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Are There Native Speakers of Koine Greek Alive Today?

Not quite, but Dr. Ioanna Sitaridou has found an enclave of Greek-speaking Muslims in northern Turkey whose language is closer to Koine (the dialect of the Greek Bible) than any other modern Greek dialect.

The first results of the study are already providing remarkable insights, as Dr Sitaridou announced during the first ever linguistics conference on Romeyka last March at Queens’ College, Cambridge: ‘Unlike ancient forms of Greek, use of the infinitive has been lost in all other Greek dialects known today – so speakers of Modern Greek would say I want that I go instead of I want to go. But, in Romeyka, not only is the infinitive preserved, making this essentially the last Greek infinitive of the Greek-speaking world, but we also find quirky infinitival constructions that have never been observed before – only perhaps in the Romance languages are there parallel constructions.’

All the more astonishing, the results so far seem to be indicating that Romeyka is closer to Hellenistic Koiné than all other Modern Greek dialects, which are generally considered to have emerged from the later Medieval Greek spoken in the 7th to the 13th century AD.

Fascinating!

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