LANGUP project


The Cretan Dialect belongs to the Hellenic language family and it is a form of Modern Greek. To understand the development of the language we have to follow the history of the island. Crete was captured by Arabs in 823 AC and remained under their occupation until 825 AC. According to Browning (1991), this period was very crucial for the development of the unique features of the language, since there was low communication with the rest of the Greek Population. Around the 14th Century, we can find the first written forms of the language, and the Cretan dialect especially flourished during the 16th and 17th century (literature, folk songs, rhymes) (Horrocks 1997). During the period, the masterpiece of the Cretan Literature was written, Erotokritos by Visenzos Kornaros (Kallinis 2016). After the capture of Crete from the Turks on 1669, there were no new written forms until early 19th century when scholars started collecting relevant material (Lily Macraki 1983).

The studies on the Cretan dialect are historically oriented; there are mainly collections of dialectal material used not only to investigate the use of modern dialects, but also to detect deviations (mainly on the phonetic, morphological and lexical levels) from common Modern Greek, and the association of dialects in earlier phases of Greek (ancient, common Hellenistic, Byzantine) (Theoharis 1986).

The Cretan speakers use it mainly for informal communication and its use is limited mainly to the villages. It is noteworthy to mention that the use of Cretan dialect is done by Greek-speaking Muslim populations. They are about 7,000 people, immigrants from third to fifth generation, using Cretan mainly in oral discourse (Cretan Dialect -Serlet Project). Additionally, outside mainland Greece, the Cretan dialect is spoken by Muslim Cretans, who were forced to leave the island in 1923 with the exchange of populations and settled in other parts of the Mediterranean, mainly in what is now Turkey (Panagiotakis 1987).