Skip

Griko, Ladino and ethnolinguistics
July 20, 2006 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Griko is a language used by the descendents of ancient Greek colonists in southern Italy that still has thousands of speakers. Pennsylvania Dutch, the only German language native to North America, was used as a first language until well into the twentieth century. Ladino ia a variant of medieval Spanish written in the Hebrew alphabet that florished among refugees from the Spanish Inquisition in modern Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece. Welcome to the world of ethnolinguistics.
posted by huskerdont (22 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh my God, it's difficult enough trying to understand the Italian the people in the south and in Sicily speak....
posted by wfc123 at 8:09 PM on July 20, 2006


Those interested in Ladino (or ethnolinguistics in general, even) might like to check out the Jewish Language Research Website.
posted by trip and a half at 8:19 PM on July 20, 2006


Ladino is also written in the Roman alphabet — google "djudeo-espanyol" to see how it looks. (Here's how it sounds [mp3].)
posted by gubo at 8:19 PM on July 20, 2006


See also Michif, the language created when you fuse French vocabulary with the elaborate grammar of the Cree.
posted by Iridic at 8:39 PM on July 20, 2006


Wait. languagehat didn't post this? ;)

Seriously though, for someone with relatively no linguistic ability, I love this kind of stuff. Great post.
posted by geekhorde at 8:42 PM on July 20, 2006


Um. I meant to also say thanks for the post!
posted by trip and a half at 8:46 PM on July 20, 2006


On a related note, I was reading In Search of the Indo-Europeans today, by J. P. Mallory. Fascinating book. You should read it if you get a chance.
posted by geekhorde at 8:46 PM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


Er, Plautdietsch is still spoken by thousands of people in North America, so it's not correct to imply that "Pennsylvania Dutch" is not spoken there. Also, there are many speakers in Latin and South America.
posted by wfitzgerald at 9:00 PM on July 20, 2006


I had no idea about Plautdietsch, wfitzgerald. Thanks.
posted by huskerdont at 9:11 PM on July 20, 2006


Yeah, my buddy's wife's first language in the home was a type of German and she was many generations removed from her immigrant ancestors.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:13 PM on July 20, 2006


Yeah... I have a couple friends from that region of Italy who've told me of the Griko spoken in their grandparents' villages. I find it so much more likely that it comes from the waves of immigrants fleeing the fall of Constantinople who filled up those same regions post 13th Century. That's one of the reasons the Renaissance kick-started so early in Italy... native Greek speakers galore. Considering that influx happened a good 1800 to 2000 years or so more recently than the ancient settlers, it just seems so much more likely to my ethnolinguistically-uneducated ass.

In a related tangent, it's funny to consider that a lot of southern Italians are heavily Greek in blood a couple times over. The region of Mani, known for being one of a couple regions never fully conquered by any invading force due to harshness of land and people (the Turks and Venetians had to hire Maniots themselves to rule in their stead) supposedly sent out several colonies in antiquity... places like Corsica, Sicily, Naples and Crete among others. All places that have the tradition of the vendetta today. Crazy, crazy mofos.
posted by the_savage_mind at 9:19 PM on July 20, 2006


Well, I just discovered that the Bible Gateway has a Plautdietsch version online. Here's the Lord's Prayer in Plautdietsch:

Onns Foda em Himel,
lot dien Nome jeheilicht woare;
lot dien Rikjdom kome;
lot dien Wele jedone woare,
uk hia oppe Ead soo aus em Himel;
jef onns Dach fa Dach daut Brot daut onns faelt;
en fejef onns onnse Schullt,
soo aus wie daen fejaewe dee sikj jaeajen onns feschulldicht ha; en brinj onns nich enn Feseakjunk enenn,
oba rad onns fonn Beeset.

Thanks for making the post!
posted by wfitzgerald at 9:35 PM on July 20, 2006


Well, I just discovered that the Bible Gateway has a Plautdietsch version online. Here's the Lord's Prayer in Plautdietsch:

Onns Foda em Himel,
lot dien Nome jeheilicht woare;
lot dien Rikjdom kome;
lot dien Wele jedone woare,
uk hia oppe Ead soo aus em Himel;
jef onns Dach fa Dach daut Brot daut onns faelt;
en fejef onns onnse Schullt,
soo aus wie daen fejaewe dee sikj jaeajen onns feschulldicht ha; en brinj onns nich enn Feseakjunk enenn,
oba rad onns fonn Beeset.

Thanks for making the post!
posted by wfitzgerald at 9:36 PM on July 20, 2006


huskerdont, Thanks for the stimulating post. I didn't know about ethnolinguistics being a field of linguistic anthropology which studies the language of a particular ethnic group.

My first encounter with the spectacular and funny mosaic of diverse ethnic overlapping and criss-crossing was in Thomas Pynchon's amazing book, Gravity's Rainbow.

There must be some fun in the Italian-Greek combo in Calabria because the word for penises in Italian is catzi and that is the word for sit down in Greek. :)

Always loved that scene in Blade Runner where he speaks an urban dialect of the future, Cityspeak, mixing Korean, German, Hungarian and Los Angeles English.

In northeast Afghanistan there is a small enclave, where it is said the remnants of Alexander the Great's army remained and their descendants have lived for over two thousand years. They still speak a Greek dialect there, mixed with Afghani tribal, Persian and Pashto.
posted by nickyskye at 10:35 PM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that, Iridic.
In the 19th century, a good portion of the population of Vancouver (as well as much of the population of BC) chose to speak the Chinook Wawa (a jargon composed of indiginous, English, and French elements) as their first language. It's not in use anymore, but you still hear locals describe something as being "skookum" once in awhile.
posted by Pseudonumb at 11:43 PM on July 20, 2006


Thought of another interesting combo, the Welsh people who went to live at the bottom tip of South America, in the Chubut Valley, Patagonia. They speak a combination of Welsh (Celtic) and Argentinian.

Pseudonumb, skookum's such a cool word! It's skookum alright.
posted by nickyskye at 12:38 AM on July 21, 2006


Don't forget Fanagolo a mixture of Zulu, English, Afrikaans and a smidgen of Portugese that was invented in the mines of South Africa to allow the (then) white mine foremen to communicate with the predominantly Zulu (but also Mozambiquan hence the portugese) migrant workers.
posted by PenDevil at 2:00 AM on July 21, 2006


My favorite obscure language is Unserdeutsch, a German-based creole language spoken by less than hundred speakers in Papua New Guinea. It was formed among New Guinean children residing in a German-run orphanage.

Also, I like the fact that in the dialect of German spoken in the former colony of Deutsch-Südwestafrika (Namibia), Germans living in Germany are called "Schneewambos", which is hard to translate, but comes across roughly as "snow wambos".
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 2:37 AM on July 21, 2006


Wanna be depressed? Sure you do. Scan this list of languages spoken in North America, and look at how many speakers are given for some of the Indian languages:

Apache, Jicarilla: [apj] 812 (1990 census).
Apache, Kiowa: [apk] 18 (1990 census).
Apache, Lipan: [apl] 2 or 3 (1981 R. W. Young).
Mandan: [mhq] 6 (1992 M. Krauss).
Miwok, Plains: [pmw] 1 (1962 H. Landar in Sebeok 1977).
posted by LarryC at 5:42 AM on July 21, 2006


Yeah, ethnolinguistics is neat stuff; I might have gone into it if my anthro teacher in college hadn't been such a moron.

list of languages spoken in North America

Actually, in the USA. And if you want to be even more depressed, here's a (partial) list of extinct languages of North America.
posted by languagehat at 6:21 AM on July 21, 2006


A lot of the problem is, unfortunately, cutting through tribal politics. Indian elders -- the ones necessary to communicate the language -- resist cooperating with non-NA linguists and tech people. I understand their suspicion. I understand that they want such projects under Indian control. But the simple fact is: they lack the linguistic knowledge needed to convey the language to future generations. I know several people here in Nebraska working frantically to document such knowledge in a methodic manner. Most are bald from pulling their hair out.

It's very frustrating.
posted by RavinDave at 4:50 PM on July 21, 2006


the_savage_mind, Fascinating about the Maniot and the Corsica, Sicily, Naples and Crete vendetta connection. "Throughout history, the Maniots (from the Mani peninsula) were known by their neighbors and their enemies as fearless warriors who practiced blood feuds." Amazing looking place, some towns like fortresses.

The Ionian Islands, between Western Greece and Southern Italy, where Ulysses came from, is inhabited by peace-loving Greeks, pussycats.

PenDevil, Amazing about Fanagolo. What an interesting story about that language!

Herr Fahrstuhl, A marvelous obscure language, Unserdeutsch. "Schneewambos" is such a great word for Germans living in Namibia.

Gems!
posted by nickyskye at 9:59 PM on July 21, 2006


« Older Absolutely Senseless One-Link Post   |   clothes as ideas Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post