Dialect description

Cappadocian is a dialect spoken by several hundreds of -mostly second or/and third generation- refugees, inhabitants of few homogeneous villages of Central and Northern Greece. Cappadocian speakers were dislocated from the Cappadocia region of Turkey, which followed the population exchange at the end of the Greek-Turkish war (1919-1922). The dialect had been regarded as dead until 2005, when it was re-discovered in Greece. Cappadocian is comprised of a set of varieties that were originally spoken by members of the Rum Millet (Greek Orthodox community) in Central Minor Asia. It is classified into the varieties of: a) the village of Silli, b) the village of Farasa, c) Central Cappadocia, d) Northern Cappadocia (the villages of Silata, Anaku, Flogita, Malakopi, Sinasos, Potamia, Delmesos), and e) Southern Cappadocia (Aravani, Gurdanos, Fertakaina, Ulagats, Semendere).
By the mid-11th century the Seljuk Turks invaded Cappadocia. The Seljuk conquest of Cappadocian led to a progressively turkicisation of Cappadocian dialect and culture. Thus, Cappadocian speakers spent most of their history in societies in which the dominant language was Turkish. As a result many Cappadocians shifted to Turkish.
At the beginning of 20th century, Greek-speaking communities in Cappadocian were found in only 20 villages. All these speakers were bilingual in Cappadocian and Turkish. The continuous use of Greek in Cappadocia was brought to an end as a result of the defeat of the Greek army in the Greco-Turkish War (1919-22). In accordance with the Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations, that was signed in Lausanne on May 1st, 1923, the Greek speakers of Asia Minor were thus uprooted from their homelands and forced to move to Greece as refugees. Once in Greece, the Cappadocians shifted to Greek until Cappadocian was eventually believed to have died out in the 1960s. In 2005, however, Mark Janse and Dimitris Papazachariou discovered that there are still native speakers of the Cappadocian variety of Mistí in Central and Northern Greece. It is interesting that the variety of Mistí is spoken not only by the first generation refugees but it is also spoken by second and third generation refugees as well.


Linguistic characteristics of the dialect

The Modern Greek dialect of Cappadocia presents many grammatical features that distinguish it from other Modern Greek varieties: archaic features which are characteristic of earlier stages in the history of Greek; shared features with the other Modern Greek varieties of Asia Minor; contact-induced features from Turkish.

Archaisms: Retention of the pronunciation of ancient η /ε:/ as /e/ and not as /i/, mainly in unstressed syllables.
Shared features with other Modern Greek varieties of Asia Minor: Deletion of the high vowels /i/ and /u/ and raising of the mid vowels /e/ and /o/ to /i/ and /u/ in unstressed syllables at the end of the word. Development of the postalverolar fricatives /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ and palato-alveolar affricatives /tʃ/ and /dʒ/ before the front vowels /i/ and /e/. Simplification of the consonant cluster /st/ to /s/ in amalgams consisting of the prepositions σε ‘in’ and ας ‘from’ and various forms of definite article.
Contact-induced features from Turkish: Introduction into the Cappadocian phonemic system of Turkish consonants /ɣ/ and /q/ and Turkish vowels /œ/, /y/, /ɯ/. When these vowels appear in derivational and inflectional suffixes of either Turkish or Greek origin, they are often subjet to theTurkish vowel harmony; Extension of the Turkish aspirated stops /ph/, /th/ and /kh/ from loanwords to words with Greek origin. The Greek dental fricatives /θ/ and /ð/ have merged with the alveolar plosives /t/ and /d/ or with the velar and palatal fricatives /x/ and /j/.
Archaisms: Use of pronouns for the 1st and 2nd person originating in the ancient possessive pronouns emos-emi-emon (ἐμός-ἐμή-ἐμόν) imeteros-imetera-imeteron (ἡμέτερος-ἡμετέρα-ἡμέτερον and ὑμέτερος-ὑμετέρα-ὑμέτερον) and sos-si-son (σός-σή-σόν). Use of na (να) to mark a present as future; Retention of ancient stems in the form of the aorist passive. Retention of the ancient endings ume/ute/ude in the formation of the present passive of verbs in -ono (-ώνω) originating in ancient verbs in -oo (-όω). Absence of periphrastic constructions formed with the auxiliary έχω and the aorist infinitive for the expression of the pluperfect and perfect tenses.
Shared features with other Modern Greek varieties of Asia Minor: Extension of the genitive singular and plural and nominative/accusative plural endings of the ι-neuter nouns to masculine, feminine and other neuter nouns. Null realization of the nominative singular and plural forms of the masculine. Replacement of the lost dative case by the accusative for the morphological expression of indirect object. Extended use of neuter forms in gender agreement targets (articles, adjectives, particles, pronouns, numerals) controlled by masculine and feminine nouns.
Contact-induced features from Turkish: Cappadocian has partially developed agglutinative morphology. Τhe Greek possessive pronouns have become possessive suffixes, as in Turkish. Agglutinative morphology is also found in the Cappadocian verb. The inflection of the copula is entirely agglutinative and based on the 3rd person singular, as in Turkish.
Cappadocian lacks grammatical gender distinctions. Grammatical gender distinctions, if any, are found exclusively in the inflectional morphology of animate nouns belonging to the masculine and feminine classes. Adjectives and other modifiers are always formally neuterized. Use of particle en (εν) (from the Turkish en) to form the superlative. Use of the interrogative particle mi (μι) (from the Turkish mi) to mark yes/not questions.
Archaisms: Distribution of enclisis and proclisis with respect to object clitic pronouns: pronouns follow the verb but precede it if the verb is preceded by modal and negative markers, complementisers, wh-expressions or fronted adverbials. Development of obligatory article doubling, that is, the appearance of the definite article before both the head noun and any preceding adjectival modifiers in definite noun phrases. Retention of the relative use of the definite article and absence of the indeclinable relativiser (o)pu ((ό)που) and of the relatıve pronouns o opios/ i opia/ to opion (ο οποιος/η οποία/το οποίον).
Contact-induced features from Turkish: Cappadocian, due to its contact with Turkish, is a predominantly head-final language. Thus, it surfaces a S-O-V (subject-object-verb) word order, a head-postposition order, a possessed-possessor order and a dependent verbal form – main verb order. Formation of the comparative on the model of Turkish, using the adjective in the positive degree preceded by a prepositional phrase formed with as (ας) or apo (από) ‘from’, whose prototypical meaning matches that of the Turkish ablative (dan) case.
Cappadocian preserves many Greek archaic words. Moreover, as a contact dialect it employs a great scale of lexical borrowing especially from Turkish. In addition, it borrowed many words from Latin, Italian, Slavic and Armenian.

Geographical area

Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Asia Minor (Anatolia, Turkey), largely in Nevşehir province in today Turkey. At the beginning of the 20th century, the use of the Modern Greek dialect of Cappadocia had been geographically reduced to almost twenty villages between the Ottoman cities of Nevşehir (in Greek Νεάπολις), Kayseri (Greek Καισάρεια) and Niğde (Greek Νίγδη) that were either entirely or partially inhabited by Cappadocian-speaking communities: Anakú, Arabisón, Araván, Axó, Delmesó, Díla, Ferték, Ghúrzono, Jeklék, Malakopí, Mistí, Phloïtá, Potámia, Semenderé, Sílata, Sinasós, Trokhó, Tsharakly, Ulaghátsh and Zaléla. After the Population Exchange between Greece and Turkey (1923), the Greek-speaking Cappadocians refugees were mainly settled in central and northern parts of Greece. There, they inhabited existing towns and villages or founded new ones often named after their places of origin in Asia Minor. For example, refugees from Mistí moved to towns and villages in western and eastern Macedonia (Aghionéri and Xirochóri Kilkís, Kavála), Thrace (Alexandroúpoli, Xánthi), Thessaly (Mándra Larísis) and Epirus (Kónitsa).


Laboratory of Modern Greek Dialects
University of Patras, University Campus
265 04 Rio Patras, GREECE
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