Geographic distribution and varieties of Judaeo-Spanish

Aldina Quintana*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Today, people who still have some knowledge of Judaeo-Spanish are scattered around the world with virtually no social ties among them, and Judaeo-Spanish itself lacks any official status. The speaking population of all countries barely exceeds one hundred thousand, most of them being speakers with limited competence. Prior to World War I, however, Judaeo-Spanish played a major role in defining Sephardic identity. Developed in different cities of the Ottoman Empire and Northern Africa during the two centuries following the settlement of the expellees from the Iberian Peninsula in the late 15th century, Judaeo-Spanish arose as a pluricentric language, due to the different mix of contributing dialects in each community. Behind its apparent polymorphism, a dialect continuum-one that integrates three major regional dialects-and a range of social variation can be discerned. This chapter describes the geographic distribution and variation of Judaeo-Spanish.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationManual of Judaeo-Romance Linguistics and Philology
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9783110302271
ISBN (Print)9783110302110
StatePublished - 24 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.


  • Dialectal leveling
  • Dialectology
  • Endangered languages
  • Gerund
  • Hakitia
  • Inflected infinitive
  • Koine
  • Language contact
  • Language variation
  • Linguistic geography
  • Oriental Judaeo-Spanish
  • Phonetic reinforcement
  • Pluricentricity
  • Vowel raising


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