Opportunities and Challenges of Institutionalizing a Pluricentric Diasporic Language

The Case of Armenian in Los Angeles

Authored by: Shushan Karapetian

The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Language Education

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138845787
eBook ISBN: 9781315727974
Adobe ISBN: 9781317541530


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According to the 2010–2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Armenian is the 21st most commonly spoken non-English language in the U.S., the 6th in California, the 5th in Los Angeles County, and the 1st in the city of Glendale (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). The U.S., particularly Southern California, hosts one of the largest Armenian populations outside of the Republic of Armenia. Although this is a very robust linguistic community, it has been heavily sustained by continuing immigration from Armenia and other diaspora communities. Scholars, community activists, and school administrators have observed rapid language shift, the demotion of the Armenian language both inside and outside of Armenian day schools, and a strong degree of linguistic compartmentalization, particularly among second- and third-generation Armenian-Americans (Chahinian & Bakalian, 2016; Karapetian, 2014; Kouloujian, 2012; Peroomian, 2006). These observations, coupled with concerns over declining enrollment and unsuccessful methods of instruction in Armenian day schools, have led to the creation of three Task Forces in the last few years with varying degrees of outreach, working to reform language instruction as well as promote Armenian language use in the Los Angeles community (Chahinian & Bakalian, 2016; Karapetian, 2014).

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