When two communities live apart for over 40 years there are bound to be consequences which undoubtedly affect language; or in this case our beloved and deep-rooted dialects.
Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I realised how much the Turkish Cypriot dialect had changed. For me the constant reminder of division was just this; how much the dialect has been affected.
Let me stop here though and clarify a few things. I felt betrayed, and also a bit excluded, because no one was speaking the way Turkish Cypriots do in Potamia, of course this was very naïve of me. Potamia is first and foremost a village (people speak differently in the villages of Cyprus than in the towns generally, although in recent decades this difference has been lessened) and Potamia was in, what can only be described as, a kind of time bubble where certain things such as language had remained the same for decades.
Now that I’ve delved back into learning Turkish, I can’t deny though that in their heavier forms, both the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot dialects, still sound very similar to my ears.
Sometimes I wonder if anyone else notices it. There is still that same slow melodic rhythm that irrepressibly permeates both dialects. It has become a kind of captivating experience for me; listening out (eavesdropping slightly) to check whether that melody still exists, as for me that’s the confirmation that even 40 years apart, an identity that includes both communities is not lost. It is an identity that exists within our dialects.
For me identity is undoubtedly bound up in language, habits, gestures and traditions. And in Cyprus we’re luckily enough to belong to this secret club in a way: the secret club of dialect speakers. Both the dialects belong to us and only we understand them. It’s fun!
Since today’s post was all about our dialects I wanted to share with you a photo from the project SharedWords, which is a social project funded by the Peace It Together Network. This is a project on shared words between different languages – in this case specifically Greek and Turkish – aiming to motivate people to focus on similarities, making us feel familiar with each other, rather than differences that may make us feel estranged from each other.
Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/Sharedworlds
- The neighbourhood kid (Το παιδί της γειτονιάς)
- What’s in a name?*