>I would like to draw attention on a phenomenon I noticed lately. That I noticed it lately doesn’t go to say that it’s a recent thing. I am talking about Cypriot blogs. Cyprus is a funny place. Its people (both Greek and Turkish speakers) speak their own varieties of those languages. The Greek Cypriot variety has distinctive differences from standard Greek, such as different phonology, different syntax and different vocabulary (enriched with elements of archaic Greek, French, Italian, Provençal, Arabic, Turkish, Catalan and English). This is a natural consequence of the language evolving through centuries of particular historical and cultural influences. There is a whole big argument as to whether the Cypriot variety is a dialect or a language, with many opinions flying back and forth. The main difference between the Cypriot and the standard Greek is that standard Greek speakers do not understand the spoken Cypriot.
Decades of Greek nationalism on the island rendered the spoken Cypriot Greek an ‘unnecessary’ element in the minds (and policies) of all those who wanted to highlight unity with motherland Greece. Therefore the local spoken language/dialect was deliberately neglected and downgraded (often considered a lesser quality, peasant language) in favour of the standard, Athenian Greek. This in turn has caused a number of issues: the fact that Athenian Greek is an artificially planted language to serve political purposes meant that very few people actually speak it correctly. Let’s face it: you grow up, speak Cypriot at home and then you go to school and you are expected to adopt an Athenian way of speaking and writing. It would be the equivalent of asking British people to adopt a mixture of Latin and Germanic proto-languages in order to sound ‘authentic’ and not regional. The Brits would promptly give you the two finger sign (and not the victory one-although I know people whose parents told them off for speaking Geordie) The Cypriot phenomenon created a diachronic inferiority complex for the Cypriots who go through various levels of brainwashing in their lifetime in order to ensure ‘national unity’ and all the rest of it. So far the Cypriot variety was restricted to literature and comedy sketches with a distinctive ‘rural’ theme. That is to say that the Cypriot was a language restricted to the countryside, a ‘peasant’ thing, unfit for modern people who live in cities and drive cars. All our education, media, government language, services etc etc are in this forced Atheno-Cypriot garb, a weird mixture to say the least.
Until now. You see, blogs have given people the freedom to express themselves in their mother’s tongue rather than some pretentious and unnatural ‘AthenoNicosian’ hybrid that just sounds irritating. The same way it would sound irritating if all Athenians all of a sudden decided to speak Cypriot. Cypriot bloggers have taken to writing in Cypriot, showing to all those who consider it inferior that it can actually be used in real life, for real situations that don’t just involve tending to your goats or setting up arranged marriages between Vladimiros Kafkarides’ daughter and Nana Georgiou’s son. All blessed by Andreas Moustras playing the priest. And there are many brilliant examples of Cypriot blogs. Here are but a few of them:
This shows the strength of blogs. Anyone can write. Anyone can say anything. In any language they please. It is a sign of the times when the new president openly speaks the local ‘peasant’ language rather than something he can’t speak very well anyway.
I am unaware of a similar Turkish Cypriot phenomenon, but I would bet it exists. This is not a political statement. Let’s just say that it’s natural to speak and write the language you learn at home, from birth. That way you can express yourself fully, without sounding contrived. How can people think that that’s inferior? It just makes sense. If you think your mother tongue is inferior, you are definitely suffering from inferiority complex and delusions of grandeur. Grow up.