Chance to save ancient language

In a village in northern Cyprus, a community struggling to save its ancient language has seen a glimmer of hope in intensified efforts to reunify the divided island.

Kormakitis was once the hub of Cyprus’s Maronite minority, descendants of Syrian and Lebanese Christians who spoke Sanna, a unique dialect of Arabic influenced by the Aramaic spoken by Jesus. The language is now severely endangered, according to UNESCO.

Uprooted by the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, many Maronites assimilated into Greek-Cypriot communities where they sought shelter. They have seen fresh hope in recent months as the Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot leaders intensified their efforts to reunite the island.

Talks in Switzerland ended on November 21 with no breakthrough, but the leaders have since agreed to resume negotiations and are due to meet again in Geneva in January. The Maronites hope a deal could eventually encourage the community to return to live in northern Cyprus. That could help revive Sanna, which is in decline despite years of classes, the efforts of NGOs and an annual summer school in the village.

Read more: Kathimerini English Edition

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