Turkish Cypriots’ Language Attitudes: The Case of Cypriot Turkish and Standard Turkish in Cyprus

Evripidou, Dimitris and Cavusoglu, Cise (2015) Turkish Cypriots’ Language Attitudes: The Case of Cypriot Turkish and Standard Turkish in Cyprus. Mediterranean Language Review, 22 (2015). pp. 119-138. ISSN 0724-7567

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Official URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.13173/medilangrevi....


People’s views about language varieties or dialects become critical when some would insist that such language varieties, by nature, are ‘inferior’ or ‘inexpressive’ linguistic entities or systems of communication, especially when compared to their corresponding versions of standard or official languages. Previously, views and opinions on ‘inequality’ of language varieties and dialects did not use to receive much scientific support for various political and ideological reasons. Research has shown that negative views about languages and dialects are neither innocent nor harmless and can have an impact on speakers’ self-esteem, educational attainment, status and employment opportunities (Hopper & Williams 1973, Edwards 1989); worst still they may even encourage some to think that such speakers are ignorant and intellectually inferior by the accident of which variety they happen to know or use (Bereiter & Engleman 1966). However, most researchers bring forth evidence in support of the equality of all languages and dialects with their corresponding standard or official one (Honey 1983, Anderson & Trudgill 1990, Herrnstein & Murray 1994). Additionally, it would be generally difficult to distinguish attitudes to language varieties from attitudes to the perceived groups and community members who use them since they are not simply characteristics of a community, but in actuality enshrine what is distinctive in the community itself and what constitutes it (Garrett 2010).
This study investigates Turkish Cypriots’ attitudes towards their native language variety, Cypriot Turkish (henceforth CT), and Standard Turkish (henceforth ST) and how they perceive their own linguistic abilities in the aforementioned varieties. It is hoped that this study may serve as a starting point in Turkish Cypriots’ language attitudes, which may help in understanding the projections of such attitudes towards CT speakers of an internationally isolated (Kyris 2012) part of an island.

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