Aramaic Still Spoken on Cyprus, May Be In Danger of Dying Out

February 1, 2004

Source: The Arizona Republic

On February 1, 2004 The Arizona Republic ran a story from the Christian Science Monitor on the use of Aramaic, a language used in the Middle East during the time of Jesus, in the Greek portion of Cyprus. The article reported, "Aramaic is still used in everyday life by most of the 130 elderly Maronite Catholics in Kormakiti, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea...Kormakiti's unique diluted version of Aramaic, called Cypriot Maronite Arabic, is in danger of extinction. Once the thriving center of the island's Maronite community, Kormakiti now has the eerie atmosphere of a ghost town. Many of the village's stone and mud-brick houses are derelict, their wooden-beam roofs sagging and broken, letting in sunlight. There is bird song but no sound of children, because there are none left in the village. 'Sometimes we're like astronauts in the sky, no one's here,' villager Elias Kassapis said. The elementary school, run by Kassapis until 1991, closed a few years ago when the last pupil left to attend a secondary school across the island's dividing 'green line' in the Greek Cypriot region."