Translator's notes


By Yorgos Soukoulis

Arvanitika is a language that was once widely spoken in central Greece (particularly near Thebes and Athens), in the Peloponnese, and on Aegean islands such as Euboea, Salamis, and Hydra. The UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger ( identifies Arvanitika as severely endangered, a language now ‘spoken only by grandparents and older generations; while the parent generation may still understand the language, they typically do not speak it to their children’.
Though Arvanitika has a long and colourful history, not much has ever been written in it. It is an oral language without a standardized writing system. Not much has been published: there is a New Testament dating from 1827, and there are a few tales, some songs, and some folk poetry, which is always in strict metre and rhyme, and limited to patriotic and bucolic themes.
Yorgos Soukoulis, born in 1932 in the Corinthian mountain village of Agios Yiannis, is the first Arvanitika writer to break the traditional mould and venture into creative new directions. After an early life as a shepherd, he joined the Greek Air Force, retiring in the 1980s with the rank of Air Marshal. He began writing at the age of 70 – exclusively in Arvanitika – and is currently working on his memoirs, the first book to be entirely written in Arvanitika.

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