CAMBRIDGE, England, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- U.K. researchers say an endangered Greek dialect is a "linguistic goldmine" because of its closeness to ancient forms of the Greek language.
Linguists at Cambridge University say Romeyka, a little-studied form of Greek still spoken on Turkey's Black Sea coast, has revealed a number of features it shares with the Greek of Hellenistic and Roman times, PhysOrg.com reported Tuesday.
The discovery presents a rare opportunity to study a dialect closer than anything else still living to that spoken at the height of Greek influence across Asia Minor 2,000 years ago, a Cambridge linguist says.
"Although Romeyka can hardly be described as anything but a modern Greek dialect, it preserves an impressive number of grammatical traits that add an ancient Greek flavor to the dialect's structure -- traits that have been completely lost from other modern Greek varieties," Ioanna Sitaridou says.
"What these people are speaking is a variety of Greek far more archaic than other forms of Greek spoken today," Sitaridou says.
Until medieval times, the Black Sea was at the center of the Greek-speaking world. It was colonized by the Greeks in the 8th and 7th centuries BC and immortalized in Greek mythology.