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Seminars & Events

“Language endangerment in Eastern Mediterranean: The case of Cypriot Arabic”

  • Wednesday, 20th of November, 15:00-16:00
  • Room CY007
  • Assoc. Prof. Marilena Karyolemou, UCY


This presentation focusses on the efforts by the Cyprus Republic to revitalize Cypriot Arabic or Sanna (hence CA) (Roth 1975, 1986, Borg 1985, 2004, Gülle 2014, 2016), a severely endangered indigenous language of Cyprus today spoken by less than 1000 speakers (Karyolemou 2009, 2010). This is a unique example of reviving a minority language in the Hellenic speaking world (both Greece and Cyprus) where a multitude of minority languages are being spoken, but have never been recognized or protected.

As it will be shown, the process of revitalization is a multilevel effort that needs to take into account both the current sociolinguistic situation as regards the language, but also the desiderata of the community of speakers and, because of specific economic and political conditions prevailing on the island, financial considerations, political limitations and issues of symbolic power in the management of language and linguistic resources (Karyolemou 2018, 2019, Baider & Karyolemou 2015). 


Dr Marilena Karyolemou is Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Cyprus. She has studied Modern Literature at the University Champagnes | Ardennes (France) and holds a Ph.D in Language Sciences from the University René Descartes | Paris V.

She has been a member of the Cyprus Permanent Committee on Geographical Names representing the University of Cyprus (1997-1999); language group correspondent for Cyprus in the preparation of the Euromosaic III report on minority languages published by the Commission in 2004; and responsible for the design and supervision of the teaching program at the School of Modern Greek (University of Cyprus) for a number of years.

She has been collaborating with the Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus as an expert evaluator of language textbooks for teaching Greek as a first language (National levels 2000) and of the intensive programme of teaching Greek as a second language in primary and secondary schools.

She is a member of the National Committee of Experts for the Revival of Cypriot Arabic since 2007 and responsible for the research programme for the safeguard and revival of Cypriot Arabic of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Her main areas of interest are: sociolinguistics; language policy and language planning; dialectology; language attitudes; minority languages.

 Please register your participation at: info@uclancyprus.ac.cy