https://www.duolingo.com/Club_Mediterran

Does the Cretan dialect contain more Arabic words thab the standard Greek?

January 15, 2018

10 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/spdl79
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  • 986

Novice Cretan speaking...

Not in my experience. I'm by no means fluent in Greek and I'm only just starting to scratch the surface of the Cretan dialect, but it's pretty obvious that all the Cretan words I've come across so far are Greek - just a different type of Greek.

I don't think Greek has too many Arabic loanwords, although Arabic has quite a few Greek ones - the importation largely ran the other way. Where Greek does have Arabic loanwords, they were often filtered through via Ottoman Turkish. Or, in some cases, the Greek and Arabic words share a common Phoenician root from time immemorial (eg άλφα/’alif). But both of those things are common to 'mainland' and Cretan Greek.

Although we're actually geographically closer to North Africa than to Athens, I don't think there's been that much cultural intermingling for the past thousand years or so. The language remains quite distinct, as does the food. Aside from attitudes to family, life, fate/destiny, time, taxes and so on, which share some similarities all over the Eastern Mediterranean, where there does seem to be a notable bit of lingering crossover is in the music, both traditional and modern. We pick up Egyptian and Libyan radio stations here on the south coast better than we do Greek ones, and it's often not until the lyrics kick in that I can tell whether I'm listening to a Greek or Arabic station (though I'm sure someone more versed in either culture could tell more quickly).

Having said that, I believe the Cypriot dialect has a few more Arabic loanwords than any other variant of Greek. They're much closer (geographically) to Arabic peoples - on a clear day, you can actually see Cyprus from the top of Mount Lebanon. So there's also been a lot more migration and cultural mixing between those two particular regions, I think.

Fascinatingly, there is a very small community of Cretan Greek-speaking Muslims in Tripoli (the Lebanese one) and Al-Hamidiyah, just over the border in Syria. They ended up there before and during the exchange of populations. Despite being Muslims, they considered themselves Greek, and didn't want to go to Turkey - so they chose to go to the Syrian coast instead. Their descendants still speak Cretan Greek in their daily lives, believe it or not.

@Hermesianax, yes, there are quite a few Italian loanwords in Greek but I haven't yet come across any which are exclusively Cretan. Venice ruled lots and lots of Greek islands and exerted a strong cultural influence on the mainland too.

January 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/jaye16

Thank you. I'm bookmarking this for further reference.

January 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/spdl79
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  • 986

No worries Jaye! Unfortunately I never saw Hamidiyah before the war (though I knew about it and was meaning to visit it at some stage). Have been to Tripoli and Tartous many times though - fascinating part of the world with lovely people and I hope it's at peace again soon.

January 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/katia393307

I think the words ξαμωνω (προεξεχω) and στιβάνια (μπότες) are two of the Latin words that are used exclusively in Crete. Also καβαλικευω is Latin And in other parts of Greece it is known as καβαλάω. Some Cretan words of Turkish origin are αμπλα (αδερφή) , μουσαφίρης (φιλοξενούμενος) and εμπιτισε (it's over/ finished).

September 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/D_..
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    Μουσαφίρης (or even μουσαφιραίος) is used outside Crete too. I would think it's understood all over Greece.

    September 15, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/Stergi3

    I think your question has to do with the relationship between the Arabic world and Crete. There had been an Arab conquest of the island in about 820 AD by Andalusians that lasted more than one century, till the reconquest in 961 by the Byzantine emperor Nikiforos Fokas Νικηφόρος Φωκάς, a warrior emperor. I think the duration of the conquest, the state that was founded there and the measures that the Byzantine Empire took to establish the power there have not left any remnants neither buildings nor cultural. The fact is that the Arabs are those who transfered the capital city to of Handax Χάνδαξ, or Χάνδακας that is the modern capital Heraklion Ηράκλειο, after it's Ancient name.

    But relationships existed in all ages. The Saracenes Σαρακηνοί from Africa often tried to brief raids to the island so as it was a real fear to the islanders.

    About the Arabic influence to the dialect. I think that they passed through Turkish as it happened to all Greek. If there are some special words that were kept from the 10th century it is a matter of research.

    Some Muslim Cretans left from the island in the 19th century and moved to Syria, where there is a village named Hamidie, by the name of the Ottoman sultan of that time, and still speak the Cretan dialect there.

    More info:https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emirate_of_Crete https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Hamidiyah

    January 17, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/MR_Nathan

    The Cyprus too was in the Byzantine empire. That was a bad time for Cyprus. Now Half of Cyprus is under turkish occupation

    January 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/Hermesianax

    I'd intuitively think more Italian/Venetian, actually. Crete was ruled over by (the most serene republic of) Venice for quite some time.

    January 15, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/Dimitra956826

    I wouldn't say so. Besides, there are only a few differences, the main one being the pronunciation of certain letters, and a bunch of words.

    Even if it does contain more Arabic words than the "standard" Greek, I would say that it wouldn't be more than a dozen words. Which is not that much, if you think about it. :P

    January 15, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/katia393307

    The Cretan dialect relies heavily on modern (Dimotiki) Greek and ancient Greek. But it has been enriched with Latin and Turkish words. I think it is very possible that the Turkish words used in the Cretan dialect are a lot more than those used in standard Greek because I know quite a few that are exclusively used in Crete. I remember my grandpa teaching me some of them :)

    September 15, 2018
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