Greek in Italy

Discussion in 'Ελληνικά (Greek)' started by Hulalessar, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    There are two Greek speaking communities in Southern Italy, one in Calabria and the other in Puglia. Since the two communities are quite far apart, are the varieties of Greek spoken in each community mutually intelligible and is either mutually intelligible with any variety of Greek spoken in Greece?
  2. Nancy_gr New Member

    It' s similar but not exactly the same , as the new Greek is far away from their language system.
  3. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    That it would be similar yet different... Frankly, we could have guessed that. Otherwise it wouldn't be called Greek, would it?
    But in which way is are the Greek dialects in Italy and Greece different slash similar? Do you have examples? What about the phonology, morphology, syntax, ...?

    What exactly do you mean by this?
    I am just guessing here, but I can imagine that the dialects of northern Greece are "similar but not exactly the same" as southern Greek dialects. If so, what would be the role of "new Greek" in this situation? Otherwise asked, what's your point v.a.v. "new Greek".



    PS: It seems to be called Griko. The Wiki-articles about Greek-Calabrian and Grecìa Salentina might be interesting starting points too, though they don't give too many details...
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2009
  4. vatrahos

    vatrahos Senior Member

    American English
    By "New Greek" she means "Modern Greek."

    When she says "language system," I assume she is referring to entirely different syntactical formulae and morphological systems.

    For example, the difference between the "Modern Greek" spoken in Thessaloniki and in Athens is limited largely to vocabulary; that is to say, the syntax is entirely the same, while the verb morphology is almost identical. The only differences are in a few points of pronunciation and vocabulary.

    Now, what about the Greek of Southern Italy?

    I am no expert on this topic (in fact, I know almost nothing about the "Grecanico" of southern Italy), but I believe that this language has a syntax and verb morphology that is quite different from the Modern Greek of Greece proper. I remember reading somewhere that this language has maintained a closer adherence to Ancient Greek, both in syntax and declension.

    On the other hand, I don't think many people speak this anymore.

    I had an Italian friend who was doing her linguistics doctorate on these communities, and she told me that the language is on the verge of vanishing. Most people in southern Italy who identify themselves as "grecanico" do not speak the language. In the villages that my friend had visited, only the old people still spoke "ta grecanica." Since the nationalization of Italy, there has been a coordinated effort to force the Italian language in all schools, and these minority communities are slowly forgetting their old language. On the other hand, they still maintain a cultural identity with many strongly hellenistic elements.

    In any case, that's what my friend told me. It would be interesting if someone could provide some examples of this language.

    EDIT: here is one link I've found (
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2009
  5. vatrahos

    vatrahos Senior Member

    American English
    Hm, I think I'm wrong.

    I've found a few songs online, and it seems that this dialect is actually pretty close to Modern Greek, with just a few "Italianizations." Here's one example:

    Evo panda se sena pensèo,
    yiatì sena fsichi mou ghapò,
    ce pou pao, pou syrno, pou steo
    stin kardià mou panda sena vastò.

    The only large difference here is the use of the verb "penseo" (= pensare) instead of "skeptomai." The other differences (such as "evo" instead of "ego" or "fsichi" instead of "psychi") seem to be influences of Italian pronunciation (though I'm not sure). It's actually easier for me to understand than Cypriot Greek.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2009
  6. Traduita Senior Member

    Greece, Greek
    Yes, but for example there is another text posted here (end of the article) which I do not find particularly intelligible. Intelligibility is actually hard to measure, as it depends so much on each given situation. In this case I think the dialect is quite far apart from modern Greek but maybe it would be a lot easier to understand after some days' exposure, as is the case with Cypriot Greek as well. The main problem though is that we are talking about a language in big peril of extinction. It would be interesting to have feedback on this from people from/ living in those regions.
  7. ireney

    ireney Modistra

    Greek Greece
    While I, too, have not studied the matter and do not know much about these dialects, from the little I know I have noted that a) it's much easier for a Greek to understand "Grecanico" when it is written down than when spoken untill someone gets used to the different accent b) If someone knows a bit of Italian and/or Latin it is quite easy to understand the dialect.

    Found a site called Grika milume
  8. winegrower Senior Member

    Following the previous speakers’ line of thought, I confirm that in Greece there’s very little information about these communities and their dialects, mostly from documentaries and books with feedback from peregrinations. There are also some bands playing grecanico music during folklore festivals and that’s about it. I don’t know if this omertà is a question of strategy of the one or the other country, although in the link suggested by Traduita we read some unpleasant connotations about fascist’s period policy. Since Italians are known for their passion and enthusiasm for dialects, and since these people are Italians in every respect, I believe they should be encouraged to maintain their language and their costumes.
    As for the similarities of grecanico or griko with Modern Greek, I agree with Ireney that there’s much in common and with some knowledge of Italian it is possible to understand a lot!
  9. ilnoummae Junior Member

    Does anyone know how we can say "grazie" or "thank you" in griko? I need to use in plural, e.g. "WE thank you" or "ευχαριστούμε". Any idea?
  10. alfie1888

    alfie1888 Senior Member

    Kent, England
    English - England
    I just last week gave a presentation (it was my final oral exam in Italian, actually) on this dialect. I actually found A LOT of information on it on line. Should anyone like all the links, please just send me a message.

    Anyway, there has been a big movement recently to save this dialect. They are now teaching it in Primary schools in the Salento area! There are videos on YT from their lessons! I found this dialect more or less easy to understand. They throw in quite a few Italian words and use Italian syntax sometimes, however, (but it's mostly Greek and very understandable for a Modern Greek speaker such as myself) and when I showed a Greek friend of mine a few weeks ago he didn't seem to understand as nearly as much as I did not knowing both languages (though, curiously there was a lot more Greek used than Italian in any given sentence uttered!). I guess he only listened once whereas I'd been researching for weeks! Hehe!

    There are festivals for the music sung in this dialect which I am absolutely besotted with. There are Greeks who have been to these areas to learn their songs and perform them. They are Encardia and there is a "native" group Arakne Mediterranea (and I think I'm forgetting one).

    Anyway, after researching into the grammar and syntax of the dialect, I deduced that in order to say "we thank you", they MIGHT say (I never heard them say anything like it, but like I say it's a complete [yet educated] guess on my part): HARISTÓMESE / HARISTÓMESA(S).

    I am really fascinated by this dialect and I look forward to finding out more. Anyone on this forum who shares this enthusiasm with me, feel free to get in touch!
  11. ilnoummae Junior Member

    Thank you for your reply! I am a musician and I teach music in a high school in Greece. This year we prepared a project with the music group of our school concerning the music of Grecia Salentina. The children loved it and we managed to hold a performance with great success a few days ago. We looked but could not find how to finish our performance, that's why we needed to say "we thank you" at the end. Although the concert has already taken place there is a possibility to perform it again so it would be great to include this salutation at the end. "HARISTÓMESE / HARISTÓMESA(S)" sounds quite right. I am not a plhilologist, I am just fascinated by the music of this area and the dialect. I am happy to find people with the same interests. Thank you very much!
  12. Eltheza

    Eltheza Senior Member

    Worcestershire, UK
    English - England (Midlands)
    Hi Alfie:)!

    Good luck with your final exams;)!

    I'd love the links if you wouldn't mind sending them to me in a PM. With a best Greek friend in Athens, we often discussed this dialect and talked about taking a short trip to Salento!

    Thanks very much indeed!
  13. Eltheza

    Eltheza Senior Member

    Worcestershire, UK
    English - England (Midlands)
    Thanks very much, velisarius - great:thumbsup::)!

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