Language Mix-Up in Turkey’s Armenian Radio Station

Language Mix-Up in Turkey’s Armenian Radio Station
2009/04/10 | 10:19

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Whether by accident or politically inspired, the newly launched,
state-run Armenian radio station in Turkey is broadcasting in the
Eastern Armenian dialect, quite incomprehensible to Armenians living
in Turkey. Offficials now say that they are investigating the matter.

The difference between the Western and Eastern Armenian dialects is
one of the forthcoming subjects on the agenda of the newly founded
Ministry of Diaspora of the Armenian.

Turkey’s chief negotiator to the European Union Egemen Baðýþ
expressed surprise over the matter last Friday night and said he will
investigate. In a speech before an annual meeting on the European
Union and Turkey, sponsored by daily Radikal and the Center for
Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, Baðýþ defended the
ruling party’s outreach into state broadcasts in `local languages.’

When told most local Armenians did not understand the broadcasts,
Baðýþ said: `I hadn’t a clue. This is the first time I have
heard this. Perhaps TRT could only find news presenters speaking this
dialect, I just don’t know. But I will look into it.’

One major problem faced by young Armenian Turks is their lack of
proficiency in speaking their mother tongue even though most graduate
from minority schools. Lack of proficiency also precludes them from
following a radio station broadcast in a different dialect.

While the government has initiated efforts for the establishment of
Armenian language and literature departments at universities, the
current lack of academic teaching at the university level has taken
its toll on the development of the language.

Some Armenian Turks tried to establish a private Armenian radio
station a decade ago, with efforts led by journalist Hrant Dink, who
was gunned down in 2007. Lack of funds prevented the establishment of
the station.

Who is being targeted?

While the Armenian Society of Turkey had abandoned hope of getting
their own radio frequency; they were surprised with TRT’s Armenian
broadcast. Etyen Mahkupian, editor in chief of the weekly Agos
newspaper, speaking to the Hurriyet Daily News, said: `This means
Turkey’s target audience is Armenia, not their own citizens. This
initiative is for supporting the foreign policies of Turkey;
therefore, it is not sincere. It bears thought that Turkey makes such
an initiative without trying to find out what its own citizens need.’

Mgrtich Margosian, a world famous Armenian writer, said he agreed with
Mahkupian and added, `What is being done is unfair; this broadcast is
not addressed to us.’

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