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CRASIS: Culture, Religion and Society – Interdisciplinary Studies in the Ancient World

Ancient World Seminar: Mark Janse (Ghent), ‘Cappadocian Greek: the Resurrection of a Language Believed Dead

When:Mo 19-01-2015
Start:16:15
End:17:30
Where:Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, room 130
Poster design Suzan Sierksma-Agteres. Click to enlarge.
Poster design Suzan Sierksma-Agteres. Click to enlarge.

Cappadocian (Asia Minor Greek) is a Greek-Turkish mixed language spoken in Cappadocia (Central Turkey) until the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s. It originated as an indigenous Greek dialect during the Middles Ages, but became heavily turkicized after the Seljuk conquest of Cappadocia in the 11th century. After the population exchange, Cappadocian speakers were forced to emigrate to Greece, where they were resettled in various locations, especially in Central and Northern Greece. The Cappadocians rapidly shifted to Modern Demotic Greek and their language was thought to be extinct since the 1960s (Ethnologue, 15th edition, 2005). In June 2005, Mark Janse discovered native speakers of Cappadocian in Central and Northern Greece. Amongst them are middle-aged, third-generation speakers who take a very positive attitude towards the language as opposed to their parents and grandparents. The latter are much less (if at all) inclined to speak Cappadocian and normally switch to Greek and/or Turkish in their conversations. In his presentation, Janse will relate the linguistic and sociocultural history of Cappadocia and the Cappadocians, from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE until the present day, including the fascinating story of his search for the “last of the Cappadocians” and fragments from the Dutch documentary film on his research Last Words (seriousFilm, 2014).

Mark Janse is research professor in Asia Minor and Ancient Greek at Ghent University, where he studied Classics, Hebrew and Linguistics. In addition, he is currently a Research Associate of the ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism at Bangor University (since 2008), a Fellow of the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University (2013-2014) and a visiting fellow of All Souls College in Oxford (2014). Before this, he fulfilled a number of teaching and research positions at universities around Europe and North America.

Janse's research focuses on language change, language typology, language contact, and language death, in both the ancient and the modern world, on which he has published numerous books and articles. He is a corresponding member of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies (CAMS) in Athens and of the Centre for Cappadocian Studies (CCS) in nea Karvali, a member of the scientific board of the Pan-Hellenic Union of Cappadocian Societies (PEKS), an honorary member of the Cappadocian Society of Evros "The Three Bishops" (Οι Τρεις Ιεράρχες), and a regularly invited speaker at the annual Cappadocian Gavoustema. He has been proclaimed "Ambassador of the Cappadocians" in 2014.