Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ancient Greek still spoken in the Peloponnese!?

Could it be that a form of archaic Greek still exists in the world?

According to Wikipedia, a dialect derived from ancient Doric is still spoken by a small group of people in the Peloponnese. This language, known as Tsakonian (Τσακωνικά), preserves archaic forms of Greek and is not always intelligible with the modern language spoken in Greece today. Tsakonian is divided into three dialects: Northern Tsakonian, Southern Tsakonian and Propontis Tsakonian. The core vocabulary remains recognizably Doric, though it's hard to say how much of it contains true Doricisms.

Naturally yours truly was excited to learn that a descendant of the language used by the Spartans still exists (though obviously much changed since ancient times), so of course I headed over to Youtube to see if anybody had uploaded a video featuring a native speaker. Sure enough I came across the following links:

Τραγούδια Τσακώνικα

I Told You Mother, Give Me in Marriage

The first song is in (Southern?) Tsakonian and is sung by someone in Leonidio. The second tune also has a dance that accompanies it, which is said to be derived from the Crane Dance of Theseus.

I have to say I love the sound of Tsakonian. It's crisp, clear and easy on the ears. What do you think?


D.A. Riser said...

Hi Meghan - I haven't yet followed the links, but it is neat to learn that old Greek still exists. I recall seeing an article a couple years back about the rapid disappearance of many old languages because of increased globalization.

Meghan said...

You know, it's a shame that so many languages with links to the past are disappearing around the world. I hope I can visit the Peloponnese again and hear the Tsakonian language for myself!

Dave in Columbus said...

I agree it sounds crisp. I wonder about Theokritus of Syracuse, in one of his poems, commenting on the Doric dialect: "You wretched women, stop that endless twittering—
like turtle doves they'll grate on you, with all their broad vowels." I did not notice broad vowels here. Maybe that part of the accent is lost.

Dave in Columbus said...
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