|, pontiaká, ?á|
|Region||originally the Pontus on the Black Sea coast; Russia, Georgia, and Turkey|
|Greek, Latin, Cyrillic|
Pontic Greek (Greek: , romanized: Pontiakí diálektos; Pontic Greek: , romanized: Pontiakón lalían or romanized: Roméika) is a variety of Modern Greek originally spoken in the Pontus area on the southern shores of the Black Sea, northeastern Anatolia, the Eastern Turkish/Caucasus province of Kars, southern Georgia and today mainly in northern Greece. Its speakers are referred to as Pontic Greeks or Pontian Greeks.
Pontic Greek is an endangered Indo-European language spoken by about 778,000 people worldwide. However, only 200,000-300,000 are considered active speakers. Although it is mainly spoken in Northern Greece, it is also spoken in Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan and by the Pontic diaspora. The language was brought to Greece in the 1920s after the population exchange between the Christian Pontic Greeks and the Turkish Muslims from their homelands during the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. However, it is still spoken in pockets of the Pontus today, mostly by Pontic Greek Muslims in the eastern districts of Trabzon Province. Pontic Greek is considered a dialect of modern Greek, although reportedly, the speakers of each do not fully understand each other. It is primarily written in the Greek script, while in Turkey and Ukraine the Latin script is used more frequently.
Historically the speakers of Pontic Greek called it Romeyka (or Romeika, Greek: ), which, in a more general sense, is also a historical and colloquial term for Modern Greek as a whole. The term "Pontic" originated in scholarly usage, but it has been adopted as a mark of identity by Pontic Greeks living in Greece.
Similarly, in Turkish, the language is called Rumca (pronounced ['?umda]), derived from the Turkish word Rum, denoting ethnic Greeks living in Turkey in general; the term also includes other Greek speakers in Turkey such as those from Istanbul or Imbros (Gökçeada) who speak a language close to Standard Modern Greek.
Today's Pontic speakers living in Turkey call their language Romeyka, Rumca or Rumcika.
Similar to most modern Greek dialects, Pontic Greek is mainly derived from Koine Greek, which was spoken in the Hellenistic and Roman times between the 4th century BC and the 4th century AD. Following the Seljuk invasion of Asia Minor during the 11th century AD, Pontus became isolated from many of the regions of the Byzantine Empire. The Pontians remained somewhat isolated from the mainland Greeks, causing Pontic Greek to develop separately and distinctly from the rest of the mainland Greek. However, the language has also been influenced by the nearby Persian, Caucasian and Turkish languages.
Greek linguist Manolis Triantafyllidis has divided the Pontic of Turkey into two groups:
Speakers of Chaldiot were the most numerous. In phonology, some varieties of Pontic are reported to demonstrate vowel harmony, a well-known feature of Turkish (Mirambel 1965).
Outside Turkey one can distinguish:
The inhabitants of the Of valley who had converted to Islam in the 17th century remained in Turkey and have partly retained the Pontic language until today. Their dialect, which forms part of the Trapezountiac subgroup, is called "Ophitic" by linguists, but speakers generally call it Romeyka. As few as 5,000 people are reported to speak it. There are however estimates that show the real number of the speakers as considerably higher. Speakers of Ophitic/Romeyka are concentrated in the eastern districts of Trabzon province: Çaykara (Katohor), Dernekpazar? (Kondu), Sürmene (Sourmena) and Köprüba (Göne?era). Although less widespread, it is still spoken in some remote villages of the Of district itself. It is also spoken in the western ?kizdere (Dipotamos) district of Rize province. Historically the dialect was spoken in a wider area, stretching further east to the port town of Athina (Pazar).
Ophitic has retained the infinitive, which is present in Ancient Greek but has been lost in other variants of Modern Greek; it has therefore been characterized as "archaic" or conservative (even in relation to other Pontic dialects) and as the living language that is closest to Ancient Greek.
A very similar dialect is spoken by descendants of Christians from the Of valley (especially from Kondu) now living in Greece in the village of Nea Trapezounta, Pieria, Central Macedonia, with about 400 speakers.
Though Pontic was originally spoken on the southern shores of the Black Sea, from the 18th and 19th century and on substantial numbers migrated into the northern and eastern shores, into the Russian Empire. Pontic is still spoken by large numbers of people in Ukraine, mainly in Mariupol, but also in other parts of Ukraine such as the Odessa and Donetsk region, in Russia (around Stavropol) and Georgia. The language enjoyed some use as a literary medium in the 1930s, including a school grammar (Topkharas 1998 ).
After the massacres of the 1910s, the majority of speakers remaining in Asia Minor were subject to the Treaty of Lausanne population exchange, and were resettled in Greece (mainly northern Greece). A second wave of migration occurred in the early 1990s, this time from countries of the former Soviet Union.
In Greece, Pontic has no official status, like all other Greek dialects.
Historically, Pontic Greek was the de facto language of the Greek minority in the USSR, although in the ? (Pansyndesmiakí Sýskepsi, All-Union Conference) of 1926, organised by the Greek-Soviet intelligentsia, it was decided that Demotic should be the official language of the community.
Later revival of Greek identity in the Soviet Union and post-Communist Russia saw a renewed division on the issue of Rumaiic versus Demotic. A new attempt to preserve a sense of ethnic Rumaiic identity started in the mid-1980s. The Ukrainian scholar Andriy Biletsky created a new Slavonic alphabet, but though a number of writers and poets make use of this alphabet, the population of the region rarely uses it.
The language has a rich oral tradition and folklore and Pontic songs are particularly popular in Greece. There is also some limited production of modern literature in Pontic, including poetry collections (among the most renowned writers is Kostas Diamantidis), novels, and translated Asterix comic albums. The youth often speak standard Greek as their first language. The use of Pontic has been maintained more by speakers in North America than it has in Greece.
Pontic, in Greece, is written in the Greek alphabet, with diacritics: for /? ? k? p?/, for [æ ø] (phonological /ia io/). Pontic, in Turkey, is written in the Latin alphabet following Turkish conventions. In Russia, it is written in the Cyrillic alphabet. In early Soviet times, Pontic was written in the Greek alphabet phonetically, as shown below, using digraphs instead of diacritics; [æ ø] were written out as , .
|? ?||A a||? ?||?, romeyika, ??|
|? ?||V v||? ?||??, kativeno, ??|
|? ?||? ?||? ?||?, ?anevo, ?|
|? ?||DH dh||? ?||??, dhonti, ??|
|? ?||E e||? ?||?, e?apesa, ?|
|? ?||Z z||? ?||?, zantos, ?|
|J j||? ?||, burjuvas, ?|
|? ?||TH th||? ?, ? ?, ? ?||?, theko, ?|
|? ?||? i||? ?||??, tospitopon, ??|
|? ?||K k||? ?||?, kalaceman, ?|
|? ?||L l||? ?||??, lalia, ??|
|? ?||M m||? ?||?, mana, ?|
|? ?||N n||? ?||?, olin, ?|
|? ?||O o||? ?||???, temeteron, ???|
|? ?||P p||? ?||?, e?apesa, ?|
|? ?||R r||? ?||?, romeyika, ?|
|? ?||S s||? ?||?, kalacepson, ??|
|? ?||? ?||, ?eri, ?|
|? ?||T t||? ?||?, nostimesa, ?|
|C c||? ?||??, kalaceman, ???|
|Ç ç||? ?||??, maniça, ???|
|? ?||U u||? ?||???, nus, ???|
|? ?||F f||? ?||???, emorfa, ???|
|? ?||H, KH (sert H)||? ?||??, hason, ??|
The following are features of Pontic Greek which have been retained from early forms of Greek, in contrast to the developments of Modern Greek.