Pontic Greek
ποντιακά, pontiaká, понтиакá, Roméika
Regionoriginally the Pontus on the Black Sea coast; Greece, Russia, Georgia, and Turkey
EthnicityPontic Greeks
Native speakers
778,000 (2009–2015)[1]
Greek, Latin, Cyrillic
Language codes
ISO 639-3pnt
Pontic Greek is classified as Definitely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (2010)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Pontic Greek (Ρωμαίικα (romanized: Roméika), Λαζικά (romanized: Laziká), Pontic: Ποντιακόν λαλίαν, or romanized: Pontiakón lalían; Greek: Ποντιακή διάλεκτος, romanized: Pontiakí diálektos; Turkish: Rumca or Romeika)[3] [4] is an endangered variety of Modern Greek indigenous to the Pontus region on the southern shores of the Black Sea, northeastern Anatolia, and the Eastern Turkish/Caucasus region. Today it is spoken mainly in northern Greece. Its speakers are referred to as Pontic Greeks or Pontian Greeks. It is not completely mutually intelligible with modern Demotic Greek.[5][6][7][8]

The linguistic lineage of Pontic Greek stems from Ionic Greek via Koine and Byzantine Greek, and contains influences from Russian, Turkish, Kartvelian (namely Laz and Georgian) and Armenian.

Pontic Greek is an endangered Greek language[9] spoken by about 778,000 people worldwide.[1] Many Pontians live in Greece; however, only 200,000–300,000 of those are considered active Pontic speakers.[10] Although it is mainly spoken in Northern Greece, it is also spoken in Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Kazakhstan, as well as by the Pontic diaspora. The language was brought to Greece during the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. However, it is still spoken in pockets of the Pontus today, mostly by Pontic Greek Muslims in the eastern districts of Trabzon Province. Pontic Greek is one of the languages of the Greek (Hellenic) branch separate from Mainland Greek. Pontic Greek and typical demotic, Mainland Greek is generally mutually unintelligible.[1] It is primarily written in the Greek script; in Turkey and Ukraine the Latin script is used more frequently; in Russia and former Soviet countries, the Cyrillic alphabet is used.



Pontic Greek is classified as an Indo-European, Greek language of the Attic-Ionic branch.[1]



Historically, the speakers of Pontic Greek called it simply Romeyka (or Romeika, Pontic: Ρωμαίικα), which is also a historical and colloquial term for Modern Greek in general. The term clearly refers to Greek as the language of the eastern Roman Empire, thus Roma. The term "Pontic" originated in scholarly usage, but it has been adopted as a mark of identity by Pontic Greeks living in Greece. Pontic Greeks in Greece may call their language Pontiaká.[11]

Similarly, in Turkish, there is no special name for Pontic Greek; it is called Rumca ([ˈɾumd͡ʒa]), derived from the Turkish word Rum, denoting Byzantine Greeks.[12][13][14]

Nowadays, Pontic speakers living in Turkey call their language Romeyka, Urumce, Rumca or Rumcika.[14]



Similar to most modern Greek dialects, Pontic Greek is mainly derived from Koine Greek, which was spoken in the Hellenistic and Roman times between the 4th century BC and the 4th century AD. Following the Seljuk invasion of Asia Minor during the 11th century AD, Pontus became isolated from many of the regions of the Byzantine Empire.[15] The Pontians remained somewhat isolated from the mainland Greeks, causing Pontic Greek to develop separately and distinctly from the rest of the mainland Greek.[16] However, the language has also been influenced by the nearby Persian, Caucasian, and Turkish languages.



Greek linguist Manolis Triantafyllidis has divided the Pontic of Turkey into two groups:

Speakers of Chaldiot were the most numerous. In phonology, some varieties of Pontic are reported to demonstrate vowel harmony, a well-known feature of Turkish (Mirambel 1965).

Outside Turkey one can distinguish:



The inhabitants of the Of valley who had converted to Islam in the 17th century remained in Turkey and have partly retained the Pontic language until today.[17][18][19][20] Their dialect, which forms part of the Trapezountiac subgroup, is called "Ophitic" by linguists, but speakers generally call it Romeika. As few as 5,000 people are reported to speak it.[2][21] There are however estimates that show the real number of the speakers as considerably higher.[14] Speakers of Ophitic/Romeyka are concentrated in the eastern districts of Trabzon province: Çaykara (Katohor), Dernekpazarı (Kondu), Sürmene (Sourmena) and Köprübaşı (Göneşera). Although less widespread, it is still spoken in some remote villages of the Of district itself. It is also spoken in the western İkizdere (Dipotamos) district of Rize province. Historically the dialect was spoken in a wider area, stretching further east to the port town of Pazar (Athina).

Ophitic has retained the infinitive, which is present in Ancient Greek but has been lost in other variants of Modern Greek (except Italiot Greek); it has therefore been characterized as "archaic" or conservative (even in relation to other Pontic dialects) and as the living language that is closest to Ancient Greek.[2][21] Because a majority of the population of these districts converted to Islam during the 17th to 19th centuries, some Arabic and Turkish loanwords have been adopted in the language. According to Vahit Tursun, writer of the Romeika-Turkish dictionary, loanwords from the neighboring Laz speakers of Rize province are strikingly absent in the Romeika vocabulary of Trabzon natives.

A very similar dialect is spoken by descendants of Christians from the Of valley (especially from Kondu) now living in Greece in the village of Nea Trapezounta, Pieria, Central Macedonia, with about 400 speakers.[22][23][24]

Geographic distribution


Though Pontic was originally spoken on the southern shores of the Black Sea, from the 18th and 19th century and on substantial numbers migrated into the northern and eastern shores, into the Russian Empire. Pontic is still spoken by large numbers of people in Ukraine, mainly in Mariupol, but also in other parts of Ukraine such as the Odesa and Donetsk region, in Russia (around Stavropol) and Georgia. The language enjoyed some use as a literary medium in the 1930s, including a school grammar (Topkharas 1998 [1932]).

After the massacres of the 1910s, the majority of speakers remaining in Asia Minor were subject to the Treaty of Lausanne population exchange, and were resettled in Greece (mainly northern Greece). A second wave of migration occurred in the early 1990s, this time from countries of the former Soviet Union.[25]

In urban areas in Greece the language is no longer spoken in daily life but in villages and towns with more homogeneous Pontic population, located mostly in the northern part of country, the language is still in active daily usage. Many radio stations broadcast in the Pontic language, and many associations exist for its safeguard.

Official status




In Greece, Pontic has no official status, like all other Greek dialects.

Soviet Union


Historically, Pontic Greek was the de facto language of the Greek minority in the USSR, although in the Πανσυνδεσμιακή Σύσκεψη (Pansyndesmiakí Sýskepsi, All-Union Conference) of 1926, organised by the Greek–Soviet intelligentsia, it was decided that Demotic should be the official language of the community.[29]

Later revival of Greek identity in the Soviet Union and post-Communist Russia saw a renewed division on the issue of Rumaiic versus Demotic. A new attempt to preserve a sense of ethnic Rumaiic identity started in the mid-1980s. The Ukrainian scholar Andriy Biletsky created a new Slavonic alphabet, but though a number of writers and poets make use of this alphabet, the population of the region rarely uses it.[30]



The language has a rich oral tradition and folklore and Pontic songs are particularly popular in Greece. There is also some limited production of modern literature in Pontic, including poetry collections (among the most renowned writers is Kostas Diamantidis), novels, and translated Asterix comic albums.[31] The youth often speak standard Greek as their first language. The use of Pontic has been maintained more by speakers in North America than it has in Greece.[1]



Pontic, in Greece, is written in the Greek alphabet, with diacritics: σ̌ ζ̌ ξ̌ ψ̌ for ʒ pʃ/, α̈ ο̈ for ø] (phonological /ia io/). Pontic, in Turkey, is written in the Latin alphabet following Turkish conventions. In Russia, it is written in the Cyrillic alphabet[citation needed]. In early Soviet times, Pontic was written in the Greek alphabet phonetically, as shown below, using digraphs instead of diacritics; ø] were written out as ια, ιο. The Pontic Wikipedia uses Greek script: it has adopted εα, εο for these vowels, to avoid clashes with Modern Greek ια, ιο, and uses digraphs from the Soviet system instead of diacritics, but otherwise follows historical orthography.

IPA Example
Α α A a A a А а [ä] ρωμαίικα, romeyika, romejika, ромейика
Β β V v Bb/Vv/Ww В в [v] κατηβαίνω, kativeno, katibënô, кативено
Γ γ Ğ ğ G g Г г [ɣ] [ʝ] γανεύω, ğanevo, ganeyô, ганево
Δ δ DH dh D d Д д [ð] δόντι, dhonti, dónti, донти
Ε ε E e E e Е е [] εγάπεσα, eğapesa, egápesa, егапеса
Ζ ζ Z z Z z З з [z] ζαντός, zantos, zantóſ, зантос
Θ θ TH th Þ þ С с, Ф ф, Т т [θ] θέκω, theko, þékô, теко
Ι ι İ i I i И и [i] οσπιτόπον, ospitopon, ospitópon, оспитопон
Κ κ K k K k К к [k] καλάτσ̌εμαν, kalaçeman, kalácheman, калачеман
Λ λ L l L l Л л [l] λαλία, lalia, lalía, лалиа
Μ μ M m M m М м [m] μάνα, mana, mána, мана
Ν ν N n N n Н н [n] ολίγον, oliğоn, olígon, олигон
Ο ο O o O o О о [] τ'εμέτερον, themeteron, þeméteron, ҭеметерон
Π π P p Pp П п [p] εγάπεσα, eğapesa, egápesa, егапеса
Ρ ρ R r R r Р р [ɾ] ρωμαίικα, romeyika, romejika, ромейка
Σ ς S s S s С с [s] ασπαλώ, aspalo, aspalō, аспalо
Χ̌ χ̌ Ş ş SH sh Ш ш [ʃ] χ̌έριν, şerin, shérin, шерин
Τ τ T t T t Т т [t] νόστιμεσσα, nostimesa, nóstimesa, ностимеса
ΤΖ̌ τζ̌ C c C c Ц ц [d͡ʒ] κεμεντζ̌ έ, kemence, kemencé, кemenце
ΤΣ τς Ç ç CH ch Ч ч [t͡ʃ] μανίτσα, maniça, manícha, манича
Υ υ U u Uu/Yy У у [u] υίαν, uian, uían, уи́aн
Φ φ F f F f Ф ф [f] έμορφα, emorfa, émopfa,.эморфа
Χ χ Hh, KHkh Hh/Xx Х х [x] χάσον, hason, háson, хасон


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The following are features of Pontic Greek which have been retained from early forms of Greek, in contrast to the developments of Modern Greek.



Declension of nouns and adjectives


Conjugation of verbs




Comparison with Ancient Greek

1. Attachment of the /e/ sound to the ancient infinitive suffix –εῖν, -ειν (in Trapezountiac Pontic)
Pontic Ancient
ειπείνε εἰπεῖν
παθείνε παθεῖν
αποθανείνε ἀποθανεῖν
πιείνε πιεῖν
ειδείνε εἰδεῖν
φυείνε φυγεῖν
ευρείνε εὑρεῖν
καμείνε καμεῖν
φαείνε φαγεῖν
μαθείνε μαθεῖν
ερθέανε ἐλθεῖν
μενείνε μένειν
2. Preservation of the Ancient infinitive suffix -ῆναι
Pontic Ancient
ανεβήναι ἀναβῆναι
κατεβήναι καταβῆναι
εμπήναι ἐμβῆναι
εβγήναι ἐκβῆναι
επιδεαβήναι ἀποδιαβῆναι
κοιμεθήναι κοιμηθῆναι
χτυπεθήναι κτυπηθῆναι
ευρεθήναι εὑρεθῆναι
βρασήναι βραχῆναι
ραήναι ῥαγῆναι
3. Ancient first aorist infinitive suffix -αι has been replaced by second aorist suffix -ειν
Pontic Ancient
κράξειν κράξαι
μεθύσειν μεθύσαι
4. Attachment of the /e/ sound to the ancient aorist infinitive suffix –ειν
ράψεινε, κράξεινε, μεθύσεινε, καλέσεινε, λαλήσεινε, κτυπήσεινε, καθίσεινε
5. Same aorist suffix –κα (–κα was also the regular perfect suffix)
Pontic Ancient
εδώκα ἔδωκα
εντώκα ἐνέδωκα
εποίκα ἐποίηκα
εφήκα ἀφῆκα
εθήκα ἔθηκα
6. Ancient Greek –ein (-εῖν) infinitive > Pontic Greek –eane (-έανε) infinitive
Pontic Ancient
ερθέανε ἐλθεῖν

See also


Further reading



  1. ^ a b c d e "Pontic". Ethnologue. Archived from the original on April 12, 2018. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  2. ^ a b c "Against all odds: archaic Greek in a modern world | University of Cambridge". July 2010. Archived from the original on February 2, 2021. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  3. ^ Armostis, Spyros; Voniati, Louiza; Drosos, Konstantinos; Tafiadis, Dionysos (2020). "Trapezountian Pontic Greek in Etoloakarnania". Journal of the International Phonetic Assocation. 52 (2): 328–340. doi:10.1017/S0025100320000201.
  4. ^ Tursun, Vahit (2023). Romeika (Karadeniz Rumcası): edebiyat - gramer bilgileri ve ağızlar arasi karşılaştırma. Töz araştırma-inceleme (1. Baskı ed.). Ankara: Töz Yayınları. ISBN 978-605-71864-6-1.
  5. ^ Tsekouras, Ioannis (2016). "Nostalgia, Emotionality, and Ethno-Regionalism in Pontic Greek Parakathi Singing" (PDF). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. pp. 65–69.
  6. ^ Fann Bouteneff, Patricia (September 2003). "Greek Folktales from Imera, Pontos". Fabula. 44 (3–4): 292–312. doi:10.1515/fabl.2003.018.
  7. ^ Popov, Anton (2003). "Becoming Pontic: "Post-Socialist" Identities, "Transnational" Geography, and the "Native" Land of the Caucasian Greeks". Ab Imperio. 2003 (2): 339–360. doi:10.1353/imp.2003.0114. S2CID 131320546.
  8. ^ Hionidou, Violetta; Saunders, David (November 2010). "Exiles and Pioneers: Oral Histories of Greeks Deported from the Caucasus to Kazakhstan in 1949". Europe-Asia Studies. 62 (9). JSTOR: Taylor & Francis: 1480. doi:10.1080/09668136.2010.515794. JSTOR 25764696. S2CID 144384647.
  9. ^ "Pontic". Endangered Languages Project.
  10. ^ Sitaridou, Ioanna; Kaltsa, Maria (2010). "Topicalisation in Pontic Greek". Modern Greek Dialects and Linguistic Theory. 4: 259–279.
  11. ^ Drettas, Georges (1997). Aspects pontiques. ARP. p. 19. ISBN 2-9510349-0-3. ... marks the beginning of a new era in Greek dialectology. Not only is it the first comprehensive grammar of Pontic not written in Greek, but it is also the first self-contained grammar of any Greek 'dialect' written, in the words of Bloomfield, 'in terms of its own structure'.
  12. ^ "Nişanyan Sözlük - Türkçe Etimolojik Sözlük" [Nişanyan Dictionary - Turkish Etymological Dictionary] (in Turkish). Archived from the original on December 28, 2021.
  13. ^ "Rum Kelime Kökeni, Kelimesinin Anlamı - Etimoloji" [Greek Word Origin, Meaning of the Word - Etymology] (in Turkish). Archived from the original on December 28, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c Özkan, Hakan (2013). "The Pontic Greek spoken by Muslims in the villages of Beşköy in the province of present-day Trabzon". Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies. 37 (1): 130–150. doi:10.1179/0307013112z.00000000023.
  15. ^ Topalidis, Sam (17 February 2017). "Development of the Pontic Greek Dialect". PontosWorld. Archived from the original on September 24, 2020. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  16. ^ Mackridge, Peter (October 10, 1991). "The Pontic dialect: a corrupt version of Ancient Greek?". Journal of Refugee Studies. 4 (4). Academia: 335–339. doi:10.1093/jrs/4.4.335.
  17. ^ Mackridge, Peter (1987). "Greek-Speaking Moslems of North-East Turkey: Prolegomena to a Study of the Ophitic Sub-Dialect of Pontic". Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies. 11 (1): 115–137. doi:10.1179/030701387790203037. S2CID 163034102.
  18. ^ Asan, Omer (2000) [1996]. Pontos Kültürü [Pontos Culture] (in Turkish) (2nd ed.). Istanbul: Belge Yayınları. ISBN 975-344-220-3.
  19. ^ Özkan, H. (2013). Blume, Horst D.; Lienau, Cay (eds.). Muslimisch-Pontisch und die Sprachgemeinschaft des Pontisch-Griechischen im heutigen Trabzon [Muslim-Pontic and the language community of Pontic Greek in today's Trabzon]. Choregia – Münstersche Griechenland-Studien. Vol. 11. Lienau, C. pp. 115–137. ISBN 978-3-934017-15-3.
  20. ^ "The cost of language, Pontiaka trebizond Greek". Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  21. ^ a b Connor, Steve (January 3, 2011). "Jason and the Argot: Land where Greece's Ancient Language Survives". Independent. Archived from the original on November 22, 2021.
  22. ^ Anthi Revythiadou and Vasileios Spyropoulos (2009): "Οφίτικη Ποντιακή: Έρευνα γλωσσικής καταγραφής με έμφαση στη διαχρονία και συγχρονία της διαλέκτου" [Ophitic Pontic: A documentation project with special emphasis on the diachrony and synchrony of the dialect] "www.latsis-foundation.org" (PDF) (in Greek). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-31. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
  23. ^ Revythiadou, A.; Spyropoulos, V. (2012). Ofítiki: Ptychés tis Grammatikís Domís mias Pontiakís Dialéktou Οφίτικη: Πτυχές της Γραμματικής Δομής μιας Ποντιακής Διαλέκτου [Ofitica Pontic: Aspects of the Grammar of a Pontic Dialect] (in Greek). Thessaloniki: Εκδοτικός Οίκος Αδελφών Κυριακίδη. ISBN 978-960-467-344-5.
  24. ^ Revythiadou, A.; Spyropoulos, V.; Kakarikos, K. (1912). "I taftótita tis ofítikis pontiakís: Mia glossologikí meléti ton pigón kai ton omilitón tis" Η ταυτότητα της οφίτικης ποντιακής: Mια γλωσσολογική μελέτη των πηγών και των ομιλητών της [The identity of ophitic pontic: A linguistic study of its sources and its speakers] (PDF). Δελτίο Κέντρο Μικρασιατικών Σπουδών (in Greek). 17: 217–275.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Selm, Joanne van (2003). The Refugee Convention at fifty: a view from forced migration studies. Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books. p. 72. ISBN 0-7391-0565-5. [1]
  26. ^ a b "Romeika - Pontic Greek (tr)". Karalahana.com. Archived from the original on 2014-02-25. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  27. ^ "News and Events: Endangered language opens window on to past". University of Cambridge. 2011-01-04. Archived from the original on January 1, 2020. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  28. ^ "Pontic Greek (Trabzon Of dialect) - Turkish Dictionary (tr)". Karalahana.com. Archived from the original on 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  30. ^ Survey carried out in 2001–2004, organized by St. Petersburg State University
  31. ^ Asterix in Pontic Greek Archived 2012-10-05 at the Wayback Machine.