Griko is a Greek dialect spoken in Southern Italy. After watching some videos about the dialect and conducting a bit of research on it, I was surprised that I had not known about it any earlier. I would describe the dialect as a mix of Greek and Italian words which have been combined together over generations. The dialect itself has been passed on through speaking, with most of the culture of the language expressed through music and poetry. Here is an example of Griko from Wikipedia:
|Griko||Modern Greek||English Translation|
|Καληνύφτα – kali’nifta||Καληνύχτα – kali’nixta||Good night|
|Ἐβὼ πάντα σὲ σένα πενσέω,
γιατὶ σένα φσυχή μου ‘γαπῶ,
τσαὶ ποῦ πάω, ποῦ σύρνω, ποῦ στέω
στὴν καρδιά μου πάντα σένα βαστῶ.
|Ἐγὼ πάντα ἐσένα σκέφτομαι,
γιατὶ ἐσένα ψυχή μου ἀγαπῶ,
καὶ ὅπου πάω, ὅπου συρθῶ, ὅπου σταθῶ,
στὴν καρδιά μου πάντα ἐσένα βαστῶ.
|I always think of you
because I love you, my soul,
and wherever I go, wherever I drag myself into, wherever I stay,
inside my heart I always hold you.
|E’vo ‘panta se ‘sena pen’seo,
ja’ti ‘sena fsi’hi mu ɣa’po,
tɕe pu ‘pao, pu ‘sirno, pu ‘steo
stin kar’dja mu ‘panta ‘sena vas’to.
|e’ɣo ‘pada e’sena ‘skeftome,
ʝa’ti e’sena psi’çi mu aɣa’po,
ce ‘opu ‘pao, ‘opu sir’θo, ‘opu sta’θo
stin kar’ðʝa mu ‘pada e’sena va’sto.
As a Greek heritage speaker who is learning Italian, I find the similarities between the two languages extremely interesting. This minority language, still spoken in Southern Italy today has survived for generations through oral communication, its music and culture. Something makes me want to learn this language to keep it and its culture alive. Language extinction does not only mean that the language itself will cease to be spoken – it will also have implications on the culture and traditions associated with that language. Whether it is my status as a Greek speaker, or as a learner of Italian, I want to make sure that this language is preserved.