“A Lexicon Of Smyrneika”

Travellers to the Near East in the 19th Century would have encountered a blend of cultures and nationalities which is now seen again in 21st Century Western Europe. The European and Judeo-Christian dwellers of the Near East came to be called ‘Levantines’, or inhabitants of The Levant.

Situated at the western end of the Silk Road, the city of Smyrna (Izmir in modern Turkey) was to become the main export capital of the Ottoman Empire. Commercial rival of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Salonika, Smyrna had hosted European merchant settlers since the early 18th Century, and it was therefore inevitable that for commercial and practical necessity these non-Islamic communities would blend into a cultural melting-pot out of which a common dialect was soon to emerge and remain widely used in its spoken and written form well into the 1960s.

Anxious to preserve this ‘lingua franca’, the authors have compiled a Lexicon of Smyrneika; a Greek idiom using Latin script: the language of Levantine Smyrna. Their work includes a study of the origin of each word together with translations into English, Turkish, and Modern Greek.

The Lexicon Of Smyrneika also contains various illustrations of the epoch, with proverbs and poems. A section entitled ‘Kouvedes’ gives humorous examples of Smyrneika as used in everyday situations and provides a fair depiction of the ethos of the Levantine community of Izmir, which although now largely depleted in number, has continued to thrive albeit having adopted Turkish as its main everyday language.

Written by multi-generational Levantine: Alex Baltazzi, British former resident of Izmir of 25 years: George Galdies, and a Greek of Smyrnean ancestry: George Poulimenos, this book is published by the Turkish History Foundation (Tarih Vakfı) with the support of the Izmir Chamber of Commerce.

Lexicon Of Smyrneika is rich in historical facts and references, and contains several statistical snapshots of the main export commodities which, together with Smyrna’s natural beauty and her cultural richness earned this fair city the title of “Pearl of the Aegean”, a title she still retains.

Lexicon Of Smyrneika can be obtained on-line from: or from:

Alternatively, from the Publishers Tarih Vakfi against a GBPounds 10.00 per book donation to the Foundation at:
Foundation’s Donate Account IBAN: TR 910006400000110410865539
and then an email to: tarihvakfi@tarihvakfi@org.tr giving the name and address of the recipient of the book.