Molly FitzMorris is a recipient of the Academic Year 2016-2017 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. The award provides undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students with financial support to develop fluency in less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) and expertise in the regions in which these languages are spoken. Every year the Center for Global Studies awards between 12-15 fellowships to UW students. Click here to learn more.
I am a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Linguistics, where I study Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish in Seattle, and I am using my Global Studies FLAS to study first-year Arabic. Arabic is key to my research, as Ladino is a mixed language with a lot of influence from Ottoman Turkish (which was itself heavily influenced by Arabic). I am now discovering regularly that Seattle Ladino words that I thought to be of Turkish origin are actually Arabic words! There are also Moroccan dialects of Ladino (called Haketia) which feature heavy influence from Arabic instead of Turkish. Last quarter, I was finally able to do some basic research on Haketia in order to understand its formation and how it is similar and different from Ottoman dialects of Ladino. Additionally, having previously studied Hebrew and Turkish, I am interested in language contact in the Middle East, both as it pertains to the development of Ladino and as it occurs in the modern world, and my area studies courses have allowed me to pursue this interest. I believe these courses will greatly benefit my research, and especially my understanding of the development of Ladino.