SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Cypriot Greek as a heritage and community language in London: (Socio)linguistic aspects of a non-standard variety in a diasporic context

Petros Karatsareas (University of Westminster)

Date: 15 May 2018Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 15 May 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Seminar


Cypriot Greek has been spoken in the United Kingdom as a heritage and community language for over a century by a sizeable Greek Cypriot diaspora. In this talk, I describe Cypriot Greek as it is spoken in London, presenting some of its key linguistic characteristics and discussing aspects of its sociolinguistic status in the wider UK context. In terms of linguistic characteristics, I present older, regional features that are currently being levelled in Cyprus but which survive in London’s Cypriot Greek; Standard Modern Greek features that are increasingly used in London even in informal instances of communication; and, phenomena that are attributed to language contact with English. In terms of sociolinguistic status, I focus on the intergenerational transmission of Cypriot Greek in London and identify three key factors that threaten its maintenance in the diaspora: its minority status with respect to English, its non-prestigious status with respect to Standard Modern Greek, and also its non-prestigious status with respect to Cypriot Greek as it is currently spoken in Cyprus.

About the speaker

Petros Karatsareas is a Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Westminster. He holds a Ptychion in Greek Philology from the University of Athens, an M.Phil. in Linguistics from the University of Cambridge and a Ph.D. in Linguistics also from the University of Cambridge. He is currently specialising on multilingualism focusing on the languages of the UK’s minority ethnic communities. He explores the factors that play a role in intergenerational transmission and maintenance, looking specifically at ideologies of monolingualism, attitudes towards multilingualism, and attitudes towards non-prestigious forms of language. He is also interested in community language teaching and learning looking at how community languages are taught in complementary schools and the role these schools play in language maintenance and ideology. He addresses these issues based on his research on London’s Greek Cypriot diaspora. His current research has received the financial support of the British Academy through the Postdoctoral Fellowships, Small Research Grants, and Rising Star Public Engagement Award schemes.