Cappadocian Greek: Wikipedia

Cappadocian Greek

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the Greek dialect. For the Greek people, see Cappadocian Greeks.
Region Greece, originally Cappadocia(Central Turkey)
Native speakers
2,800 (2015)[1]
(previously thought to be extinct)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 cpg
Glottolog capp1239[2]

Cappadocian, also known as Cappadocian Greek or Asia Minor Greek, is a mixed language[3] formerly spoken in Cappadocia (Central Turkey). In the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s, allCappadocian Greeks were forced to emigrate to Greece, where they were resettled in various locations, especially in Central and Northern Greece. The Cappadocians rapidly shifted to Standard Modern Greek and their language was thought to be extinct since the 1960s. In June 2005, Mark Janse (Ghent University) and Dimitris Papazachariou (University of Patras) discovered Cappadocians in Central and Northern Greece who could still speak their ancestral language fluently. Amongst them are middle-aged, third-generation speakers who take a very positive attitude towards the language, as opposed to their parents and grandparents.[4] The latter are much less inclined to speak Cappadocian and more often than not switch to Standard Modern Greek. A survey of Cappadocian speakers and language use is currently in preparation.

History and research

Anatolian Greek dialects until 1923. Demotic in yellow. Pontic in orange. Cappadocian in green, with green dots indicating individual Cappadocian Greek villages in 1910.[5]

Origin of Cappadocian homeland

By the fifth century AD, the last of the Indo-European native languages of Asia Minor ceased to be spoken, replaced by Koine Greek.[6] At the same time the communities of central Asia Minor were becoming actively involved in affairs of the Greek-speaking Eastern Roman Empire, and some, now Greek-speaking, Cappadocians, such as Maurice Tiberius (r. 582-602) and Heraclius (r. 610 to 641), would even rise to become Emperors.[7][8]

Seleucia at the Zeugma

Cappadocian Greek first began to diverge from the Medieval Greek common language of the Byzantine Empire six centuries later,[5] following the Byzantine’s defeat at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. This defeat allowed Turkish speakers to enter Asia Minor for the first time, severing Cappadocia from the rest of the Byzantine world. Over the next centuries Cappadocian Greek would be heavily influenced by Turkish, but, unlike Standard Modern Greek, it would not be influenced by Venetian and French from the Frankokratia period, which followed the Fourth Crusade‘s sack of Constantinople in 1204.

The earliest records of the language are in the macaronic Persian poems of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273), who lived in Iconium (Konya), and some Ghazals by his son Sultan Walad.[9][10] Interpretation of the texts is difficult, as they are written in Arabic script, in Rumi’s case without vowel points; Dedes’ is the most recent edition and rather more successful than others.[11][12][13]

Many Cappadocians shifted to Turkish altogether (written with the Greek alphabet, Karamanlidika). Where Greek was maintained (Sille near Konya, numerous villages near Kayseri, including Misthi, Malakopea, and Anakou and Pharasa town), it became heavily influenced by the surrounding Turkish. Unfortunately, there are next to no written documents in Medieval or early Modern Cappadocian, as the language was, and still is, essentially a spoken language only. Those educated to read and write, such as priests, would do so in the more classicizing literary Greek. The earliest outside studies of spoken Cappadocian date from the 19th century, but are generally not very accurate.

The first reliable grammar of Cappadocian is Modern Greek in Asia Minor: A study of dialect of Silly, Cappadocia and Pharasa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1916), by Richard MacGillivray Dawkins (1871–1955), the first Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, based on fieldwork conducted by the author in Cappadocia in 1909–1911.[14]

After the population exchange, several Cappadocian dialects have been described by collaborators of the Center for Asia Minor Studies (Κέντρον Μικρασιατικών Σπουδών) in Athens: Uluağaç (I.I. Kesisoglou, 1951), Aravan (D. Phosteris & I.I. Kesisoglou, 1960), Axo (G. Mavrochalyvidis & I.I. Kesisoglou, 1960) and Anaku (A.P. Costakis, 1964), resulting in a series of grammars (although regrettably not all Cappadocian villages were covered). The Pharasiot priest Theodoridis also published some folk texts.

In recent years, the study of Cappadocian has seen a revival following the pioneering work on Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988) by Sarah Grey Thomason and Terrence Kaufman, and a series of publications on various aspects of Cappadocian linguistics by Mark Janse, professor at Roosevelt Academy, who has also contributed a grammatical survey of Cappadocian to a forthcoming handbook on Modern Greek dialects edited by Christos Tzitzilis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki).

The recent discovery of Cappadocian speakers by Janse and Papazachariou will result in a new grammar, dictionary, and collection of texts.

Cappadocian Greek is well known from the linguistic literature as being one of the first well documented cases of language death, and in particular the significant admixture of non-Indo-European linguistic features into an Indo-European language. This process was pronounced on South-Western Cappadocia, and included the introduction of vowel harmony and verb-final word order.


The Greek element in Cappadocian is to a large extent Byzantine, e.g. θír or tír “door” from (Ancient and) Byzantine Greek θύρα (Modern Greek θύρα), píka or épka “I did” from Byzantine Greek έποικα (Modern Greek έκανα). Other, pre-Byzantine, archaisms are the use of the possessive pronouns mó(n), só(n) etc. from Ancient Greek εμός, σός etc. and the formation of the imperfect by means of the suffix -išk- from the Ancient Greek (Ionic) iterative suffix -(e)sk-. Turkish influence appears at every level. The Cappadocian sound system includes the Turkish vowels ı, ö, ü, and the Turkish consonants b, d, g, š, ž, tš, dž (although some of these are also found in Greek words as a result of palatalization).

Turkish vowel harmony is found in forms such as düšündǘzu “I think”, aor. 3sg düšǘntsü < düšǘntsi (Malakopi), from Turkish düşünmek, patišáxıs < patišáxis “king” (Delmeso), from Turkish padişah. Cappadocian noun morphology is characterized by the emergence of a generalized agglutinative declension and the progressive loss of grammatical gender distinctions, e.g. to néka “the (neuter) woman (feminine)”, genitive néka-ju, plural nékes, genitive nékez-ju (Uluağaç). Another Turkish feature is the morphological marking of definiteness in the accusative case, e.g. líkos “wolf (nominative / unmarked indefinite accusative)” vs. líko “wolf (marked definite accusative)”.

Agglutinative forms are also found in the verb system such as the pluperfect írta ton “I had come” (lit. “I came I was”) (Delmeso) on the model of Turkish geldi idi (geldiydi). Although Cappadocian word order is essentially governed by discourse considerations such as topicand focus, there is a tendency towards the Turkish subject–object–verb word order with its typological correlates (suffixation and pre-nominal grammatical modifiers).

The commonality among all Greek Cappadocian dialects is that they evolved from Byzantine Greek under the influence of Turkish. On the other hand, those dialects evolved in isolated villages. This has resulted in a variety of Greek Cappadocian dialects.


Although Cappadocian Greek was once believed to be a dead language, the discovery of a population of speakers has led to an increase in awareness, both within and outside of the Cappadocian community in Greece. In the documentary “Last Words,” which follows Mark Janse through Cappadocian speaking villages on the Greek mainland, community members are seen encouraging each other to use their dialect for ordinary things, such as joke telling. The members of these villages, including such notable figures as the bishop, recount being touched by a presentation given in Cappadocian by Janse on a visit to the region. The bishop went so far as to say that Janse’s speech “has lifted their shame.” The revitalization process is seen through examples such as this, wherein the speakers have begun to take back their identity and embrace their mother tongue. Additionally, younger generations are embracing the power of technology to spread awareness, creating Facebook pages about the language to inform the larger Greek population.


  • Northeastern Cappadocian (Sinasos, Potamia, Delmeso)
  • Northwestern Cappadocian (Silata or Zila, Anaku, Flojita, Malakopi)
  • Central Cappadocian (Axo; Misthi) (See Misthiotica)
  • Southwestern Cappadocian (Aravan, Gurzono; Fertek)
  • Southeastern Cappadocian (Oulagatz (Uluağaç), Semendere)
  • Farasiot: dialect of Φάρασα – Pharasa (Faraşa) town (now Çamlıca village Yahyalı, Kayseri) and other nearby villages (Afshar-Köy, Çukuri), more closely related to Pontic, though both are the closest relatives of Cappadocian
  • Sille

See also


  1. Jump up^ Cappadocian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Jump up^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). “Cappadocian Greek”. Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Jump up^ “The Resurrection of Cappadocian (Asia Minor Greek)”. p. 3. Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  4. Jump up^ “Laboratory of Ancient Greek Dialects”. University of Patras. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b Dawkins, R.M. 1916. Modern Greek in Asia Minor. A study of dialect of Silly, Cappadocia and Pharasa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  6. Jump up^ Swain, Simon; Adams, J. Maxwell; Janse, Mark (2002). Bilingualism in Ancient Society: Language Contact and the Written Word. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 246–266. ISBN 0-19-924506-1.
  7. Jump up^ Stark, Freya (2012). Rome on the Euphrates: The Story of a Frontier. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. p. 390. ISBN 978-1-84885-314-0. Byzantium reverted to Greek (Maurice, born in Cappadocia, was its first Greek emperor); and trade and diplomacy were honored from the very founding of the Imperial city as never in Rome before.
  8. Jump up^ Corradini, Richard (2006). Texts and identities in the early Middle Ages. Verl. der Österr. Akad. der Wiss. p. 57. ISBN 978-3-7001-3747-4. Emperor Maurice who is said to be the first emperor “from the race of the Greeks,” ex Graecorum genere.
  9. Jump up^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original ( on December 13, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  10. Jump up^ “Rumi”. 2004-05-09. Retrieved 2016-05-14.
  11. Jump up^ Δέδες, Δ. 1993. Ποιήματα του Μαυλανά Ρουμή. Τα Ιστορικά 10.18–19: 3–22.
  12. Jump up^ Meyer, G. 1895. Die griechischen Verse in Rabâbnâma. Byzantinische Zeitschrift 4: 401–411.
  13. Jump up^ Burguière, P. 1952. Quelques vers grecs du XIIIe siècle en caractères arabes. Byzantion 22: 63–80.
  14. Jump up^ “Modern Greek in Asia Minor; a study of the dialects of Siĺli, Cappadocia and Phárasa, with grammar, texts, translations and glossary : Dawkins, R. M. (Richard McGillivray), 1871-1955 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive”. Retrieved 2016-05-14.


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Rumi and Sultan Walad

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Source: Cappadocian_Greek -Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia