University of Sussex
Kyriakou, Marianna.pdf (2.8 MB)

Language attitudes and ethnic identity in a diglossic setting: the case of Greek-Cypriot students

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posted on 2023-06-09, 00:26 authored by Marianna Kyriakou
This thesis investigates the linguistic situation of the Greek-Cypriot community of Cyprus and the language attitudes and perception of ethnic identity of Greek-Cypriot students aged between 12 and 18 years old, an under-researched age group. The research examines the assumption that the linguistic situation of Cyprus is diglossic. The attitudes of Greek-Cypriot students towards Standard Modern Greek, the official language of Cyprus, and the Greek-Cypriot dialect, the native variety, are analysed through qualitative and quantitative methods. The study uses a mixed methods approach and data are collected by means of classroom observations, interviews, questionnaires and an experiment similar to the matched guise technique. A social constructionist approach is used for the analysis of ethnic identity construction. The results of this research indicate that Cyprus is experiencing a different kind of diglossia than Ferguson’s (1996a) original description of diglossia. The ‘contextual diglossia’ proposed in this study suggests that the functional distribution of the high and low varieties is based both on the speaker’s judgements of appropriateness (speaker’s context) and on the context of communication (local context). The study also reveals that students generally have favourable attitudes towards Standard Modern Greek and display both favourable and negative attitudes towards the Greek-Cypriot dialect. These attitudes are explained through the presence of stereotypes attached to each variety and the political ideologies in Cyprus. Students embrace all three ethnic identities, Cypriot, Greek and Greek-Cypriot, although their Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot identities emerge as strongest. They construct their identities through the use of pronouns and nationalistic expressions. The language attitudes and ethnic identities of Greek-Cypriots are formed and constructed against the backdrop of the socio-political and historical context of Cyprus and are shaped by the existence of diglossia and language ideologies.


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