Talking the Cyprus Problem

The launch of a bilingual dictionary of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot dialect a couple of weeks back argued the common denominators of both communities and prosperously indicated the wish of many of us, for a united island.

I felt so privileged to be part of the event. Admittedly, it is more than often the usual suspects that attend the cultural endeavours of the capital.

But this time around things were different. I think it’s the first event I attended where both Greek and Turkish were spoken by the hosts. It was also the first event where there was a common understanding or, should I say, nostalgia from both communities.

Of course, talking about words made this easy. The inside stories of how words where used, and in some cases still are, where, as many expressed, a reminiscence of an era gone by. Of a time when both communities lived together happily. Admittedly this was more true for the older generation.

But there was also awe from the younger generation, who for so many years may not have known the true meaning behind words they still use in their everyday lives, most of these being related to food; the likes of sheftalia, soutjoukkos (the sweet), palouzes (grape must reduction), kolokassi (taro), halloumi cheese or Zivania.

Ironically, the Cyprus problem relies on words in order to be solved. Perhaps it should be solved in the Cypriot dialect, using the words that mean something more than the erosion of our common language, culture, land and country.

Words that depict an essence of living together whilst respecting our core identities, not dismissing the time and progress that has elapsed in between , but bringing them back to the future, just like this dictionary affirms.

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