Languages in Cyprus

The official languages of Cyprus are Greek, Turkish and English. Foreigners visiting the country often have no trouble communicating in English due to the fact that Cyprus was a British colony from 1878 until 1960, and even today there is a  British presence on Cyprus in the form of two military bases on the island. While you can get by speaking English, the ability and willingness to say even a few words in Greek will definitely be warmly welcomed and may “upgrade” your status from a simple touristas (or tourist) to a more honourable xenos, which means foreigner or traveller.

It is important to note that the Greek spoken in Cyprus is a strong dialect, with about 15% of the words peculiar to Cyprus. This means that people from Greece often find it hard to understand a conversation among Greek Cypriots.

Greek is not an easy language. The grammar is complicated with nouns divided into three genders, all with different ending cases in the singular and plural, and adjectives that have to agree with these in gender, number and case. Then comes the verbs which are even more complex; they come in passive and active voices, in two conjugations, and so on. But this should not be a discouragement to learn at least the basics.

If you are interested in learning Greek, other than taking lessons at an accredited institute, you can chose the option of teaching yourself with the aid of a book or online course.

The majority of the population living in the south are Greek Cypriots but if you do decide to venture north then Turkish will be a useful language to know.