Subscribe to Blog via Email
April 2021 M T W T F S S « Mar 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Maronite Arabic in Cyprus
Cyprus, though quirks of history, has been more sanguine about linguistic diversity than Greece has been. I remember my Cypriot father’s shrugged “yeah, there were some Armenians too, and a village of Maronites“, vs my Cretan mother’s astonished retelling of her first encounter with her sister’s new (Arvanite) in-laws: “And all of a sudden… they started speaking another language!”
I’d like to think (though I have no reason to) that this sanguine attitude is helped by how far the local variants in Cyprus have diverged from the metropoles, precisely because Cyprus is so far away. You’d be hard to put to say that the basilect of Cypriot Greek is mutually intelligible with Standard Greek. Cypriot Turkish (or as some would have it, Gibrizlija) has also travelled far from Standard Turkish, and there is apparent typological convergence between the two. The Classicists here will know that Cyprus was a late holdout for the pre-Hellenic Eteocypriot, and for the most archaic dialect of Greek around after that.
H/t Language Hat, for his note of Bulbul Lameem Souag @ Jabal al-Lughat’s posting on the Maronite Arabic spoken in Cyprus (see also Wikipedia). With a link to a teacher’s site to help preserve the language (with a level of Government support that, through reasons of quirks of history, is unthinkable in Greece.)
The cute thing about the posting is the remark by Bulbul that (not unlike Greek and, I suspect, Turkish) this Cypriot variant is the most deviant form of Arabic he has ever heard:
My scale (1-10, lowest to highest intelligibility): if Levantine Arabic is 10 and Moroccan Arabic is 8, Chadic is 6, Nigerian is 5. Cypriot Arabic is 2. It’s pretty difficult to even read, perhaps on par with the basilect of some English-based creoles.
He goes on to note that “Consequently, Borg postulates a sort-of Syrian-Anatolian koine as the direct ancestor of CMA. … Contrary to popular opinion, CMA doesn’t really show any particular affinity with Lebanese dialects of Arabic, but shows evidence of Aramaic adstratum or even substratum.”
I’m afraid I can’t say much intelligent about this, but I pass it on. There must be something in the water in that island…