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Judaeo-Spanish, sometimes called "Ladino Oriental" (Eastern Ladino), was a Romance language derived from Old Spanish, incorporating elements from all the old Romance languages of the Iberian Peninsula, Hebrew and Aramaic, and was spoken by what became the Eastern Sephardim, who settled in the Eastern Mediterranean, taken with them in the 15th century after the expulsion from Spain in 1492.This dialect was further influenced by Ottoman Turkish, Levantine Arabic, Greek, Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian vocabulary in the differing lands of their exile.

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For religious purposes, and in modern Israel, "Sephardim" is most often used in this wider sense which encompasses most non-Ashkenazi Jews who are not ethnically Sephardi, but are in most instances of West Asian or North African origin, but who nonetheless commonly use a Sephardic style of liturgy.

The term Sephardi in the broad sense, thus describes the nusach (Hebrew language, "liturgical tradition") used by Sephardi Jews in their Siddur (prayer book).

Additional to all these Sephardic Jewish groups are the descendants of those New Christian conversos who either remained in Iberia, or moved from Iberia directly to the Iberian colonial possessions across what are today the various Latin American countries.

The descendants of this group of conversos, for historical reasons and circumstances, were never able to formally return to the Jewish religion.

Over half of Spain's Jews had converted as a result of the religious persecution and pogroms which occurred in 1391, and as such were not subject to the Decree or to expulsion, yet remained under the watchful eye of the Spanish Inquisition.