How music is keeping one southern Italian dialect alive

The historic dialect of Southern Italy, spoken by the Griko people, is on the verge of extinction.

However, it’s still alive – largely thanks to the music associated with it.

Also known as Salentino-Calabrian Greek, Griko or Italiot Greek is an umbrella-term for two distinctive dialects: Griko, spoken in Salento, and Calabrian Greek, still present in Southern Calabria. Both dialects are usually referred to simply as ‘Griko’.

Partially intelligible with Modern Greek, its exact origins are unclear even to academics with expertise in the area.

Historians and linguists have put forward several hypotheses, linking the dialects with Ancient Greece and Magna Grecia or with the Byzantine Empire, but none of these theories has been proven.

But wherever its Greek-ness came from, Griko has also been heavily influenced by the Italian Language, and speakers use both the Greek and Latin alphabets.

Read more: The Local

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