Christopher C.

Posted on 15 Aug 2019

I was born (1947) in London, to Greek Cypriot parents; for five years (from the age of 6 years till I was 11 years) I lived in my ancestral-village at the centre of Mesarka: its dwellings had no electricity, no piped-water whilst harvests (etc.) relied on hand-labour assisted by oxen and a breed of large donkeys.

A hint of ambivalence, as to quality of language, lurks where you've broached the matter of Cypriot 'horkatika' . I trust that you do not want to denigrate our 'horkatika' . In this particular context, my younger Greek Cypriot relatives have conjured another bugbear for me: they fear to speak 'horkatika' because, when they do so, their contemporaries ridicule them as 'toppouzi' and 'kakotropi'. Thus, of their own volition, Greek Cypriots are now engaged in destroying their own 'topolalia'. These contemporary Greek Cypriots cannot blame the dismantling of their wonderful 'topolalia' on foreigners. They blame the latter for the way we've mangled the land, the politics and the economy of Cyprus.

Our 'topolalia' has a rich vocabulary that facilitates its highly articulate speech and its glorious poetry. When I lived in Cyprus, I was in close contact (I knew them very well) with all my grandparents and three of my great-grandparents: they were polite, dignified, articulate, hospitable and they had exemplary manners; they conversed and communicated prodigiously by speaking 'horkatika'. Incidentally, it's apt to seek your opinion here about what you would consider to be the 'more' Greek word for see : in the villages of Mesarka we use 'horo'; my late father-in-law, who was born in a village at the eastern Karpashia, often said 'oras'; modern Athenians say 'vlepo'.

I must now turn to the principal quest of the project which is the principal subject of this correspondence. Consequently, additional words that may be appropriate (some reinforce the problem cited above) include: 'penna' (penny); 'sargis' (sergeant); 'polishmani' (police - created in Greece or in the UK? but, not used in Cyprus where we say 'zaptiees'); ' hotelin' (hotel); 'karta' (card - used by most Greek speakers throughout the world); 'foki' (fog); 'karash' (garage - created in Cyprus or UK ?); 'parkon' (park - where was this created?).

N.B. - It's not "pason" for 'bus': it is 'bason'. Moreover 'bason' is also used to mean a 'pass' : i.e., a 'permit'.

You cite a word like 'karon' for car. In my ancestral-village 'karon' meant cart; I've not known it used to mean car here in London.