Haigazian University
Mira Yardemian, Public Relation Director
Kantari - Beirut
Email: [email protected]

Armenian Language in Beirut: Endangered or Not Endangered

On Thursday, January 31, 2013, Dr. Arda Jebejian, lecturer in applied
linguistics at the University of Nicosia, gave a presentation entitled
"UNESCO and the Armenian Language in Beirut: Endangered or Not
Endangered" for the first Haigazian University Cultural Hour of the
year 2013.

In her welcoming address, Dr. Arda Ekmekji, Dean of the Faculty of
Arts and Science, introduced the topic of endangered languages,
pointing out that Western Armenian has recently been added to UNESCO's
list of "definitely endangered" languages, meaning that children no
longer learn it as their mother tongue.

Dr. Jebejian, herself a Haigazian alumnus, had conducted a pioneering
study on Armenian language use in Beirut, and shared some of the
highlights of her study with the audience. After outlining her
research methodology, Jebejian spoke of the visible gap between the
first two generations of Armenians in Beirut and the current
generation. Her study, she explained, showed an increasing reliance on
the three dominant languages of Lebanon at the expense of Armenian.

Jebejian then elaborated on the reasons for this language shift,
citing a desire to fit in, regarding Beirut as a "permanent home" and
exogamy, or Arab-Armenian marriages, as some of the major causes. To
illustrate her findings, her presentation was peppered with quotes
from her interviewees, ranging from ages 18 to 80.

Emphasizing that further research is needed to understand the future
of the Armenian language in Beirut, Jebejian appealed to the HU
Armenian Diaspora Research Center. She concluded her lecture by saying
that much work needs to be done, but ultimately preservation is

The presentation was followed by a Q&A session and the event concluded
with refreshments in the Mugar hall.