(Art work on this blog is copyrighted.)
Many Sephardics believe there is no way that Ladino can be revived because they see it as an all or nothing proposition. They can’t imagine themselves working to learn the language. And to whom would they speak unless everyone did all that work.
But the revival of a language comes piece by piece, just as learning a language does. Babies use words because they want to be part of the world around them.
A Ladino revival is going on. Three steps is all it takes to be part of it.
The first step is to ask yourself – do you see in fact give a damn whether Ladino exists?
- Would you rather there were some people speaking it rather than none?
- Does its existence have the least relevance to you?
The second step – if you find you got past step one and do give at least a tiny damn that Ladino is still in the world – is to recognize that that tiny damn on your part actually just made you a part in reviving it.
- For a language to be revived, it must be wanted.
- To contribute your own wanting Ladino to exist, is big.
- In just caring that the language is alive, you’re creating the essential habitat for it to stay alive and begin to trickle back in.
- When enough people care, others have stronger footing to go further, and the language grows.
The third step is to learn one word.
- One word makes you a speaker.
- One word takes you from outside observer to inside.
- One word puts you in the fold of the language.
Here are a few words you might choose from. Pick one, or find one yourself.
meoyudo – wise person
shamar – slap in the face
sorviko – sip (Toma un sorviko. Take a sip.)
You have a word. Say it out loud. You may not be exactly chatty, but you are a Ladino speaker, however minimally.
What is significant, though, is that your care. In wanting Ladino to live, you give it energy. Your heart has just moved things closer to renewing the language.