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Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

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Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

Postby Pax » Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:00 am

Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

By Mihalis Eleftheriou, Founder of Language Transfer
24 September 2013

The church of Cyprus has said something wonderful.
As most of you may know, the holy- and political-ness have their pants in a fiddle over the naughty if not imperialist actions of our cheeky little dialect which, they would have you believe, harbours an agenda to overthrow Greek and take over the world.
According to Archbishop Chrysostomos II (or 'GoldenMouth' II, true story), the cessation of punishment for use of the Cypriot dialect in schools as effected by the previous government has constituted a threat to our 'Greek national consciousness'. Many leftists, liberals and pluralists are outraged by the upcoming land grab of the little progress the last government brought to the island, but no one as of yet seems to have taken any time to marvel over the wonderfulness of GoldenMouth's statement. What the Archbishop is essentially complaining about is that the reality is contradicting the make-believe: the fact that we speak Cypriot, contradicts the notion that we are spawn of a 'Greek national consciousness'. If the chief representation of our identity is language, and our language is wonderfully colourful and pluralist -a hodgepodge of Greek, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, English, French, Latin and a thousand other lost and nameless dialects of history- then this melting pot is also what we are. In trying to invisibilise this, the Archbishop and the politicians that vow to follow his counsel in the demonisation of Cypriot, reaffirm it. We must not be what we are, because this is not what we are. Wonderful.

So now that we are seemingly no longer trying to hide from the embarrassing notion that we must be what we are evidently not, we can quite boldly ask some pressing questions:
Rather than constructing an identity at school, wouldn't it be more interesting and sensical to discover one? Wouldn't it make more sense to not only permit the use of the Cypriot dialect in the classroom but also to study it, to dissect it, to understand of what it is comprised and what secrets it harbours? Shouldn't we be listening for the stories its words tell about the journeys of countless peoples and the flavours, technologies and ideas they carried with them? Shouldn't we be trying to discover the peoples that brought us and our island into being? Wouldn't it make sense for us to be conscious speakers of our dialect, also proficient in Modern Standard Greek, instead of adopting that typical posture from the bowels of imperialist thinking, that one must overcome the other? Why must Greek conquer Cypriot and why does Cypriot in schools represent the threat that it might then become the language we write everything in? Or are Mexican history books written in street slang and not standard Spanish?
Everyone knows it, we-speak-Cypriot. It is a truly fascinating idea that we should be trying to pretend not to. If 'idiot' does have anything to do with the Greek for 'same' (idios) – then an idiot might be one who does the same thing over again and expects different results. Isn't it time we stopped forcing on ourselves what we think we are or should be, with all of the tragic results it has brought to our island, and begin to discover what we really are? We need not only speak our dialect, we need to listen to it too.

It is clear that the church, politicians and the layman too seem to have little practical concept of what is a language and what is a dialect. Linguist Max Weinreich sums it up best: 'A language is a dialect with an army and a navy'. What Weinreich is alluding to here is that the only difference between a language and a dialect is administrative. A language is but a dialect that is chosen for the administration of a country, for conquering and enslaving one, for uniting one, or for any other number of purposes both nobel and sinister. There is nothing naturally hierarchical about languages and dialects. There are no whole languages with halfling offspring and there is no Mother-Spanish that goes around having dialectal babies, there is simply a world of dialects and some of them we choose to call languages. There is nothing more godly, pure or even 'Greek' about Modern Standard Greek, it is just a dialect the government chose to tax you in.
More importantly still, the erroneous idea that what we speak is a mere deviant child of Mother-Greek has two important implications: that we are both of and below 'Greekness'. Both ideas contribute towards the Cypriot inferiority complex that helps to continue lining the church's pockets and allowing the political class to get away with murder. The idea that we are incomplete, a lesser version spawned of something great, yet fortunate enough to be able to associate ourselves with that mystical greatness, is one of many ideas used to create a governable mentality amongst Cypriots. If we are 'of' 'Greekness', we are necessarily 'below' it, as an impure form of it, rather than something else, of which 'Greekness' forms an integral part. The ideology is both agent and victim of another one; that Cypriots must belong to something bigger, that we must be Greeks or Turks or Armenians. In this mess we are left only to construct ourselves rather than discover ourselves, we are blinded in the most peculiar of ways and volunteer for self delusion, with extravagant posturing through bad driving and spare show kitchens.

The dialect question is just another dab of zit-covering make-up on the already tarted-up hellenic face of Cyprus, and our issues are not distinct from the systemic issues plaguing the world. Our bastardised value system is shared in different shapes and sizes by a devastating portion of the world, and they too suffer from the same value system they fight to tame, and will fight to defend.
What is certain though is the wisdom inherent in the Greek word 'alithia' for 'truth', meaning something like 'that which is unforgettable'. The truth does not exist because we affirm it, and mistruth does not become truth because we affirm it a thousand times. We are what we are, and it will keep on biting us in the ass, proudly or otherwise.
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Re: Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

Postby repulsewarrior » Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:37 pm

interesting, thanks.
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Re: Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

Postby bill cobbett » Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:13 pm

Yes, it is interesting, with a lot of food for thought there but would have liked to have seen it in the Chat section with its bigger audience.
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Re: Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

Postby repulsewarrior » Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:31 pm

bill, you know the trolls would come out to wreck this thread, especially if it received wide attention.

...what better venue, for Lordo's poetry in the Cypriot we are talking about, or for the "Greeks" among us, i am actually surprised i was the first to post.
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Re: Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

Postby Get Real! » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:04 am

Mother tongue: our dialect and the classroom

http://cyprus-mail.com/2013/10/01/mothe ... classroom/
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Re: Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

Postby kurupetos » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:59 am

We discussed this in the past. Most of the so called Cypriot words are of Greek origin (ancient, medieval or modern), while the rest are Turkish, Arabic, French, Italian, etc. :wink:

Now find something more interesting to waste your time... :wink: :lol:
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Re: Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

Postby Get Real! » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:53 pm

kurupetos wrote:We discussed this in the past. Most of the so called Cypriot words are of Greek origin (ancient, medieval or modern), while the rest are Turkish, Arabic, French, Italian, etc. :wink:

Now find something more interesting to waste your time... :wink: :lol:

No they're not. They don't exist in Greek. Besides, Cypriots invented a written language some 2,000 years before anything the Greeks claim to have achieved.

http://www.ancientscripts.com/ws_timeline.html
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Re: Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

Postby kurupetos » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:34 pm

Get Real! wrote:
kurupetos wrote:We discussed this in the past. Most of the so called Cypriot words are of Greek origin (ancient, medieval or modern), while the rest are Turkish, Arabic, French, Italian, etc. :wink:

Now find something more interesting to waste your time... :wink: :lol:

No they're not. They don't exist in Greek. Besides, Cypriots invented a written language some 2,000 years before anything the Greeks claim to have achieved.

http://www.ancientscripts.com/ws_timeline.html

Give me some examples of Cypriot words that don't exist in other languages... :wink:
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Re: Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

Postby kurupetos » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:31 pm

Where's GR? Another runner? :lol:
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Re: Mother Tongue: Our dialect and our education system

Postby DrCyprus » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:58 pm

Give me some indication on how this is relevant.

Italian, Spanish, Portugese e.t.c are all basically different 'dialects' of Latin but the people from these countries are not particularly of Roman origin.
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