Judeo-Spanish in the Royal Spanish Academy, with Ora R. Schwarzwald
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: What does “desmazalado” mean, and where does the word come from?
The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) is the official institution responsible for overseeing the Spanish language. It was founded in 1713 and since then has established rules for the spelling of Spanish and published 23 editions of its authoritative Dictionary of the Spanish Language.
In 1951 the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language (ASALE) was created, incorporating the 23 Academies of Spain, the Americas, the Philippines and Equatorial Guinea. In recent years, elements of the varieties of Spanish that are spoken in these countries have been incorporated into the official dictionary.
The Academy has also recognized the importance of preserving Ladino, the language spoken by the descendents of the Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. In 2015 eight corresponding members, specialists in Ladino, were elected to the Academy, and in February of this year an academic convention of Judeo-Spanish was held in Madrid. The objective of these meetings was to create an academy of Judeo-Spanish, headquartered in Israel, which would become the 24th member of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language.
Professor Ora Rodrigue Schwarzwald is a renowned specialist in Ladino. She is Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Semitic languages at Bar Ilan University in Israel, and has been a visiting professor at the University of California, Harvard and Oxford, among others. From 2001 to 2007 she was president of the Israeli Linguistic Society and has been on the editorial board of several professional journals in Israel. She has written numerous scientific articles and books in Hebrew and Ladino, and is one of the eight corresponding members in Judeo-Spanish elected to the Royal Spanish Academy.
Professor Schwarzwald attended the convention of Judeo-Spanish in Madrid and spoke with us about the language and the creation of the National Academy of Judeo-Spanish.