The Village of Tyros in Arcadia
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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 Tsakonian 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 to 70%.

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 as labrynthine.

Click here to see an article on the Tsakonia language

Click here to see an article on the Tsakonia dance and culture

Click here to see an example of the Tsakonia dance