Language of The Historic Enemy in Education: Implications to Language Policy Development for Rapprochement Across the Divide in Cyprus

Author: Dr. Afet Guney (University of Exeter, U.K.)
Speaker: Dr. Afet Guney
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL COMELA 2022 General Session


The current research explored the various roles that language plays in the post-conflict context, its potential in bringing an intercultural dimension to teaching the language of the other, and understanding what it means to employ thelanguage of a former enemy, along with its relation to identity across the divide in public education in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and the Republic of Cyprus (RoC). When TRNC authorities decided on partial lifting of borders across the divide in Nicosia, the last divided capital of Europe, as a political gesture, the RoC introduced Turkish as an optional foreign language for the first time in the secondary schools in the RoC in 2003. The question of linguistic as well as cultural integration of Turkish and Greek Cypriots became more urgent for the policymakers and education professionals on both sides of the divided island. The main aim of the study was investigation of the Turkish and Greek language students and teachers’ experience of learning and teaching each other’s languages in practice, explore potential to bring intercultural dimension into language of each other education, understand obstacles and challenges for language policymaking in the post-conflict context and its implications for peace education in the future. The investigation was set within a socio-cultural framework. Since ethnography is a methodological approach to slice through layers of ideological and implementational LPP spaces to uncover and foreground indistinct voices and unintended consequences(Ricento & Hornberger, 1996; Hornberger & Johnson, 2007), I used elements of ethnography; observed what happens in class, gained data through group and faceto face interviewing and collected available interim reports. I interviewed seven Greek language teachers and six Turkish language teachers along with 25 secondary school students in the North and 27 in the south. In the researched context, the conflict between groups is rooted in identity, the issue of language and its meaning to conflicted identity groups became a contentious subject. Although in the context of post-conflict, the language of the other can be viewed as a double-sword, the political future of Cyprus, economic ends and security seem to form the contextual dynamics, and inform individuals’ motivation to learn the language of the other – for security-related reasons, for use on a daily basis, as a survival language, or for political reasons.

Keywords: Cyprus, divide, language and enemy, Greek, Turkish, dialect, intercultural dimension in language education, rapprochement, language policy, language and identity