The Last of the Calabrian Greeks

Sep 06, 2017 825

BY: John Kazaklis

Italian as we know it today was not always spoken throughout Italy. The Italian language did not become the staple language until well into the end of the 19th Century during the process of Italian unification, or the Risorgimento. Until then, the Italian peninsula was made up of Italo-Romance dialects and smaller minority languages that were differentiated by region and historical influences. Once unification was complete, the Tuscan dialect was ushered into power as the official language of the Italian nation. This became the beginning of the modern end of the Greek language in Calabria, or what it is known today as Greko.

There exists today a tiny enclave of Greek-speaking people in the Aspromonte Mountain region of Reggio Calabria that seem to have survived millennia…perhaps since the Ancient Greeks began colonizing Southern Italy in the 8th and 7th Centuries BC. Their language is called Greko. They survived empires, invasions, ecclesial schisms, dictators, nationalistic-inspired assimilation, and much more. Greko is a variety of the Greek language that has been separated from the rest of the Hellenic world for many centuries. There are various population estimates circulating, but after I visited the region in April 2017 and sat down with several community leaders, the clearest estimate of remaining Greko speakers seems to be between 200-300 and numbers continue to decrease.

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SOURCE: http://istoria.life

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