Modern Greek dialects

Project director:
Christos Tzitzilis, professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Project team:
M.  Margariti-Ronga, Assistant Professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Dr. Nikos Liosis, Researcher
Dr. Irene Kriki, Associate
Dr. Pavlos Albanoudis, freelancer
Eleni Papadamou (PhD Student), seconded associate
Dr. Maria Tsolaki, seconded associate

This research project has been running since 2001, following a recommendation made by Ch. Tzitzilis, professor of Historical and Balkan Linguistics at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Its aim is twofold: on the one hand, to compile and present in a two-volume edition the findings of research into Modern Greek dialectology to date, and on the other, to lay the groundwork for novel scientific thinking, based on more recent data and taking modern linguistic theory into account.

The first volume will be an extensive Introduction and the second one will systematically examine individual dialects and idioms. The second volume, which will be published first, is almost complete. It contains monographs of about 80-100 pages each on the following dialects: Pontic, Crimean-Azophic, Thracian-Bithynian, Cappadocian, the remaining Asia Minor idioms (Livisi, Pharasa, Sille), Cypriot, Tsakonian, Peloponnesian, the dialect of Mani, Megarian-Koumiotic, the dialects of Crete, the Ionian Islands, the Dodecanese and Cyclades, as well as the dialect of Southern Italy and the idioms of Northern Greece. There are also separate, smaller contributions, e.g. on the idioms of Chios and Smyrna.

Each contribution begins with a description of the geographical and historical context within which each dialect evolved, and goes on to present a review of related research to date. As far as the general characteristics of each dialect are concerned, 24 basic phonetic, morphological, syntactic and lexical isoglosses are selected, based on which the dialects are classified and situated in dialectal space. More particular characteristics of each dialect are presented next, and reference is made to their earliest known forms. Finally, the reader is given some idea of intra-dialectal differentiation.

The systematic description of each dialect begins with phonetics and phonology, moves on to morphology, syntax, the lexicon, phraseology, derivation and compounding, and ends with an investigation of each dialect’s relationship with other dialects and languages as well as a review of its present-day state. After a brief reference to any contemporary written production that might exist for each dialect, each contribution is brought to completion with the presentation of annotated dialectal texts and, of course, the relevant references.

The project, however, will not end with the publication of the work, as the Institute feels that it could and ought to contribute, on a more permanent basis, to the development of dialect studies and, more generally, to the development of research interest in Modern Greek dialects. For these reasons, an up-to-date dialectology library was set up, which consists of 700 titles and is constantly enriched. In addition, an archive of articles and reprints has been created, which today is composed of approximately 3500 entries (out of a total of 7000 regarding the history of the Greek language). Finally, an archive of spoken discourse recordings has been compiled, from various regions of the Greek-speaking world, focusing on those where previous research had failed to collect enough data. To this end, field trips have been organized in different areas, from Tsaconia to Bulgaria, in order to obtain new data. As a result, the Institute is now in possession of about 350 hours of recorded material. For the time being, these data cannot be accessed by other researchers, but the possibility of their further utilization will be reviewed in the future.

On the other hand, a second but equally important objective of the project is to create a small nucleus of researchers, who will train in the study of dialects, acquire the tools necessary for their analysis, and contemplate related research methods. This nucleus was first formed at the beginning of the project. Since then, 10 researchers and MA students have undergone this training, and today the team is made up of 6 members who work on the project on a daily basis. Within this context, the Institute is trying to train young researchers and create a team of dialectologists, who will have the opportunity to combine their postgraduate studies (MA and PhD) with useful and constructive work.

The first volume will be an extensive Introduction and the second one will systematically examine individual dialects and idioms. The second volume, which will be published first, is almost complete. It contains monographs of about 80-100 pages each on the following dialects: Pontic, Crimean-Azophic, Thracian-Bithynian, Cappadocian, the remaining Asia Minor idioms (Livisi, Pharasa, Sille), Cypriot, Tsakonian, Peloponnesian, the dialect of Mani, Megarian-Koumiotic, the dialects of Crete, the Ionian Islands, the Dodecanese and Cyclades, as well as the dialect of Southern Italy and the idioms of Northern Greece. There are also separate, smaller contributions, e.g. on the idioms of Chios and Smyrna.

Each contribution begins with a description of the geographical and historical context within which each dialect evolved, and goes on to present a review of related research to date. As far as the general characteristics of each dialect are concerned, 24 basic phonetic, morphological, syntactic and lexical isoglosses are selected, based on which the dialects are classified and situated in dialectal space. More particular characteristics of each dialect are presented next, and reference is made to their earliest known forms. Finally, the reader is given some idea of intra-dialectal differentiation.The systematic description of each dialect begins with phonetics and phonology, moves on to morphology, syntax, the lexicon, phraseology, derivation and compounding, and ends with an investigation of each dialect’s relationship with other dialects and languages as well as a review of its present-day state. After a brief reference to any contemporary written production that might exist for each dialect, each contribution is brought to completion with the presentation of annotated dialectal texts and, of course, the relevant references.