The Cypriot “Language”- a Greek Dialect
Languages, what a mystery! It is commonly accepted that even if you are a fluent speaker of a language, there is still much that you don’t know about it. The Greek language is even more surprising, as it is full of idiomatic expressions, the meaning of which are difficult to imagine, and it has so many alterations and dialects all over Greece and Cyprus. Rhodes and Crete, other islands in Greece and Cyprus are well known for their characteristic accent and local dialect.
I am sure you are already wondering why this is happening as their official language is Modern Greek. What language do people of Cyprus speak? In this article, we will have a quick look at the Cypriot ”language”, explain some of its main characteristics and present some commonly used phrases.
To start with, the Greek Cypriot dialect combines and blends sounds, words, and idioms from other languages and dialects. It has survived through time, by being transmitted from generation to generation, from mouth to mouth. It is spoken all over the island of Cyprus and the Cypriots living abroad (Greek Cypriot diaspora), although the official written language is Modern Greek. Going back in time, even though Greeks -Achaean Greeks – inhabited the island and brought the Greek language to Cyprus, due to the fact that the island has a great geographical position and in the ancient world, it used to be the largest producer and exporter of copper, it was conquered by Turks, Brits, Francs, and Venetians. This has not just affected the social and economic life of the island but also the language as even nowadays there are many words, expressions, and phrases in use originated from all these nations’ language.
Now let’s see some of the Greek Cypriot dialect’s main characteristics:
- The use of double consonants in a word, for example «ποττέ»-ποτέ- never/ «αλλάσω»- αλλάζω- change
- The use of -ν at the end of the words or the verbs «τραπέζιν»- τραπέζι- table, «χαρτίν» – χαρτί – paper, «κουτίν»- κουτί- box, «πιαίνουμεν»- πηγαίνουμε- (we) go, «ερκούμαστεν»- ερχόμαστε- we come, «παίζουμεν»- παίζουμε- we play.
- Characteristic sounds like ‘tz’ for the ‘k’ sound for example ”τζαι-και- and’, or using the double negative form ‘εν τζαι – δεν και- not and’ for more emphasis for example «εν τζαι είδα τον» or «εν τζαι επία’»
- The use of the pronoun after the verb «είπεν μου» – μου είπε-, «λαλεί του»- του λέει.
Now, let’s see some of the most commonly used words in Cypriot language and how we can use them in daily small conversations:
- Ίντα; – τι;
- Ίνταλως – πώς;
- Τζιαι – και
- Έχει/έσσιει – έχει
- Δαμέ – εδώ
- Τζιαμέ – εκεί
- Εν να – θα
Cypriot Phrases and Words
-Ίνταλως πάμεν τζιαμέ;- Intalos pamen tziame? How can we get there?
-Να πάτε ίσσια τζιαι μετά αριστερά. -Na pate issia tzai meta aristera.
Go straight on and then left.
Ίντα που έσσιεις; – Inta pou essieis? How are you? What do you have?
Έν είμαι τζιαι πολλά καλά. -En ime tziai polla kala. I am not very well.
-Πού είσαι; -Pou ise?- Where are you?
-Είμαι δαμε στο ταχυδρομείο. –Ime dame sto taxidromio-I am here at the post office.
-Εντάξει, μείνε τζιαμέ τζιαι έρκουμαι. -Entaxi, mine tziame tziai erkoume. Ok, stay there and I am coming.
-Ίντα που εν νά κάμετε τον άλλον μήναν; -Inta pou enna kamete ton allon minan?
-Εν νά πάμεν διακοπές. -En na pamen diakopes. We will go on holidays.
Something that we should note here, is that you can easily use this phrase when you are referring to something you will do in the future [Έν να + ρήμα-en na + verb]
We hope that our article today helps you to understand a little bit better some of the sounds, words and daily phrases that you can hear during your visit to Cyprus. You can also find out more by watching our video.
Now, it is your turn! Can you write any Greek Cypriot ”language” words or phrases that you have heard?