Spain to create Ladino academy in Israel to help preserve the language

(JTA) — Spain’s leading linguistic authority will create an academy in Israel dedicated to the study and preservation of the Ladino language.

The institution will be the 24th branch of the Spanish Royal Academy, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

Dario Villanueva, director of the Spanish Royal Academy, or RAE, said Ladino is “an extraordinarily important cultural and historical phenomenon” that deserved its own academy.

Nine Ladino specialists have been appointed to help start the institution’s work. The academy’s 23 other branches specialize in other Spanish dialects and are located across Latin America and other countries, such as the Philippines.

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

“The idea isn’t to absorb Ladino into modern Spanish, it’s the opposite: to preserve it,” Villanueva said.

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