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Village of Gallicianò (calabriagreca.eu)

Five weeks ago, I was very lucky to win a scholarship with Tribalingual to learn Greko on their 10 week course.  I applied for this opportunity as I have a keen interest in lesser known languages and I had already completed other projects to learn Napulitano and Sicilian. In addition, Italy is my favourite country, I have been speaking Italian for many years now and I’m always interested in learning more about the country and its people.

Before starting the course, I had heard of Greko but I didn’t know a lot about it. Nowadays, Greko is spoken by around 300 people in Calabria, southern Italy, in several villages in the mountainous areas. There are two possible theories as to the origins of Greko. One is that it is the direct descendant of one of the ancient Greek dialects spoken in Magna Graecia (8 BC) and the other is that it it a descendant of Byzantine Greek (5-6/11 AD). Latin/Romance languages were not spoken in this area until much later.

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Map showing the location of Calabria.

Greko was spoken all over the south of Calabria until the 13th century when it started to decline after the arrival of the Romance languages in the area. It had been mainly an oral language with no fixed orthography. The last written records were church records. The last church record written using the Greek alphabet was in 1572 and the only document using the Latin alphabet dates from the 17th century.

The Tribalingual course is taught online using a Moodle platform which is very easy to use and you can also access it on the moodle app. What makes the course unique is that it is not just a language course. Within the course, you also learn a lot about the history of Greko and about many aspects of Greko culture such as traditional crafts, songs, poetry, work and musical instruments. There is a new lesson to do each week with videos, exercises, grammar, translations and cultural information. At the end of each week, I have a 30 minute skype lesson with the tutor. The purpose of the skype lesson is fairly flexible. You can concentrate on speaking or go through some grammar you have been doing in that week’s lesson.

At the end of week five, I made this video below speaking about the course so far and then I speak in Greko describing my recent trip to Cornwall (with English subtitles). I feel very honoured to be one of the first students on this unique course about this very special language and I hope my blog post encourages more people to learn Greko!