|Native speakers||unknown (20,000 cited 1981)
40,000 to 50,000 L2 speakers
Location map of the Italiot-speaking areas in Salento and Calabria
Griko, sometimes spelled Grico, is the dialect of Italiot Greek which is spoken by the Griko people in Apulia. Some Greek linguists consider it to be a Modern Greek dialect and often call it Katoitaliotikà (Greek: Κατωιταλιωτικά, "Southern Italian") or Grekanika (Γραικάνικα), while its own speakers call it Katoitaliótika (Κατωιταλιώτικα) or Griko (Γκρίκο). Griko and Standard Modern Greek are mutually intelligible to some extent.
The most popular hypothesis on the origin of Griko is the one by Gerhard Rohlfs and Georgios Hatzidakis, stating that Griko's roots go as far back in history as the time of the ancient Greek colonisation of Southern Italy and Sicily in the 8th century BC, and in that respect, this Southern Italian dialect is considered to be the last living trace of the Greek elements that once formed Magna Graecia.
There are, however, competing hypotheses according to which Griko may have preserved some Doric elements, but its structure is otherwise mostly based on mainstream Koiné Greek like almost all other Modern Greek dialects. Thus, Griko should rather be described as a Doric-influenced descendant of Byzantine Greek. The idea of Southern Italy's Greek dialects being historically derived from Medieval Greek was proposed for the first time in the 19th century by Giuseppe Morosi.
Two small Italiot-speaking communities survive today in the Italian regions of Calabria (Province of Reggio Calabria) and Apulia (peninsula of Salento). The Italiot-speaking area of Salento comprises nine small towns in the Grecìa Salentina region (Calimera, Martano, Castrignano de' Greci, Corigliano d'Otranto, Melpignano, Soleto, Sternatia, Zollino, Martignano), with a total of 40,000 inhabitants. The Calabrian Griko region also consists of nine villages in Bovesia, (including Bova Superiore, Roghudi, Gallicianò, Chorìo di Roghudi and Bova Marina) and four districts in the city of Reggio Calabria, but its population is significantly smaller, supposedly around 2000.
The Parliament of Italy has recognized the Griko community of Reggio Calabria and Salento as an ethnic and linguistic minority, under the name of "Minoranze linguistiche Grike dell'Etnia Griko-Calabrese e Salentina" (linguistic minority of the Griko-Calabrian and Salentinian ethnicity).
There is rich oral tradition and Griko folklore. Griko songs, music and poetry are particularly popular in Italy and Greece. Famous music groups from Salento include Ghetonia and Aramirè. Also, influential Greek artists such as Dionysis Savvopoulos and Maria Farantouri have performed in Griko.
Sample text from Καληνύφτα – Kalinifta ("good night"), a popular Griko song:
|Griko||Modern Greek||English Translation|
|Καληνύφτα - Kalinífta||Καληνύχτα - Kaliníhta||Good night|
|Εβώ πάντα σε σένα πενσέω,
γιατί σένα φσυκή μου 'γαπώ,
τσαι που πάω, που σύρνω, που στέω
στην καρδιά μου πάντα σένα βαστώ.
|Εγώ πάντα εσένα σκέφτομαι,
γιατί εσένα ψυχή μου αγαπώ,
και όπου πάω, όπου σέρνομαι, όπου στέκω,
στην καρδιά μου πάντα εσένα βαστώ.
|I always think of you
because I love you, my soul,
and wherever I go, wherever I drag myself into, wherever I stay,
inside my heart I always hold you.
|Evó pánta se séna penséo,
yiatí séna fsikí mou 'ghapó,
tche pu páo, pu sýrno, pu stéo
stin kardiá mu pánta séna vastó.
|Egó pánta eséna skéftome,
yiatì eséna psihí mu agapó,
ke ópu páo, ópu sérnome, ópu stéko
stin kardiá mu pánta eséna vastó.
Notes and references
- N. Vincent, Italian, in B. Comrie (ed.) The world's major languages, London, Croom Helm, 1981. pp. 279-302.
- G. Rohlfs, Griechen und Romanen in Unteritalien, 1924.
- G. Horrocks, Greek: A history of the language and its speakers, London: Longman. 1997. Ch. 4.4.3 and 14.2.3.
- G. Morosi, Studi sui dialetti greci della terra d'Otranto, Lecce, 1870.
- H. F. Tozer. "The Greek-Speaking Population of Southern Italy." The Journal of Hellenic Studies. Vol. 10 (1889), pp. 11–42.
|Griko dialect test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
- Glossa Grika o Griko Derentinò (in Griko, Italian, Standard-Greek and French)
- Enosi Griko, Coordination of Grecìa Salentina Associations
- Pos Matome Griko (in Italian, Greek and English)
- Grecìa Salentina official site (in Italian)
- Gaze On The Sea Salentinian Peninsula, Greece and Greater Greece (in Italian, Greek and English)
- Salento Griko (in Italian)
- English-Griko dictionary
- Kalinifta, by Ghetonia
- Oria mou rodinedda, folk song of the Griko-speaking communities of southern Italy, by Eleni & Souzana Vougioukli