“The collapse of the Soviet Union: 20 years on”



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Ekaterina Bagreeva

Russian Economic University of G. V. Plekhanov (Russia, Moscow)

German Mendzheritskiy

Fachhochschule Dortmund (Germany, Dortmund)

Galina Denisova

South Federal University (Russia, Rostov on Don)

7. Russian language – Greek identity: A sociolinguistic approach to the Pontic Greek community


Pontic Greeks, who live in Russia and those in Cyprus, constitute a particular interest from a sociolinguistic point of view. Having come from Pontos (which is located in today’s north-eastern Turkey) Pontic Greeks settled in Georgia and/or Russia a few centuries ago. The majority of Pontic Greeks were Turko-phone at the time of their settlement since very few of them managed to retain their ancestral language - the Pontic Greek Dialect.

The present paper examines the current sociolinguistic situation of Pontic Greeks who permanently reside in Russia, more specifically, in the town of Essentuki, and those who moved to Cyprus in the early/mid 1990s. More concretely, this paper investigates the status of the Russian language and the ethnic/national identity of Pontic Greeks in Russia and Cyprus. It must be mentioned that the linguistic behavior of Pontic Greeks in Russia can be characterized by active oral use of the Russian and Turkish languages while those in Cyprus frequently employ three languages in their mundane interactions, namely, Russian, Turkish and Standard Modern Greek. The preliminary results show that the vast majority of Pontic Greeks, both in Russia and Cyprus, have Russian as their mother tongue (dominant language) while there is no a single and homogeneous view on their identity and a number of different ethnonyms such as ‘Greek’, ‘Pontian’, ‘Greek Pontian’, ‘Russian Pontian’, ‘Greek from Russia’ (for those in Cyprus) have been provided. In this light, the link between language (mother tongue) and identity of Pontic Greeks is not clear. In this respect, an attempt is made to shed some light on how ethnic identity is perceived and reflected in language preference by Pontic Greeks who live in Russia and those in Cyprus.






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