The Sephardim continued to use their
variant of Castilian Spanish for centuries after the Expulsion. Due to
the isolation from Spain and the conservative habits, their language preserved
many words and grammatical usages that have been lost in modern Spanish.
Judeo-Spanish also has a more conservative sound system.
Judeo-Spanish has 5 vowels: [a], ,
and [u]. In the eastern dialects all they may occur both in stressed and
unstressed positions, while in the western dialects in unstressed positions
may occur only ,
[i] and [u], cf.:
The prothetic e- may be dropped, cf.:
amerikano [amiri'kanu] American;
written versus ModSp.
The rising diphthongs (ia, ie, ii, io, iu
[=ju], ua, ue, ui, uo) are much more frequent than the falling ones (ai,
oi, ui, au, eu). The diphthongs [iw] developped into [iv], cf.:
The diphthongs are often suppressed, cf.:
widow versus ModSp.
city versus ModSp.
Many words have two forms, with and without a diphthong, cf.:
JSp. escola school
JSp. pasensia patience
JSp. preto dark
The alternation of simple unstressed vowels
with stressed diphthongs was replaced by generalized forms, either with
a diphthong or a simple vowel, on the principle of analogy, cf.:
kuedo / kodo elbow;
ken / kién who?
JSp. uerte garden
uertolano gardener versus
JSp. puedo I
can : pueder can versus
JSp. kero I
love : kerer can versus
quiero : querer;
JSp. rogo I
ask : rogar to ask versus
ruego : rogar.
The Judeo-Spanish sound [j] (written y)
corresponds to the modern Spanish [j] / 
/ [lj] (written ll, and hi- + Vowel), cf.:
In this Judeo-Spanish resembles the South
Spanish and American dialects (the so called yeismo).
The semiconsonant [w] (written u)
developped into [gw] even in the middle of the words, cf.:
It is also to notify the following developments:
JSp. uevo => guevo
[sw-] => [sfw-] or [w-]
: JSp. sfuegra
[m-] => [mw-] or [w-]
: JSp. muadre
[p-] => [pw-] or [w-]
: JSp. puadre
Judeo-Spanish has 25 consonants as compared
with the 20 found in modern Spanish.
It has preserved the opposition between
[b] and [v] which disappeared in modern Spanish. In the native words, however,
this opposition is well pronounced in the beginning only, cf.:
In this cases v may be articulated
as [v] or [ß]. In the middle of the words [b] is preserved after
prefixes only, cf.:
to drink, blanco white vs.
cow, ver to see, viaje
In all the other cases we have v, pronounced
as [v] or [ß], cf.:
=> abashar to lower.
The sound [v] occurs also where modern Spanish
has [u], cf.:
avlar (ModSp. hablar)
alavar (ModSp. alabar)
luvia (ModSp. lluvia)
In the loan-words the opposition [b] and [v]
or [ß] occurs in all positiions, cf.:
JSp. devda debt
widow versus ModSp.
city versus ModSp.
[g] and [k] are fricatives
in Constantinople, but distinctively occlusive
in Bosnia (Vicente 357).
range, berber barber;
The treatment of the Old Spanish initial
f- is differentiated, as in the moment of the Expulsion the transition
[f-] => [h-] => [...-] (h- is mute in modern Spanish) was not yet finished,
Spanish preserved the initial f- before
the diphthong ue, while in some Judeo-Spanish speaches it changed
to [h] (pronounced as h in Engl. home), cf.:
talk versus ModSp.
find versus ModSp.
In the words of Jewish and Arabic h is pronounced
as [x] (i.e. like modern Spanish j, or as ch in Scottish loch), cf.:
The Old Spanish [ts] developed as [s] in Judeo-Spanish
0] (written c and pronounced as the English
in thin) in modern Spanish, cf.:
The sound [ts] occurs now only in words of
non-Spanish origin, cf.:
In many words [s] changed into ,
especially before a consonant in the middle of the words, cf.:
The Judeo-Spanish retained the Old Spanish
(in the beginning of the word and after n) and ,
where Modern Spanish developped [x] (written
j or g), cf.:
seek versus ModSp.
The sound 
corresponds to the Old Spanish intervocal [(d)],
which evolved into [x] (written
j or g) in modern Spanish,
JSp. jugar [u'gar]
play versus ModSp.
JSp. berenjena [-nd-]
JSp. enshugar [nu'gar]
wipe versus ModSp.
JSp. deshar [d'ar]
leave versus ModSp.
(cf. Old Spanish dexar).
In many words 
corresponds to [s] in modern Spanish, cf.:
JSp. (f)ijo son
JSp. mujer woman
JSp. ojo eye
JSp. kaji as
if versus ModSp.
JSp. kijo he
asked versus ModSp. quiso;
JSp. vijita visit
The voiced intervocal [z] survived in Judeo-Spanish,
while in modern Spanish it changed to [s], cf.
The Old Spanish affricate [dz] developped
as [z] in Judeo-Spanish and as [
JSp. (f)ermozo beautiful
versus ModSp. hermoso.
0] (written z or
and pronounced as the English th in thin) in modern Spanish,
There are even few words, in which [dz] was
JSp. korazón heart
versus ModSp. corazón.
The final [-s] is voiced in [-z] if the next
word begins with vowel or voiced consonant, cf.:
JSp. podzo well
versus ModSp. pozo;
JSp. ondze eleven
versus ModSp. once;
JSp. dodze twelve
versus ModSp. doce.
The opposition between [r] and [r:] disappeared
los ojos [lz
las noches [laz 'nts]
The final -m occurs in Jewish, Arabic
and Turkish words only, cf.:
Initial n sometimes changes to
in the group nue- (except for the word nuera daughter-in-law),
Analogically there were derived also mosotros
and mos us (Modern Spanish has
JSp. mueve nine
JSp. muevo new
JSp. muestro our
An extra -n- is included sometimes,
JSp. enshemplo example
JSp. muncho much
The Old Spanish group -mb- was preserved
in Judeo-Spanish, cf.
The Old Spanish medial labiodental
consonants such as bd, bt, vd, vt are retained, as in:
JSp. lamber to
palomba dove versus
There occurs a metathesis
of the [r] in a combination with occlusive consonant, cf.:
(Old Spanish çibdad).
JSp. godro fat
JSp. prove poor
ModSp. pobre (Old Spanish povre).
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