Pontic Greek is an endangered language and under threat of extinction

One of the endangered languages, Pontic Greek has just been left to its fate.

Mehmet Günaydın, a language teacher, said that when people, who speak Pontic Greek, die, the language will die as well.

According to United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organisation’s (UNESCO) Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, issued on February 21 International Mother Language Day, 15 languages in Turkey are in danger of extinction.

One of those languages, Pontic Greek, is spoken in Turkey’s Black Sea Region.

It has been spoken by people who lived in the region between Sakarya and Batum for generations until an exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in 1923, and spoken as well by people who live in 70 villages of Trabzon and Rize areas.

Pontic Greek was spoken by Orthodox Christian people who were expelled from Turkey and sent to Greece.

According to UNESCO’s research, spoken now by only 780 thousand people. Pontic Greek is among those “certainly endangered” languages.

Stating that his sole aim was to sustain Pontic Greek, Günaydın said, “Because that language is the mother tongue of my lands. We were brought up with Pontic Greek, but learnt Turkish in school. I thought to myself, why should the language in which my parents talked to me become extinct?”.

Günaydın explained how he uploaded videos on internet and began to teach Pontic Greek to a receptative audience online.

A language inherited from ancient Greece

Noting that Greek and Pontic Greek, were in fact, a single language, Günaydın said that just as Greeks spoke Greek today, Pontic Greek was a language inherited from ancient Greece, adding that Greek was derived from Pontic Greek. He also said that Pontic Greek was spoken in Çaykara, Sürmene and Tonya districts of Turkey.

Speaking in Pontic Greek was cause for social exclusion

Language teacher Günaydın said, there were several reasons for Pontic Greek not to be forgotten, adding that the main reason was social exclusion. “There is nothing more discriminatory than excluding and stopping people speaking their own language and stigmitising them for this. There is a significant bais against Greeks.” said Günaydın and added, “People should not be excluded socially on the ground that they know Pontic Greek or Kurdish. People determined the borders such as ‘here is Georgia, here is Greece’, however, the whole world belongs to everyone.”

Young generation do not speak the language

Günaydın drew attention to another reason for Pontic Greek being threatened, which was that the younger generation did not speak the language, noting that even his own children did not speak Pontic Greek. He also pointed out that the language is in danger of becoming extinct with the passing of a generation.

Pointing to a lack of a written use of the language, Günaydın said, this was yet another reason that the language is becoming forgotten and noted that although Pontic Greek was spoken in the Black Sea region it was not written or published on paper.

Demand for language department

Expressing that several languages on earth were threatened with extinction, Günaydın pointed to studies carried out in universities. He said there is a demand for videos related to Pontic Greek to be circulated in order to prevent the language from becoming extinct, Günaydın also suggested conferences should be organised regarding the issue.

The Pontic Greek language teacher lastly suggested that a Pontic Greek language department should be opened in universities to enable the teaching of the language.

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Pontic Greek is an endangered language and under threat of extinction

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