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Mother Tongue: Linguistic Nationalism and the Cult of Translation in Postcommunist Armenia

  • Political Science
  • Psychology


Armenian nationalists often claim that language plays a central role in the process of national identity-formation. Language figures directly or indirectly in a wide range of nationalist phenomena: from speculative myths on national origins, to historical claims on a perceived national territory, to the formation and legitimation of irredentist political ideologies. Purism, in a broad sense, plays a considerable role in maintaining contemporary Armenian national identity, since Armenian culture and language are layered with "foreign" imports of various ages and origins. The fight for a national language in Armenia has been closely related to the problem of bilingualism and the psychological conflict contained in the "national idea" of Armenia versus the prestige and status associated with professional training in Russian in the Soviet period.

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