Griko dialect

Griko, sometimes spelled Grico in Salento is the dialect of Italiot Greek spoken by Griko people in Salento and (sometimes spelled Grecanic[3][4][5][6][7]) in Calabria. Some Greek linguists consider it to be a Modern Greek dialect and often call it Katoitaliótika (Greek: Κατωιταλιώτικα, "Southern Italian") or Grekanika (Γρεκάνικα), whereas its own speakers call it Greko (Γκραίκο, in Calabria) or Griko (Γκρίκο, in Salento). Griko and Standard Modern Greek are partially mutually intelligible.[8]

Γκραίκο · Γκρίκο
Native toItaly
RegionSalento, Calabria
Native speakers
(20,000 cited 1981)[1]
40,000 to 50,000 L2 speakers
Greek alphabet
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3
apul1236  Apulia-Calabrian Greek[2]
Location map of the Italiot-speaking areas in Salento and Calabria


The most popular hypothesis on the origin of Griko is the one by Gerhard Rohlfs[9] and Georgios Hatzidakis, that Griko's roots go as far back in history as the time of the ancient Greek colonies in Southern Italy and Sicily in the eighth century BC. The Southern Italian dialect is thus considered to be the last living trace of the Greek elements that once formed Magna Graecia.

There are, however, competing hypotheses according to which Griko may have preserved some Doric elements, but its structure is otherwise mostly based on Koine Greek, like almost all other Modern Greek dialects.[10] Thus, Griko should rather be described as a Doric-influenced descendant of Medieval Greek. The idea of Southern Italy's Greek dialects being historically derived from Medieval Greek was proposed for the first time in the 19th century by Giuseppe Morosi.[11]

Geographic distribution

Two small Italiot-speaking communities survive today in the Italian regions of Calabria (Province of Reggio Calabria) and Apulia (peninsula of Salento). The Italiot-speaking area of Salento comprises nine small towns in the Grecìa Salentina region (Calimera, Martano, Castrignano de' Greci, Corigliano d'Otranto, Melpignano, Soleto, Sternatia, Zollino, Martignano), with a total of 40,000 inhabitants. The Calabrian Greek region also consists of nine villages in Bovesia, (including Bova Superiore, Roghudi, Gallicianò, Chorìo di Roghudi and Bova Marina) and four districts in the city of Reggio Calabria, but its population is significantly smaller, with around only 2000 inhabitants.

Official status

By Law 482 of 1999, the Italian parliament recognised the Griko communities of Reggio Calabria and Salento as a Greek ethnic and linguistic minority. It states that the Republic protects the language and culture of its Albanian, Catalan, Germanic, Greek, Slovene and Croat populations and of those who speak French, Franco-Provençal, Friulian, Ladin, Occitan and Sardinian.[12]


There is rich oral tradition and Griko folklore. Griko songs, music and poetry are particularly popular in Italy and Greece. Famous music groups from Salento include Ghetonia and Aramirè. Also, influential Greek artists such as Dionysis Savvopoulos and Maria Farantouri have performed in Griko. The Greek musical ensemble Encardia focuses on Griko songs as well as on the musical tradition of Southern Italy at large.[13][14]


Sample text from Καληνύφτα – Kalinifta ("Good night") and Andramu pai, popular Griko songs:

Griko Modern Greek English Translation
Καληνύφτα - kali'nifta Καληνύχτα - kali'nixta Good night
Εβώ πάντα σε σένα πενσέω,
γιατί σένα φσυχή μου 'γαπώ,
τσαι που πάω, που σύρνω, που στέω
στην καρδία,[15] μου πάντα σένα βαστῶ.
Εγώ πάντα εσένα σκέφτομαι,
γιατί εσένα ψυχή μου αγαπώ,
και όπου πάω, όπου σέρνομαι, όπου στέκομαι,
στην καρδιά μου πάντα εσένα βαστώ.
I always think of you
because I love you, my soul,
and wherever I go, wherever I drag myself into, wherever I stay,
inside my heart I always hold you.
Phonetic transcription: Phonetic transcription: ...
[e'vo 'panta se 'sena pen'seo,
ja'ti 'sena fsi'hi mu ɣa'po,
tɕe pu 'pao, pu 'sirno, pu 'steo
stin kar'dia[15] mu 'panta 'sena vas'to.]
[e'ɣo 'panda e'sena 'sceftome,
ʝa'ti e'sena psi'çi mu aɣa'po,
ce 'opu 'pao, 'opu sernome, 'opu stekome
stin kar'ðʝa mu 'panda e'sena va'sto.]
Griko Modern Greek English Translation
Ἄνδρα μοῦ πάει - Andramu pai Ὁ ἄνδρας μοῦ πάει - O andras mou pai My husband is gone
Στὲ κούω τὴ μπάντα τσαὶ στὲ κούω ἦττο σόνο
Στέω ἐττοῦ μα 'σα τσαὶ στὲ πένσεω στὸ τρένο
Πένσεω στὸ σκοτεινό τσαὶ ἤττη μινιέρα
ποῦ πολεμώντα ἐτσεί πεσαίνει ὁ γένο!
Ἀκούω τὴν μπάντα, ἀκούω τὴ μουσική
Εἶμαι ἐδὼ μαζί σας μὰ σκέφτομαι τὸ τρένο
Σκέφτομαι τὸ σκοτάδι καὶ τὸ ὀρυχεῖο
ὅπου δουλεύοντας πεθαίνει ὁ κόσμος!
I hear the band, I hear the music
I'm here with you but I think of the train
I think of darkness and the mine
where people work and die!
transliteration: transliteration: ...
Ste 'kuo ti 'baⁿda ce ste kuo itto sono,
steo et'tu ma sa ce ste 'penseo sto 'treno,
penseo sto skotinò citti miniera

pu polemònta ecì peseni o jeno!
Akuo ti banda, akuo ti musiki
ime edho mazi sas ma skeftome to treno
skeftome to skotadhi kai to orihio
opu doulevontas petheni o kosmos!

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ N. Vincent, Italian, in B. Comrie (ed.) The world's major languages, London, Croom Helm, 1981. pp. 279-302.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Apulia-Calabrian Greek". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ F. Violi, Lessico Grecanico-Italiano-Grecanico, Apodiafàzzi, Reggio Calabria, 1997.
  4. ^ Paolo Martino, L'isola grecanica dell'Aspromonte. Aspetti sociolinguistici, 1980. Risultati di un'inchiesta del 1977
  5. ^ Filippo Violi, Storia degli studi e della letteratura popolare grecanica, C.S.E. Bova (RC), 1992
  6. ^ Filippo Condemi, Grammatica Grecanica, Coop. Contezza, Reggio Calabria, 1987;
  7. ^ In Salento e Calabria le voci della minoranza linguistica greca | Treccani, il portale del sapere
  8. ^ Hammarström (2015) Ethnologue 16/17/18th editions: a comprehensive review: online appendices
  9. ^ G. Rohlfs, Griechen und Romanen in Unteritalien, 1924.
  10. ^ G. Horrocks, Greek: A history of the language and its speakers, London: Longman. 1997. Ch. 4.4.3 and 14.2.3.
  11. ^ G. Morosi, Studi sui dialetti greci della terra d'Otranto, Lecce, 1870.
  12. ^ Law no. 482 of 1999: "La Repubblica tutela la lingua e la cultura delle popolazioni albanesi, catalane, germaniche, greche, slovene e croate e di quelle parlanti il francese, il franco-provenzale, il friulano, il ladino, l'occitano e il sardo."
  13. ^ "Website of Encardia". Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  14. ^ Tsatsou, Marianna (April 22, 2012). "Charity Concert Collects Medicine and Milk Instead of Selling Tickets". Greek Reporter. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  15. ^ a b Often, in actual performances of the song, synizesis takes place on the two final syllables of καρδία (/kar.'di.a/ > /kar.dja/) corresponding to Standard Modern Greek καρδιά /kar.'ðʝa/ (< καρδία /kar.'ði.a/).

Further reading

External links

Antonio de Ferraris

Antonio de Ferraris (Latin: Antonius de Ferraris, Greek: Ἀντώνιος Φεράρις; c. 1444 – 12 November 1517), also known by his epithet Galateo (Latin: Galateus, Greek: Γαλάτειος), was an Italian scholar of Greek ethnicity, academic, doctor and humanist.

Calabrian Greek

The Calabrian dialect of Greek, or Grecanic, is the variety of Italiot Greek used by the ethnic Griko people in Calabria, as opposed to the Italiot Greek dialect spoken in the Grecìa Salentina. Both are remnants of the Ancient and Byzantine Greek colonization of the region.

Calabrian Greek is mentioned in the Red Book of UNESCO on endangered languages, together with Griko. In addition, Euromosaic analyses and recognizes it as being an endangered and minority language in the European Union. It is mentioned by Ethnologue as a dialect of Modern Greek in the sense of a modern vernacular language of the Hellenic family (as is the case with Pontic and Tsakonian Greek).

However, Calabrian Greek has never experienced an extensive growth period during its history. It has only been used in basic day-to-day communications without ever playing a significant role in the fields of administration, literature or ecclesiastical matters.

Gothic War (535–554)

The Gothic War between the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Emperor Justinian I and the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy took place from 535 until 554 in the Italian peninsula, Dalmatia, Sardinia, Sicily and Corsica. The war had its roots in the ambition of the East Roman Emperor Justinian I to recover the provinces of the former Western Roman Empire, which the Romans had lost to invading barbarian tribes in the previous century (the Migration Period).

The war followed the Byzantine reconquest of the province of Africa from the Vandals. Historians commonly divide the war into two phases:

From 535 to 540: ending with the fall of the Ostrogothic capital Ravenna and the apparent reconquest of Italy by the Byzantines.

From 540/541 to 553: a Gothic revival under Totila, suppressed only after a long struggle by the Byzantine general Narses, who also repelled an invasion in 554 by the Franks and Alamanni.In 554 Justinian promulgated the Pragmatic sanction which prescribed Italy's new government. Several cities in northern Italy held out against the Byzantines until 562. By the end of the war Italy had been devastated and depopulated. The Byzantines found themselves incapable of resisting an invasion by the Lombards in 568, which resulted in Constantinople permanently losing control over large parts of the Italian peninsula.

Grecìa Salentina

Grecìa Salentina (Italian for "Salentine Greek-speaking land") is an area in the peninsula of Salento in southern Italy, near the town of Lecce which is inhabited by the Griko people, an ethnic Greek minority in southern Italy who speak Griko, a variant of Greek.


The Greeks or Hellenes (; Greek: Έλληνες, Éllines [ˈelines]) are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world.Greek colonies and communities have been historically established on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea, but the Greek people have always been centered on the Aegean and Ionian seas, where the Greek language has been spoken since the Bronze Age. Until the early 20th century, Greeks were distributed between the Greek peninsula, the western coast of Asia Minor, the Black Sea coast, Cappadocia in central Anatolia, Egypt, the Balkans, Cyprus, and Constantinople. Many of these regions coincided to a large extent with the borders of the Byzantine Empire of the late 11th century and the Eastern Mediterranean areas of ancient Greek colonization. The cultural centers of the Greeks have included Athens, Thessalonica, Alexandria, Smyrna, and Constantinople at various periods.

Most ethnic Greeks live nowadays within the borders of the modern Greek state and Cyprus. The Greek genocide and population exchange between Greece and Turkey nearly ended the three millennia-old Greek presence in Asia Minor. Other longstanding Greek populations can be found from southern Italy to the Caucasus and southern Russia and Ukraine and in the Greek diaspora communities in a number of other countries. Today, most Greeks are officially registered as members of the Greek Orthodox Church.Greeks have greatly influenced and contributed to culture, arts, exploration, literature, philosophy, politics, architecture, music, mathematics, science and technology, business, cuisine, and sports, both historically and contemporarily.

Griko people

The Griko people (Greek: Γκρίκο), also known as Grecanici in Calabria, are an ethnic Greek community of Southern Italy. They are found principally in regions of Calabria (Province of Reggio Calabria) and Apulia (peninsula of Salento). The Griko are believed to be remnants of the once large Ancient and Medieval Greek communities of southern Italy (the old Magna Graecia region), although there is dispute among scholars as to whether the Griko community is directly descended from Ancient Greeks or from more recent medieval migrations during the Byzantine domination. Greek people have been living in Southern Italy for millennia, initially arriving in Southern Italy in numerous waves of migrations, from the ancient Greek colonisation of Southern Italy and Sicily in the 8th century BC through to the Byzantine Greek migrations of the 15th century caused by the Ottoman conquest. In the Middle Ages Greek, regional communities were reduced to isolated enclaves. Although most Greek inhabitants of Southern Italy have become entirely Italianized over the centuries, the Griko community has been able to preserve their original Greek identity, heritage, language and distinct culture, although exposure to mass media has progressively eroded their culture and language.The Griko people traditionally spoke Italiot Greek (the Griko or Calabrian dialects), which is a form of the Greek language. In recent years, the number of Griko who speak the Griko language has been greatly reduced; the younger Griko have rapidly shifted to Italian. Today, the Griko are Catholics.

Italiot Greek

Italiot Greek, also known as Salentino-Calabrian Greek or Italic-Greek may refer to:

Griko dialect, spoken in Salento

Calabrian Greek, spoken in southern Calabria

Languages of Calabria

The primary languages of Calabria are the standard Italian language as well as regional varieties of the Neapolitan and Sicilian languages, all collectively known as Calabrian (Italian: calabrese). In addition, there are 100,000 Arbëresh-Albanian speakers, as well as small numbers of Calabrian Greek speakers and pockets of Occitan.

Modern Greek

Modern Greek (Νέα Ελληνικά néa elliniká or Νεοελληνική Γλώσσα neoellinikí glóssa) refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, and includes Standard Modern Greek. The end of the Medieval Greek period and the beginning of Modern Greek is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic modern features of the language arose centuries earlier, between the fourth and the fifteenth centuries AD.

During most of the period, the language existed in a situation of diglossia, with regional spoken dialects existing side by side with learned, more archaic written forms, as with the vernacular and learned varieties (Dimotiki and Katharevousa) that co-existed throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Music of Italy

The music of Italy has traditionally been one of the cultural markers of Italian national and ethnic identity and holds an important position in society and in politics. Italian music innovation – in musical scale, harmony, notation, and theatre – enabled the development of opera, in the late 16th century, and much of modern European classical music – such as the symphony and concerto – ranges across a broad spectrum of opera and instrumental classical music and popular music drawn from both native and imported sources.

Italian folk music is an important part of the country's musical heritage, and spans a diverse array of regional styles, instruments and dances. Instrumental and vocal classical music is an iconic part of Italian identity, spanning experimental art music and international fusions to symphonic music and opera. Opera is integral to Italian musical culture, and has become a major segment of popular music. The Neapolitan song, canzone napoletana, and the cantautori singer-songwriter traditions are also popular domestic styles that form an important part of the Italian music industry, alongside imported genres such as jazz, rock and hip hop from the United States. Italy was also an important country in the development of disco and electronic music, with Italo disco being one of the earliest electronic dance genres.

Outline of Greece

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Greece:

Greece – sovereign country located on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula in Southern Europe. Greece borders Albania, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia to the north, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean Sea lies to the east and south of mainland Greece, while the Ionian Sea lies to the west. Both parts of the Eastern Mediterranean basin feature a vast number of islands.

Greece lies at the juncture of Europe, Asia and Africa. It is heir to the heritages of ancient Greece, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and nearly four centuries of Ottoman rule. Greece is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games (for this reason, unless it is the host nation, it always leads the Parade of Nations in accordance with tradition begun at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics), Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama including both tragedy and comedy.

Greece is a developed country, a member of the European Union since 1981, a member of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union since 2001, NATO since 1952, the OECD since 1961, the WEU since 1995 and ESA since 2005. Athens is the capital; Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Volos, Ioannina, Larissa and Kavala are some of the country's other major cities.


Palizzi (Calabrian Greek Spiròpoli) is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Reggio Calabria in the Italian region Calabria, located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Catanzaro and about 30 kilometres (19 mi) southeast of Reggio Calabria. The southernmost point in mainland Italy lies in Palizzi.

It is one of the Greek (Griko dialect) speaking villages of Bovesia one of the two Griko-speaking areas of southern Italy.

Palizzi borders the following municipalities: Bova, Bova Marina, Brancaleone, Staiti.


Pizzica (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpittsika]) is a popular Italian folk dance, originally from the Salento peninsula in Apulia and later spreading throughout the rest of Apulia and the regions of Calabria and eastern Basilicata.

It is part of the larger family of tarantella.

Premio Ostana

The Ostana Prize – Writings in the Mother Tongue [in Italian: Ostana Premio Scritture in Lingua Madre], is an annual prize and cultural initiative organized by the Municipality of Ostana and by the Cultural Association Chambra d'Oc. It is dedicated to languages and to literary authors who use a "mother tongue", a present-day minority language of territorial belonging, in their works. The event began in 2008 and is held in Ostana, a municipality in the Valle Po (Italy), every year at the beginning of June. It is open to the public with free admission.

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