This paper addresses the issue of language maintenance and identitarian memory reproduction in the Armenian diaspora, considering the case of the Armenian community of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. To this end, I illustrate the status of Western Armenian as a refugee and migrant language in Europe and Bulgaria and explain the educational role of the charitable organization AGBU in supporting this endangered language. I pay special attention to (Western) Armenian language teaching at the local Armenian school Tiutiundjian, to the classes organized by the Plovdiv Saturday School, and to the local bilingual (Bulgarian-Armenian) newspaper Parekordzagani Tzain. I argue that the Armenian language and alphabet, by virtue of their spiritual component associated with a history of distinctiveness, are part of a process of collective representation, as key symbols expressing national belonging and nurturing links to the spiritual and cultural heritage of the ancient Armenian motherland. The use of the Armenian language and alphabet is thus functional in promoting certain patterns of cultural memory and (trans)national identity. Nevertheless, these do not seem to contribute sufficiently to maintaining the vitality of Western Armenian in the Bulgarian diaspora, and the future seems to be challenging for this endangered language.

Language Endangerment, Symbolic Memory and (Trans)National Identity in the Armenian Diaspora of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Selvelli Giustina
2021

Abstract

This paper addresses the issue of language maintenance and identitarian memory reproduction in the Armenian diaspora, considering the case of the Armenian community of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. To this end, I illustrate the status of Western Armenian as a refugee and migrant language in Europe and Bulgaria and explain the educational role of the charitable organization AGBU in supporting this endangered language. I pay special attention to (Western) Armenian language teaching at the local Armenian school Tiutiundjian, to the classes organized by the Plovdiv Saturday School, and to the local bilingual (Bulgarian-Armenian) newspaper Parekordzagani Tzain. I argue that the Armenian language and alphabet, by virtue of their spiritual component associated with a history of distinctiveness, are part of a process of collective representation, as key symbols expressing national belonging and nurturing links to the spiritual and cultural heritage of the ancient Armenian motherland. The use of the Armenian language and alphabet is thus functional in promoting certain patterns of cultural memory and (trans)national identity. Nevertheless, these do not seem to contribute sufficiently to maintaining the vitality of Western Armenian in the Bulgarian diaspora, and the future seems to be challenging for this endangered language.
Endangered Languages and Diaspora. Proceedings of the Foundation for Endangered Languages Conference XXV
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3749589
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