What makes Modern Greek an interesting language to learn, from a purely linguistic point of view?

  • The consequences of diglossia, which persist even if diglossia itself does not—including the trainwreck of Modern Greek phonology from all the spelling pronunciations from Ancient Greek, the lexical and morphological doublets, and the all-round linguistic insecurity.
  • The survival of archaisms in Indo-European, including the middle voice (semantically), the vocative, and the three genders
  • As Joachim said, the survivals and reorientations from Ancient Greek. I’ve often been curious what Modern Greek looks like to classicists; the best answer I’ve heard is “drunk”.
  • The dialectal diversity (though Greek is hardly unique in that.)

What are the origins of the inhabitants of Mani in Greece – are they Spartan?

Agree with George Bekas, and one should always be wary of claims of genetic purity. But we do know anecdotally that:

  • Its major town Gythium was a Spartan port
  • They were very late converts to Christianity (10th century: Nikon the Metanoeite)
  • Mani was a no-go area for certainly the Ottomans, and likely earlier invaders—so it’s certainly possible that they have more Ancient Greek DNA (ugh) than their neighbours. We do know that there were Slavic settlements to the north of Mani (Melingoi, Ezeritai), and that Slavonic was still spoken in the area in the 15th century (John Cananus)
  • They speak an archaic dialect of Modern Greek [Maniots]—although not one with notable Doric lineage (unlike the Tsakonian language)
  • They have contempt for the inhabitants of the neighbouring lowlands, calling them Vlachs. A couple of rich ironies about this:
  • 1. Elsewhere in Greece, Vlachs refers originally to Aromanians, and in colloquial usage, is equivalent to hillbilly—referring to highlanders, not lowlanders.
  • 2. When the Maniots settled in Corsica (Cargèse), Vlachs is what they called the surrounding Corsicans. Who at least did speak a Romance language.