Getting to Tyros
Tsakonian (also called Tsakonia) derives from
the Doric dialect spoken in Laconia by Spartans. The dialect survived
because for centuries the impassable mountains of Tsakonia protected
the locals from intruders - now that good roads have made the area
less remote the language is under severe threat.
There are three versions of Tsakonia - Northern Tsakonian (very few
speakers left), Propontis Tsakonian (dead since 1970) and Southern
spoken in just
a handful of villages especially those between Tyros and Leonidion.
In 1927 there were still monolingual speakers of Tsakonian but today
all use Greek as a first or second language. While Greek and Tsakonian
are not mutually intelligible, they share a lexical similarity of up
Children in the region of Tsakonica now learn
the language at school. You can hear Tsakonia spoken by the older
residents of such villages as Ano Tyros, Sapounakeika, Pera Melena
and Pragmateftis. Tsakonia is also spoken further inland for example
in Leonidio, Kastanitsa and Prastos. Sometimes the language may
be used as a code in the presence of Athenian visitors. If you
want to try it out, the Tsakonia for "How are you?" is "Tses Piu?"
(proncounced tchess pyu).
Apart from the language, the culture of Tsakonica can be found
in the songs of the region and in traditional dress such as the "tsoubes"
a bridal dress. These costumes can be seen worn on national parades
and at exhibitions of local folk dancing.
The Tsakonian dance itself
involves the right arm of one dancer hooked tightly into another's
crooked elbow - a style of dancing which has been described
here to see the Ethnologue report on the Tsakonia language
Click here for more on the Tsakonia dance