Modern Greek Studies Lecture – “We Know Who We Are”: Istanbul Greek Language and Identity

Date / Time

April 2, 2021

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Dr. Matthew John Hadodo, University of Bern

Identity is an often debated concept in sociolinguistics, particularly as the role of language in the development and circulation of communities can be explored through historical, anthropological, and sociological methods. In this talk, I present the complex sociohistorical background of the Istanbul Greek (IG) community in addressing how their specific language use works with other aspects of their local culture to reinforce a community that is ethnically Greek, nationally Turk, and unique unto itself.

IG is a contact variety of Greek as spoken by the few remaining IG speakers indigenous to Istanbul. Turkish, French and other minority languages of Istanbul have influenced multiple levels of linguistic structure in IG. At the same time, IG has maintained archaisms that have been lost in other Greek dialects. Extensive ethnographic fieldwork and sociolinguistic interviews with over 100 IG-speakers revealed that widespread multilingualism and contact-induced change on IG are viewed as demonstrating cosmopolitanism absent in other Greek communities.

Through metapragmatic discourse, IG-speakers distinguish themselves from other types of Greeks based on language ideologies. Consequently, we can better understand community formation when considering how speakers view themselves as embodying distinct traits based on language usage.

Sponsored by:

Department of Classics and Mediterranean Studies and Department of Linguistics

Details and Zoom information at

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