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Armenian Studies Program Events

For previous years' guest speakers and topics, please visit the Armenian Studies Program poster and flyer archive.

We also encourage you to check out a selection of ASP video recordings on our Videos of Past Events page and on our YouTube channel.

ASP Roundtable | Pluricentric Armenian in a Diasporic Context: Reflections on Second Dialect Acquisition

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
6:00-7:30 PM
Room 555 Weiser Hall Map
Roundtable Participants: Shushan Karapetian, Deputy Director of the Institute of Armenian Studies, University of Southern California; Tamar Boyadjian, Associate Professor of Medieval Literature, Michigan State University; and Vahe Sahakyan, Research Scholar, Senior Information Resources Specialist, U-M - Dearborn

Los Angeles, as an epicenter of the Armenian diaspora, nourishes a dynamic community of Armenian language speakers and learners. Consequently, the city accounts for a robust enrollment in Armenian day schools and language classes at the college level. The Armenian community is uniquely heterogeneous, differing in terms of country of origin, time of immigration, socioeconomic status, and linguistic standard or dialect. A significant demographic shift has been the recent increase in the number of speakers of Eastern Armenian, resulting in higher enrollments of Eastern Armenian students in day schools. In this context, the Eastern Armenian student faces a unique situation, as Western Armenian functions as the primary language of instruction for the Armenian curriculum in Los Angeles Armenian schools.

This presentation examines the experience of a growing number of heritage language speakers, for whom the home variant of the heritage language differs from the standard taught at school. The goal is to highlight the dynamic nature of a pluricentric language in a diasporic context. Unique instructional problems emerge for heritage speakers who have partially or fully acquired one variant of a language but find themselves in a classroom where another standard is taught. To address the difficulties, the process of second dialect acquisition (SDA), which involves the learning of a new variety of the same language, has to be fully understood. After surveying the growing body of work on SDA, this presentation will apply the findings to Armenian in a diasporic context and make concrete recommendations. Most importantly, Dr. Karapetian will argue that the natural sociolinguistic variation in the pluricentric manifestation of Armenian should not be seen as a problem but as a resource.

Dr. Karapetian’s talk is part of an effort by the Society for Armenian Studies to open a discussion on Western Armenian as highlighted by its latest publication - "Western Armenian in the 21 st Century: Challenges and New Approaches" (Fresno, CA: The Press at Fresno State, 2018) edited by Bedross Der Matossian and Barlow Der Mugrdechian.

Dr. Shushan Karapetian is Deputy Director of the Institute of Armenian Studies at the University of Southern California. She received a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from UCLA in 2014, where she has taught Armenian Studies courses over the past nine years. Her dissertation, “‘How Do I Teach My Kids My Broken Armenian?’: A Study of Eastern Armenian Heritage Language Speakers in Los Angeles” received the Society for Armenian Studies Distinguished Dissertation Award in 2015. Her research interests focus on heritage languages and speakers and particularly on the case of Armenian heritage speakers in the Los Angeles community, on which she has presented and lectured widely. In 2018, she was the recipient of the Russ Campbell Young Scholar Award at the Third International Conference on Heritage/Community Languages in recognition for outstanding scholarship in heritage language research.

If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this event, please reach out to us at least 2 weeks in advance of this event. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Armenia
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Armenian Studies Program, International Institute