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Judaeo-Spanish, also known as Ladino, is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish. Being a language that originated from Spain in the 15th century, the richest era for Spain in terms of linguistic variations, it retained most of the variations that existed then and combined some of them creating a new coiné. Though it existed as a dialect continuum in Europe, the Middle-East and North Africa until the 1940s, it exists today rather in the form of combined idiolects, spoken or understood by less then 100,000 individuals, dispersed in 32 countries of the world and is under high risk of language extinction.

The basis of its vocabulary is basically Old Spanish, though not necessarily Old Castilian - rather Romance of the 15th century including all its variations in Spain. However it have derived a lot of vocabulary from languages such as Arabic, Aragonese, Aramaic, Bosnian, Bulgarian, French, Greek, Hebrew, Ottoman Turkish, Portuguese and Serbo-Croatian. Though originally it lacked all the relatinisations that most of the Latin languages like French and Spanish have undergone, they were reintroduced lately through French and Modern Spanish.

Today it is mostly spoken (or understood) in Israel by approximately 72,000 people. The second country where it is spoken the most is Turkey with 8,000 people. After that, the numbers drop significantly. The third country being the USA with around 3,500 people. Then comes France (4th) with less than 2,500 people and Greece (5th) with 1,300 people. Brasil and the UK have around 1,000 people each and in the remaining 25 countries, it is spoken by less than 1,000 people. For example in Netherlands (most of them in the Curaçao Island), it is spoken or understood by around 100 people.

The threat of language extinction is due to a number of reasons. In history Judaeo-Spanish (from now on JS) existed first as a community language but it came to be also a language of commerce, a language of press and also a language of literature. With the rise of nationalistic sentiments in the Balkans and with the establishment of the French schools called Alliance Israélite in all the existing Jewish communities, many people of the higher societies and some people of the intellectual class within the native speakers started to estimate other languages over their mother tongue. This was the first blow to JS. Later through nationalistic opression, the holocaust and finally the destruction of the existing communities, JS came to be a language of nostalgia. Today it is estimated that little less than %90 of its speakers is over 50 years of age.

JS have been traditionally written with the Rashi Script and its cursive form called the Solitreo, almost universally until 1850s (variations of the Hebrew script). But alongside, locally it was also written with the Arabic, Cyrillic and the Greek scripts, especially in Morocco, Bulgaria and Greece respectively. Sephardim - the natives of this language - came to know the Latin script for the first time (since the expulsion) through the Alliance Israélite (1850s) while learning French. Since then, it also started to be written with the Latin letters - but with the French orthography. However almost at the same time, the natives in Morocco who were under Spanish occupation got acquainted rather with the Spanish orthoghraphy. The native speakers in Nederlands however were already acquainted with the Iberian orthography since the 16th century and were using it in their daily lives. The Turkish natives however, started to write with the Turkish orthography after the spelling reform, brought by Kemal Atatürk.

Today, there are huge variations with the orthography issue. There are six scripts in use: Latin, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Rashi, Arabic and Greek. The use of Greek, Arabic, Rashi and Cyrillic scripts are of very little importance today, as they totally constitute %17 of the speakers and as all of them are extremely old and most of them are acquainted with the Latin script. Approximately %83 of the speakers prefer writing with the Latin (%63) or Hebrew script (%20) and most of the people using the Hebrew script are also acquainted with the Latin script.

Between those who use Latin script, there are those who uses a system a phonetic transcription, there those who follows the Spanish orthography of the 15th century etc. The Israeli Autoridad Nasionala del Ladino (ANL) promotes a phonetic transcription into the Latin alphabet from the traditional Hebrew script, making no concessions to Spanish orthography, and uses it in its publication Aki Yerushalayim. This orthography is called the Aki Yerushalayim (AY) orthography and it's quite recent in JS history.

The biggest variations lie in the Latin script. The orthograpies vary from one country of origin to the other. There are 12 different Latin orthographies and as most of them do not possess standardisations, they have many more variations. Even the AY orthography is not %100 fixed and has variations. With the French orthography, one can write the same sentence in so many ways. For example:
Oun dia, estava assentado en mi casa y estava pensando - quantas veses me aviyan engagnado! Mountchas veses!
Oun diya, estava assentado en mi kasa y estava pensando - kuantas vezes me aviyan engagnado! Mountchas vezes!
Un diya, estava assentado en mi caza y estava pensando - quantas vezes me aviyan engagnado! Muntchas vezes! etc.

Not considering the aformentioned variations into account, the 12 Latin orthographies used by the Sephardim (and their rough usage estimates) are as follows:

1. French orthogrography%41
2. Turkish orthography%29
3. Spanish orthography %7
4. Aki Yerushalayim orthography %7
5. English orthography  %6
6. Romanian orthography %3.5
7. Serbian orthography %3.5
8. Italian orthography %1
9. Dutch orthography %0.5
10. German orthography %0.5
11. Hungarian orthography %0.5
12. Polish orthography %0.5

The Aki-Yerushalayim orthography, even though it's used by a rather poor percentage of users worldwide, is indeed one of the most propagated orthographies online and in recent publications. However the most extensively used orthographies are French and Turkish orthographies and is used by app. %70 of the native speakers who use a Latin script. The Italian, Dutch, German, Hungarian and Polish orthographies are not considered an important part as they make up all together %3 of all Latin script users worldwide.

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