The article is concerned with issues in the history of linguistic usage in Hispano-Jewish communities before the expulsions. It attempts to question the more formulaic aspects of usual explanations and the evidence for them. This leads to linguistic historiography, its contextualization and difference. This alternative model emphasizes the importance of evidence and of access to the primary sources. Here the emphasis is on medieval perceptions, on the liturgy as model of education and on archival evidence as necessary for the reconstruction of linguistic usage in the middle ages.