The slow death of an ancient language…

Many have asked me time and again what I really hated about Armenia. Even if you love someone or something, there are always points that you utterly despise. For me, more than anything else, it was the decimation of the Armenian language.

Now, I know that those in Armenia for the most part do not seem to understand the grand importance of such a thing. Imagine a young woman from Canada who speaks better Armenian than those born and raised in the motherland! It was absurd! Moreso, because I know extremely well that my expertise in my own language is greatly lacking. Furthermore, imagine this same girl, born and raised in an English speaking community, who cannot understand half the things said in her own ancestral lands. The absurdity of the situation is beyond the point of hilarity and enters into the realm of madness. Why should I have to revert to reading news in English, because that which is written in Armenia would need multiple language dictionaries to decipher? Why should I have to try to figure out if a word used is a butchered English, French, Spanish, Russian, Turkish or Arabic? Armenia was part of the Soviet Union, I understand. Quite a bit of the language has taken on Russian in its everyday vernacular. However, the country was never French, nor English, nor Turkish. – Really? took me a whole 30 sec to understand that the 1st word is actually Interior… Last I checked we have multiple words to explain the interior of nearly anything – For God’s sake, there isn’t a single Armenian word in this title!

Add to this disgusting destruction of a language that has survived for many centuries (Including the change from Krapar to Ashkharapar) the destruction of its spelling! The Soviet Union wanted to rid Armenians of their nationalism, the surest way through cutting ties between those left in the country and the forlorn in the diaspora.  This was achieved through the changing of the entire alphabet! Whereas Mesrob Mashdots had created 36 letters, the o and f to be added later, the current alphabet has 39 letters, having removed the sound equivalent to the French “eu” and having added 2 words as letters, both meaning “and”. Furthermore, the grammar that had so diligently been taught for so long went through a disastrous change, so much so that for an Armenian from the diaspora trying to read something written in Armenia every word is written incorrectly. The rules we were taught don’t exist anymore. There are no “յ” at the end of words that end with a vowel. The “ռ” is used in an obscure manner as opposed to being a must before an “ն”. I may have hated Armenian grammar and spelling classes but I give a thousand thanks to my mother for making sure I studied my language to the best of my abilities. It’s a mess trying to juggle the 2 dialects but with the vocabulary and spelling differences instilled, I believe the shrinking diaspora has a better grasp of our rich culture than those in Armenia. That is possibly the saddest situation any ethnicity can be in.


5 thoughts on “The slow death of an ancient language…”

  1. Definitely one of the better blog posts I’ve read in a very long time. It’s already bad enough that the diasporan Armenian is at dire straits. So bad that we have differentiated and segregated from one another because of where we are from, the dialect we speak, and the accent we speak it in. I really don’t even know what Armenian is anymore. I have to admit that my Armenian needs a lot of work, but to be honest it’s hard to find a starting point. I’ve lost all hope of what correct Armenian is. I don’t want to learn a language that is incorrect or has been changed because of the “Soviet Times”. I wonder what will become of the Armenian language in a few years when all the Armenian schools close their doors. I know of big Armenian schools in Los Angeles that only have 10 students in the 6th grade. My generation has already started naming their kids non Armenian names, which I guess is a persons right. To me, at least, a big part of being Armenian is having my name. I’m glad I was named Garo, with a G not a K! Still haven’t put my finger on why Armenians in Armenia say Karo and not Garo, Which is right Tamar, since you’re an expertise in the language?

    I think I read somewhere that you wanted to move to Armenia. If that’s the case, maybe you can teach proper and correct Armenian. Be the change you want to see in the world – Ghandi. “In our case, Armenia.”

    1. Quoting Gandhi as well? 😀 I have a post dedicated to the movie on his goodness and tactics actually.

      As for the language, You’re correct, there’s no way of saying which is the “correct” Armenian. Under Turkish rule, our own was morphed as well. However, I find the the most important thing is to use the language as opposed to substituting foreign words. The spelling and grammar should be like the ones the diaspora’s Armenians keep. You want to keep as close to the original as possible. Read books printed in Lebanon or elsewhere in the diaspora. That will help your Armenian. Also, newspapers printed outside Armenia. I do plan on making a change. Multiple changes actually. However, one needs to start somewhere and I’m still trying to figure out that starting position. I know the alphabet/spelling/grammar was under study with the possibility of changing it back to the Mesrobian style. I’m not sure what happened with that however. My belief is actually that if a large umber of Armenians immigrate to the country, it would entirely turn things topsy turvey for the better` language revisions included. I have also noticed an increase in attending children at our Armenian school in Toronto actually, though I graduate in a class of 8 from high school. There is hope yet. It just means that we should not give up. The youth of this generation have a lot of work to do in order to protect what is rightfully ours

  2. 38 letters Tam..
    + abris… hasgtsoghats hazar parev!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s