Fewer Armenian Americans are speaking the language of their native country, eroding the ability of the diaspora to preserve its culture, according to an expert at UCLA who addressed a conference organized at the Central Library on Saturday.
Since 1970, the use of the Armenian language has decreased dramatically in all areas of diasporan life, including weddings, baptisms, schools and newspapers, said Hagop Gulludjian, a lecturer of Armenian studies at UCLA.
Language is key to the survival of ethnic identity, particularly because the Armenian diaspora appears to be permanent, he added.
“Ultimately, the world is language,” Gulludjian said.
While Armenian organizations focused their efforts on education during the first half of the 20th century, today’s diaspora favors issues that are less related to cultural survival, Gulludjian said, including recognition of the Armenian genocide and assistance to homeland, he added.
He proposed the creation of a “critical mass” of users of the language, which will result in more books and newspapers being published in Armenian and the language being used more often in homes, churches and at social events.