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Erasure as a means of maintaining diglossia in Cyprus


The Greek speech community of Cyprus is characterized by classic diglossia, with the local varieties forming the L, and Standard Greek the H. It is argued here that this diglossic situation is maintained against what the sociopolitical and economic conditions would predict, because the prevailing linguistic ideology—according to which Cypriots are ethnically Greek, an ethnic identity that is primarily defined by the use of (an almost uniform) Greek language—has led to the erasure of diglossia. The case of Cyprus shows that linguistic ideology and the role of language in indexing ethnicity may be crucial for the maintenance of diglossia in some linguistic communities and may prove more powerful than socio-economic conditions in sustaining the linguistic status quo.

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