Griko was transmitted orally from generation to generation in a few villages in the province of Lecce; in the majority of them, language transmission stopped in the post-WW2 period, when locals started shifting to Italian, seen as the language of opportunities, of modernity and of the future. In 1999, the Italian government recognised Griko together with Greko – the other variety used in Calabria – as one category among the twelve “historical linguistic minorities” in Italy, in conformity with the European Charter of Minority Languages. In 2001, the Unione dei Comuni della Grecìa Salentina was constituted and its administrative borders includes eleven villages (Calimera, Castrignano dei Greci, Corigliano d’Otranto, Zollino, Sternatia, Martano, Martignano. Melpignano, Soleto, Carpignano and Cutrofiano).

At present Griko is mainly spoken by middle-aged and elderly people with various degrees of competence. While it is no longer used as a primary language of daily exchange, locals engage with Griko by writing/reciting poems, translating into Griko, performing, discussing it as a metalanguage and over the years, the performative and artistic use of the language has increased. Crucially, through the current revival, Griko has turned, from being considered a language of shame and backwardness, into a form of performative post-linguistic capital, where the intentional, albeit limited, use of the language becomes more important than “speaking” it as a means of exchanging information. Most recently, during the lockdown, a brand-new group of young Griko activists has emerged; encouraged by the years-long Calabrian experience and supported by a group of young Greko activists, they joined their cause and specifically reclaim the use of these varieties as spoken languages.

Note from

Pellegrino, Manuela. 2021. Greek Language, Italian Landscape: Griko and the Re-storying of a Linguistic Minority. Hellenic Studies Series 89. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.



And Now

The video Ce àrtena (“And now”) is a project that comes to life “in the time of the coronavirus” from the collaboration between Manuela Pellegrino, the photographer Daniele Coricciati and the singer-songwriter and guitarist Palmiro Durante. The video intertwines Manuela’s “grike words”, Daniele’s “images” which resume, after almost three months of lockdown, his first appointment with the sea at dawn, and Miro’s “sounds” which transport us where light always reigns.

Ce àrtena was born from the invitation by the CHS of Harvard to Manuela, where she is a research fellow, to participate in the Delphic Preview: The Festival of the Muses with her poems in griko: the Greek-Salento language used in the province of Lecce, in Grecìa Salentina (Puglia), a language that Manuela defines precisely as “of sounds and images”.