Coherence ‘in the mix’? Coherence in the face of language shift in Cypriot Greek

Tsiplakou, Stavroula, Armostis, Spyros and Evripidou, Dimitris (2016) Coherence ‘in the mix’? Coherence in the face of language shift in Cypriot Greek. Lingua, 172-17 . pp. 10-25. ISSN 0024-3841

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Cypriot Greek presents an interesting case of what may appear to be an ‘incoherent’ variety. The Cypriot Greek koine displays patterns that could be seen as dense code-mixing between Cypriot and Standard Greek; moreover, local subvarieties are being levelled out, the result being a shift from a geographical to a register continuum, with remnants of local variants indexing ‘lower’ registers. This invites the hypothesis that the range of variants that speakers have at their disposal is used for various indexical purposes and that one ought not to expect consistency in rates of occurrence of particular variants. In this paper we test this hypothesis by examining four phonological, morphological and syntactic variables with variants at the Cypriot and the Standard-like end of the continuum. The data provide a rather complex picture: while there is overall coherence across variables in the sense that the higher the use of the more Cypriot phonological forms, the higher the use of the more Cypriot morphological and syntactic variants, the behaviour of different variants also depends on particular configurations of extralinguistic factors such as sex, age and education. The data therefore attest to the complexity of the notion of ‘coherence’ but do not suggest its abandonment as an analytical construct.

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