Dr Nikoloudis Stavroula & Professor Walker James

Dr Nikoloudis Stavroula

La Trobe University


Professor Walker James

La Trobe University


Preserving Modern Greek in Melbourne Through Recordings


Maintaining Modern Greek as a living language in Melbourne entails several strategies, one of which is preserving the interaction of Greek speakers over time, both as a record of usage for future generations and as an opportunity for usage. This paper documents two projects developing spoken-language corpora of Modern Greek in Melbourne, based on legacy archival materials and new recordings.

The Dardalis Archives, curated by the La Trobe University Library, consists of thousands of objects donated by community members, reflecting the migration of Greeks to Australia, especially during the post-WWII period. From 458 cassettes recorded between 1980 and 2005, we identified 97 containing interviews with over 200 migrants and prominent community members about migration, descriptions of their houses and the community and histories of Greeks in Australia. These recordings are being digitised and will be prioritised for transcription.

In a newer project, in late 2022 and early 2023 Greek Studies students at La Trobe University recruited 33 members of their extended social networks and engaged them in discussions in Greek and English of their migration and family history and administered a questionnaire about self-identification, social networks and language acquisition and use. Participants represent three generations and range in age from 18 to 82. The digitally recorded interviews, lasting between 34 minutes and over two hours, are being transcribed and the questionnaire answers extracted.

The purpose of these corpora is twofold: to provide an understanding of the Greek experience in Melbourne, in terms of migration and community history and patterns of language maintenance and shift, and to document the varieties of Greek spoken in Melbourne and the extent to which language usage is being maintained in subsequent generations. We will present some excerpts from the interviews and provide some preliminary analysis of the results.


James A. Walker is Professor of Linguistics at La Trobe University. He completed a BA (Hons) in Linguistics and MA in Anthropology at the University of Toronto and an MA and PhD in Linguistics at the University of Ottawa. From 2000 he held various positions at York University (Toronto) and in 2017 was recruited by La Trobe University. He is an internationally recognised expert in sociolinguistics with interests in language variation and change, language contact and ethnicity.

Dr Stavroula Nikoloudis is coordinator of the Greek Studies program at La Trobe University. She completed her BA (Hons) and MA at The University of Melbourne and her doctorate at The University of Texas at Austin. She teaches and researches Greek language and society from Mycenaean to modern times. She is especially interested in questions of ethnic identity and cultural diversity, migration, language development and language education. She is a member of Pharos, a community-wide alliance aimed at revitalising Modern Greek in Victoria and Australia.