|Region||Himarë, Albania; Greece|
|at least 8,000 (2008)|
Himariote Greek (Greek: ? Kheimarrioutiki dialektos or X Kheimarrioutika) is a dialect of the Greek language that is mainly spoken by ethnic Greeks in the Himarë region of Albania. Despite the small distances between the towns in the region, there exists some dialectal variation, most prominently in accent.
Despite the fact that the Greek community in Himara resides at the northern end of the Greek-speaking world, in a region known among Greeks as Northern Epirus, the Himariote dialect is a southern dialect of the Greek language, a trait shared by most other dialects in Northern Epirus and Greek prefecture of Thesprotia. Although links with the Greek dialects spoken in Apulia and Mani have been suggested, the exact provenance of Northern Epirote dialects remains obscure. According to Greek linguist Vayacacos, Himariote, as a subbranch of the Northern Epirote dialects, is classified as a southern dialect, but the two towns next to Himarë, Dhërmi and Palasë, speak semi-northern dialects.
Because of the region's geography and isolation, the local dialect in the Himarë region became separated from the surrounding dialects and underwent a slower evolution, preserving a more conservative and faithful picture of the medieval Greek vernacular. According to Greek professor Anagnostopoulos, this dialect, like other conservative forms of modern Greek, such as the Maniot dialect, was spoken by populations that lived in virtual autonomy during Ottoman rule. Another linguistic analysis suggests that Himarë was colonised by Apulian Italiots after the Turkish raid on Otranto in 1480, but this position is vigorously questioned. Some scholars have argued that there are parallels with the local idioms spoken in Crete as well as in nearby Corfu. In particular, these scholars argue that the dialect of Himarë has parallels with dialects in Crete, whereas the dialect of Dhërmi and Palasë has parallels with those in Corfu.
In spite of the short distances between these towns, there are differences in the accents of the dialect in every town. Himariote has been affected by language contact, and uses some borrowed words from the Lab Albanian dialect. Some Greek words have also been partially influenced by their Albanian counterparts, such as the local pronunciation of [mexanikos] for Standard Greek [mixanikos] ("engineer"), under the influence of Albanian mehaniku.
A common characteristic of local Greek dialects including Himariote is the use of the archaic disyllabic -ea form. Moreover, the phoneme /s/ is pronounced in a slightly different way, depending on the town: in Dhërmi as a soft /?/[clarification needed]; in Palasa as a half-hard /?'/[clarification needed] while in the town of Himarë as a hard /?/[clarification needed]. The people who originate from Himarë sometimes also pronounce /k/ as /ts/. Many younger speakers do not use "hard accentuations" anymore, due to the widespread influence by standard modern Greek in the context of migratory patterns to Greece.
The Himarriots were multi-lingualis at least since the 16th century. This was very common to the region and the period. They were writing in the Greek dialect of the region in their "in-group" communication, mixed with Albanian, Turkish, Italian and some Arabic words. They used Greek in their correspondence with the Pope and other representatives of western countries, as well as with the Russian Empire. When they communicated in Italian, they used a translator, but signed in Greek with Greek conferments of their names.
During the communist era in Albania, the country's borders were sealed for 45 years (1945-1990), while Himarë remained outside of the so-called Greek minority zone, which the Albanian state recognized as Greek populated regions. In accordance with the communist Albanian policy of unification and homogenization, the use of the Greek language in Himarë was forbidden in public, and many Greek-speaking people were forced to move to places in northern or central Albania. As a consequence, Greek schools in the Himarë area were closed, and the local communities stuck to their language, which was archaic in comparison to the dialects they encountered after emigrating to Greece (1991) in the aftermath of the communist regime's collapse.
After the fall of communism, a considerable number of the population from Himarë migrated to Greece where it largely adopted standard Greek. At present they are still not considered as part of the recognized Greek minority by the Albanian state, while on the other hand they are counted as ethnic Greeks according to the Greek migration policy.
The set is pretty different if we consider the lexical material (appellatives and place names) of the inland of Chimara (Kurvelesh region) and the nearby coastal Albanian - speaking villages (Bregdet) & The Greek-speaking area that seems to be less affected by Slavic is that of Chimara although elements of Slavic influence are present in the neighboring villages,...