
2nd Personfavlatesfavlatesh
3rd Personfavlófavlaron


komer (comer)SingularPlural
1st Personkomíkomimos
2nd Personkomiteskomitesh
3rd Personkomyókomyeron


bivir (vivir)SingularPlural
1st Personbiví
2nd Personbivites
3rd Personbivyó

In spite of the fact that there are some different endings, most of them can be understood by native Spanish-speaking people by its appearance.