Cappadocian Greek language
Cappadocian also known as Cappadocian Greek or Asia Minor Greek, is a mixed language
Mixed language
A mixed language is a language that arises through the fusion of two source languages, normally in situations of thorough bilingualism, so that it is not possible to classify the resulting language as belonging to either of the language families that were its source...

 formerly spoken in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in Nevşehir Province.In the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine...

 (Central Turkey). In the population exchange
Population exchange between Greece and Turkey
The 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey was based upon religious identity, and involved the Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey and the Muslim citizens of Greece...

 between Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 in the 1920s, Cappadocian speakers 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
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

 and their language was thought to be extinct since the 1960s. In June 2005, Mark Janse
Mark Janse
Mark Janse is research professor in Asia Minor and Ancient Greek at Ghent University, where he studied Classics, Hebrew and Linguistics...

 (Ghent University
Ghent University
Ghent University is a Dutch-speaking public university located in Ghent, Belgium. It is one of the larger Flemish universities, consisting of 32,000 students and 7,100 staff members. The current rector is Paul Van Cauwenberge.It was established in 1817 by King William I of the Netherlands...

) and Dimitris Papazachariou (University of Patras
University of Patras
University of Patras is a university established in 1964 in Patras, Greece. Initially housed in the city centre, the university's campus is now located in the adjacent municipality of Rio...

) 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. The latter are much less inclined to speak Cappadocian and more often than not switch to Standard Modern Greek
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

. A survey of Cappadocian speakers and language use is currently in preparation.

History and research

Cappadocian evolved out of Byzantine Greek. After the battle of Manzikert
Battle of Manzikert
The Battle of Manzikert , was fought between the Byzantine Empire and Seljuq Turks led by Alp Arslan on August 26, 1071 near Manzikert...

 in 1071, Cappadocia was cut off from the rest of the Greek-speaking world and Turkish became the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 in the region.

The earliest records of the language are in the macaronic
Macaronic language
Macaronic refers to text spoken or written using a mixture of languages, sometimes including bilingual puns, particularly when the languages are used in the same context . The term is also sometimes used to denote hybrid words, which are in effect internally macaronic...

 Persian poems of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī , also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā in Iran and Afghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic...

, who lived in Iconium (Konya
Konya is a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. The metropolitan area in the entire Konya Province had a population of 1,036,027 as of 2010, making the city seventh most populous in Turkey.-Etymology:...

), and some Ghazal
The ghazal is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th century...

s by his son Sultan Walad
Sultan Walad
Baha al-Din Muhammad-i Walad , more popularly known as Sultan Walad , was the eldest son of Jalal Al-Din Rumi, Persian poet and Sufi, and one of the founders of the Mawlawiya order.-Life and Impact:...

. 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.

Many Cappadocians shifted to Turkish altogether (written with the Greek alphabet, Karamanlidika
The Karamanlides , or simply Karamanlis, are a Greek Orthodox, Turkish-speaking people native to the Karaman and Cappadocia regions of Anatolia...

); where Greek was maintained (Sille, villages near Kayseri, Pharasa town and other nearby villages), 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 without a written tradition. The earliest descriptions of 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
Richard MacGillivray Dawkins
Richard MacGillivray Dawkins was a British archaeologist. He was associated with the British School at Athens, of which he became Director....

 (1871–1955), the first Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature at the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

, based on fieldwork conducted by the author in Cappadocia in 1909-1911.

After the population exchange, several Cappadocian dialects have been described by collaborators of the Center for Asia Minor Studies (Κέντρον Μικρασιατικών Σπουδών) in Athens: Ulağaç (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
Language contact
Language contact occurs when two or more languages or varieties interact. The study of language contact is called contact linguistics.Multilingualism has likely been common throughout much of human history, and today most people in the world are multilingual...

, Creolization
Creolization is a concept that refers to the process in which new African American cultures emerge in the New World. As a result of colonization there was a mixture between people of indigenous, African, and European decent, which became to be understood as 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
Roosevelt Academy
Roosevelt Academy is a small liberal arts college located in Middelburg in the Netherlands. It offers a residential setting and is an international honors college of Utrecht University.-History:...

, 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
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is the largest Greek university, and the largest university in the Balkans. It was named after the philosopher Aristotle, who was born in Stageira, Chalcidice, about 55 km east of Thessaloniki, in Central Macedonia...


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
Language death
In linguistics, language death is a process that affects speech communities where the level of linguistic competence that speakers possess of a given language variety is decreased, eventually resulting in no native and/or fluent speakers of the variety...

, 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
Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other....

 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
An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes...

 -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
In linguistics, palatalization , also palatization, may refer to two different processes by which a sound, usually a consonant, comes to be produced with the tongue in a position in the mouth near the palate....

). Turkish vowel harmony
Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other....

 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
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

 is characterized by the emergence of a generalized agglutinative declension
In linguistics, declension is the inflection of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and articles to indicate number , case , and gender...

 and the progressive loss of grammatical gender
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

 distinctions, e.g. to néka "the (neuter) woman (feminine)", genitive néka-ju, plural nékes, genitive nékez-ju (Ulağaç). 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
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

 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
Word order
In linguistics, word order typology refers to the study of the order of the syntactic constituents of a language, and how different languages can employ different orders. Correlations between orders found in different syntactic subdomains are also of interest...

 is essentially governed by discourse
Discourse generally refers to "written or spoken communication". The following are three more specific definitions:...

 considerations such as topic and 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.


  • Northeastern Cappadocian (Sinasos, Potamia, Delmeso)
  • Northwestern Cappadocian (Silata or Zila, Anaku, Flojita, Malakopi)
  • Central Cappadocian (Axo; Misthi
    Misthi also Mistí, Mysty; Misli; Misti, Greek Μισθεία, Μισθί; Μιστί; Μισθή; Μυστή; Μισθίον; Μίσθια, in Turkish Mišti, Misti, Muštilia, Konaklı , was a Greek city in the region of Cappadocia, nowadays Turkey...

    ) (See Misthiotica)
  • Southwestern Cappadocian (Aravan, Gurzono; Fertek)
  • Southeastern Cappadocian (Oulagatz (Uluağaç), Semendere)
  • Farasiot: dialect of Pharasa (Faraşa) town (now Çamlıca village Yahyalı
    Yahyalı is a town and district in Kayseri Province of Turkey. It is the southernmost district of the province and its area is defined by the steep lines of the Taurus Mountains, named Aladağlar in their section through this region, and is crossed by the River Zamantı.A section within the...

    , Kayseri
    Kayseri is a large and industrialized city in Central Anatolia, Turkey. It is the seat of Kayseri Province. The city of Kayseri, as defined by the boundaries of Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality, is structurally composed of five metropolitan districts, the two core districts of Kocasinan and...

    ) and other nearby villages (Afshar-Köy, Çukuri), more closely related to Pontic, though both are the closest relatives of Cappadocian
  • Sille

External links

Rumi and Sultan Walad

  • Δέδες, Δ. 1993. Ποιήματα του Μαυλανά Ρουμή. Τα Ιστορικά 10.18-19: 3-22.
  • Meyer, G. 1895. Die griechischen Verse in Rabâbnâma. Byzantinische Zeitschrift 4: 401-411.
  • Mertzios, C.D. 1958. Quelques vers grecs du XIIIe siècle en caractères arabes. Byzantinische Zeitschrift 51: 15-16.
  • Burguière, P. 1952. Quelques vers grecs du XIIIe siècle en caractères arabes. Byzantion 22: 63-80.
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