Avlando kon Los Ladineros (Speaking with the Ladineros) is a collaborative project between University of Washington graduate students and Seattle’s Ladineros, a group of some of the last Ladino speakers in Seattle. Consisting of both native Ladino speakers who grew up using Ladino at home, and those who have recuperated the language in adulthood, the Ladineros have been meeting to echar lashon (chat or converse) in Ladino for years, and have emerged as an important preservationist group. In a series of recorded video interviews, six Ladineros served as interlocutors between past and present, sharing their family histories, memories about the use of Ladino in their childhood homes, the history of the Ladineros, and their thoughts on the future of the language in Seattle and beyond. As this project was developed as part of Ladino Day 2020, which highlighted the intersection between Ladino and technology, many of these interviews touch on technological developments that have contributed to learning and preserving Ladino — including printers, online forums, and mobile apps.
This project is not only an important effort in documenting oral histories, but also a tribute to the Ladineros: The group has participated in UW Ladino Day celebrations since the event’s inception, enlivening each program with their songs, readings, and performances, which bring together audience members young and old to hear Ladino spoken live.
Lead images sourced from past Ladino Day celebrations. Photos by Meryl Schenker Photography.