Pomak Language Unbounded… Through an Anthropological View

Author Information

Elisabeth Ioannidou,
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

DOI: 10.47298/comela22.1-9
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in the Mediterranean and Europe 2022


Until November 1995, Pomak villages were confined to the parts of Greek Thrace bounded by a bar. As a remnant of the ‘iron curtain,’ the bar kept these populations and their language isolated. This restriction forced people into introversion, self-reliance and conservatism. These tendencies were reflected in the Pomak, along with an attempt at cultural self-identification, which is generally observed in minority languages. After the removal of the bar and the reconnection with Greek society, Pomak has continued to be used orally, and by only a few specific circles to be spoken publicly, e.g., in the online newspaper Zagalisa. What nowadays characterizes the Pomak is extroversion, but at the same time with a tendency for differentiation (νασές Πομάτσκες γιεζίκ / nases Pomakski jazik), for self-determination, and selective memory management.

The selective use of the imperfect verb tense (formed as present perfect continuous) in narratives and narratives related to cultural data highlights the cultural and political dimension of language. Simple present and simple past tenses dominate the modern narratives, clearly indicating the concerns of the linguistic groups that represent them: Pomak cultural identity in the present and in the past. A bounded Pomak linguistic and cultural tradition, continuing through space and time, after the bar-removal, in fact, became …Unbounded. Both the transition and the adaptation of the Pomak to the new global linguistic environment were the main research lines of this study.

Keywords: Linguistics, linguistic anthropology, identity


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