Capitalizing on nonstandard varieties for critical literacy in the face of diglossia.
2022-04-12, 11:00–11:30 (Europe/Vienna), Room 3

The Greek Cypriot speech community is diglossic; Cypriot Greek is the naturally acquired variety and Standard Greek is the superposed variety. Past education policies dictated strict adherence to the language curricula of Greece, with no reference to linguistic variation, which resulted in further stigmatization of Cypriot Greek and increased linguistic prescriptivism (Tsiplakou et al., 2018). Through the presentation of two pedagogical interventions we show how nonstandard varieties can become a useful tool for fostering metalinguistic awareness and critical literacy. The interventions took place in in a Grade 6 elementary school class in a rural area of Cyprus, with a population of c. 30 students. Data from classroom interaction were collected with ethnographic tools (participant observation and audio recordings). The interventions aimed to foster critical literacy by working in the margins of a rather traditional language arts curriculum promoting autonomous literacy and linguistic prescriptivism. A radical critical literacy approach was adopted: teaching materials were authentic texts selected collaboratively by students and teacher and the aim of text analysis and concomitant text production was to focus on the underlying ideological import of the content of the texts examined, but, crucially, also on linguistic forms as indexicals of identities, attitudes and ideologies. In these interventions, contrastive analysis between Cypriot and Standard Greek was deployed in order to foster metalinguistic awareness not only of grammatical structure and lexis but, crucially, of sociolinguistic / register / stylistic variation. The data showed increased awareness not only of the extent of the students’ linguistic repertoires but also of appropriateness of use depending on register, genre, tenor, etc.; crucially, standard and dialect features in different genres were consistently commented on by students in terms of their indexicalities (cf. Papanicola & Tsiplakou, 2019). The intervention was therefore instrumental in honing awareness of the social-semiotic dimension of language, which is central to fostering critical literacy skills in the face of diglossia and a linguistically prescriptive educational context.

Panel affiliation

"Young speakers, nonstandard language and language ideologies in the classroom" (Lampropoulou & Cooper)


Papanicola, E. & S. Tsiplakou (2019). Η διδασκαλία της πρότυπης ελληνικής και των διαλέκτων της σε ένα πλαίσιο κριτικού γραμματισμού. [Teaching Standard Greek and its dialects within a critical literacy framework]. In I. Kappa & M. Tzakosta (eds) Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Modern Greek Dialects and Linguistic Theory (MGDLT 7), Rethymno, 6-8 October 2016. University of Patras: Laboratory of Modern Greek Dialects, 166-175.
Hadjioannou, X., S. Tsiplakou & M. Kappler (2011). Language policy and language Planning in Cyprus. Current Issues in Language Planning, 12 (4), 1-67.
Tsiplakou, S., E. Ioannidou & X. Hadjioannou (2018). Capitalizing on language variation in Greek Cypriot Education. Linguistics and Education 45, 62-71.

Stavroula Tsiplakou is Associate Professor of Linguistics and Academic Co-ordinator of the M.A. programme in Greek Linguistics and Literature. She holds a B.A. in Greek Literature from the University of Athens, An M.Phil. in Linguistics from the University of Cambridge and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Prior to her appointment at the Open University of Cyprus in 2010 she taught at the University of Hull (1995-1998), at Simon Fraser University (1998-2001) and at the University of Cyprus (2001-2009). Her research areas include syntax, pragmatics, text linguistics, sociolinguistics and educational linguistics. She has published o Lingua, Linguistic Inquiry, Pragmatics, Journal of Pragmatics, Multilingua, Linguistics and Education. She has co-edited Current Issues in Educational Linguistics, Language Variation: European Perspectives ΙΙ and Intermediate varieties: Koinai and Regional Standards in Europe. She has co-authored national curricula for language in Cyprus and in Greece and she has produced digital platforms for teaching Greek as a second language. She is on the editorial board of Polydromo, a journal for multilingual education. She is Principal Investigator in two research projects (Mapping the Linguistic Landscape of Cyprus και From Diglossia to Diaglossia) and has presented over 150 papers in international conferences.