Why Is Everyone Yelling?

Moving to my rock was a family affair. I relocated with my husband, a local Cypriot, and my two young kids. We were warmly embraced by his family, who happily wrapped their arms around their long-lost son and his American bride. Then we sat down for a long, lengthy lunch and that’s when it happened:

The fighting.

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It started almost immediately. Somewhere between passing the souvlaki and the tzatziki, the voices went from happy banter playing with the new babies in the house to my husband and father-in-law having a “discussion”. I couldn’t understand what was being said since I hadn’t picked up Turkish yet at the time. It was just LOUD.

My eyes widened, my stomach twisting and knotting like it always does when I’m anxious. I knew it wasn’t a good idea to move to this island! Oh God, what did we do? Why did I quit my job? Why did we move out here to take over a family business?

After my husband and father-in-law’s apparent argument ended, my husband turned to me and smiled like nothing had happened. I eyed him quizzically. What’s wrong? I mouthed. He stared at me blankly, apparently having no idea what I was talking about.

And so was my first lesson in island living. People here are LOUD – plain and simple. That’s how they roll. I haven’t pinpointed the exact reason, but I have a few theories:

Why are islanders louder than Americans?

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Theory 1: It’s way hotter and everyone is annoyed.

Gone is the luxury of central air-conditioning. We sweat and glisten like all of Mother Nature’s other creatures – all while trying to accomplish the everyday business of living in the human world. And it gets freaking irritating. Take a moment and think of any dreaded chore – cleaning the house, cooking dinner, walking to work in a hurry – now add in extreme heat and the buckets of sweat that accompany it. Kind of makes you want to yell in frustration, doesn’t it?

Theory 2: There are fewer walls on the island to contain the volume.

Now hear me out. I think this theory actually makes sense. It’s somewhat scientific, considering how sound waves travel and bounce off of objects. The weather is more temperate here so people live and hang outside more. There are far fewer doors and walls surrounding us that trap noise. This means that people can shout, speak up, speak out, and it won’t bother the table beside them. Less walls = less bouncing of sound waves back to us = people yelling

Theory 3: Masculinity is tied to being the biggest – and most amplified.

Just like it is in the Animal Kingdom or your favorite Godfather movie, the patriarchal system on my rock is alive and well. Some men prove their masculinity by being the loudest and having the last word (we women ignore them). All that testosterone makes things noisy around these parts.

–   –   –

The loudness factor is definitely real here. My husband, for one, seems to be yelling constantly whenever he’s in the midst of happy banter with his buddies. But as soon as he switches to English, he’s the mild-mannered, chill guy I’m used to. This is across the board what I have witnessed all around my rock. Perhaps it’s the heat? The lack of walls? Excess testosterone? Who knows. But I have finally gotten used to it. My voice even elevates a couple of octaves now too when I break into my Turkish island-speak. And you know what? I kind of like it. It feels pretty good sometimes.

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Who said island life was supposed to be quiet anyway?

Do people tend to shout in conversation on your rock?

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Claudia Hanna

About Claudia Hanna

Born a typical Type A stress-basket, Claudia followed all the rules until she spent her final college summer internship working at an import-export firm in Cyprus, which she dutifully quit after a couple of weeks and took up a job as a barmaid at a kick-ass bar in a yacht harbor. It was during that fateful summer (more years ago than she likes to admit) she met her future husband. A dozen years and a couple kids later, the dimpled Adonis convinced Claudia to quit her grueling corporate America finance job and head for the Med. Ah hell, who was she kidding? With fanciful thoughts of being bohemian and breastfeeding naked on the beach, the diaper bags were already packed.

After realizing her two options for a social life on the rock were either drunk tourists and retired expats (looking for a quick lay, endless sunshine, and cheap beer) OR the local Cypriot community (with their shiny cars dotting dusty dirt roads and perfectly manicured brows), Claudia followed the eyebrows and stilettos. And she has never looked back. With their warm culture and pop-in-anytime policy, Claudia finally relaxed and learned to live like an island girl.

If she's not stepping over lizards and tarantulas in her home, scuba diving with sea turtles, or teaching drama to kids, Claudia loves catching up with friends over multiple glasses of large, chilled wine on her balcony. She spends her days writing her blog www.livelikeagoddess.com and broadcasting her radio show "The Morning Show with Claudia."

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6 thoughts on “Why Is Everyone Yelling?

  1. hee hee love it. Soooo true and I know I also increase my decibels when speaking in Turkish and cant stop myself….and Im one of those quiet, reticent Brits most of the time (ok, sometimes….;)

  2. Quiet? Reticent? Doubtful, dear.

    But yes – I totally thought about you, Ant and my other Cypriot/Western breeds in my life.

    I was chuckling throughout writing the article, too.

  3. Islanders are just loud people apparently! We live on St. John, USVI and yes, it is customary here as well, for locals to appear to be in an argument while “discussing” important matters. Perhaps some stuffy university should conduct research on such matters!

  4. Claudia – its not an Island thing it is a Mediterranean thing. I lived on Cyprus back in the early 70’s – I got some great pics to send you once I get them digitized. I’ve also lived in Greece, Italy and Spain and they all – when in normal conversation – sound like they are yelling at each other.

    Turks, Greeks, Italians, Spanish, et all. Ever gone to an Italian dinner?

  5. Oh my word, you are probably right. It just so happens that many other islands out there have people all hot, bothered, and yelling. I would love to see the pics of Cyprus from the 70s! My husband’s family has some black and whites, but not many. I don’t know when you were last on the island, but it has changed a lot. I first stepped foot in Cyprus in the late 90s with a college internship. Even over those (almost) 20 years, the place has become way more crowded/industrial. I can’t ‘imagine from the 70s.

    Please take a photo of the photos and share! Here or drop me a note at claudia@livelikeagoddess.com

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