Image of notebook with Ladino handwriting in Latin script and tapped images of a bird, lion, ship and train with Ladino captions.Learning Ladino

Education, Preservation, & Community Building

Ladino, also known as Judeo-Spanish or Judezmo, is the language of Sephardic Jews, or Sepharadim, who originated from the Iberian Peninsula (what is now Spain and Portugal). Following their expulsion from Spain in 1492, Sepharadim sought refuge across the Mediterranean and the Middle East and beyond, primarily in the Ottoman Empire, where they developed the Ladino language. While based in Spanish and other Iberian languages with a strong Hebrew-Aramaic component, Ladino incorporated many elements from the languages of the Mediterranean world including Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, and Arabic. It was a language for all occasions: of the home, the street, the marketplace, and the synagogue; for humor and satire, politics and literature.

Page from “Livro de Embezar las linguas Ingleza i Yudish,” (ST0007) a guidebook for Sephardic immigrants, with side-by-side comparison of the Sephardic (“Spanish”) Hebrew alphabet (soletreo), standard Hebrew alphabets (rashi and block type), and the Latin alphabet. (Courtesy of Isaac Azose)

Digital Classroom

Explore videos, podcasts, and essays to get you started on your Ladino language journey.

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The Ladineros, a group of the last generation of Ladino speakers in Seattle, on stage at Ladino Day 2019 at the UW.Ladino Day at the University of Washington

Since its inception in 2013, Ladino Day at the University of Washington has become a hallmark of campus programming where more than 300 community members, students, faculty, and scholars come together to discuss the past, present, and future of Ladino.

Past programs have included lectures from national and international scholars of Sephardic studies and the Ladino language; performances by professional musicians and local hazzanim (cantors); film screenings; sharing refranes, or Ladino sayings; and involvement from participants young and old. Learn more about Ladino Day >

Reflections on Ladino

Students and faculty reflect on learning and teaching an endangered Jewish language in the 21st century.