Western Armenian Endangered Language in Turkey

Western Armenian as a language is in danger of disappearing in the Republic of Turkey, a recent report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has warned.

An interactive map of endangered languages, showing 2,500 out of 6,000 tongues at risk, released by UNESCO, has placed the dialect, as well as the Homshetsma Armenian dialect among a list of 18 tongues in the Republic of Turkey at risk of extinction.

Western Armenian is currently spoken by some 60,000 Armenia’s in Turkey, where anything but the official state language is faced with extreme discrimination. The dialect was spoken by the Ottoman Empire’s indigenous Armenia’s who were almost entirely eliminated during the 1915 Genocide.

Homshetsma, the language of an estimated 2 million Islamized Armenia’s, is considered a distinct dialect of Western Armenian. The dialect has classical and medieval Armenian at its roots but also has heavy Turkish and Arabic influence. Many of the Homshetsma speakers survived the Armenian Genocide unlike those who spoke Western Armenian.

Homshetsma is also listed as at risk in the Republic of Georgia, as the region in Turkey where most Hamshetsi Armenia’s live borders Georgia.

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