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Stereotypes within the culture

August 14, 2004

ANI AMIRKHANIAN

It always amazes me how Armenian stereotypes are more prevalent

within the Armenian culture than they are within the general

populace.

As with any culture, people feel offended and insulted if someone

uses stereotypes to label the actions, lifestyles, traditions or

customs of their culture.

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The Armenian subcultures or subgroups are quite different from

each other, so naturally they are conflicted with varying

stereotypes.

I have always taken an interest in these stereotypes, sort of

studied them, because I usually hear a variety of statements people

make about each other's groups.

Let me also clarify a few things before I proceed. For those who

are unfamiliar with the Armenian subgroups, there are three prominent

ones in the Glendale Armenian community. There are "Hyastancis," or

Armenians from Armenia; "Barskahyes," Iranian-Armenians; and

"Beirutsis," or Lebanese-Armenians. The word "Hye" simply means

"Armenian." These three subcultures live in their own pockets of the

community and speak in distinct Armenian dialects.

Just last week, I came across a listing of typical Armenian

stereotypes on the Internet. The stereotypes were divided into three

categories all corresponding to their respective subgroups. As I

began reading, I couldn't help but laugh because all of them were in

good taste and I could relate to some of them.

The list was created all in the name of fun and in no way was

insulting to the Armenian culture, or so I thought.

I forwarded a copy of this list to a friend of mine, who happens

to be Armenian, and moments later, I received a phone call from her.

As I answered the phone, I heard nothing but ecstatic laughter coming

from the other end of the line.

"Oh, my God," she said with her uncontrollable laugh. "This is so

true."

The listing of stereotypes was "true" in the sense that she knew

Armenian people who fit the stereotype. I could relate to her

reaction because I know and have known people who fit into the

stereotypical profile as well.

After reading the list from the Internet, I made some observations

of my own.

What was most interesting about this list -- after careful

consideration and comparison -- was that the generalizations made

about each sub-group varied distinctively.

For example, one said, "You're Hyastanci if your rims cost more

than your house," and another said, "You're Beirutsi if you're very,

very, very tight with money.

These two statements really made me think about the way the

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