Thousands in northern Turkey continue to speak Pontic Greek

Northern Greece, Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan are also home to Pontic Greek-speaking communities

The language of Pontian Greeks, forced out of their homeland one hundred years ago, remains alive today in communities near Turkey’s Black Sea coast, the Greek Reporter said on Saturday.

The Pontic Greek-speaking Muslims in the Turkey’s Black Sea region, who were assimilated by Turkey in the 20th century, continue to speak a Greek dialect close to the extinct language of the earliest years of ancient Greece, it said.

Most of the community now lives in cluster of villages near the contemporary Turkish city of Trabzon, the Greek Reported said, highlighting that linguists have found that their dialect, referred to as  “Romeyka,” a variety of Pontic Greek, has structural similarities to ancient Greek.

(Turkish soldier with pontic lyra)

At least 5,000 people currently speak this particular dialect, the article quoted Dr. Ioanna Sitaridou, Director of Studies in Linguistics at Cambridge University, as saying.

“With as few as 5,000 speakers left in the area, before long, Romeyka could be more of a heritage language than a living vernacular. With its demise would go an unparalleled opportunity to unlock how the Greek language has evolved,” Sitaridou said.

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