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Addressing writing system issues in dialectal lexicography: the case of Cypriot Greek



This paper aims to present how dialectal lexicography, in the case of Cypriot Greek, can facilitate and —at the same time— benefit from dialect standardisation processes, such as the codification of its writing system.
1. Introduction
Cypriot Greek is a variety of Modern Greek spoken by almost a
million people in the Republic of Cyprus. Even though Greek Cypriots
predominantly speak Cypriot Greek in their everyday interaction, their
variety has never been standardized; instead, the standard variety of the
state of Greece, namely Standard Modern Greek, is used as one of the two
official languages of Cyprus (the other being Standard Turkish).
The standardization of Cypriot Greek, in the sense of promoting it as
an official language, has never been a desideratum for the vast majority of
Greek Cypriots, due to the complex sociolinguistic and political situation
in Cyprus. Thus, overt language policies have never been officially
declared by the state (Papapavlou 2010, 127), nor has the standardization
of the dialect, even in the narrow sense of writing system codification,
been promoted.
Nevertheless, there is a need for codifying the writing system (i.e.
script and orthography) of Cypriot Greek; in fact, this need is evident both
from the increasing academic interest on the subject by scholars in various
fields (e.g., sociolinguistics, lexicography, typographic design, education),
and also from a range of situations wherein writers choose to or must write
in Cypriot Greek, and hence are inevitably faced with the quandary of how
to write in this non-codified variety. Dialectal dictionaries play an
important role in tackling this problem, as writers may resort to
dictionaries for help on how to represent Cypriot Greek.
This paper aims to explore the interrelation of dialectal dictionaries and
the codification of the dialect: it will be argued that
Chapter Three
dialectal lexicography, in the case of Cypriot Greek, can facilitate the
codification of its writing system, butat the same timealso benefit
from it. In the following sections the linguistic situation in Cyprus will be
tradition and contemporary usa
 will be
possible contribution of lexicography and scholarly work in general to the
 
2. Sociolinguistic situation in Cyprus
Cypriot Greek differs from Standard Modern Greek with regard to all
levels of linguistic analysis (See for example Terkourafi 2007; Arvaniti
2010); this is not surprising, as the turbulent history of the island kept it
isolated for long periods of time from mainland Greece. Nowadays, with
language contact and the increasing presence of the mass media, Cypriot
Greek is influenced by Standard Greek, especially in urban areas.
At first instance, the relationship between the two varieties in Cyprus
 model,
which defines diglossia as the situation whereby two linguistic codes, the
standard dialect, coexist and are used on a daily basis.
According to that model, the two codes are distinguished both in form (i.e.
on the basis of linguistic criteria) and in function. Regarding the latter
d-prestige code is used
in public or formal situations, whereas the low-prestige code is used in
private or informal situations. Researchers such as Moschonas (2002),
have described the relationship of Cypriot Greek and Standard Modern
Greek as prototypical diglossia based on native spea
attitudes towards the two varieties: Greek Cypriots perceive Cypriot Greek
to be the Low variety, while they perceive Standard Modern Greek to be
the High variety. However, the situation in Cyprus is rather different from
 and
functional distinction between the standard and the dialect: as Karyolemou
(1992; 2007) argues, the linguistic situation in Cyprus should not be
described on the basis of language attitudes only, but also on the basis of
language practices.
Pavlou (2010) explored the relationship between the two varieties in
Addressing writing system issues in dialectal lexicography
model) with their actual oral and written usage in four domains of
language usage, namely public administration, the media, education, and
everyday communication. Pavlou concluded that the presence of Cypriot
Greek is robust (especially in oral speech) at all levels of language usage.
Even in domains 
Low variety, such as public administration and the media, Cypriot Greek
appears to be used to various degrees. Hence, actual language practices do
not conform to the Fergusonian model, as the two codes are not in strict
complementary distribution (i.e. with the usage of the High and Low
varieties confined to formal and informal situations respectively). Rather,
both varieties are used to various degrees in a range of communicative
contexts depending on various factors that influence stylistic choices, such
as the topic of conversation, the familiarity between the speaker and the
hearer, and their level of education (Papapavlou 2010).
In actuality, both Standard Modern Greek and Cypriot Greek can be
used by the same speaker even within the same sentence; however, it is
somewhat difficult to describe these stylistic choices by employing the
-- are
linguistically related varieties that appear in a contact situation (c.f.,
Tsiplakou 2010). This observation is in line with the empirical data of
Sivas (2004), who demonstrated that speakers of Cypriot Greek combine
features of both varieties irrespective of the formality of the
communicative context. Furthermore, Sivas showed that different speakers
make different combinations of features of the two linguistic codes,
something that resulted in an observed range of intermediary varieties
between the two codes. Thus, as many authors maintain (e.g., Tsiplakou et
al. 2006, and Katsoyannou et al. 2006), the linguistic situation can be
described in terms of a dialect continuum from basilectal to acrolectal
forms (or registers): the basilectal pole comprises the regional rural sub-
varieties of Cypriot Greek, while the acrolectal pole approaches (but does
not coincide with) Standard Modern Greek. In that sense, the acrolectal
pole can be considered a variety of Standard Modern Greek, namely
Cypriot Standard Greek (Arvaniti 2010), which differs from the Standard
used in Greece in various ways (e.g., intonation, pronunciation of
consonants that do not exist in Standard Greek, lexical items unique to
Cypriot Standard Greek or with different meaning or usage,
morphosyntactic differences, etc.). Finally, an important area of the
continuum is the mesolect, which is occupied by what other researchers
 (e.g., Terkourafi 2005;
Tsiplakou et al. 2006). This variety appears to be emerging as the outcome
Chapter Three
of the on--
varieties of Cypriot Greek after the demographic changes caused by the
1974 war.
It should be noted here that while language practices reveal the
existence of the above-mentioned dialect continuum, Karyolemou (1992;
2007) suggested that the notion of a continuum is not incompatible with
the diglossia notion, as Greek Cypriots perceive the two varieties in terms
of the High vs. Low dichotomy. In other words, Karyolemou argues that
the sociolinguistic situation in Cyprus should be described both in terms of
a continuum (regarding language practices) and of diglossia (regarding
language attitudes). Thus, the relationship between the two varieties can
be described as gradient in usage and as categorical in perception (hence
3. Written usage of Cypriot Greek
The sociolinguistic situation described above reveals that the oral
usage of Cypriot Greek penetrates virtually all domains of language usage.
As for its written usage, it is rather restricted compared with the written
usage of (Cypriot) Standard Greek; nevertheless, Cypriot Greek is visible
in written speech both synchronically and diachronically, as described
3.1 Written tradition and contemporary usage
Cypriot Greek is one of the first varieties of Modern Greek to have
exhibited written records (e.g., Symeonidis 2006, 319374). Its earlier
written document, namely the Assizes (Frankish law code) of the Lusignan
Court, dates as far back as the 13th century CE. Subsequent works of the
15th and 16th centuries written in Cypriot Greek include the Chronicles
written by Machairas (Dawkins 1932) and Boustronios (Kehayoglou
1997), some love poems (Siapkara-Pitsillidou 1976), and the translation of
in Cypriot Greek (Kakoulidi-Panou &
Pidonia 1994).
In the modern history of Cypriot literature, several poets and writers
have produced works in Cypriot Greek, such as Michaelides (c. 1849
1917), Lipertis (18661937), Liasidis (19011985), Montis (19142004)
and many more (c.f., Kehayoglou and Papaleontiou 2010). Cypriot Greek
also features in realistic and historical fiction novels, a genre that has
gained in popularity during the past couple of decades (c.f., Hadjioannou,
Addressing writing system issues in dialectal lexicography
Tsiplakou, and Kappler 2011, 16). Apart from printed local literature,
Cypriot Greek is used in scripts for theatrical plays, television series, and
radio folkloric sketches (c.f., Roussou 2006).
In mass media, the linguistic code selected for most purposes is the
High variety, as expected: apart from television series and radio sketches,
the usage of Cypriot Greek in broadcasting media is not the norm. Be that
as it may, Cypriot Greek is visible, especially in oral speech, in
broadcasting excerpts from live interviews and in off-script comments
made by programme hosts (Pavlou 2004). Regarding the written usage of
Cypriot Greek
segment, video excerpts from actual reportages, interviews, newscasts, etc.
are accompanied by satirical captions written in Cypriot Greek.
Regarding print media, again (Cypriot) Standard Greek is the norm,
with Cypriot Greek still being visible, usually in the form of jestful
commentary or verbatim reports of spoken language (Pavlou 2004).
such a considerable usage of written Cypriot Greek that oftentimes they
Tsiplakou, and Kappler 2011, 16).
However, the area which is par excellence associated with written
Cypriot Greek is electronic communication, namely mobile phone text
messaging and the internet media. It is well known that Cypriot Greek is
thriving in computer-mediated communication, such as instant messaging
(online chat), email, social connection networks, and weblogs
(Themistocleous 2009; 2010; Sophocleous and Themistocleous
forthcoming). Especially in synchronous communication, due to its
proximity to oral speech, the code used is unsurprisingly the one
predominantly used in actual oral speech, i.e. Cypriot Greek
(Themistocleous 2009, 483). This increasing usage of Cypriot Greek in
electronic communication is arguably facilitated by the use of the Roman
alphabet for representing sounds that do not exist in Standard Greek and
hence cannot be adequately represented by the Greek alphabet: in fact, the
 (2009) study reported that they use the Roman
alphabet because the Greek alphabet does not provide letters for some
Cypriot Greek sounds. Thus, Cypriot Greek is written in electronic
communication in various non-standardized ways by means of the Roman
alphabet, a writing trend that has permeated other areas of writing, such as
note-passing in class among female students (Sophocleous 2012).
Chapter Three
Themistocleous (2009) observes that the use of written Cypriot Greek in
synchronous communication is increasingly becoming emblematic of the
Cypriot Greek youth identity; thus, positive language attitudes towards the
Low variety are reinforced through its written usage in electronic
Weblogs present an interesting case of online communication. The
the function of synchronous
communication: blogs can be seen as online diaries or informative articles;
thus bloggers assume the role of author rather than of speaker. Such a role
in Cyprus is associated through schooling with not just the High variety
but also with its rendering with the Greek alphabet; thus, bloggers usually
write in Standard Greek rendered in the Greek alphabet. Nonetheless,
more and more bloggers appear to consciously choose to post entire blog
entries written in Cypriot Greek, while others choose to write all their
posts in Cypriot Greek (e.g., Andreou 2011 and Aceras Anthropophorum
2009), arguably due to the association of Cypriot Greek with online
communication and the positive attitudes towards this usage.
Consequently, blogs differ from other online usages of Cypriot Greek in
that they retain the usage of the Greek alphabet for writing Cypriot Greek
So far, we have reviewed the written usage of Cypriot Greek in
informal and semi-formal situations. However, Cypriot Greek is not only
confined to those situations, as it is regularly written in two of the most
formal situations: courtroom transcripts (Georgiou 2012) and the
proceedings of the Cypriot House of Representatives (Papageorgiou 2009).
In both cases, it is crucial to transcribe as accurately as possible not only
what was said but also the way it was worded. The speech of the
participants in either setting is mainly acrolectal, but it often slides
towards mesolectal or even basilectal regions of the dialectal continuum;
thus Cypriot Greek finds its way into the official records of these two
branches of government. In publishing the proceedings of the House of
Representatives some editing does take place (e.g., correcting grammatical
error where it is used,
(Papageorgiou 2009, 27).
3.2 Orthographic representation of Cypriot Greek
In the medieval literature mentioned above, Cypriot Greek was written
with the use of the Greek alphabet, without any modifications (such as
Addressing writing system issues in dialectal lexicography
diacritics or non-Greek characters). Post-alveolar consonants (for which
the Greek alphabet does not provide distinct graphemes) can be traced in
such as <> instead of <> for the word [i
2006, 337).
A systematic representation of Cypriot Greek was introduced by
Menardos (1884) in his phonetic study of the Cypriot variety. This author
represented post-alveolar consonants again without resorting to foreign
characters or diacritics; instead, he used mainly boldface characters or
capitalization, e.g., <σ> or <> = [
. Later
ystem (in particular, the use
of boldface characters), or modified it in various ways (See Coutsougera
and Georgiou (forthcoming), and Papadima, Ayiomammitou and Kyriacou
(2013) for a thorough account of the various systems.) Some of those
systems introduced diacritics over, below, or next to certain graphemes for
the accurate rendition of Cypriot Greek: e.g., <  >, <  >,
<  >, <> etc. = [ Papadima and
Kafaridou 2008 for examples of the various systems developed.). A
writing system that makes use of combining diacritics was proposed by the
Greek Communal Chamber in 1962 (Yiangoullis 2009, 910) as the
appropriate way to render Cypriot Greek. The Chamber was at the time the
constitutional body responsible for the education of Greek Cypriots.
scholars, editors, and lexicographers followed various orthographic
conventions that ranged from slight variations of the proposed system to
more substantial differentiations. The most recent proposal for an
orthographic system of Cypriot Greek was the one by Coutsougera and
Georgiou (forthcoming), which is based on linguistic criteria.
4. The need for codification
Taking into account the diachronic and contemporary usage of Cypriot
Greek in written speech and also the interest shown by scholars in
representing it, it would appear odd that its writing system shows such
variation and lack of standardization. However, if the sociolinguistic
The Greek Communal Chamber was superseded by the Ministry of Education in
Chapter Three
situation in Cyprus presented above is taken into consideration, this
situation can be accounted for.
Even though the existence of the dialect continuum attests to the usage
of Cypriot Greek in virtually all domains of oral and written speech, the
perceptual diglossia recognized above entails that despite their actual
usage, Standard Modern Greek and Cypriot Greek are perceived as the
High and Low code respectively. In this setting, it is not surprising that
Cypriot Greek has never been standardized, as the role of the standard is
occupied by the High variety, i.e. Standard Greek.
More importantly
though, language in Cyprus is strongly associated with ethnicity,
community, and national identity formation and insecurities, which
prohibit any perceived elevated use of the Low variety. This results in a
polarization that promotes the High variety over the stigmatized Low
variety and minority languages.
Therefore, if the sociolinguistic and political situation in Cyprus is
taken into account, it can be understood that standardization in the sense of
promoting Cypriot Greek as an official language has never been a
desideratum of the vast majority of Greek Cypriots.
Be that as it may, it is
not the case that standardization (i.e., codification) of the dialect
system is either unnecessary or unwanted, as evident at least in the work
of the scholars mentioned above.
In addition to scholars, the importance of the codification of the
dialectsystem is becoming widely acknowledged by the public:
in a survey conducted by Papadima and Kafaridou (2008, 55), 68% of the
participants stated that the designing of special characters for the accurate
transcription of Cypriot Greek is important. Furthermore, as mentioned
Negative language attitudes towards Cypriot Greek lead its speakers to perceive it
as inherently unable to be associated with the communicative contexts in which the
standard is found, despite of the actual usage of Cypriot Greek even in those
formal contexts.
See Hadjioannou, Tsiplakou, and Kappler (2011) and references therein for a
detailed exposition of the relation between the sociolinguistic situation and
language policies in Cyprus.
There is a currently a facebook group called “Cypriot Greek [to be] the official
language of Cyprus” (;
however, it can be considered marginal, since its approach to the subject is more
romantic rather than activistic. In contrast to people pursuing the promotion of the
dialect as an official language of Cyprus, scholars’ interest in the codification of
the dialect’s writing system stems from “rational and esthetic reasons” (Bourcier
this volume, p. 128).
Addressing writing system issues in dialectal lexicography
earlier, the increasing usage of the dialect rendered with the Greek
alphabet in the blogosphere has led bloggers to fervent discussions on
what orthographic conventions to follow, often resulting in impressive
levels of linguistic and sociolinguistic analysis of the dialect. For example,
made it clear that what they pursue is writing system codification and not
the standardization of the dialect in the sense of promoting it as an official
language. The need for a standardized code is also evident in the case of
the afore-mentioned formal contexts wherein Cypriot Greek has to be
transcribed in official records. Papageorgiou (2009, 28) detected this need,
and reported that the editors of the proceedings of the House of
Representatives have compiled an in-service memo, which includes a list
of common Cypriot words with their proposed spelling in the Greek
Finally, the educational reform currently taking place in Cyprus has
created a new dynamic, as it makes Cypriot Greek more visible in
education. As Hadjioannou, Tsiplakou, and Kappler (2011, 30) mention,
the new curriculum
...focuses on deploying the naturalistic acquisition of [Cypriot Greek]
as a means of fostering metalinguistic knowledge and sociolinguistic
awareness with regard to the two varieties of Greek spoken on the island
within the radical genre/critical literacy 
The immediate effect of this elevated utilisation of Cypriot Greek in
education is the resulting urgent need from the teachers
resources in Cypriot Greek and also for a stabilized writing system and
codified grammatical rules of the dialect to be taught. This demand can be
met with adequate dictionaries and school grammars of Cypriot Greek.
4.1 Existing dictionaries and grammars
There are indeed a couple of dictionaries and grammars that use the
Cypriot Greek writing system. However, due to methodological
shortcomings, they may not be optimal to serve as the basis for the
standardization of the dialect, for they fail to represent contemporary
Cypriot Greek, to a lesser or greater degree (c.f., Katsoyannou 2010).
Regarding grammars of Cypriot, there exist currently two: Newton
English, hence it is not readily accessible to all students and teachers.
More importantly, it is a not a pedagogical grammar, but rather a
Chapter Three
descriptive grammar (focused mainly on phonology and morphology)
written by a linguist within the generative framework. Inevitably, its
linguistic jargon is not suitable for non-linguists, such as primary and
secondary school teachers. Furthermore, it was published before the
Turkish invasion of 1974 and the fleeing of thousands of Greek Cypriots
to the south, something that led to a new geo-linguistic situation on the
island. Therefore, it is not informed of new developments, such as the
levelling of subdialectal features and the emergence of a Cypriot Urban
s, as mentioned
earlier. Finally, many of its examples are not in use any more, or are
the reference descriptive grammar of Cypriot Greek. Concerning
Chatziioann Greek, but its
analysis is more philological than linguistic. For instance, it tends to
analyse Cypriot Greek in terms of grammatical notions of Ancient Greek,
it excludes syntax, and it reports regional variants without systematic
indication of their geo-linguistic distribution.
As for dialectal lexicography, there are a number of dialectal
dictionaries and glossaries of Cypriot Greek,
the most notable of which
are the following (in chronological order): Chatziioannou (1996),
Papangelou (2001), and Yiangoullis (2009). These three dictionaries run
into certain methodological issues such as the following:
They include words that are not in use today. Some of the
lexicographers are philologists, thus they include words that have
been obsolete for centuries, in order to facilitate philological work
with texts of those periods. However, this practice results in a
considerable amount of words in the current dictionaries that for
centuries have ceased to be standard Cypriot words. Thus, they
diverge from the contemporary lexicon of the dialect.
They tend to include only the differences from Standard Modern
Greek. Because Cypriot Greek and Standard Modern Greek are
varieties of the same language, they show a considerable amount of
vocabulary overlap. It is a common practice in dialectal lexicography
to represent only how the dialect 
many everyday words are left out of dialectal dictionaries because
they are found in the standard. The result of this practice is that these
dictionaries function primarily as indexes of differences from the
See Katsoyannou (2010) for a review.
Addressing writing system issues in dialectal lexicography
standard, rather than as representative dictionaries of the actual
vocabulary of the dialect.
For instance, none of the everyday words shown in Table 3-1 are found
in any of the three dialectal dictionaries mentioned above, because they
exist in both varieties and are allegedly pronounced the same. But in most
cases they are not pronounced the same, something that the existing
dialectal dictionaries fail to notice (and thus they exclude these words).
Even if they are pronounced and mean the same, such as the word for
these dictionaries aim to be representative of the dialects actual lexicon,
and not of its differences from the standard.
Standard Modern Greek
left (adv.)
I hear
vˈciʝ 
[sv ˈin]
Table 3-1. Common words between Cypriot Greek and Standard Modern Greek
that are missing from all three dialectal dictionaries mentioned.
They ignore words that appear to belong to Standard Modern Greek
but are actually false friends or non-existent in Standard Modern
Greek. Oftentimes, words that sound (virtually) the same in both the
Standard and Cypriot Greek but have different meanings in each of
the two varieties (i.e. false friends) are excluded from the dictionaries
because the lexicographers in many cases are arguably not aware of
the difference in meaning. For instance, the adjective <>
s] (not existing in any of the three dictionaries
in Cypriot Greek 
They choose (pronunciation or spelling) variants of Cypriot words
that diverge the most from the Standard at the expense of selecting a
The practice of including lexical items that are identical between the standard and
the dialect in a dialectal dictionary is followed, for example, in Rohlfs’ (1964)
dictionary of the Greek dialects of Southern Italy.
Chapter Three
variant that is actually more commonly used (albeit closer to the
In the case of a non-standardized dialect, multiple variants of words are
expected. One of those variants usually enters in the dictionary as the main
lemma, whereas the remaining variants are considered phonologically or
morphologically different versions of the main lemma. Lexicographers of
Cypriot Greek tend to select the variant that diverges the most from
Standard Greek as the main lemma (or as the only lemma). Thus they end
up selecting basilectal or even obsolete variants as more emblematic of the
). However, this
choice does not reflect actual use: for instance, the basilectal (and rare)
<> [
s, whereas the
> [x
s], exists in none, because it
Regarding the written usage of Cypriot Greek by these dictionaries,
there appears to be a consistent way in which the dialect is written within
each of these works, but there is no uniformity across different works,
something that does not facilitate orthography standardization. In the case
of the biggest dictionary (in terms of number of entries), Papangelou
(2001), there are several spelling variants of the same word, but only one
is the main lemma, to which all other variants redirect. In some cases,
there can be as many as 13 different spelling variants of the same lemma
across a number of different (and not necessarily adjacent) pages of the
dictionary. Multiple spelling variants of the same lemma are not helping
Any codification of the dialects writing system for teaching purposes
should be based on representative dictionaries and grammars of
contemporary Cypriot Greek and it becomes apparent from the previous
discussion that the existing ones are not.
5. The “Syntychies” project
The accurate representation of the contemporary lexicon of Cypriot
Greek 
research program for the creation of language resources, which was
developed at the University of Cyprus between 2006 and 2010. One other
research goal of the program was the creation of a concrete proposal for
the written representation of the dialect. The applied part of the program
Addressing writing system issues in dialectal lexicography
included the creation of a dynamic database, whose content can be used
for the creation of one or more printed and/or online dictionaries.
) was the
first phase of the ambitious goal of creating an electronic dictionary,
available on the internet. Currently, the output of the program is a free
online database
consisting of a list of lemmas and their basic info, such as
grammatical category, IPA transcription, morphological and spelling
variants of the lemma; finally, Syntychies provides the audio version of
each database entry generated by a built-in text-to-speech synthesiser.
5.1 Representation of the contemporary dialectal lexicon
Regarding the vocabulary of Cypriot Greek, the Syntychies project
followed a different methodology from previous dictionaries, in order to
be more representative of the contemporary lexicon of the dialect. Some of
by other dictionaries were the following: obsolete words were not included
in the database; everyday basic vocabulary that overlaps with Standard
Greek was included; false friends between the standard and the dialect
were identified and included in the database; loan words currently used but
missing from other dictionaries were included; multiple morphological
variants of a single lemma were dealt with in a more systematic way (c.f.,
Katsoyannou et al. 2013
arguably hinders orthography oided as much as
5.2 Considerations for reaching an effective writing system
The intended contribution of the Syntychies project to the codification
of the dialect is the stabilization of its script and
orthography. The writing system advanced by the project was based on
certain theoretical and practical considerations, chief among which was
linguistic soundness: the principles of systematicity and phonetic
transparency followed by Coutsougera and Georgiou (forthcoming) were
also adopted by Syntychies, although Syntychies allowed for more
phonological information in the orthography. For instance, while
Coutsougera and Georgiou repr-FEM closer to its
phonetic form [m] as <>, Syntychies represents it closer to its
Syntychies website is available at
Chapter Three
phonological form / / as <>. Thus, even though in both cases
transferability to and from Standard Greek was the basis of the proposed
writing system, Syntychies opted for not as extensive a divergence from
the Greek orthography. These principles result in a writing system that
greatly approximates or even virtually coincides with certain existing
proposals, such as the one advanced by the Greek Communal Chamber
and the ones used by the dictionaries of Chatziioannou (1996) and
Yiangoullis (2009). One other important parameter that was taken into
account was the acceptability and usability of the system by native
speakers, a parameter that it is essential to investigate empirically (Cahill
and Karan 2008). In the present case, this parameter was investigated by
formally testing aspects of the proposed system. Armosti et al. (2012)
investigated the writing trends of 155 Greek Cypriot teachers and
concluded that the participants not only accepted but were able to learn the
conventions employed by Syntychies regarding the amount of
orthographic depth and morphophonological-etymological information
admitted in the system, and the use of a diacritic and certain digraphs.
5.3 Practical production factors
A final parameter that is a challenge for orthography development is
the issue of special symbols adapted in an already existing alphabet
regarding their support by available fonts. In the case of Cypriot Greek,
glyphs consisting of characters of the Greek alphabet bearing diacritics are
not part of the Unicode set. Thus, traditionally the print production of
works containing these special characters had to resort to non-Unicode
practices. Papadima et al. (this volume, pp. 6668) discuss in detail the
typographical problems of those practices, such as the correct placement
of the diacritics, concluding that the solutions s
insufficient, amateurish, time-consuming and ineffective at the level of
homogeneity of the text and typographic aesthetics (ibid., p. 68).
For an online dictionary, non-Unicode practices are not really an
option: even if a special typeface were designed, it would be identifiable
only on computers where the special font had been installed. Syntychies
ran into this problem, and the solution chosen under the circumstances was
the typing of the diacritic over certain consonants as a combining
This solution was possible owing to the recent advancement of
All diacritics traditionally used in writing Cypriot Greek are available as
Addressing writing system issues in dialectal lexicography
various Clear Type Fonts by Microsoft, whichcontrary to most other
fontsplace the combining diacritics at the correct position, depending on
the height of the individual characters upon which the diacritic is placed.
Having selected this solution, Charalambos Themistocleous, member of
the project, designed a special keyboard layout (available from the
However, this solution is again not optimal, as the fonts used, albeit
Unicode ones, are very limited in number. Therefore, a text in Cypriot
Greek using this method cannot be composed nor converted into most
other fonts, whether or not they are Unicode. This situation calls for an
expansion of the Unicode set to include glyphs for Cypriot Greek; this will
follow the stabilization of its writing system. This expansion cannot
include all glyphs employed in all competing writing system proposals,
but only the glyphs of a standardized writing system. However, since
currently none of the orthographies proposed is considered to be the
problematic. Meanwhile, standardization of the dialects writing system
would facilitate dialectal lexicography, and conversely, lexicography
would provide support to the standardization process of the dialect.
6. The contribution of current scientific research
For a writing system to become standardized, it must be adopted by the
end users. From the above discussion it is evident that the codification of
the dialect is considered important to meet the needs of
people who wish to or who are required to write in Cypriot Greek. The
first place to which they would turn would be the existing dialectal
need associated more with the reading than with the writing proces
lexicographical database, such as Syntychies, can fulfil this need
effectively, since it comprises a more representative picture of the
contemporary lexicon of Cypriot Greek, and efficiently, by means of the
combining characters in the Unicode set.
The difficulty in producing diacritics on standard computer keyboards is indeed a
shortcoming, as is the case with the diacritics used for writing Podlachian (see
Maksymiuk, this volume). However, the freely available keyboard created for
Syntychies, seems to be favoured by people who wish to write in the dialect, both
online, but also for print productions.
Chapter Three
search power and speed offered by its search tools. Moreover, the
keyboard layout developed for the purposes of the project can facilitate
writing in Cypriot Greek for all other purposes mentioned above.
Current scholarly work seems to indicate that dialectal lexicography,
and Syntychies in particular, can also play a very important role in
education, especially with the curriculum reform taking place in Cyprus
(Tsolakidis 2012). Furthermore, Eteokleous, Tsolakidis, and Ieridou
(2012) suggest that the Cypriot keyboard can also be used as an effective
tool in education.
Another indispensable tool that teachers demand due to the educational
reform is a modern grammar of contemporary Cypriot Greek. Such a
grammar is in preparation (Tsiplakou, Coutsougera, and Pavlou,
forthcoming) and apart from the detailed description of the dialect
phonology and morphosyntax on the basis of contemporary linguistic
principles, it suggests a simple transcription system of Cypriot Greek,
which is in line with the one proposed by Syntychies.
As mentioned above, the empirical investigation of the acceptability of
the writing system by native speakers is of great importance. Such
investigation is currently undertaken by scholars (most of them mentioned
above) specialising in various fields, such as (socio)linguistics,
lexicography, typographic design, education, and psychology. Papadima et
al. (this volume) is one of the studies that examined language attitudes
 as a
ework of Sebba (2007). This dimension of
orthography in not much studied, and surely deserves future attention.
7. Conclusion
This paper argued for the need for standardization of the writing
system of Cypriot Greek on the basis of its actual written usage in various
domains. It was shown that dialectal lexicography can facilitate this
process in various ways. At the same time though, the very lack of
standardization negatively influences the practical production of
lexicographical work, especially online. It is argued that if the writing
system is codified, dialectal lexicography will be greatly facilitated.
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... La variété chypriote grecque qui doit être codifiée est indispensable pour satisfaire la totalité des locuteurs qui souhaitent écrire en chypriote grec. De plus, il y a la nécessité de codifier le dialecte chypriote, une réalité émergée par l'intérêt du monde académique dont le nombre augmente, mais également par les locuteurs eux-mêmes qui choisissent ou doivent écrire en chypriote grec,159mais qui se heurtent à des difficultés en raison de l'absence de codification (Armostis et al., 2014, p. 23).En prenant en considération la situation politique à Chypre et le lien entre langue et ethnicité (analysé par la suite), il n'est pas étonnant que la codification du chypriote grec ne soit pas encore réalisée. Le fait que le chypriote grec soit encore considéré en tant que langue basse et le grec moderne standard comme la langue haute entrave la codification(Armostis et al., 2014).D'après Armostis (Armostis et al., 2014), les dictionnaires et lexiques dialectaux existants (Chatziioannou Kyriakos, 1996; Papangelou, 2001; Yiangoullis Constantinos, 2009) comprennent des mots dépassés qui ne sont pas utilisés aujourd'hui. ...
... De plus, il y a la nécessité de codifier le dialecte chypriote, une réalité émergée par l'intérêt du monde académique dont le nombre augmente, mais également par les locuteurs eux-mêmes qui choisissent ou doivent écrire en chypriote grec,159mais qui se heurtent à des difficultés en raison de l'absence de codification (Armostis et al., 2014, p. 23).En prenant en considération la situation politique à Chypre et le lien entre langue et ethnicité (analysé par la suite), il n'est pas étonnant que la codification du chypriote grec ne soit pas encore réalisée. Le fait que le chypriote grec soit encore considéré en tant que langue basse et le grec moderne standard comme la langue haute entrave la codification(Armostis et al., 2014).D'après Armostis (Armostis et al., 2014), les dictionnaires et lexiques dialectaux existants (Chatziioannou Kyriakos, 1996; Papangelou, 2001; Yiangoullis Constantinos, 2009) comprennent des mots dépassés qui ne sont pas utilisés aujourd'hui. Plusieurs mots utilisés quotidiennement par les locuteurs chypriotes grecs sont absents, car retrouvés à l'identique dans le grec moderne standard. ...
Nous ne sommes pas réalistes si on affirme qu’un locuteur peut parler ou maitriser une langue parfaitement. Il est vrai qu’un locuteur peut maitriser honorablement les règles linguistiques, pourtant cognitivement parlant, cela ne signifie pas trop. Les relations cognitives qu’on entretient avec les langues du monde dépassent la dimension linguistique amplement analysée aux manuels scolaires. Parler une langue veut dire être capable d’exister dans cette langue, en ce sens que son être y est inscrit. On est dirigé par son intuition linguistique pour s’exprimer spontanément et conformément au génie de cette langue. Toutefois, toutes les relations cognitives qu’on entretient avec les langues du monde, sont assujettis au temps et aux circonstances de vie; elles peuvent soit évoluer, détériorer mais toujours se modifier. En ce sens, le locuteur est un locuteur inachevé, un être inachevé, perfectible à l’infini. Ceci est une des principes du cadre théorique que nous adoptons à cette thèse; la théorie de la néoténie linguistique. Il s’agit d’une étude scientifique des langues et de leur appropriation par les locuteurs, dans laquelle la dichotomie, faits de langue/faits d’appropriation y sont traités comme une entité.Dans cette étude nous utilisons le cade théorique de la néoténie linguistique et en adoptant ses termes et notions, nous examinons le cas intéressent du locuteur chypriote-grec. Un locuteur dont le paysage linguistique est au moins compliqué. La première (chronologiquement) langue de ce locuteur est le dialecte chypriote-grec, mais puis pendant sa scolarisation on doit s’exprimer et écrire en grec moderne. Certains locuteurs affirment que dans leur vie quotidienne ils parlent le grec moderne, des autres le chypriote-grec et en même temps les chercheurs semblent être indécis sur ce sujet. À cela s’ajoute la présence de facto du moins trois encore langues; l’anglais, le français et le turc. Avec la théorie de la néoténie linguistique, nous essayons de fournir d’attribuer nous aussi à la divergence du parler local du grec moderne et d’examiner les relations cognitives de ses locuteurs avec les langues trouvées dans leur environnement linguistique.
... Cahill and Karan (2008) discuss good practices for developing orthographies for oral languages. Armostis et al. (2014) discuss the case of Cypriot Greek, which is a major dialect of Greek not adequately represented by the standard Greek alphabet. Their overall recommendation is that native speakers should participate in the definition of the orthography and have the final word in several decisions. ...
Conference Paper
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The PHILOTIS project is developing a platform to enable researchers of living languages to easily create and make available state-of-the-art spoken and textual annotated resources. As a case study we use Greek and Pomak, the latter being an endangered oral Slavic language of the Balkans (including Thrace/Greece). The linguistic documentation of Pomak is an ongoing work by an interdisciplinary team in close cooperation with the Pomak community of Greece. We describe our experience in the development of a Latin-based orthography and morphologically annotated text corpora of Pomak with state-of-the-art NLP technology. These resources will be made openly available on the PHILOTIS site and the gold annotated corpora of Pomak will be made available on the Universal Dependencies treebank repository.
... Luckily, the latest Microsoft fonts, incorporating the ClearType technology, perform better when it comes to the rendering of combining characters, and so the extent of the problem may be reduced in the future, as technology improves. On this issue see also Armosti et al. (2014). ΤLex gives the option of keyboard shortcuts (macros) for special characters, and it has been extensively used for the fast keying of special characters ...
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This article reports on the compilation of a full dictionary, both print and digital, of Cappadocian Greek, one of the major Modern Greek dialects. This bilingual (Cappadocian Greek-Standard Modern Greek) dictionary is one of the products of the 'DiCaDLand' dialectological project, funded by the Hellenic Foundation of Research and Innovation ( Its compilation is based on the powerful professional dictionary editing software TLex Suite, after extensive parameterization in order to meet the needs and the particularities of both the project and the dialectal variety in study. More specifically, we present a sophisticated and state-of-the art e-lexicographic annotation template capable of handling and describing the complex data of an obsolescent and "aberrant" dialect, without written tradition, heavily influenced by language contact (with Turkish), and presenting considerable variation and serve as a model for future approaches to Greek digital lexicography.
... CYG is spoken on the island of Voniati Cyprus by approximately 800,000 people and also by substantial immigrant communities of Greek Cypriots in the UK, North America, Australia, South Africa, and elsewhere [57]. It is a southeastern variety of Modern Greek, and it has no codified writing system [58]. Speakers of CYG can be described as bidialectal, as they use two varieties of Modern Greek, namely CYG and Standard Modern Greek (SMG). ...
Background/aims: The number of different words (NDW), an essential measure of lexical diversity, is extremely valuable towards providing data regarding children's language development. However, in Cyprus, practitioners are deprived of the opportunity to utilize NDW, as no normative data exist for toddlers who speak Cypriot Greek (CYG). Methods: The language samples of 36 monolingual CYG-speaking toddlers (aged 36, 40, 44, and 48 months) with a typical course of language development were collected and quantitatively analyzed. Based on the language sample analysis, we ascertained typical NDW values at the aforementioned ages and tested through a linear mixed-effects model whether gender and age affected NDW. Results: The results showed that age significantly predicted NDW increase; gender did not emerge as a significant predictor of NDW, but this may be due to the small statistical power. Conclusion: This study intends to provide the first step towards longitudinal investigation of the level of NDW for CYG-speaking children with a typical course of language development. The provided data, which could serve as preliminary norms, may be used - under some restrictions for the time being - during language assessment. Moreover, these acquired data could contribute to the development of an NDW database for diverse CYG-speaking populations of different age ranges in the future.
... A challenge faced by researchers investigating the sociopragmatics of nonstandard varieties such as Cypriot Greek stems from the fact that these varieties are not normally used in writing. While native speakers have recourse to a variety of ways to represent their speech in writing, the relevant conventions are at best informal, and no official standardized conventions are available for use in experimental research (Armostis et al., 2014). Subjects' lack of exposure to written Cypriot Greek means that presenting the contexts to them in writing could have an adverse effect on the naturalness of their responses. ...
From Speech Acts to Lay Understandings of Politeness - edited by Eva Ogiermann July 2019
... There is an increasing interest in CG by scholars in various fields such as sociolinguistics, lexicography and education [18]. There currently exist two published grammars of CG, Newton's 1972 work in English [19] and Hadjioannou's 1999 work in Greek [20]. ...
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This thesis describes the collection of a bidialectal corpus of Greek and the construction of a classifier to distinguish between the dialects. The corpus of Cypriot Greek (CG) and Standard Modern Greek (SMG) was compiled from social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and online forums. N-gram features were extracted and three classification algorithms were applied and tested on labeled sentences: multinomial naive Bayes (NB), linear support vector machine (SVM) and logistic regression. All algorithms classified the test data with an accuracy of over 90%, with the multinomial NB classifier performing best, yielding a mean accuracy of 95%. This study adds to the existing body of work on the problem of discriminating similar languages and is the first to examine CG and SMG. The results demonstrate the feasibility of an accurate Greek dialect classifier for academic or applied purposes.
... Due to the wide use of the Roman alphabet in online interactions, a romanized version of written CG (rather than one based on the Greek alphabet) is also very often employed, adding further to the multiplicity of writing systems that exist for the dialect. Research on the written form of the dialect has highlighted the repercussions of the lack of a unified way to represent the dialect and pointed out the need for its codification and standardization ( Armosti et al., 2014;Papadima et al., 2014). ...
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Over the last 50 years, sociolinguistic research in settings in which a regional, social, or ethnic non-standard linguistic variety is used alongside the standard variety of the same language has steadily increased. The educational implications of the concomitant use of such varieties have also received a great deal of research attention. This study deals with regional linguistic variation and its implications for education by focusing on the Greek Cypriot educational context. This context is ideal for investigating the linguistic profiles of speakers of proximal varieties as the majority of Greek Cypriots are primarily educated in just one of their varieties: the standard educational variety. The aim of our study was to understand Greek Cypriot primary school pupils’ sociolinguistic awareness via examination of their written production in their home variety [Cypriot Greek (CG) dialect]. Our assumption was that, because written production is less spontaneous than speech, it better reflects pupils’ conscious awareness. Pupils were advised to produce texts that reflected their everyday language with family and friends (beyond school boundaries). As expected, students’ texts included an abundance of mesolectal features and the following were the ten most frequent: (1) palato-alveolar consonants, (2) future particle [ená] and conditional [ítan na] + subjunctive, (3) consonant devoicing, (4) CG-specific verb stems, (5) final [n] retention, (6) [én/ éni] instead of [íne], (7) CG-specific verb endings, (8) [én/é] instead of [ðen], (9) elision of intervocalic fricative [ɣ], and (10) CG-specific adverbs. Importantly, in addition to the expected mesolectal features that reflect contemporary CG, students included a significant and unexpected number of basilectal features and instances of hyperdialectism (that are not representative of today’s linguistic reality) which rendered their texts register-inappropriate. This led us to conclude that Greek Cypriot students have a skewed sociolinguistic awareness of variation within their first dialect and a distorted impression of their own everyday language. We argue that the portrayal of CG in its basilectal form was performed intentionally by students in an effort to distance themselves from a socially constructed identity of a rural, uneducated, and stigmatized non-standard-dialect speaker. The study is of international relevance as it deals with sociolinguistic issues that pertain to all bidialectal speakers.
... ενδεικτικά Αρµοστή κ.ά. 2012; Christodoulou et al. 2012;Armosti et al. 2014Armosti et al. αλλά και Χριστοδούλου 2015. Λ.χ. ...
The ideas, values and stereotypes associated with different linguistic varieties in specific communities that are reflected in people's attitudes toward those varieties and their speakers are acquired through social practices and institutions of replication, such as the institution of family and education. These are contexts where language ideologies are produced and reproduced and, consequently, form and affect people's language attitudes. This study examines elementary school aged children's and their parents’ language attitudes in the Greek-speaking community in Cyprus. This community is diglossic with Standard Modern Greek (SMG) being the High variety and Cypriot Greek (CG), the native language of the people, being the Low variety. The study examines whether the participants’ sex, place of residence, education level, and their perceived ability to use the two varieties affect their attitudes towards the two varieties, the people who use them and their views on the introduction of CG to education. The data are collected via questionnaires and interviews and are analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The analysis of the data shows that parents hold more prescriptive ideas about language than the pupils and assign status and superiority only to speakers of the standard variety. At the same time, females in both groups show a tendency to favour the standard variety and standard language speakers while adult males favour the non-standard variety. Overall, the pupils’ language attitudes are positive towards both varieties and those who use them. Unlike their parents, pupils perceive their place of residence (whether it is urban or rural) as a factor that affects the frequency of their use of the two varieties. Data from their language performance at school give credit to their claim. Finally, the pupils seem to value their native language and seek its use at school not only because it is easier for them to understand the lesson, but also because they view it as part of their identity. Their parents do not seem to share their children's views, and when they do claim that CG has a place in education in Cyprus, CG is only accepted in oral communication. The examination of the findings is framed with a discussion of two important ideologies cultivated in Greek Cypriot schools: the ideology of the standard language and the ideology of ethnic nationalism.
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The aim of this work is to identify and analyze a set of challenges that are likely to be encountered when one embarks on fieldwork in linguistic communities that feature small, young, and/or non-standard languages with a goal to elicit big sets of rich data. For each challenge, we (i) explain its nature and implications, (ii) offer one or more examples of how it is manifested in actual linguistic communities, and (iii) where possible, offer recommendations for addressing it effectively. Our list of challenges involves static characteristics (e.g., absence of orthographic conventions and how it affects data collection), dynamic processes (e.g., speed of language change in small languages and how it affects longitudinal collection of big amounts of data), and interactive relations between non-dynamic features that are nevertheless subject to potentially rapid change (e.g., absence of standardized assessment tools or estimates for psycholinguistic variables). The identified challenges represent the domains of data collection and handling, participant recruitment, and experimental design. Among other issues, we discuss population limits and degree of power, inter- and intraspeaker variation, absence of metalanguage and its implications for the process of eliciting acceptability judgments, and challenges that arise from absence of local funding, conflicting regulations in relation to privacy issues, and exporting large samples of data across countries. Finally, the ten experimental challenges presented are relevant to languages from a broad typological spectrum, encompassing both spoken and sign, extant and nearly extinct languages.
In this major new text, Joshua Fishman charts the rise of vernacular literacy in Europe, and the major social, economic, religious, political, demographic, educational and philosophical changes that attended it. Following the story up until the present day, the book examines the people who became leaders of the growth of vernacular literacy in Europe, and looks at how European colonizers viewed vernacular literacy efforts in their current and former colonies. Looking forward, Fishman discusses how new technology affects vernacular literacy both now and in the present, and whether developments in voice and visual media mean that vernacular literacy will be less important to future generations than it is to us. ‘European Vernacular Literacy’ is not only a review of well-known facts and theories of the rise of vernacular literacy in Europe, but an attempt to reintegrate and rethink them along new and provocative lines, meaning that the book will be of interest not only to students of literacy and history but also to scholars interested in Fishman’s latest contribution to sociolinguistics.