A Lexicon of Smyrneika

In the autumn of 2010, I participated in the 1st Levantine Symposium in Izmir, where I gave a speech about the memoirs of Captain George Miniotis, published in 2018 under the title «The Miniotises during the Occupation». There I met several Levantines who spoke the Smyrna dialect of Greek, among them Alex Baltazzi and George Galdies.

A few months later, at the informal discussion forum of Levantine Heritage, George presented an initial collection of Smyrna words based on the notes of his father, an old Smyrna Levantine of Malta descent. Alex followed with the «Smyrniot Conversations», a series of humorous dialogues in the Smyrna dialect.

It was these «Conversations» which first aroused my interest, and I undertook to edit and homogenize them. A little later Alex and I decided to collaborate with George and expand the word list he was preparing. Our sources consisted of the remembrances of George, Alex and a few more Smyrna Levantines, as well as a number of old books and dictionaries. I undertook to make the final selection, as well as add etymologies to the more than 2,000 words we gathered.

After about a year and 5,000 e-mails flying between Athens, London and Smyrna, the Greek-English dictionary was completed, supplemented with the Smyrniot Conversations in Frango-Chiotika and Greek. But since the only publishers we were able to find were based in Turkey, we added Turkish explanations too, ultimately producing a trilingual dictionary.



Other editions

Shortly before the first edition of «A Lexicon of Smyrneika» was released by Tarih Vakfı (Turkish History Foundation), our sponsor, the Izmir Chamber of Commerce, released a «zeroth» version with the same title, which was freely available to its members.

After the 1,000 copies of the first edition were exhausted, Tarih Vakfı, which had no intention to furnish a second one, granted the rights to the book to Gorgias Press, an American publishing house. Unfortunately the second edition, which carries a slightly different title («A Smyrneika Lexicon»), is available at an exceedingly high price, aiming exclusively at universities and libraries.