18 October 2009

Columbus: The Ladino connection

The linguistics professor now claims that Columbus was a Catalan-speaking Jew, according to an interview in the Latin American Herald Tribune.

While other articles - previously referenced by Tracing the Tribe - stuck to the Catalan theory, there seems to be more now to linguistics professor Estelle Irizarry's theory.

She has recently added the following Ladino references to the explorer's strange punctuation and spellings in an interview with EFE:

In addition, these peculiarities of his writing and other linguistic aspects associated with Ladino, a Jewish ethnolect in late medieval Spain, suggest that Columbus was Jewish, Irizarry said. “Columbus even punctuated marginal notes and he included copious notes around his pages.

"In that sense, he followed the punctuation style of the Ladino-speaking scribes,” the professor said.

Irizarry says her research clears up the mystery of his place of birth, which he never revealed. Others have claimed it was Genoa, Corsica; Portugal; Greece or Spain.

“The people who hid (their origins) more and had reason to do so were the Jews,” Irizarry said, referring to the forced conversions and mass expulsions of Jews in late medieval Spain.
While other media picked up the headline that Columbus was a Catalan-speaker, Irizarry goes further now and says he was a Catalan-speaking Jew.

In the interview she said,
Christopher Columbus’ origins are not obscure by chance, but rather the result of the famed explorer’s having purposely hid the fact he was a Jew or "converso" (convert to Christianity) whose native language was Catalan.
Irizarry revealed that other researchers had missed a very significant clue used to Columbus to indicate pauses in sentences.

The symbol - a virgule - is a slash mark (like we use in URLs) that did not appear in Catalan or in other countries' writings, but only in records and documents from Catalan-speaking areas, such as Catalunya and the Balearic Islands.

These symbols are part of his DNA, so to speak. Said the professor:
"Columbus was a punctuator and was one of the few of that era,” the professor and author of 34 books on literature said. Irizarry uses that metaphor as the title of her latest book, “Christopher Columbus: The DNA of his Writings,” in which she pored over the language and syntax the Great Navigator used in more than 100 letters, diaries and documents.
In her research she found Balearic documents from the island of Ibiza; 75% of them included virgules similar to Columbus.

In the late 15th-early 16th century, authors left punctuation for their publishers to add. Irizarry said that even Cervantes' "Don Quixote," wasn't filled in with punctuation until the 19th century.

She said she thinks Columbus grew grew up in a Catalan-speaking region and that that explains why he did not express himself correctly in Spanish, his second language. The variant spellings of the same words, sometimes in the same sentence is proof of that.

Read the complete article at the link above.

1 comment:

  1. Paul Hosse6:19 PM

    What a really interesting article!