Hamshen intellectuals in Turkey, despite the coronavirus pandemic, continue to work to preserve the Hamshen dialect of the Armenian language – or, as they call it, their mother tongue – and pass it on to a new generation.
In particular, Mahir Ozkan prepared a recording of the Hamshen version of the fairy tale “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by American children’s writer Eric Carle. The recording was published on YouTube mainly for children who are at home due to the pandemic, including Ozkan’s daughter Lusin.
According to the Turkish news site Bianet.org, Mahir Ozkan himself translated this tale to read it in his own language for his daughter and other Hamshen children.
According to the source, Mahir Ozkan also publishes video courses in the Hamshen dialect on the page of the Union for the Study and Preservation of Hamshen Culture “Hatik”.
In the interview with Bianet.org, Ozkan announced that he intends to present Hovhannes Tumanyan’s “Dog and Cat” and “A Drop of Honey” on video too.
Mahir Ozkan published 4 such tales in the Hamshen magazine “Gor”. In addition, he published two works, one of which belongs to him, while the other is the novel “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry translated by Ozkan into the Hamshen dialect.
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Mahir Ozkan stressed the need to preserve minority languages in Turkey – in particular, the Hamshen language – and pass them on to new generations. He also mentioned that his daughter was born and lives in Istanbul, but thanks to her efforts, she already speaks her native language.
As a reminder, now, one of the biggest problems of Hamshen is the preservation of the language and culture. The Hamshen dialect of the Armenian language is gradually disappearing. The UNESCO Atlas of Endangered Languages states that there are 18 endangered languages in Turkey. The Hamshen language is among them.
Hamshen residents of Turkey are trying to do some work in this direction. In order to preserve the culture of the Hamshen dialect, in 2011, the “Hatik” Union was established in Istanbul. Since 2014, the “Gor” magazine has been published as well.
Meline Anumyan, Akunq.net