You learn a fair amount about Christopher Columbus and how he sailed the ocean blue in 1492 in elementary school, but now one Georgetown professor has a new theory about everyone’s favorite destroyer of indigenous populations: he was a Catalan-speaking Jew!
Estelle Irizarry, a professor emeritus in the department of Spanish and Portuguese, studied the language and syntax Columbus used in his letters and noticed a strange punctuation pattern. He frequently used a slash symbol to indicate pauses in sentences, a style found only in texts from Catalan-speaking areas of the Iberian peninsula.
Furthermore, Irizarry found that much of Columbus’s linguistic habits are associated with Ladino, a dialect spoken by Spanish Jews in late medieval Spain. This finding led Irizarry to conclude that Columbus must have been a convert to Christianity who hid his Jewish roots.