my Cyprus, my Κύπρος, my Kıbrıs

It’s just a dream, right?

My relationship with language and identity has always been complicated and perhaps even on some level mysterious – to me at least!

Having started re-learning Turkish some years ago now – four years ago if I’m not mistaken – my language learning has taken various turns, some predictable, some not so much.

They say that when you begin dreaming in a language that’s when you know you’ve truly grasped that language – it has finally become embedded in your subconscious. Of late, this has become one of the more entertaining aspects of language learning/development that was once part of who I was; at a time when language was simply a way to communicate and not inextricably linked to my identity.

I find myself not simply dreaming in Turkish at times, but combining Turkish and Greek. In my dreams, I’m reading a sentence that begins in Turkish and half-way through, it reads as Greek.

Between sleeping and awake, I conjugate Greek verbs and put Turkish endings on to them. Or it is the other way round? It’s been happening more and more.

We spent New Year’s Day in my village, Potamia, at my second cousin’s mother’s house. Looking at her sweet new born, the most absurd words flew out of my mouth: ‘Αρκουδά biraz’, meaning the baby is ‘crawling a bit’. Hers is probably one of the only places where no one would take much notice of this bizarrely concocted Cypriot sentence of Greek and Turkish.

I have mentioned before that I feel like a different person, depending on the language I’m speaking. However, the biggest leap is always from English to Greek, and English to Turkish. And I believe that it can only be explained through the major cultural differences between English and my other two languages; it’s a mighty leap from cold northern Europe down to the warm corners of the Mediterranean.

The jump from Greek to Turkish and back, has always been so culturally minimal at least – especially via the Cypriot dialects – that perhaps I never fully make the leap from one language to the next.

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