What are the languages and dialects spoken in Sporades?

The Sporades are a group of islands in the Aegean Sea, off the east coast of mainland Greece. They are known for their natural beauty, rich history and cultural diversity. But what are the languages and dialects spoken in Sporades? How did they evolve and what influences did they have from other languages?

The main language: Modern Greek

The official and most widely spoken language in Sporades is Modern Greek, the standard form of the Greek language that emerged after the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the establishment of the modern Greek state in the 19th century. Modern Greek is a member of the Indo-European language family and belongs to the Hellenic branch, along with Ancient Greek and some extinct languages.

Modern Greek is divided into two main varieties: Demotic and Katharevousa. Demotic is the natural, popular spoken language that evolved from the medieval and early modern forms of Greek. Katharevousa is an artificial, learned written language that was created in the 19th century to imitate the classical Attic Greek of ancient times. Katharevousa was used as an official language in administration, education, the church, journalism and literature until the 1970s, when it was replaced by Demotic as the sole official language of Greece.

Modern Greek has many dialects that differ in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. The dialects can be classified into four major groups: Northern, Southern, Insular and Cypriot. The dialects spoken in Sporades belong to the Insular group, which includes all the dialects of the Aegean islands except Crete and Cyprus. The Insular dialects are influenced by various languages that came into contact with them over time, such as Turkish, Italian, Venetian, French and English.

The ancient legacy: Tsakonika

One of the most interesting and unique dialects spoken in Sporades is Tsakonika, also known as Tsakonian or Tsaconian. Tsakonika is spoken by about 2,000 people in 13 towns, villages and hamlets around Pera Melana, a mountainous village in the southern Peloponnese peninsula. Tsakonika is not just a dialect of Modern Greek, but a separate language that descends from the Doric language spoken by the ancient Spartans.

Tsakonika is the only surviving dialect from the western Doric branch of Hellenic languages, while Modern Greek descends from the eastern Ionic and Attic branch. Tsakonika is closer to ancient than modern Greek, but it is not mutually intelligible with either of them. Tsakonika has its own alphabet, phonology, morphology and syntax that differ significantly from those of Modern Greek. Tsakonika also has a rich vocabulary that reflects its long history and cultural heritage.

Tsakonika is considered one of the oldest living languages in Europe and one of the most endangered languages in the world. It is threatened by assimilation, migration, urbanization and lack of education. The speakers of Tsakonika are mostly elders who try to preserve their language and pass it on to younger generations. Tsakonika is not recognized as an official language in Greece, but it is part of a rich cultural identity and legacy of the ancient Spartans.

The minority languages: Arvanitika and Romani

Besides Modern Greek and Tsakonika, there are also some minority languages spoken in Sporades by small communities of immigrants or ethnic groups. Two of these languages are Arvanitika and Romani.

Arvanitika is a variety of Albanian spoken by the Arvanites, an ethnic group that migrated from Albania to Greece between the 13th and 16th centuries. Arvanitika is mainly spoken in some villages in central Greece, Attica and Peloponnese, but there are also some speakers in Sporades, especially on the island of Skopelos. Arvanitika has been influenced by Greek in vocabulary and grammar, but it retains its own phonology and morphology. Arvanitika is not mutually intelligible with standard Albanian or other Albanian dialects.

Romani is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Roma or Gypsies, a nomadic ethnic group that originated from India and migrated to Europe between the 10th and 14th centuries. Romani is spoken by about 250,000 people in Greece, mainly in Thrace, Macedonia and Thessaly, but also in some islands of Sporades, such as Skiathos and Alonissos. Romani has many dialects that vary in phonology, vocabulary and grammar. Romani has been influenced by various languages that the Roma came into contact with, such as Greek, Turkish, Romanian, Bulgarian and Slavic languages.


The languages and dialects spoken in Sporades reflect the diversity and complexity of the linguistic landscape of Greece and the Aegean Sea. They are the result of centuries of historical, cultural and social interactions between different peoples and civilizations. They are also the expression of the identity and heritage of the speakers who live in these beautiful islands. The languages and dialects spoken in Sporades are a treasure that deserves to be preserved and appreciated.