To anyone who cannot claim Greek as their native tongue, the language can be very intimidating; the phrase “it’s all Greek to me” didn’t spawn from out of nowhere, after all. Greek can be a challenging language to master and has many varied dialects across the different Mediterranean regions; one such example is the variety of Greek spoken by Cypriots, the residents of the island of Cyprus.
There are a number of contributing factors that have evolved over time that have led Cypriot Greek to become so distinct from modern Greek. One of the defining features of Cypriot Greek is that it borrows heavily from other languages. Throughout history, Cyprus has interacted with other European, Mediterranean, and even Asian cultures; a trained ear may be able to discern a bit of Turkish and French in Cypriot Greek as opposed to modern Greek, which is less influenced by other languages.
Here at Technografia, we know firsthand the difference between Greek and Cypriot Greek because we are headquartered in Cyprus, with a wholly-owned subsidiary in Athens, Greece.
Part of the evolution of the Greek spoken in Cyprus comes from the technical tendencies of the dialect. The phonetics (or the way words are spoken and heard) of Cypriot Greek stand, in many cases, in stark contrast to the Greek spoken in Greece. For example, the Greek you will hear in Cyprus will include verb inflections that Standard Modern Greek has done away with through the ages. Another example of the phonetic difference between the Greek spoken in Greece and the Greek spoken in Cyprus is the prominence of the “n” sound at the end of words. If you listen closely, you can hear a nasalized “n” sound at the end of many words spoken by Cypriots but most especially, a hard and palatal “n” at the ends of sentence-concluding words.
Lexicon (or the words used or created for a language) also represents another major difference between Cypriot Greek and modern Greek. As stated before, the Greek spoken in Cyprus borrows much from other languages, which affects the vernacular of the language; for instance, the word tʃaera, which means chair, was borrowed by Cypriots from the French. Therefore, the lexicon – the slang, vernacular, and everyday warping of the language – may be wholly unintelligible to Greek speakers from Greece.
In all, Cypriot Greek stands alone because it retains much of the linguistic practices of ages gone by. It is steeped in the past and has forged an evolutionary path vastly different from Modern Greek. In other words, there is a good reason why the Greek you will hear in Greece is called modern Greek. Distinguishing between Cypriot and modern Greek can be a challenge; thus it is best to call upon a professional translation company to assist you to translate or localize your products and services for the modern Greek or Cypriot Greek speaking markets.