Books presentation and roundtable discussion devoted to Western Armenian language

On February 21, the hall of M. Abeghyan Literature Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (NAS RA) hosted the presentation of the books published by the order of the Ministry of Diaspora in 2016 and 2017, including the books entitled “The Relationship between Literary Western Armenian and the Dialects of the “K’” Branch Used in the Territory of the Republic of Armenia”, “History of the Study of Literary Western Armenian”, “Paths for Convergence between Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian”, “Kurdish-Armenian, Armenian-Kurdish Practical Dictionary” and “Western Armenian (Regulations and Problems)”.

Greeting the guests, Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan congratulated the attendees on the occasion of International Mother Language Day and stated that it is one of the most brilliant and the most binding holidays in Armenia. “Every Armenian, as well as every state and public figure must view preservation of the purity of the mother language as one of his key objectives. Today, I address all state officials and mass media representatives and Armenian-speaking Armenians to take care of the Armenian language. As Avetik Isahakyan would say, Armenians have to live with the mother language and feel it and have to learn and understand foreign languages,” the Minister of Diaspora stated.

Touching upon the books devoted to Western Armenian, Minister Hranush Hakobyan emphasized that these studies should become the key components in the teaching of the mother language and be accessible to Armenian schools in the Diaspora. “The key and primary objective is to create textbooks and unified textbooks. These objectives are part of the objectives in the strategy of the Ministry of Diaspora on preservation, development and regulation of Western Armenian. We also need to use the potential of Syrian-Armenian teachers residing in Armenia. Western Armenian must also be used at high schools, universities and in various fields of culture. It is time to take action,” Hranush Hakobyan stressed.

Director of the Language Institute Victor Katvalyan extended thanks to the Minister of Diaspora and the Ministry for being zealous to preserve Western Armenian at the state level and for indicating concrete steps in the draft of the strategy.

Among other speakers were Head of the State Language Inspectorate Sergo Yeritsyan and President of the Union of Writers of Armenia Eduard Militonyan. They attached special importance to the teaching of Western Armenian through a pilot program at schools in Armenia and the popularization of Western Armenian literature.

Afterwards, the books’ authors presented their studies. Co-author of the book “Paths for Converging Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian” and author of the book “Western Armenian (Regulations and Problems) Hagop Cholakian stated the following: “After teaching Western Armenian and authoring Western Armenian language textbooks in the Diaspora for decades, I settled in Armenia and realized that there was a need to conduct academic studies devoted to Western Armenian. The Western Armenian language has undergone trials and tribulations. The era of awakening in the 19th-20th centuries and the generations of aestheticians simply helped the language flourish. The generation of “remainders” that were scattered after the Armenian Genocide and laid the foundation for Diaspora Armenian literature and culture, became the new guarantor of the rebirth of Western Armenian. Among those Diaspora Armenians are Andranik Tsarukyan, Mushegh Ishkhan, Vahe Vahian and others. Today, I reiterate the fact that the Western Armenian language is at risk. All we need is to ignite the spirit of renaissance. There is no eternity without language.”

At the end of the presentation, co-founder of Armlands Western Armenian-language children’s website ( Nayiri Meguerditchian presented the achievements of the website created a year ago and the opportunities of enhancing knowledge of Western Armenian through the Internet. The children’s website is the first of its kind, and 10,000 readers visit the website in 38 countries around the world. Nayiri Meguerditchian stated that the website serves as a source of information for Diaspora Armenian teachers and a big platform for Diaspora Armenian teenagers.

The presentation of the books was followed by a roundtable discussion devoted to the issues related to Western Armenian. The topics were preservation, protection, development and dissemination of Western Armenian; expansion of the spheres for use of the language; regulation, instruction and study of the language; unified development of Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian and mutual enrichment.

Head of the Chair of Armenian Language of the Faculty of Armenian Philology at Yerevan State University and President of the Higher Council for Armenian Language Yuri Avetisyan voiced hope that the publications, the creation of dictionaries and roundtable discussions would lead to the expected outcomes.

Director of the Language Institute Victor Katvalyan made a proposal to create an online textbook in the format of “Western Armenian as a second language”. He also stated that the Language Institute and Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society are currently working on creating an online Western Armenian-language dictionary that will feature all the words in Western Armenian.

Victor Katvalyan also informed that the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia, the National Academy of Sciences and the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia will soon release the Mashtots Journal of Armenian Studies, which aims at discussing the issues of Western Armenian. The director of the Language Institute mentioned that the Institute’s New Words book also features Western Armenian words that are taken from Western Armenian literature. The Institute’s website already has a Western Armenian language section that features the parallels between the two ramifications of the Armenian language that can be presented in one way.

Representative of the AGBU Armenian Virtual University Zepyur Khbligian attached importance to the use of the opportunities of the Internet in terms of teaching, dissemination and preservation of Western Armenian. “Language is not just a means of communication, but an asset, history, culture and language. We need to talk to the new generation in a new way,” Zepyur Khbligian stated. She also presented the activities of the Armenian Virtual University, its online programs, seminars and museums and attached importance to education in Western Armenian through the wide application of modern resources.

Suren Danielyan, Head of the Chair of New and Contemporary Armenian Literature and Teaching Methods at the Armenian State Pedagogical University after Kh. Abvoyan, suggested creating a Master’s Degree Program for Western Armenian language specialists and broadcast news in Western Armenian on satellite television in Armenia. The Chair’s lecturer Lalik Khachatryan attached importance to the establishment of educational and cultural institutions for Western Armenian-speaking Armenians in Armenia.

Linguist Davit Gyurjinyan and representative of the Pan-Armenian International Academy of Sciences Karine Hayrapetyan made proposals to show care for Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian equally and to introduce Western Armenian language classes in curricula.

The discussion ended with a speech by Deputy Minister of Diaspora Serzh Srapionyan, who touched upon the issues of preservation of Western Armenian in the classic Armenian Diaspora and the purity of the two ramifications of the Armenian language.

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