Grenglish words are emblematic of the Greek Cypriot community’s linguistic history and resourcefulness. However, there does not exist a single collection of them either in print or online.
Dr Anna Charalambidou (Middlesex University) and Dr Petros Karatsareas (Westminster University) want to fill this gap with our project by creating a permanent record of Grenglish, which will be available not only to future generations of British Greek Cypriots but also to people from all backgrounds.
Members of the Greek Cypriot community are at the centre of the project and are invited to (re)discover, re-evaluate and document their intangible linguistic heritage.
Like many other community languages that were transplanted from their places of origin to the UK as a result of migration, Cypriot Greek developed in a unique way in the British capital, through the borrowing of English words and their incorporation into the Cypriot Greek grammatical system.
These words came to be collectively recognised as a new linguistic variety unique to the UK’s Cypriot Greek speakers. They were labelled by many as Grenglish and include all sorts of everyday terms such as πάσον/pason ‘bus’, νόττης/nottis ‘naughty boy’ and νόττισσα/nottissa ‘naughty girl’, μουβάρω/muvaro ‘I move’ as well as place names like Φίσμπουρι Ππάρκ/Fishbury Park ‘Finsbury Park’.
Grenglish was created by first-generation migrants, who had a limited command of English, and in many cases Grenglish words replaced native Greek words. They were later adopted by second-generation members of the community, but some speakers assigned negative values to them often referring to them as Greek slang.
Many speakers express their preference for the Standard Greek equivalents, which means that this unique lexical stock that is emblematic of the community’s linguistic history is facing the threat of disappearance as new generations of speakers tend to avoid them.
We want to capture as many Grenglish words as we can in a way that involves the community and creates impact through a permanent record of its linguistic history.
To this end, we ask all British Greek Cypriots to upload Grenglish material:
A team of researchers and community collaborators will curate all contributions and organise them in a Grenglish – English – Greek glossary, which will be available in online and print format.
The Grenglish Project is supported by Middlesex University (research funding in Arts and Creative Industries) and the School of Humanities of the University of Westminster.