The Resurrection of a Not-So-Dead Language: Cappadocian (Asia Minor Greek)

Cappadocian (Asia Minor Greek) gained fame among general, historical and contact linguists thanks to Sarah Thomason and Terrence Kaufman who presented it as their prime case of ‘heavy borrowing’ in their classic Language Contact, Creolization and Genetic Linguistics(Berkeley: UCP, 1988). This extraordinary Greek-Turkish contact language was generally believed to have died out in the 1970s and accordingly listed as ‘extinct’ in the Ethnologue and the Linguist List. Having studied Cappadocian for thirteen years as what he believed to be ‘another dead language’, Mark Janse together with his colleague and friend Dimitris Papazachariou from the University of Patras discovered speakers of Mišótika, the only surviving Cappadocian dialect, in Greece in the summer of 2005. In his lecture, Professor Janse sketches the linguistic history of Asia Minor and the development of Cappadocian as a contact language, including its fate on Greek soil after the infamous population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923-1924. The lecture will be followed by a screening of Last Words, a short documentary about Janse’s Cappadocian research and its impact on the Cappadocian community in Greece.

Mark Janse is BOF-ZAP Research Professor in Ancient & Asia Minor Greek at Ghent University and a former Visiting Fellow of All Souls College (Oxford), the Onassis Foundation (Greece & USA) and Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies, of which he is now a Research Associate. His research interests span the entire history of the Greek language from Homer to Asia Minor Greek on which he has published and lectured widely. His work on Cappadocian has earned him a special status in Cappadocian communities, honorary memberships of Cappadocian societies and a documentary entitled Last Words (seriousFilm, 2014).