|κυπριακή ελληνική; κυπριακά|
|Pronunciation||[cipɾiaˈci elːiniˈci]; [cipɾiaˈka]|
|Native speakers||c. 700,000 in Cyprus (2011)[a]|
|Writing system||Greek alphabet|
Cypriot Greek (Greek: κυπριακή ελληνική) is the variety of Modern Greek that is spoken by the majority of the Cypriot populace and diaspora Greek Cypriots. It is a markedly divergent variety; it differs from Standard Modern Greek[b] in its lexicon, phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and even pragmatics, not only for historical reasons, but also because of geographical isolation, different settlement patterns, and extensive contact with typologically distinct languages.
Cypriot Greek is not an evolution of the ancient Arcadocypriot dialect, but derives from Byzantine Koine. It has traditionally been placed to the south-eastern group of Modern Greek dialects, along with the dialects of the Dodecanese and Chios (with which it shares several phonological phenomena).
Even though Cypriot Greek tends to be regarded as a dialect by its speakers, it is (asymmetrically) mutually unintelligible with Standard Modern Greek (without adequate prior exposure to either), and academics hold varying views. Arvaniti 2006 and Tsiplakou 2012, among others, are of the opinion that, amid native Cypriot Greek speakers in Cyprus, there is diglossia between Standard Modern Greek—the high variety that is learnt only through formal schooling—and Cypriot Greek—the spoken everyday (low) variety, itself a dialect continuum with an emerging koine. Some (e.g. Joseph 2010) have said that the differences that exist between the two varieties "invite" the classification of Cypriot Greek as a separate language. This view is not prevalent outside of academia, largely because of the interplay between ethnicity and language in the Greek Cypriot community.
Studies of the phonology of Cypriot Greek are few and tend to examine very specific phenomena, e.g. gemination, "glide hardening". A general overview of the phonology of Cypriot Greek has only ever been attempted once, by Newton 1972, but parts of it are now contested.
Cypriot Greek possesses geminate and palato-alveolar consonants, which are lacking from Standard Modern Greek, as well as a trill, which is present but does not contrast with [ɾ] in Standard Modern Greek. The table below, adapted from Arvaniti 2010, p. 4, depicts the consonantal inventory of Cypriot Greek. Consonants enclosed in parentheses are presumed to be allophones.
|Nasal||m mː||n nː||(ɲ)||(ŋ)|
|p pʰː||(b)||t tʰː
||t͡ʃ t͡ʃʰː||(d͡ʒ)||c cʰː||(ɟ)||k kʰː||(ɡ)|
|Fricative||f fː||v||θ θː||ð||s sː||z||ʃ ʃː||ʒ||ʝ||x xː||ɣ|
Stops /p t c k/ and affricate /t͡ʃ/ are unaspirated and may be pronounced weakly voiced in fast speech. /pʰː tʰː cʰː kʰː/ are always heavily aspirated and they are never preceded by nasals, with the exception of some loans, e.g. /ʃamˈpʰːu/ "shampoo". /t͡ʃ/ and /t͡ʃʰː/ are laminal post-alveolars. /t͡s/ is pronounced similarly to /t͡ʃʰː/, in terms of closure duration and aspiration.
The palatal lateral approximant /ʎ/ is most often realised as a singleton or geminate lateral [ʎ(ː)] or a singleton or geminate fricative [ʝ(ː)], and sometimes as a glide [j]. The circumstances under which all the different variants surface are not very well understood, but [ʝ(ː)] appear to be favoured in stressed syllables and word-finally, and before /a e/. Pappas 2009 identifies the following phonological and non-phonological influencing factors: stress, preceding vowel, following vowel, position inside word; and sex, education, region, and time spent living in Greece (where [ʎ] is standard). Arvaniti 2010 notes that speakers of some local varieties, notably that of Larnaca, "substitute" the geminate fricative for /ʎ/, but Pappas 2009 contests this, saying that, "[ʝ(ː)] is robustly present in the three urban areas of Lefkosia, Lemesos and Larnaka as well as the rural Kokinohoria region, especially among teenaged speakers ... the innovative pronunciation [ʝ(ː)] is not a feature of any local patois, but rather a supra-local feature."
The palatal nasal /ɲ/ is produced somewhat longer than other singleton nasals, though not as long as geminates. /z/ is similarly "rather long".
The alveolar trill /r/ is the geminate counterpart of the tap /ɾ/.
Palatalisation and glide hardening
- /mjV/ → [mɲV]
- /njV/ → [ɲːV]
- /ljV/ → [ʎːV] or [ʝːV]
- /kjV/ → [t͡ʃV] or [cV]
- /xjV/ → [ʃV] or [çV]
- /ɣjV/ → [ʝV]
- /zjV/ → [ʒːV]
- /t͡sjV/ → [t͡ʃʰːV]
The glide is not assimilated, but hardens to an obstruent [c] after /p t f v θ ð/ and to [k] after /ɾ/. At any rate, velar stops and fricatives are in complementary distribution with palatals and postalveolars before front vowels /e i/; that is to say, broadly, /k kʰː/ are palatalised to either [c cʰː] or [t͡ʃ t͡ʃʰː]; /x xː/ to [ç çː] or [ʃ ʃː]; and /ɣ/ to [ʝ].
There is considerable disagreement on how to classify Cypriot Greek geminates, though they are now generally understood to be "geminates proper" (rather than clusters of identical phonemes or "fortis" consonants). Geminates are 1.5 to 2 times longer than singletons, depending, primarily, on position and stress. Geminates occur both word-initially and word-medially. Word-initial geminates tend to be somewhat longer. Tserdanelis & Arvaniti 2001 have found that "for stops, in particular, this lengthening affects both closure duration and VOT", but Davy & Panayotou 2003 claim that stops contrast only in aspiration, and not duration. Armosti 2010 undertook a perceptual study with thirty native speakers of Cypriot Greek, and has found that both closure duration and (the duration and properties of) aspiration provide important cues in distinguishing between the two kinds of stops, but aspiration is slightly more significant.
Word-final /n/ assimilates with succeeding consonants—other than stops and affricates—at word boundaries producing post-lexical geminates. Consequently, geminate voiced fricatives, though generally not phonemic, do occur as allophones. Below are some examples of geminates to arise from sandhi.
- /ton ˈluka/ → [to‿ˈlˑuka] τον Λούκα "Lucas" (acc.)
- /en ˈða/ → [e‿ˈðːa] εν δα "[he] is here"
- /pu tin ˈɾiza/ → [pu ti‿ˈriza] που την ρίζα "from the root"
In contrast, singleton stops and affricates do not undergo gemination, but become fully voiced when preceded by a nasal, with the nasal becoming homorganic. This process is not restricted to terminal nasals; singleton stops and affricates always become voiced following a nasal.
- /kaˈpnizumen ˈpuɾa/ → [kaˈpnizumem‿ˈbuɾa] καπνίζουμεν πούρα "[we] smoke cigars"
- /an ˈt͡ʃe/ → [an‿ˈd͡ʒe] αν τζ̌αι "even though"
- /tin ciɾi.aˈci/ → [tiɲ‿ɟirĭ.aˈci] την Κυριακή "on Sunday"
- /eˈpiasamen ˈfcoɾa/ → [eˈpcasame‿ˈfcoɾa] επιάσαμεν φκιόρα "[we] bought flowers"
- /ˈpa‿stin cʰːeˈlːe/ → [ˈpa‿sti‿cʰːeˈlːe] πα' στην κκελλέ "on the head"
Like with /n/, word-final /s/ assimilates to following [s] and [ʃ] producing geminates:
- /as ʃoˈnisi/ → [a‿ʃːoˈnisi] ας σ̌ονίσει "let it snow"
Lastly, word-final /s/ becomes voiced when followed by a voiced consonant belonging to the same phrase:
- /tis ˈmaltas/ → [tiz‿ˈmaltas] της Μάλτας "of Malta"
- /aˈɣonas ˈðromu/ → [aˈɣonaz‿ˈðromu] αγώνας δρόμου "race"
Back vowels /i u/ following /t/ at the end of an utterance are regularly reduced (50% of all cases presented in study) to "fricated vowels" (40% of all cases), and are sometimes elided altogether (5% of all cases).
In glide-less analyses, /i/ may alternate with [k] or [c], e.g. [kluvi] "cage" → [klufca] "cages", or [kulːuɾi] "koulouri" → [kulːuɾ̥ka] "koulouria"; and, like in Standard Modern Greek, it is pronounced [ɲ] when found between /m/ and another vowel that belongs to the same syllable, e.g. [mɲa] "one" (f.).
Cypriot Greek has "dynamic" stress. Both consonants and vowels are longer in stressed than in unstressed syllables, and the effect is stronger word-initially. There is only one stress per word, and it can fall on any of the last four syllables. Stress on the fourth syllable from the end of a word is rare and normally limited to certain verb forms. Because of this possibility, however, when words with antepenultimate stress are followed by an enclitic in Cypriot Greek, no extra stress is added (unlike Standard Modern Greek, where the stress can only fall on one of the last three syllables), e.g. Cypriot Greek το ποδήλατον μου [to poˈðilato‿mːu], Standard Modern Greek το ποδήλατό μου [to poˌðilaˈto‿mu] "my bicycle".
The main morphological differences between Standard Modern Greek and Cypriot Greek are the following:
- different interrogative word for "what" ίντα [ˈinda] instead of τι [ti]
- different determiner τες [tes] instead of τις [tis] in the feminine accusative plural
- penultimate stress in the nominative plural of second declension nouns and the genitive plural of first declension feminine pronouns
- different plural morphemes, e.g. γιούδες [ˈʝuðes] instead of γιοι [ʝi] "sons"
- different demonstrative pronoun τουν [tun-] instead of τούτο [tuto]
- different third person plural morpheme in present and past tense [-usin] and [-asin] instead of [-un] and [-an], respectively
- different second person plural morpheme in past tenses [-mete] insteaf of [-nate]
- syllabic augment [e] in past tenses
- different future particle εννά [eˈnːa] instead of θα [θa]
- different negation marker in non-indicative mood μεν [men] instead of μη(ν) [mi(n)]
The main syntactic differences between Standard Modern Greek and Cypriot Greek are the following:
- clitic comes after the verb instead of before it in some environments, e.g. είδες το [ˈiðes to] instead of το είδες [to ˈiðes] "you saw it"
- obligatory clefting in wh-questions induced by inda, e.g. [ˈinda mbu ˈiðes] "what is it that you saw?" instead of [ti ˈiðes] "what did you see?"
- optional clefting in other wh-questions
- focus clefting (no focus movement), e.g. [e ˈndi ˈkseɲːa mbu ˈiðes] "it is Xenia that you saw" for [ti ˈkseɲːan ˈiðes] "you saw Xenia"
- indirect before direct object with post-verbal clitics, e.g. [ˈstil mu to] "send me it" instead of [ˈstile ˈto mu] "send it to me"
The contemporary Cypriot lexicon contains "significantly more" words of non-Greek origin when compared to Standard Modern Greek; loanwords in Cypriot come from Old French, Italian, Provençal, Turkish and, increasingly, from English. Additionally, non-Muslim speakers use Muslim Arabic expressions such as μάσ̌σ̌αλλα [ˈmaʃːalːa] "mashallah", ίσ̌σ̌αλλα [ˈiʃːalːa] "inshallah", χαλάλιν [xaˈlali(n)] "halali" and χαράμιν [xaˈrami(n)] "harami", which have become part of the vocabulary. The Cypriot lexicon also contains old Greek vocabulary that has fallen into disuse or is no longer used entirely in Standard Modern Greek, e.g. συντυχάννω [sindiˈxanːo] "[I] talk", θωρώ [θοˈɾo] "[I] look".
There is no established orthography for Cypriot Greek. Efforts have variably been made to introduce diacritics to the Greek alphabet to represent palato-alveolar consonants found in Cypriot, but not in Standard Modern Greek, e.g. the combining caron 〈ˇ〉, by the authors of the "Syntychies" lexicographic database at the University of Cyprus. When diacritics are not used, an epenthetic 〈ι〉—often accompanied by the systematic substitution of the preceding consonant letter—may be used to the same effect, e.g. Standard Modern Greek παντζάρι [paˈ(n)d͡zaɾi] → Cypriot Greek ππαντζιάρι [pʰːaˈnd͡ʒaɾi], Standard Modern Greek χέρι [ˈçeɾi] → Cypriot Greek σιέρι [ˈʃeɾi].
Geminates (and aspirates) are represented by two of the same letter, e.g. σήμμερα [ˈsimːeɾa] "today", though this may not be done in cases where the spelling would not coincide with Standard Modern Greek's, e.g. σήμμερα would still be spelt σήμερα.[c]
In computer-mediated communication, Cypriot Greek, like Standard Modern Greek, is commonly written in the Latin script, and English spelling conventions may be adopted for shared sounds, e.g. 〈sh〉 for /ʃ/ (and /ʃː/).
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2013)|
Cyprus was cut off from the rest of the Greek-speaking world from the 7th to the 10th century AD due to Arab attacks. It was reintegrated in the Byzantine Empire in 962 to be isolated again in 1191 when it fell to the hands of the Crusaders. These periods of isolation led to the development of various linguistic characteristics distinct from Byzantine Greek.
The oldest surviving written works in Cypriot date back to the Medieval period. Some of these are: the legal code of the Kingdom of Cyprus, the Assizes of Jerusalem; the chronicles of Leontios Machairas and Georgios Voustronios; and a collection of sonnets in the manner of Francesco Petrarca. In the past hundred years, the dialect has been used in poetry (with major poets being Vasilis Michaelides and Dimitris Lipertis). It is also traditionally used in folk songs and τσιαττιστά (battle poetry, a form of playing the Dozens) and the tradition of ποιητάρηες (bards).
In the late seventies, Minister of Education Chrysostomos A. Sofianos upgraded the status of Cypriot by introducing it in education. More recently, it has been used in music, e.g. in reggae by Hadji Mike and in rap by several Cypriot hip hop groups, such as Dimiourgoi Neas Antilipsis (DNA). Locally produced television shows, usually comedies or soap operas, make use of the dialect, e.g. "Vourate Geitonoi" (βουράτε instead of τρέξτε) or "Oi Takkoi" (Τάκκος being a uniquely Cypriot name). The 2006 feature film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest features actor Jimmy Roussounis arguing in Cypriot with another crew member speaking Gibrizlidja about a captain's hat they find in the sea. Peter Polycarpou routinely spoke in Cypriot in his role as Chris Theodopolopoudos in the British television comedy series Birds of a Feather.
Today, Cypriot Greek is the only variety of Modern Greek with a significant presence of spontaneous use online, including blogs and internet forums, and there exists a variant of Greeklish that reflects its distinct phonology.
Notes and references
- The census conducted by the government of the Republic of Cyprus only lists "Greek" as an option for language, so it is unclear what percentage of people who speak "Greek" (also) speak the Cypriot variety. Furthermore, even if "Cypriot Greek" were an option on the census form, it is likely that a large number of people would still prefer to identify with "Greek". The 2011 census results can be found here.
- Standard Modern Greek is the variety based on Demotic (but with elements of Katharevousa) that became the official language of Greece in 1976. See also: Greek language question.
- Geminates are present in Cypriot Greek and were present (and distinct) in Ancient and earlier Koine, but they are not in Standard Modern Greek. Late twentieth century spelling reforms in Greece were not indiscriminate, i.e. some words are still spelt with two consecutive consonant letters, but are not pronounced that way. In addition, Cypriot Greek has developed geminates in words where they were not previously found.
- Ammon 2006, p. 1886.
- Themistocleous et al. 2012, p. 262.
- Ammon 2006, pp. 1886–1887.
- Joseph & Tserdanelis 2003, p. 823.
- Arvaniti 2006, p. 26.
- Arvaniti 2006, p. 25.
- Arvaniti 2006, pp. 26–27.
- Joseph 2010, p. 465.
- Panayotou, Ioannou & Davy 1996, p. 131.
- Panayotou, Ioannou & Davy 1996, p. 135.
- Arvaniti 2010, pp. 3–4.
- Arvaniti 1999, pp. 2–3.
- Arvaniti 1999, p. 2.
- Panayotou, Ioannou & Davy 1996, p. 134.
- Arvaniti 1999, p. 3.
- Arvaniti 2010, p. 11.
- Pappas 2009, p. 307.
- Pappas 2009, p. 309.
- Arvaniti 2010, pp. 10–11.
- Pappas 2009, p. 313.
- Nevins & Chirotan 2008, pp. 13–14.
- Arvaniti 2010, p. 12.
- Arvaniti 2010, pp. 4–5.
- Arvaniti 2010, p. 5.
- Tserdanelis & Arvaniti 2001, p. 35.
- Davy & Panayotou 2003, p. 8: "... there is no evidence for the assumption that CG /pʰ/ is distinctively long (or geminate). The CGasp system contains simply tense aspirated and lax unaspirated stops."
- Armosti 2010, pp. 37.
- Armosti 2010, pp. 52–53.
- Arvaniti 2010, p. 8.
- Arvaniti 1999, p. 4.
- Arvaniti 1999, p. 5.
- Armosti 2011, p. 97.
- Arvaniti 2010, p. 1.
- Eftychiou 2007, p. 518.
- Arvaniti 2010, pp. 17–18.
- Hadjioannou, Tsiplakou & Kappler 2011, p. 568.
- Hadjioannou, Tsiplakou & Kappler 2011, p. 569.
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