Greek and Turkish are two official languages of Cyprus. The three main minority languages spoken in Cyprus are Armenian, Cypriot Arabic, and Kurbetcha. English is a popular foreign language spoken in the country. Cypriot Greek and Cypriot Turkish are the vernacular languages of Cyprus.
The Official And Vernacular Languages Of Cyprus
Standard Modern Greek and Standard Turkish are the two official languages of Cyprus. These languages are used by the government, courts, administration, media, and educational institutes of Cyprus. Greek was introduced in Cyprus by the Greek settlers who arrived in the island in about the 12th to 11th century BC. The general population uses Cypriot Greek and Cypriot Turkish as everyday spoken languages. However, the Cypriot Greek developed over centuries in the country and was heavily influenced by the various languages spoken by the different colonial groups who arrived in Cyprus over the years. The Cypriot Greek is significantly different from Standard Modern Greek.
Minority Languages Of Cyprus
The minority communities living in Cyprus speak their native languages in the country. The most popular minority languages spoken in Cyprus include:
Armenian is spoken by the ethnic Armenians living in Cyprus. These people have been living in the country since the sixth century but a new group of Armenian immigrants also arrived in the 20th century following the Armenian genocide in Turkey. Currently, about 3,000 people in Cyprus speak Armenian as their first language. Many of the ethnic Armenians living in Cyprus are bilingual in Armenian and Greek.
Cypriot Arabic is a variant of Arabic that is spoken by the ethnic Arabians living in Cyprus. The language is fast dying and is spoken by about 900 Cypriot Maronites living in the country of which most are aged above 30 years. Most speakers of this language are bilingual in Greek and Cypriot Arabic. Kormakitis in Cyprus is considered to host a significant population of Cypriot Maronites.
Kurbetcha is a little-studied minority language of Cyprus. The language is spoken by the Romani people living in the northern parts of the country. The language uses Romani vocabulary and Cypriot Turkish grammar. Little is known about this minority language and it is not protected by the country’s law.
Immigrant Languages Spoken In Cyprus
A number of immigrant languages are spoken in Cyprus. These languages are spoken by the immigrant population of various ethnicities living in the country. English, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Bulgarian, etc., are some of the immigrant languages of Cyprus.
Foreign Languages Spoken In Cyprus
English is the most popular foreign language spoken in Cyprus. The Cypriots have a high proficiency in English. As per a report by Eurobarometer, 73% of the population of Cyprus can speak English. The language is used in street signs, advertisements, and public notices in the country. During the British colonial rule in Cyprus, English served as the country’s official language. It also acted as the country’s lingua franca till 1960. English was used in the courts of Cyprus till 1989 and in the legislature till 1996. Other popular foreign languages spoken in Cyprus include French and German which are spoken by 12% and 5% of the people of Cyprus, respectively.