An ancient form of Greek language needs help to survive| Trending Viral hub


Thousands of languages ​​around the world face an uncertain future and could soon disappear if immediate action is not taken. One of these endangered languages ​​is Romeika, a variety of Greek that has its roots in ancient Hellenistic times.

While the number of speakers is declining, especially in the Trabzon region of Turkey, Romeyka may be saved thanks to continued research and a recently launched crowdsourcing platform that can help document and preserve the language.

Preserving Romeyka

The initiative to keep Romeyka alive is led by Ioanna SitaridouFellow of Queens’ College and Professor of Spanish and Historical Linguistics at the University of Cambridge and is the latest contribution to UN International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032). This requires the recognition of indigenous languages ​​and promotes initiatives that work to ensure their survival.

Romeyka probably has a couple thousand speakers left in the country. Trabzon region, and its chances of being passed on to future generations are increasingly slim due to a variety of obstacles. It does not have its own writing system, so it must be based on oral transmission. Native speakers are predominantly over 65 years old and are surrounded by Turkish cultural influences that can further isolate the language.


Read more: Eight ancient languages ​​are still spoken today


Keep indigenous languages ​​alive

However, not all hope is lost. A new platform called Crowdsourcing Romeyka harness the power of public participation to support the language. Designed by Matthew Nazari, a Computer Science student at Harvard University, this platform invites people around the world to upload audio recordings of Romeyka being spoken.

“Speech crowdsourcing is a new tool that helps speakers build a repository of spoken data for their endangered languages, while allowing researchers to document these languages, but also encouraging speakers to appreciate their own linguistic heritage,” Sitaridou said. in a press releasewho has been studying Romeyka for the last 16 years.

Along with the launch of the platform, Sitaridou will present new findings on language development and grammar at an exhibition in Greece. He has concluded that Romeyka comes from Hellenistic Greek, not medieval Greek, redefining its relationship to modern Greek.

“Romeyka is the sister, rather than the daughter, of the modern Greek,” Sitaridou said. “Essentially, this analysis destabilizes the claim that Modern Greek is a language isolate.”

A distinctive feature of Romeyka is that it uses the infinitive, while all other Greek dialects known today do not. For example, modern Greek speakers would say “I want me to go” rather “I want to go.The infinitive originally appeared in Hellenistic Greek (spoken from approximately the 4th century BC to the 6th century AD), but became obsolete in medieval times when all Greek varieties except Romeyka abandoned it.


Read more: How to revive dying languages


Romeika’s story

The migration of the ancient Greeks to parts of modern-day Turkey expanded the presence of the Greek language in the region, and Christianization played an important role in its spread. When the Ottoman Empire took over the area in the 15th century, Islamization caused the language to take two different paths. Certain communities converted to Islam and retained Romeyka (also known as Pontic Greek), while others who remained Christians moved towards modern Greek.

In 1923, a massive population exchange It occurred between Greece and Türkiye; more than a million Greek Christians in Turkey were relocated to Greece and almost half a million Muslims in Greece were relocated to Turkey. The Romeika-speaking Muslim communities, however, could remain in Türkiye, which explains the vestiges of the Greek language in the country today.

Romeika speakers have to endure cultural pressures from both the Turkish and Greek perspectives, as the language does not fit neatly into the national identity model of either country. This has inspired Sitaridou to raise awareness about Romeyka and improve the stigma surrounding it.

“Raising the status of minority and heritage languages ​​is crucial for social cohesion, not only in this region, but throughout the world,” Sitaridou said.


Read more: How language shapes our understanding of reality


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