Spanish institution aims to boost Ladino by opening academy in Israel


(JTA) — The Royal Spanish Academy, the main institution that establishes and reinforces the use of the Spanish language worldwide, announced the creation of the National Ladino Academy in Israel.

The new academy was announced Tuesday by the Royal Spanish Academy’s director and the president of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language, Darío Villanueva, at a news conference following a two-day academic convention on Judeo-Spanish in Madrid. Israel will be the 24th branch of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language, or ASALE.

Based in Madrid, Spain, the Royal Spanish Academy centralized the normative use of the language among 23 national institutions of the Hispanic world, mostly located in Central America and Latin America.

The announcement means that more than 500 years after King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492, the language of Spanish Jews will be honored by the leading linguistic authority of Spanish worldwide based in the capital of Spain.

Ladino, sometimes referred to as Judeo-Spanish, is an endangered species in the linguistic world. Some estimates say that fewer than 100,000 people currently know how to speak Ladino.

“The creation of this academy in Israel will be an extraordinary step that will not only serve to boost philological studies on Judeo-Spanish, but will give it greater prestige in Spain, in Israel, and in Spanish-speaking countries,” said the Israeli ambassador in Spain, Daniel Kutner.

Two months ago, the Royal Spanish Academy added the words “kosher” and “hummus” to the latest update of the online version of its official dictionary.

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