Today is Cyprus’s independence day, the day where the Republic of Cyprus became its own country. Really, doing so has been nothing but trouble and pain and suffering, mainly because Greece and Turkey keep on pulling and tugging at Cyprus, wanting it to become part of their territories. It’s a depressing tale that ends with the island nation being split in two, across the capital city of Nicosia, with no real way of ever being reunited.
The thing is, Cypriots, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, are actually very different to normal Greeks and normal Turks. There are distinctly different traditions and cultures that aren’t completely shared with mainland Greece or Turkey, to the point that there are distinct language differences. Originally, I was of the opinion that the Greek I speak with other Cypriots was just another dialect, the same way you have difference accents and the like when speaking English. But nope, according to Wikipedia, Cypriot Greek and Cypriot Turkish are in fact very different, to the point that both of these are divergent languages.
If you only went to school in Cyprus, particularly a private school, and didn’t speak with the locals, then you might not have noticed this at all. In schools, people are taught standard Greek, including standard Greek pronunciations, grammar and spellings. But if you listen to what people say, you’ll notice that listening to Cypriots speak and listening to Greeks speak is very different, to the point that a person speaking standard Greek might have difficulty understanding someone speaking Cypriot Greek. Of course, if you don’t speak Greek at all, you’ll be clueless, but it’s basically the same as someone from New York being confused by a Scottish person who talks too fast.
Of course, the differences are subtle and quite often, you don’t even really recognize that you’re speaking Cypriot Greek instead of normal Greek. Cypriot Greek is a lot harsher and, I don’t know, thicker. Most notably with consonants. Things like the “SH” and “CH” sounds, which are missing from normal Greek, are scattered throughout Cypriot Greek. There are even whole new words, like “μιλώ” (mi-LOH – I speak) and “θωρώ” (thoh-ROH – I see) which are completely Cypriot Greek words. When put alongside a large number of borrowed or altered words, it can make Cypriot Greek sound more foreign than it really is. Especially when Greek in general is a pretty… well, not dense language, but a lot of its words are quite long.
Then again, most Greek speakers, at least in my own observations, speak insanely fast in the first place, with Cypriot Greek being spoken even more quickly and with more missing-but-implied words, so the smaller differences can be much easier to miss or even ignore.
Really, the existence of Cypriot Greek is obvious. After all, Cypriots have a different history compared to the rest of Greece, and the island itself has been invaded by pretty much everyone locally due to the fact that Cyprus is in a very strategic position in the Mediterranean. Sure, Cypriots do have history with both Greece and Turkey, but Cyprus also has a lot of its own history too.
I don’t know where I was going with all of this. Happy 59th birthday, Cyprus. Even if independence was in fact proclaimed on 19th August 1960 rather than October 1st 1960.