An original letter in Haketia from Tangier, written in 1832.
The well-known form of Ladino, as formerly spoken by Jews living in the Balkans, Greece, Turkey and Jerusalem, is "Ladino Oriental" (eastern Ladino). Haketia may be described by contrast as "Ladino Occidental". The language is a variety of Spanish that borrows heavily from Judeo-Moroccan Arabic. It evidently also contains a number of words of Hebrew origin and was originally written using Hebrew letters. There is some cultural resemblance between the two Judaeo-Spanish dialect communities, including a rich shared stock of Romanzas (ballads) from medieval Spain, though both words and music often differ in detail (as indeed they do between one Oriental-Sephardic community and another).
The name "Haketia" derived from the Arabic ħaka حكى, "tell", and is therefore pronounced with aspirated [h],[clarification needed] reflecting the Arabic guttural "ħa". In some places it is written "Jaquetía" with the same pronunciation.
Haketia, unlike Ladino, did not develop a literary tradition, so the language remained as a colloquial form of communication and was not used as a vehicle for formal education since in Spanish Morocco, Modern Spanish was used, along with French at the Alliance Israelite Universelle schools. Many Jews from North Morocco emigrated to Venezuela, and the language was leveled with modern Spanish, which has contributed greatly to its extinction. Still, there has been a slow renaissance of the language, helped by musicians such as Doris Benmaman, Mor Karbasi and Kol Oud Tof Trio, among others. Jose Benoliel and Alegría Bendayan de Bendelac have both compiled Spanish-Haketía dictionaries, published in 1977 and 1995, respectively. The Caracas Center of Sephardic Studies publishes regularly articles in Haketia in its magazine Magen-Escudo.