Thursday, February 26, 2015

Challenge 52 in 52: Cypriot Maronite Arabic

Cypriot Arabic, also known as Cypriot Maronite Arabic, is a moribund variety of Arabic spoken by the Maronite community of Cyprus. Formerly speakers were mostly situated in Kormakitis, but following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the majority relocated to the south and spread, leading to the decline of the language.  Traditionally bilingual in Cypriot Greek, as of some time prior to 2000, all remaining speakers of Cypriot Arabic were over 30 years of age.
A 2011 census reported that, of the 3,656 Maronite Cypriots in Republic of Cyprus-controlled areas (the south), none declared Cypriot Arabic as their first language.

Cypriot Arabic was first introduced to Cyprus by Maronites fleeing Syria and Lebanon between the ninth and tenth century.
Since 2002, it is one of UNESCO-designated severely endangered languages and, since 2008, it is recognised as a minority language of Cyprus, coinciding with an attempt to revitalise the language that may prove to be futile.

Cypriot Arabic shares a large number of common features with Mesopotamian Arabic; particularly the northern variety, and has been reckoned as belonging to this dialect area. It also shares many traits with Levantine Arabic. It is believed these common features go back to a period in which there was a dialect continuum between the Mesopotamian dialects and the Syrian dialect area.

The Greek alphabet of Cypriot Arabic

The Latin alphabet of Cypriot Arabic

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