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A Smyrneika Lexicon


The Language of Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey) Explained and Illustrated


A lexicon of Smyrneika, the Greek dialect that functioned as a lingua franca amongst the Levantine merchant communities of the Mediterranean. Rediscovering Turkey’s Ottoman past, including lost minority cultures… a study by three amateur lexicographers. The vocabulary is followed by a collection of proverbs and a series of dialogues illustrating the language and customs … “ Peter Mackridge www.oxford.academia.edu/PeterMackridge
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0251-4
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Oct 17,2014
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 7 x 10
Page Count: 235
Languages: Greek, English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0251-4
$176.00
$105.60

A lexicon of Smyrneika, the Greek dialect that functioned as a lingua franca amongst the Levantine merchant communities of the Mediterranean. The idiom survived in Izmir after the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey in 1923, and its speakers continued to use the dialect alongside other languages. However, the dialect is now suffering the inexorable passage of time, and the numbers of its speakers are gradually diminishing. The authors, two of whom are themselves Levantines (Baltazzi and Galdies), are eager to introduce this truly unique language to a new generation.

This is the first book of its kind to revisit and research the language that emerged through the centuries from a fusion of nationalities and races in the multi-cultural port of Smyrna, (present day Izmir, Turkey). French and Italian (from European merchants and sailors), Spanish (from exiled Jews), Greek, and Turkish, among others, made up the vocabulary of Smyrneika, sometimes combined to make entirely new words.

Besides its value as a lexicon, the volume contains old sepia photographs of Smyrna, an appendix of proverbs and poems, and humorous kouvedes (‘conversations’) to engage the imagination of the reader and encourage him to put the lexicon to use.

This lexicon of Smyrneika is rich in historical facts and references, and contains several statistical snapshots of the main export commodities which, together with Smyrna's natural beauty and her cultural richness earned this fair city the title of “Pearl of the Aegean”, a title she still retains.

A lexicon of Smyrneika, the Greek dialect that functioned as a lingua franca amongst the Levantine merchant communities of the Mediterranean. The idiom survived in Izmir after the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey in 1923, and its speakers continued to use the dialect alongside other languages. However, the dialect is now suffering the inexorable passage of time, and the numbers of its speakers are gradually diminishing. The authors, two of whom are themselves Levantines (Baltazzi and Galdies), are eager to introduce this truly unique language to a new generation.

This is the first book of its kind to revisit and research the language that emerged through the centuries from a fusion of nationalities and races in the multi-cultural port of Smyrna, (present day Izmir, Turkey). French and Italian (from European merchants and sailors), Spanish (from exiled Jews), Greek, and Turkish, among others, made up the vocabulary of Smyrneika, sometimes combined to make entirely new words.

Besides its value as a lexicon, the volume contains old sepia photographs of Smyrna, an appendix of proverbs and poems, and humorous kouvedes (‘conversations’) to engage the imagination of the reader and encourage him to put the lexicon to use.

This lexicon of Smyrneika is rich in historical facts and references, and contains several statistical snapshots of the main export commodities which, together with Smyrna's natural beauty and her cultural richness earned this fair city the title of “Pearl of the Aegean”, a title she still retains.

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Contributor Biography

George Galdies

A native of Izmir, George Galdies was for a while British Vice-consul in Izmir where he acquired a working knowledge of Smyrneika Greek. His interests in Ancient and Modern history of Izmir and of Asia Minor lasted for the rest of his near 50 years business activities around the world until his retirement; when he initiated the first Levantine Symposium in Izmir in 2010 and this Lexicon.

Alessandro Baltazzi

A descendant from an 18th Century Venetian Levantine family of Izmir, Alex Baltazzi is a permanent resident of that city. As president of Karavan Tours, he was bestowed several awards for his contribution to the tourism industry of Turkey. He is the president of the Italian Cultural Association of Izmir, he wrote several articles on Smyrna’s Levantine history, and published an illustrated book of personal reminiscences.

George Poulimenos

George Poulimenos was born in Athens. A direct descendant of a Greek refugee family from the Kato Panaghia (now Ciftlik) village of Izmir, he is keenly interested in the History of Smyrna/Izmir with particular emphasis on old maps and commercial guides. A key speaker at the first Levantine Symposium of Izmir he presented a paper on an unknown episode of Greek resistance during World War 2.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Acknowledgments (page 7)
  • Preface (English and Smyrneika) (page 9)
  • Introduction (English and Smyrneika) (page 13)
  • On Smyrneika (English and Smyrneika) (page 17)
  • Abbreviations (page 21)
  • Pronunciation Guide (page 23)
  • Lexicon (page 25)
  • Proverbs (page 175)
  • Smyrneikes Kouvedes (page 179)
  • Smyrniot Conversations (page 183)
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