Edited by Massimo Cerruti and Stavroula Tsiplakou
[Studies in Language Variation 24] 2020
Chapter 9. Survival of the ‘oddest’?
Levelling, shibboleths, reallocation and the construction of intermediate varieties
This contribution examines some cases of arrested convergence to the standard variety in Cypriot Greek, the ‘L’ variety in Cyprus’ diglossic context; we explore some of the reasons why full convergence of the Cypriot Greek koine to Standard Greek does not take place and why certain dialect features which are marked and/or perceived as ‘odd’ or exceptional have found their way into the koine. The paper presents quantitative findings from rating surveys and elicitation tasks targeting phonological, syntactic and semantic phenomena: (1) the predominance of clefting, the Cypriot strategy for syntactic focusing, in lieu of focus movement, the Standard Greek strategy for syntactic focusing; (2) the semantic and pragmatic properties of innovative Past Perfect, which suggest that it is construed as a bona fide Cypriot Greek [+past] tense, despite morphological and phonological innovation; (3) the survival and spread of variants such as the palatal [ʝː] in lieu of the standard-like [ʎː], or the preservation of old ones, a typical case being the shibbolethal, basilectal [ç]. The data highlight the intricate interplay of structural and sociolinguistic factors, which attests to the complexity of the processes of koine formation.