Journal of the International Phonetic Association

Illustrations of the IPA

Cypriot Greek

Amalia Arvanitia1

a1 Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Cyprus, PO Box 20537, Nicosia, Cyprus e-mail: ainalia@ucy.ac.cy

Cypriot Greek is the dialect of Modern Greek spoken on the island of Cyprus by approximately 650,000 people and also by the substantial immigrant communities of Cypriots in the UK, North America, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere. Due to lengthy isolation, Cypriot Greek is so distinct from Standard Greek as to be often unintelligible to speakers of the Standard. Greek Cypriot speakers, on the other hand, have considerably less difficulty understanding Greeks, since Standard Greek is the official language of Cyprus, and as such it is the medium of education and the language of the Cypriot media. However, in every day situations Cypriot Greek is the only variety used among Cypriots. Cypriot Greek is not homogeneous but exhibits considerable geographical variation (Newton 1972). The variety described here is that used by educated speakers, particularly the inhabitants of the capital, Nicosia. Although influenced by increasing contact with Standard Greek, Cypriot Greek retains most of its phonological and phonetic characteristics virtually intact. There is no established orthography for Cypriot Greek; however, certain, rather variable, conventions have emerged, based on Greek historical orthography but also including novel combinations of letters in order to represent sounds that do not exist in the Standard (e.g. σι for [∫]); a version of these conventions has been adopted here for the sample text. The transcription is based on the speech of an educated male speaker from Nicosia in his mid-thirties, who read the text twice at normal speed and in an informal manner, he also assisted in rendering the text from Standard to Cypriot Greek.