What are some differences between the Greek of Greece and Cypriot Greek?

By: | Post date: 2017-02-27 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

Cypriot Greek is one of the South-Eastern group of Greek dialects, along with Chios and the Dodecanese. So the differences between the Greek of Rhodes (in Greece) and the Greek of Cyprus are less far apart than the Greek of Athens and the Greek of Cyprus. In fact, if you aren’t finely attuned to the dialects, you can mistake someone from Rhodes as someone from Cyprus; that has happened to my dad in taxis in Crete.

But I’m going to assume the question is about Standard Greek vs Cypriot Greek. These are the first things that come to mind:

  • Survival of word-final -n.
  • Survival and expansion of double consonants. That includes word-initially (usually in loanwords from Turkish), where they are realised as aspirates.
  • Deletion of voiced fricatives between vowels; so Standard Greek traɣuði “song”, Cypriot trauin.
  • Fortition of θj, ðj to θc. So Standard ðia(v)ole “Devil!”, Cypriot θcaole.
  • Palatalised velars become palatoalveolar (though that actually happens in most Greek dialects outside the standard).
  • Some archaic verb inflections.
  • Old French loanwords; e.g. tʃaera “chair”.
  • Impressionistically, a few more Turkish loanwords than in Greece.
  • Unmarked VSO word order instead of SVO.
  • A deep love of cleft constructions. I have cited in a paper the phrase from a folk tale ίνταλος εν ποννα εύρω τωρά να γινώ γιατρός “How is it that I will work out now how to become a doctor”.
  • A healthy survival of the dialect as the low lect in a diglossia; there is abundant Cypriot dialect written online, including dialect-specific ASCII romanisation.

Btw, I’ve just discovered that Google matches dialectal ίνταλος with Standard πώς in searches. I am impressed!

EDIT: Added by Eutychius Kaimakkamis:

  • The -n at the end of words is usually pronounced when it’s the ending word. When there’s another word after it, the -n just nasalizes the vowel behind it and by extension the consonant or vowel next to it.
  • In many varieties (mainly in Tillyria and Kokkinochoria), θ and φ sometimes change to χ e.g. χαρκούμαι instead of θαρκούμαι or χιλούιν instead of φιλούιν. Sidenote: There’s even a satirical show with a a segment called “Τα άπλυτα στη χόρα” (instead of φόρα) where two football pundits talk with exaggerated Kokkinochoria accents and usually involves (poor quality) scatological humour like “να σου χέσω ένα χέμα” instead of “να σου θέσω ένα θέμα”.
  • Voiced consonants often turn into unvoiced ones e.g. φτέλλα instead of βδέλλα or αυκό instead of αυγό.

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