Sephardic language and its diachronism: a linguistic revival? (¿Retorno lingüístico? El judeoespañol y su diacronismo)

Eva Núñez-Méndez, Portland State University

Originally appeared in Retorno, Revista Independiente de Literatura y Lengua hispánicas, published by the University of Puerto Rico, vol.1, no. 1.


Judeo-Spanish is analyzed here from a diachronic perspective, representing a figurative return to the linguistic and sociopolitical past of a community known for its numerous cross-cultural attributions and discursive memories. For centuries, this unique ethnic group has preserved its history, one that has been characterized by constant migration due to expulsion and diaspora, and resulted in frequent cultural and linguistic contact within the Mediterranean area. This legacy has left its mark on a language that is simultaneously archaic yet innovative and reflects the many paths of Sephardic idiosyncrasy and assimilation. It is the objective of this paper to raise awareness among general readers of the significance of Judeo-Spanish as an iconic source of ethnic identity and as a living witness of the past and linguistic change. In other words, it is to present the Sephardi as a metaphorical symbol of a return composed of multiple cultural narratives.