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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Centre for Historical Studies (CHS)

CHS Lecture - T. IRAKLEOUS (Cyprus University): 'Holy Grail of Languages? Language and Society in Cyprus 18-20th century'

When:We 10-05-2023 16:00 - 17:30
Where:Room 1312.0025, Harmonie building

This event is hosted by the Centre for Historical Studies.


While under Ottoman rule (1571-1878), Cyprus was an island with a majority of Christian Greek speaking population, a considerable Muslim Turkish speaking minority and other smaller groups like Armenians and Maronites.

It is generally assumed that the island was considered to be a remote place with Turkish prevailing as the language of the ruler, where the Christians had little contact with the Muslim population and the linguistic and societal contacts were very limited.

When the British succeeded the Ottomans in the control of the island in 1878, the dynamics shifted completely, consolidating a status that lasted at least at the 1920s, the era when language reforms took place in the two countries who claimed the role of motherland for the inhabitants of the island, Greece and Turkey.

Recently discovered primary sources suggest that the Ottoman period should be revisited, with the island not being as remote as thought, the linguistics and societal contacts being more than limited, a status changed by the transfer of power to the British. The isolation of the island from the neighbouring countries, at a time they underwent major changes in society and language created what can be seen today as a Holy Grail of languages.