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Linguistics of the Gurbetcha Dialect Essay


Problem statement

According to European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (2009) and the report on its application in Cyprus, the Committee of Experts officially states that “Roma in Cyprus referred to their language as Kurbetcha” (p 5).

However, the Committee of Experts has proved to be unable to get any information concerning the use of Gurbetcha, the report states that they failed to find reliable information on whether Romani speak Gurbetcha or some other language that is far from Turkish Cypriot dialect or Greek Cypriot dialect and they stated the necessity of further information in the next report (Council of Europe 2009 p 5).

The current absence of available information on “Gurbetcha” and its possible variations arouses the necessity to investigate this sphere thoroughly. It is necessary to state that the people call themselves Gurbet and, consequently, their language is called “Gurbetcha”, however, the majority speaks Turkish Cypriot dialect (Phillips 2001, p 254).

Varnava et al. (2009) also mention the research by Williams who states that “an advanced stage of assimilation to the Turkish Cypriot dialect with an almost complete loss of Gurbetcha in the younger generations of Roma” occurred there (p 331). However, Constantinou (2007) states that” Gurbetcha” is now spoken by some Gypsies (p 264): the vast majority of grown-ups and some children continue speaking this dialect and understand the meaning of the words told in Gurbetcha.

The aim of this project is to identify the roots of the dialect Gurbetcha and compare it to the other Cypriot dialects and varieties and Cypriot Turkish dialects in particular. One of the most important purposes of the project under consideration is the clarification the “Gurbetcha” dialect as a Turkish Cypriot dialect with a number of Romani loan adaptations that are used by contact phenomenon or as a Romani dialect that is characterized by a number of Turkish loan adaptations.

The influence of Romani loanwords is evident for many Turkish Cypriot dialects, and Gurbetcha is considered one of those that undergo some changes. After the above-mentioned purposes are achieved, the time to evaluate the similarities and differences of the dialect from syntax, morphological, phonological, or semantic point of view comes.

Working hypothesis

The working hypothesis for the present research sounds like this: though Gypsies speak Turkish Cypriot Dialect, they also admit that their mother language is Gurbetcha. This is why it is possible to define Gurbetcha as Turkish Cypriot Dialect that is characterized by a number of Romani loan adaptations and has been formed as the result of the language mixing process. And this study is one of the first attempts to analyze the language as a significant variety of Cypriot Roma.

Background of the problem

Solid research pertaining to Romani has been conducted by British researchers Matras and Bakker. Matras (2009) presents his Romani Project that offers exhaustive information on the history of the Romani language, classification of Romani dialects, historical data from the sphere of linguistics, and the structure of Romani.

Matras (2005) has studied the status of Romani in Europe and offers his considerations as per the future of Romani, stressing the idea of “linguistic pluralism in the use of Romani” (Matras 2004, p 1). A guide to Romani linguistics composed by Bakker and Matras (2003) suggests that there has appeared and intensified great interest of the scholars in the language of Roma.

The scholars, who have presented their accounts of the linguistic research pertaining to Romani, emphasize their use of geographical and historical analysis as the main methods of investigation mainly in relation to dialect classification composition (Matras 2002; Trimikliniotis and Demetriou 2009).

As for the previous research and the results achieved, it may be stated that the results are focused basically on “language pluralism in the use of Romani” that “fits the specific situation of a trans-national minority with dispersed, regional centers of cultural and public life” (Matras 2004, p 1).

The essence of the present research is conditioned by several factors. First, it is the complete absence of linguistic research on Gurbetcha and Turkish Cypriot Dialect spoken by Cypriot Gypsies. Second, it is the threatening situation of Gurbecha’s dying out, since their number of Gypsies living in Cyprus is low (Kenrick and Taylor 1986).

If no research is conducted while there are accessible Gurbetcha-speakers, the opportunity to study the dialect can be lost in several years forever shifting the necessity to study its morphological, grammar, and other peculiarities. Besides, along with historical necessity to document the linguistic processes of Cypriot Gypsies’ dialect, there may be certain importance of the findings for the studied of other dialects of Gypsies living in other countries.

Research design

At the beginning of the research, it is necessary to find out the peculiarities of the chosen community and the manner of speaking preferred. The evaluation of these people’s origins and the origins of their language is a good way to start with.

The theme under consideration requires qualitative research that has several peculiarities to be mentioned. First, the idea to use questionnaires was chosen. However, taking into consideration the fact that the chosen community cannot actually read and write, another idea was chosen: interviews.

This technique is regarded as “a combination of observation under highly structured conditions and paper-and-pencil data recording” will be used (Perry 2005, p 119). The choice of the interview as the main investigative technique also has a number of powerful grounds like the possibility to change the conditions of the process and make an interviewer be able to comprehend the essence of questions (Perry 2005; Thomas 2003).

As for ethical considerations and human subject protection, the interview will be composed of cultural and linguistic peculiarities of the population of the research (Wengraf 2001, p. 65). The community under discussion is eager to save their anonymity with respect to their traditions, interests, and beliefs.

As for the data, that is needed for the research; this will be the written results of my observations. With the help of thorough and constant observations, it is possible to find out a lot of information on the community’s lifestyle, interests, beliefs, and traditions. In addition to the recordings of interviews and their transcripts that will enable us to identify and analyze morphological, syntactical, phonological peculiarities of the analyzed dialects.

Expected results

The data gathered using interviews will be analyzed from a purely linguistic perspective. First, the analysis of the dialect identified and the language chosen will be made to define whether words and their structure are closer to a Romani dialect or these words have several features for a Turkish dialect. Such analysis should help to define the peculiarities of the dialect and clear up what the Gurbetcha peculiarities are.

The processes of language mixing and loan adaptation will be studied based on the morphological, syntactical, phonological, and lexical analysis.

The results achieved by the researcher aim at showing the status of Roman Turkish Cypriot “Gurbetcha” and the evaluation of the linguistic on both sociological and structural continuum that takes place between Roman and Cypriot Turkish.

Reference List

Bakker, P. & Matras, Y. 2003, Bibliography of Modern Romani Linguistics: Including a Guide to Romani Linguistics. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Philadelphia, PA.

Constantinou, C. M. 2007, ‘Aporias of Identity: Bicommunalism, Hybridity and the ‘Cyprus Problem’’, Cooperation and Conflict, no. 42, pp. 247-270.

Council of Europe: Committee of Ministers 2009 European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. . Web.

Kenrick, D., & Taylor, G. 1986, ‘’. Web.

Matras, Y. 2002 Romani: A Linguistic Introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Matras, Y. 2009, Romani Project, Manchester, England. Web.

Matras, Y. 2005, ‘The classification of Romani dialects: A geographical-historical perspective’, in General and Applied Romani Linguistics, eds. B Schrammel & Halwachs, DW, Lincom Europa, Munich. pp. 7-26.

Matras, Y. 2005, ‘’, Report. Council of Europe’s Language Policy Division. Web.

Matras, Y. 2004, The future of Romani: Toward a policy of linguistic pluralism. Web.

Perry, F. L. 2005, Research in Applied Linguistics: Becoming A Discerning Consumer, Routledge, London.

Phillips, D. J. 2001, Peoples on the Move: Introducing the Nomads of the World. William Carey Library, Carlisle.

Thomas, R. M. 2003, Blending Qualitative & Quantitative Research Methods in Thesis and Dissertations. Corwin Press, London.

Trimikliniotis, N., & Demetriou, C. 2009, ‘The Cypriot Roma and the Failure of Education: Anti-Discrimination and Multiculturalism as a Post-accession Challenge’ in The Minorities of Cyprus: Development Patterns and the Identity of the Internal-Exclusion, eds N Coureas & C Demetriou, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge.

Varnava, A., Coureas, N., & Elia, M. 2009, The Minorities of Cyprus: Development Patterns and the Identity of the Internal-Exclusion. Cambridge Scholars, Cambridge.

Wengraf, T. 2001, Qualitative Research Interviewing: Biographic Narrative and Semi Structured Methods. SAGE, London.

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IvyPanda. (2020, April 13). Linguistics of the Gurbetcha Dialect. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/linguistics-of-the-gurbetcha-dialect/

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IvyPanda. "Linguistics of the Gurbetcha Dialect." April 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/linguistics-of-the-gurbetcha-dialect/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Linguistics of the Gurbetcha Dialect." April 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/linguistics-of-the-gurbetcha-dialect/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Linguistics of the Gurbetcha Dialect'. 13 April.

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