A Smyrneika Lexicon: The Language of Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey) Explained and Illustrated
Gorgias Press, 2014 - 236 σελίδες
A lexicon of Smyrneika, the Greek dialect that functioned as a lingua franca amongst the Levantine merchant communities of the Mediterranean. The idiom survived in Izmir after the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey in 1923, and its speakers continued to use the dialect alongside other languages. However, the dialect is now suffering the inexorable passage of time, and the numbers of its speakers are gradually diminishing. The authors, two of whom are themselves Levantines (Baltazzi and Galdies), are eager to introduce this truly unique language to a new generation. This is the first book of its kind to revisit and research the language that emerged through the centuries from a fusion of nationalities and races in the multi-cultural port of Smyrna, (present day Izmir, Turkey). French and Italian (from European merchants and sailors), Spanish (from exiled Jews), Greek, and Turkish, among others, made up the vocabulary of Smyrneika, sometimes combined to make entirely new words. Besides its value as a lexicon, the volume contains old sepia photographs of Smyrna, an appendix of proverbs and poems, and humorous kouvedes ('conversations') to engage the imagination of the reader and encourage him to put the lexicon to use. This lexicon of Smyrneika is rich in historical facts and references, and contains several statistical snapshots of the main export commodities which, together with Smyrna's natural beauty and her cultural richness earned this fair city the title of "Pearl of the Aegean," a title she still retains.
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