13 January 2011

Ancient Greek Lives

A relict population of about five thousand Greek speaking Muslim converts in Northeast Turkey (on the Black Sea coast) speaks a dialect of ancient Greek (i.e. similar to the version of the language spoken until about two thousand years ago) that is found nowhere else in the world as a living language, and was widely believed to have gone extinct. This provides insights into how the ancient Greek dialect sounded and was used orally. Most Greek speakers in Anatolia were relocated to Greece, and most Turks in Greece were relocated to Turkey in 1923, but because these Greeks were Muslims, they were excluded from the swap.

This also reminds us that there were many Greek speaking communities in Anatolia until the 20th century, something often forgotten as a consequence of the nature tendency to assume that the political and cultural map of the world was always as it is today.

2 comments:

manju said...

similar to the version of the language spoken until about two thousand years ago

That is fascinating. But I wonder whether that is possible. Is it about some of the words or sentence structure? In my region, there is a dialect of Kannada (a Dravidian language) where one can hear words only found in archaic Kannada. However, sentence structure has not much resemblance or as much as other Kannada dialects to the works in archaic Kannada (around 1000 years old).

manju said...

This appears to be a hype. According to the linguists that I talked in a forum, it's possible that this language has retained some of the archaic forms in words, however, calling it close to archaic Greek is an exaggeration.

Also, in the study a linguist opines that archaic forms are the result of later developments which happen to resemble archaic forms. However, the linguist I who responded to my query on this rejected it completely and said only retention is possible.