Back to list

Detail of contribution

Auteur: Eleni SAVVA

Boundaries between Standard Modern Greek and Cypriot Greek, as perceived by their native speakers

Abstract/Résumé: This study aimed to investigate to what extent speakers of Standard Modern Greek and speakers of Cypriot Greek agree on what is standard and what is not. Standard Modern Greek (henceforth SMG) is the variety used in the urban centers of Greece and one of the two official languages of Cyprus. Cypriot Greek (henceforth CG) is the non-standardized native variety of the Greek-speaking population of Cyprus, used mainly in the private sphere. The boundary between a standard language and a related dialect is in general somewhat arbitrary and subjective because it is based on social, political, historical and geographical factors, rather than purely linguistic ones (Chambers and Trudgill 1998). This study thus tried to investigate the question of boundaries from the native speakers' point of view in the following way: ten representative speakers of SMG and ten of CG were asked to identify, in a corpus consisting of real emails written in CG, all the features they considered non-standard and thus distinctively CG. Their answers were then compared and statistically analysed. The results showed an overall disagreement between the two groups of speakers which confirms that the determination of boundaries between related varieties is not clear-cut. Moreover, speakers of CG judged overall more features as non-standard than speakers of SMG. This was unexpected, given that bi-dialectal speakers are often reported to face difficulties in drawing the distinction between the two related varieties they use (Siegel 2010). This result then is perhaps an indication that in fact bi-dialectal speakers are more aware of the differences between the two varieties, exactly because they are exposed to both, as opposed to speakers of the standard. Alternatively, it could be an instance of hypercorrection, in the sense that speakers of a non-standardized variety may experience linguistic insecurity (see Labov 1972) which leads them in putting extra effort when using the standard or are asked about it; their usage/judgments thus diverge from that of native speakers. Finally, this study tried to investigate what features contribute the most to the construction of the difference in speakers' minds. The classification of distinctively CG features in two categories, those that differ from the standard in form and those that differ in the way they are used in context, showed that the former were identified more often by both groups. This seems to indicate that difference in form plays a more prominent role in the perception of the overall difference, than difference in usage. Chambers,J.K.; Trudgill, P. 1998. Dialectology. Cambridge:CUP. Labov,W. 1972. Sociolinguistic Patterns. Oxford:Blackwell. Siegel,J. 2010. Second language acquisition. Cambridge:CUP.