Trakatroukika on YouTube

By: | Post date: 2010-05-19 | Comments: 10 Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, History, Modern Greek
Tags: , , , ,

First up, thank you again to Butcher of Yore—and now Stazybo Horn as well—for sending me links continuously about Kızderbent. There is a lot to go through and assimilate, so this blog is going to turn into Kızderbent Central for the next week or so.

[You will note btw that I keep saying Macedonian Slavonic instead of Macedonian (or “Skopian”). I hope you appreciate why (see for starters Macedonia (terminology), Macedonian language naming dispute, and the relative numbers agains the flags on the sidebar.) If you don’t appreciate why, well, it’s my blog, and it’s your right; but I have to pick which constituency to offend the least among my readers.]

Because the YouTube video is being asked for, I’m posting it first. The video doesn’t have any context, and as I said in comments it has been exploited for interminable online debates about Macedonia; comments on the video are disabled, so I’m translating the Greek forum link to it.

The videos came up in the discussion thread Ένα τραγούδι, πολλές ιστορίες Jovano Jovanke (“one song, many stories: Jovano Jovanke“), about a South Slavic song, and how it is used by a host of speakers of Slavonic languages with different national identities. The original poster, dna, has a good chuckle about the Bulgarian/FYROM argling over the song on YouTube:

Στη συνέχεια στα σχόλια μπινελικώνονται Βούλγαροι και κάτοικοι της ΠΓΔΜ.
– “γιατί τραγουδάτε μακεδονικά τραγούδια αφού δεν μπορείτε να τα πείτε καλά”?
– “έλα ρε, βουλγάρικα είναι, και εσείς βούλγαροι είστε, τι παριστάνετε τώρα”?
– “ουστ αποδώ μογγολοτάταροι, να πάρετε τον πρόγονό σας τον Ασπαρούχ και να πάτε στο Ταταρστάν, εμείς είμαστε
α)γνήσιοι σλάβοι
β) γνήσιοι μακεδόνες
Thereafter, Bulgarians and inhabitants of FYROM start flaming each other:
“Why are you singing Macedonian songs when you can’t speak it properly?”
“Oh come on, they’re Bulgarian songs, and you’re Bulgarian too, stop pretending.”
“The hell with you, Mongol Tatars, take your ancestor Asparukh and go back to Tatarstan, we’re (a) genuine Slavs and (b) genuine Macedonians.”

To my mind, the discussion on the forum quickly degenerates to that level anyway. But by way of rebuttal, poster kukos says the following (my comments in square brackets):

So, friend dna69, the people dancing and singing in this video:

are members of the Kizderventiot Association of Thessalonica. In the next video:

Mr “Christos” [I think he means Sotiris], who was singing, chats to some ladies also descended from the same region of Asia Minor (Kızderbent), and who ARE NOT LOCALS, as is erroneously subtitled. [Subtitled on the YouTube clip—i.e. they are not indigenous speakers of Macedonian Slavonic. “Local” (ντόπια) is the preferred way of referring to Macedonian Slavonic within Greek Macedonia.]
The guy who subtitled it in English is somewhat confused, so he draws wrong conclusions.
The lady speaking the most clearly states, of course, that “… I am Greek”. So when she says “our language matches theirs” but “we count in Turkish”, she means that the REFUGEE dialect matches the “local” dialect. [i.e. that Trakatroukika is similar to the indigenous Macedonian Slavonic of the village of Polypetro, where these Trakatroukides have settled].
But this local dialect is not used as a main language. The proof: the lady in question does not know how to count over four in “Bulgarian”. Whereas I have spent long enough among Yugoslav tourists [who have long been visiting Greece, and Chalkidike in particular], and I can count as much as you want: devet xiliante tsetrista dvananteset (9412)
[Followed by a history of the village of Polypetro in Kilkis, and of Kızderbent, copypasted from elsewhere.]

For my part, I’ll comment that no, the lady in question knowing only 1–4 in Slavonic does not prove that Bulgarian wasn’t their main language; it proves that their Slavonic was heavily Turkicised. Large numbers as opposed to small are the province of the marketplace rather than the hearth, so it’s common for languages to borrow large numbers from the local trade language, which would certainly have been Turkish.

So, turning to the video itself. Stazybo Horn has done detective work on Google through Wikipedia deletions—a curse on them; and he mailed me about the programme that featured this after I wrote the first draft of this post: it is from «Κάθε τόπος και τραγούδι» “A song from every region”, a Sunday programme on ET3 (State TV, Northern Greece), presented by Giorgos Melikis, and this episode was shown on Jan 21, 2007. From Googling, I see Melikis’ show does feature other languages of Northern Greece. Butcher of Yore tells me that Κυριακή στο Χωριό “Sunday in the Village”, on the same channel, has done so as well. Here’s the thread where the YouTube user announces he has posted it on the same day: his posting confirms Kukos’ surmise that he didn’t realise they were refugees from Turkey.

The video starts with 45 seconds of chat in Trakatroukika. Please God, someone who knows Bulgarian or Macedonian Slavonic, do tell me how Turcisised this sounds.

The English subtitles are pretty much correct, though summary. Sotiris (the man talking to the women at the start) is from Thessalonica: the host Melikis says so at 0:53. I don’t know if that means Sotiris is a native speaker of Macedonian Slavonic (in which case it is mutually intelligible with Trakatroukika), or that he is also a Trakatroukis. The Trakatroukides count up to four in “Bulgarian” (notice the chuckle when the B-word is spoken at 1:32); at Sotiris’ village they count in Slavonic at least up to six. That, and his initial question, make me suspect Sotiris is not a Trakatroukis.

The woman talking describes their party as Trakatroukides (right at 1:00—”he asked us, how you are here in the village, the Trakatroukides”). She says their languages “*almost* matches” the indigenous Slavonic; and their odam matches “local” vode “water”. (Another woman interjects at 1:15 “We talk the same [language]” and “We get along very well”—which suggests Trakatroukika and the Macedonian Slavonic of Polypetro are mutually intelligible anyway.) They explicitly claim Trakatroukika is not mutually intelligible with Turkish, and is partially mutually intelligible with Bulgarian, Serbian, and the Macedonian Slavonic of Gevgelija, on the FYROM side of the border. (Sotiris at 1:52 says, after Serbian is mentioned, “they’d catch the odd word”.)

“And one last question” (at 2:00)—”to come back to our songs and dances”, because this is a folklore show—but the question is not about songs or dances. “How do you feel inside?” “What, about our language?” one man says. Another realises where this is going, and says: “Our homeland is Greece”—straightforwardly. (It’s not like, if they felt differently they could very well say differently on Greek State TV—but Butcher of Yore informs me that has indeed happened, e.g. with a show by Maya Tsokli on villages in Florina, and that has made it to YouTube too.)

“Not just Greece”, the host adds expansively. “Greater Greece!” (Μεγάλη Ελλάδα). Um, somewhat unsophisticated of the host, in my opinion (and I’m not looking forward to discussing why I think that). He shouldn’t have to solicit proof of loyalty from Greek citizens who happen to speak a Turkicised Slavonic, and the phrasing is reminiscent of the irredentist Megali Idea. But anyway, it’s great that we have this document.

If we have to discount Sotiris’ language as not Trakatroukika, admittedly we have far less than 45 seconds’ worth; and if these Trakatroukides have lived for three generations together with Macedonian Slavonic speakers, their language will be much less Turkicised, and more similar to the local dialect. So it’s not pristine Trakatroukika (if it’s even meaningful to speak of such a thing). If you’re looking to avoid interference from other dialects of Bulgarian or Macedonian Slavonic, your best bet is in fact New Triglia, in Chalkidike.

Or Roditis. Roditis (formerly Proktio) is in Rodopi, 5km from Komotini, and Rodopi also is home to Pomaks, who are Bulgarian-speaking Muslims. But it is unlikely there has been any real contact between the Trakatroukides and the Pomaks. As an acquaintance from Komotini reminds me, the Pomaks were subject to travel restrictions until 1992; as he put it, “the Pomaks this side would come down to market in Komotini every Tuesday; the Pomaks that side would come down to market in Xanthi every Saturday—and that was it.” Moreover, as a Christian village Roditis would have had no contact with the Muslim ethnic Turks of the region either; and the village is now a suburb of Komotini.

One last thing: one of Pontus and the Left’s (Πόντος και Αριστερά) regular commenters, Partizana, is from the same village of Polypetro. Comment #36 in this thread is about how moved she was to discover her grandmother’s language documented elsewhere.


  • opoudjis says:

    The videos have indeed gone offline. The programs are reaired periodically on ET3 TV, but your best bet is probably to try and track down the program presenter, Giorgis Melikis, at ET3 in Thessalonica. (The abolition and recent reemergence of ERT may make this more difficult.)

  • I can't watch this 2 videos.
    Could you please send me a link or something? I would like to see them for my master thesis.
    Best regards

  • Με μια βδομάδα, λόγω απεργίας, προβλήθηκε:

  • Καταρχάς, ελπίζω Νικ να έχεις χαθεί για καλό λόγο.

    Την Κυριακή ο Μελίκης έχει στην ΕΤ3 σίκουελ

    θα το γράψω φυσικά, και θα το ανεβάσω.

    Να είσαι καλά.

  • TAK says:

    Nick, I love it too!!!

  • opoudjis says:

    Like the followup post says, the Trakatroukides are reported to have sung only Turkish songs.

    *Loved* the Arvanitaki version!

  • TAK, it's not a specific or special Trakatroukika song. Like you said, it's just Rampi Rampi sung by Trakatroukides.

  • TAK says:

    I also found this on youtube (with translations in English and Greek).

  • TAK says:

    Nick, is this the "Trakatroukika" song???? I am amazed!!! This is a very well known Turkish song (or at least, I thought so) which has been sung by Stelios Kazantzidis and Eleftheria Arvanitaki among others!!!

    Here are the verses:
    Çadırımın üstüne şıp dedi damladı
    Allah canımı almadı almadı
    Hey rampi rampi,
    Rampi x4 masallah
    Veresiye vere vere kalmadı kalmadı
    Allah canimi almadı almadı
    Hey rampi x2,
    Rampi x4 maşallah
    Sürü sürü cezveler kaynasın kaynasın
    Sürüverin cezveler kaynasın kaynasın
    Hanımların gobegi oynasın oynasın
    Hey rampi rampi,
    Rampi x4 masallah

    You may listen to it here:
    Kazantzidis's version
    Arvanitaki's version

  • John Cowan says:

    To my mind, the Balkan (Flame) Wars are summed up in this chilling comment from early 90s Usenet:

    "There is no such language as Croatian. There are people calling themselves Croats, who speak Serbian — badly — but soon that will no longer matter."

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