Even during the period of the Ottoman Empire the Sephardic Jews retained their Judeo-Spanish idiom (ladino), a language based on the Castilian dialect combined with various implementations of Hebrew, Turkish and Greek words and phrases. The Spanish Jews who arrived in Greece after the inquisition (1492) absorbed the few pre- existing Romaniots (Greek speaking Jews) who inhabited Rhodes and imposed their own dialect in their everyday interactions. The language’s vivid nature is evident both in the verbal usage with the formation of proverbs and anecdotes as well as in the written form with the production of moral passages, biblical analytic texts and poems. The instruction of the ladino language in the community schools largely contributed to the safeguarding and preserving of the dialect throughout the ages.

Examples of commonly used Judeo-Spanish proverbs and idioms.

Buen vizindado, mas ke ermano (a good neighbor is more precious than a brother)

Ande komen do, komen I tres (where 2 people eat, 3 people also can)

Ken alma tyene, alma kree (whoever has a soul understands the soul of others)

Me konsolo ke no so solo (I feel conforted because I ‘m not alone)

Mijor un amigo serkano ke un ermano leshano (better to have a friend nearby, than a brother far away)

Una mano lava la otra, I las dos lavan la kara (one hand washes the other and together they wash the face)

La ija kon la madre son komo la unya en la karne (daughter and mother are as close as the nail to the flesh)

Amostrate komo amigo en la ora mala (act like a friend in difficult times – you have an obligation to mutual help)

Mano ke da, no la kortan (one does not cut the hand that gives – a productive person is never rejected)

Amor es se la madre, lo se mas es ayre (only a mother’s love is authentic, the rest is small lot – maternal love, is genuine love)

(“Sephardic Folk Dictionary”, English to Ladino – Ladino to English, by Albert Morris Passy , p.305-307)


Suggested Links for Djudeo-Spanish dialogs


Ladino (Djudeo-Espanyol) Lesson/Lección 1 - Kén sos tú?

Ladino (Djudeo-Espanyol) Lesson/Lección 2 - Ánde moras?

Ladino (Djudeo-Espanyol) Lesson/Lección 3 - En kaza