Toponyms of Kaloletsi (Neraida), mainly Arvanitika
In the village of Neraida there are many toponyms, mainly Arvanitika. It is very characteristic, that each small area has its own name. At the beginning of 2000 I was sitting in the cafe of my uncle Thanasis Papadopoulos (then 80 years old) and I was asking him how is it possible that in a village where no one speaks Arvanitika, there are so many Arvanite toponyms. Neither he nor the old Christos Triantopoulos, who was born in Bedeni and came to Kaloletsi as son-in-law, had some explanation. In fact, Barba Christos whose mother was bilingual and knew Arvanitika, assured me that since he came as a groom to the village he had heard no old woman or old man speak a single Arvanite word. So they didn't know what the different place names meant.
Nikos, an Albanian immigrant who came to the village in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Eastern block, came to rescue. I confirmed that what he told me was correct, consulting Google Translate in the coming years.
Of course there is a big gap in my understanding. How come in a village with so many Arvanite toponyms, there was no one to talk the language, from 1900 onwards as the elders remembered. Some "sources" on the Internet claim that in a census just before 1900, some villages in the area had declared that they spoke the Arvanite language, but this is not substantiated. As you can see on page 38 of the 1878 census In the municipality of Oleni in the Prefecture of Ilia, residents who speak a language other than Greek were not declared.
In order to find a reasonable explanation, we must look in the first years of the Greek Revolution of 1821 and the creation of the new Greek state. All of Kaloletsi was given heart and soul in the fight against the Turks, led by Giannakis Diamantopoulos (Gero-Giannakis or Diamantis). After the battle of Pussi (June 1821) and the defeat of the Turk-Albanians living in Lalas village, the Christian inhabitants of the area Greeks and Arvanites mentally and emotionally needed to be differentiated from Albanian Muslims. That's why the Arvanites probably stopped speaking Arvanitika, the language that identified them with the Turkish-Lalaians 1 .
Here are some toponyms and their meanings. For the rest, at some other time I will look for them and see their origin and what they mean. If they are Albanian, Nikos will be available to see them.
- peak-summit (Turkish)
- Achladini - an area full of pear trees
- Part with large stones
- Large field
- Field with large pear trees
- Field with poplars
- Cultivatet only in hunger period (not fertile)
- Field on a mountain with pines
- Part with big eels
- Neck shaped place
- Field full of stones
- Field at the top
- Round part
- Landpart near a spring
- sunken area
- You can find the ending souli in all Arvanite speaking villages
- the old man's field
- the field of Dimakakis
- A place with tombs
- Nest shaped
- Loop-shaped field with mourizia (some kind of shrubs)
Turkish-Lalaians : Arvanite Muslims living in the village of Lalas, just above Milies and Douka. After their defeat in Pussi, they retreated with the Ottoman troops and were locked up in the castle of Patras. Before the fall of the fortress and the invasion of the Greek revolutionaries, they escaped and settled in Platamonas. After the Balkan wars, they found refuge in Varna, Bulgaria. The leveling and slaughter in Lalas by the winning Greeks in June 1821, perhaps psychoanalytically explains why Christian Arvanites in the area needed to be differentiated completely from the "enemy" whom literally wiped out by burning and destroying their homes. Stopping being bilingual and adopting Greek as a unique language, it was a way to stop feeling guilty, that they slaughtered people speaking the same language with them (Arvanitika). Brothers with whom they had coexisted for many years.
In those days, hatred was such high and the cultural level was so low that did not allow them to think rationally. In the area "baths of agha" next to kampos, going left for Helidoni, Basta's agha had his baths (hamam). But today you can only find some traces of clay pipes that brought water from Avoura. They destroyed or let it collapse, a building that could be functional and useful to the community.