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Author Topic: MAGNA GRAECIA  (Read 7494 times)
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Posts: 41646

« on: September 25, 2008, 10:18:22 am »

                                          THE GREEK LANGUAGE IN ITALY TODAY

Geographical and language background

The Greek language spoken in Italy, known by the names grico, griko, greco-bovese or greco-calabro, is written in Roman characters and is a highly corrupted form of modern Greek. Griko is not a unitary language since it is spoken in two geographically and linguistically distinct enclaves, one in the area known as Bovesia near Reggio di Calabria and the other near Lecce, in the area known by the name of Grecia Salentina.

The Greek-speaking territory of Bovesia lies in very mountainous terrain and is not easily accessible. In recent times, many descendants of the early inhabitants of the area have left the mountains to set up home by the coast. The Grico speakers of Calabria live in the villages of Bova Superiore, Bova Marina, Roccaforte del Greco, Condofuri, Bagaladi, Polizzi and Gallician˛. The villages of Chorio and Roghudi were abandoned after the floods of 1971 and 1972, and their inhabitants were resettled in MÚlito di Porto Salvo.

In Grecia Salentina, the Grico speakers are to be found in the villages of Calimera, Martignano, Martano, Sternatia, Zollino, Corigliano d'Otranto, Soleto, Melpignano and Castrignano dei Greci, although Grico seems to be disappearing from Martignano, Soleto and Melpignano.

The number of Grico speakers is very limited in Bovesia. Some authors speak of 3,900 speakers at the end of the seventies, principally in Roghudi and Gallician˛. The number of Greek speakers also appears to have fallen by around 70% since the fifties.

Bovesia has lost large numbers of its indigenous population, especially from its mountainous areas. Around 10% of the population born there have left the area in a wave of emigration that peaked during the sixties because of the job shortage, the industrial crisis, the crisis in agriculture, crafts and trades and the redundancies that followed the closure of a factory. This contrasts with the fact that around 80% of the present population of Bovesia came to the area as a result of the development of the tourist industry, the establishment of second homes for the retired and the creation of new industries. Around 30% of the population are employed in agriculture, 35% in the construction industry and service sector and a substantial percentage, although no precise figures are available, in forestry and related occupations. Bovesia also has a very high unemployment rate.

The situation in Grecia Salentina is fairly similar, since until recently the economy of the province of Lecce depended more or less directly on the size of the harvest of grapes, olives, tobacco, tomatoes, etc. Moreover, the existence of numerous huge landed estates (masserie) was one of the main reasons for the underdevelopment of agriculture that persisted into the sixties. Nowadays there is still a marked tendency among the rural population to emigrate to the urban centres. It is this very situation of economic underdevelopment, added to the fact that, until the agrarian reforms of 1950-51 took effect, the Grico-speaking peasants lived out a virtually self-sufficient existence on the masserie, that has enabled them to preserve their language for such a long time.
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