Kasos, 2023

By: | Post date: May 14, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece, Language

Kasos is a sleepy, small place, with fishermen, old timers drinking beer, women running general stores, a couple of elderly Dutch tourists, and a few soldiers. Linguistically very heterogeneous: I did hear one local with a strong accent, as I walked past, drop a delta (ξα(δ)έρφια)—a local feature which make the local name of dolmadhes “durmaes”. One middle-aged woman had a rapid-fire and heavy enough accent to challenge intelligibility. On the other hand, the 92-year old holding court in the local cafe dropped no deltas, and all he generated of linguistic interest was a couple of -εύγω epentheses, and one instance of αφέντης “sire” for “father”.

(He had a sad tale of a brother—I think—who married a woman from Salonica in Australia and cut off all contact; but the tale wandered off in the telling, and then so did he…)

In fact, I think I heard more Cretan dialect on Kasos than I did local dialect—people do cross the strait from the more parochially proud island to work, and my cousins were not one offs.

Kasos is small enough that they actually observe siesta: when I finished lunch at 2, I went in search of anywhere still open. I found just one place at 3, “Blue Mare”, and ordered a coffee. It turned out they had just closed too, and they only let me in because they assumed I was meeting a builder. (Builders were the only people not taking siesta, and there were things for builders to be tinkering with.)

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“Blue Mare” was a name that previous cultural exposure to Kasos allowed me to decipher. It’s actually supposed to be bleu marin, the French for navy blue; and I remember being startled to hear it describing a girl’s clothing in an album of Karpathos & Kasos folk music. The islands did clearly have a lot of contact with the outside world. In fact, as I found from a local history I picked up, five thousand people from Kasos went to work on the Suez canal, and a significant population then moved on to Mozambique.

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