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Thanks to my friend George Baloglou, I’m passing on this news item from in.gr, on a new documentary on Tsakonian. Translations mine.
See also the documentary website.
Α γρούσσα νάμου / Massimo Pizzocaro, Elisavet Laloudaki
In the Eastern Peloponnese, in a remote region under the shadow of Mt Parnon, live the Tsakonians, a special tribe of “stubborn” Greeks. For the past three thousand years they have been speaking an ancient dialect, now the unique instance of a Doric language. They did not abandon it even after Koine had prevailed—the first superregional dialect that Modern Greek originates from. But what has withstood centuries has withered in the last four or five decades. The roads have opened up, tourism has arrived, the locals have left as immigrants or mariners, compulsory schooling has forced its students to forget their ancient language. And then the hour of truth arrives: when you lose your language, you lose an entire world. The case of the Tsakonians is not unique. According to UN statistics, almost half the languages of the planet are facing the same threat of extinction and oblivion. This is a movie on loss of identity—on what it means to know that your language will not be spoken a hundred years from now…
Directed by: Massimo Pizzocaro, Elisavet Laloudaki
Script: Elisavet Laloudaki
Cinematography: Massimo Pizzocaro
Editing: Massimo Pizzocaro
Sound: Massimo Pizzocaro
Produced by: Elisavet Laloudaki
Production: HappyAnt TV
Format: HD Colour
Country of Production: Greece
Year of Production: 2011
Worldwide Distribution: HappyAnt TV, Elisavet Laloudaki, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduced by Stavros Tornes Stavros Tornes Theatre: Sat 12 March 2011, 13:00
Introduced by Tonia Marketaki Tonia Marketaki Theatre: Tue 15 March 2011, 15:00
And the news release on in.gr:
(9 Mar 2011, 16:29)
In the 13th Documentary Festival:
The Tsakonian dialect is at the center of a documentary to be shown in Thessalonica.
Eleni and Evdokia, two generations of women who speak the Tsakonian dialect. In the region of Cynuria, the locals use Tsakonian for their everyday communication. Photo: Athens News Agency.
THESSALONICA.—The visitors of Leonidio in Arcadia are welcomed by a sign saying Καούρ εκάματε, which in the Tsakonian dialect means “Welcome”. The directors Elisavet Laloudaki and Massimo Pizzocaro have attempted to record the Tsakonian dialect in the villages of Cynuria, in their documentary titled Α Γρούσσα Νάμου “Our Language”, to be shown in the 13th Documentary Festival of Thessalonica.
In the region of Cynuria, under the shadow of Mt Parnon and facing the Myrtoan Sea, the locals use in their daily communication Tsakonian, the only surviving descendant of the Doric dialect.
The Tsakonian dialect is used in the villages of Melana, Tyros, Sapounakeika, Vaskina, Prastos, Sitena, Kastanitsa, and the capital of the South Cynuria Municipality, Leonidio.
There are three different variants of the dialect: the idiom of south Cynuria (Tyros, Melana, etc.), the idiom of Kastanitsa and Sitena, and the idiom of the Propontis. The latter is no longer spoken by anybody.
Today the speakers of the dialect are estimated to be 2000 to 4000.
The directors of the documentary use their camera to follow the inhabitants of Cynuria, old and young, using the Tsakonian dialect in their daily activities.
“We went into homes and cafés and heard moving stories. We realised that the language is dying, but unfortunately it is not dying on its own. Together with the language, an entire way of life is vanishing,” director Elisavet Laloudaki told the Athens News Agency.
“Our aim was to try to convey the relaxed atmosphere prevalent in the region; to make a movie on a language that is disappearing, but which would be light and alive, like a cool breeze.”
Through their individual stories, the locals recount their relationship with Tsakonian, their memories of the former, more widespread use of the dialect, and their efforts to transmit their knowledge to their children.
As the documentary directors observe in their description, “Tsakonians belong to the old world. Their contacts with strangers, their opening up to tourism, immigration, modern life has only minimally altered the structures and rules of their closed society. In fact, it’s not that they are seeking to be isolated; they are just displaying an obstinate refusal to accept these developments.”
“Their persisting with the Ancient Doric language when the whole world around them, even non-Greeks, were adopting Koine is only one aspect—perhaps the most extreme—of their reluctance to change. In this sternly delimited environment, boundaries are very important, almost sacred. In Tsakonia, a stranger does not easily go into a home—and that’s final.”
Though the environment is as they describe, the directors themselves managed to gain entry more readily, since Elisavet Laloudaki is originally from there.
“So at least in our case, the camera was not an intruder. Homes were open, talk was free, space was unconfined. Our demands were minimal: we asked them not to talk about the language, but to talk in the language—that is, to allow us to show their world,” the two directors add.
The 13th Festival begins on March 11 and continues until the 20th. The in.gr site is a media sponsor for the event.
—Newsroom of the Lamprakis Press Group, Athens News Agency/Macedonian News Agency