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Re: Dialects differentiating between ι, υ, η, etc.?
by Szabolcs Horvát - Sunday, 5 July 2009, 04:03 PM
  I found some interesting readings on the topic here:


Unfortunately only the first chapter is available in English.

According to the page, there are dialects (not only Tsakonian, but some Koine-derived too) in which υ and οι are pronounced as /u/ rather than /i/. I also found interesting the part about geminates---another feature of the language that is marked in writing, but is not preserved in standard spoken Greek.

The site has other useful pages too, among them some dictionaries (the same ones that are accessible at komvos.edu.gr, but with nicer interfaces and English descriptions). Unfortunately most of the content is not translated into English, so it is not (yet) accessible for me.

EDIT: While reading a bit about the more interesting sounding dialects mentioned in that article, I found a paper mentioning another preserved vowel distinction. Since the paper is not accessible without a subscription, I'll copy the relevant paragraph here:

"Together with the scattered Greek-speaking communities of Cappadocia in central Asia Minor, the Pontians seem to have been cut off from the rest of the Greeks by the invasions of the Seljuk Turks into Asia Minor around the eleventh century. From there on, the spoken language of the Pontians followed for the most part a separate development from the other Greek dialects. Although Greek had certainly begun to branch off into different dialects even before the eleventh century, the differences between Pontic and the rest of the Greek started to become more acute from about this time. So of all the features of Pontic that strike mainland Greeks as ancient, most were still alive all over the Greek-speaking world in medieval times, but have subsequently died out in the mainland dialects. One very significant exception is the Pontic pronunciation of the Greek letter η as 'e'; this seems to preserve the ancient pronunciation of the letter (a long 'e'), whereas all other varieties of modern Greek pronounce this letter as an 'i'. The problem for the linguist is only used in certain words and endings, while in others the letter is pronounced 'i'. No plausible explanation has yet been offered for this."