What are the main differences between Spanish and Ladino?
I thought I would be able to hear the difference in Ladino podcasts, but I don't. Both languages sound the same.
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Spanish is the old Castilian language, a Romance one, related to Portuguese, Galician and Catalan, with influences from Arabic and French, and which has evolved naturally since, spoken nowadays in Spain, Hispanic America (including South of USA), Equatorial Guinea and Philippines.
Ladino is the same old Castilian language, also romance, also related to Portuguese, Galician and Catalan, with the same influences from Arabic but less influence from French, which has not evolved since Ferdinand and Isabella expelled jews from Spain in 1492, spoken nowadays by sephardi jews (they called Spain as Sefarad, hence the name they give to theirselves).
So yes, the answer from Jaime Cruz Triana is correct in that Ladino is ancient Spanish, and the historic reason is that Jews expelled in 1492 retained their language.
I am a Spanish speaker and I understand 100% of spoken Ladino. Written Ladino takes a little thought, but I can also understand it 100%.
I am Colombian and quite frankly I have a harder time understanding Caribbean dialects than I have understanding Ladino podcasts. My impression is that the division as two languages is mostly political... I think you can understand why.
But if I had to look at the two languages purely from a linguistic perspective, I'd classify them as dialects of the same language. (disclaimer: I'm not a professional linguist, just interested in the subject)
Spanish and Ladino are indeed very closely related languages. However, there are some prominent phonetic and grammatical differences:
|retention of the sibilants /ʃ/ and /ʒ/
(e.g. baxo /ʃ/, mujer /ʒ/)
|voicing distinction between "s/ç" and "z"
(e.g. korasón /s/, dezir /z/)
|distinction between /b/ and /v/||✅||✅||✅|
|word initial latinate /f/
(e.g. fija, favla)
|distinction in conjugation of 1st person plural present and preterite -ar verbs||✅||✅|
|elision of word terminal /s/||✅||✅|
|word-terminal and /-k/ preceding /s/ often pronounced [ʃ]||✅||✅|
|word initial /nwe-/ often pronounced /mwe-/
(e.g. muestro, muevo)
|lack of usted||✅|
|variation of hebrew plural suffixes /-im/, /-ot/
(e.g. ladrones, ladronim)
|gender-marking of morphologically neutral words
(e.g. grande/granda, voz -> vozas)