our words make worlds

Saved by the Digital: Ladino communities of the 21st century

Ladino, also called Judeo-Spanish, is mainly spoken by Jewish people whose ancestors lived in what we now call Spain and Portugal until their expulsion in 1492. Today Ladino is classified as an endangered language by UNESCO as only an estimated 50,000 people worldwide can speak it. 

The remaining speakers of Ladino are scattered in exile around the world in aging communities with virtually no generational turnover on the horizon. A fistful of activists and academics have now taken this struggle for linguistic and community survival to the digital world through the creation of virtual spaces where Ladino functions as the main means of communication. 

Saved by the Digital: Ladino Communities of the 21st Century aims to showcase and discuss some of the most relevant initiatives, with a view to raising awareness and giving visibility to the existence and endangered status of Ladino, as well as offering the necessary tools for professionals and activists of other modern languages to benefit from this work.


2:00-2:20 Coffee & Registration

2:25-2.40 Opening Remarks
Julian Weiss (King’s College London)
Carlos Yebra Lopez (New York University)
Alejandro Acero Ayuda (University of Florida)

2.40-3.40 Roundtable: Current Academic Projects on Fostering Social Integration and Language Inclusion through Digital Mediation
Renata Brandao (King’s College London), Language Acts and Worldmaking, Digital Mediations Strand
Naomi Wells (IMLR, University of London), Cross-Language Dynamics: Digital Diasporas
Carlos Yebra Lopez (New York University), Alejandro Acero Ayuda (University of Florida), Ladino 21

3.50- 4.30: Keynote Presentation
‘Designated Survival: The AltNeue Ladino of the Digital Land’
Eliezer Papo, University of the Negev, Ben Gurion

4.40pm-5.25pm: Workshop
‘Ladino for Beginners - The Launch of Ladino on uTalk's Language-Learning App ’
Richard Howeson, uTalk Founder and Emily Martyn, Language Manager at UTalk, with Carlos Yebra López & Alejandro Acero

5.35- 6.00pm: Closing Debate / Q&A Session
Discussant: Yvette Bürki (University of Bern)

To view speaker bios and abstracts, and register for this symposium, please visit the event's webpage.

For further details, contact Carlos Yebra López, cyl503[at]nyu.edu.

This event is funded by the Language Acts and Worldmaking project's Small Grants scheme, with support from the Institute of Modern Languages Research and the Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community, Translingual Strand. Language Acts and Worldmaking and Cross-Language Dynamics are flagship projects of the Open World Research Initiative. Discover more about these projects by visiting their websites in the links embedded above.