The Armenian State Language Committee has criticised journalists, soap opera screenwriters, MPs and even the prime minister for their poor use of language" />

Armenian language committee goes after media, TV hosts for ‘vulgar language’

The Armenian State Language Committee has criticised journalists, soap opera screenwriters, MPs and even the prime minister for their poor use of language

The Armenian State Language Committee has published a detailed study of the use of Armenian in light of the celebration of International Mother Language Day today.

The report looks at just how well Armenians know their own native language, what kind of mistakes they make while speaking, and which people in particular are responsible for perpetuating linguistic errors.

You can’t say it like that

The report says that the worst Armenian speakers are protagonists of Armenian TV shows, whose lines often include ‘inappropriate expressions’ and slang.

“The slang of these different characters is supposed to correspond to the different classes of Armenian society, but there doesn’t need to be so much vulgarity and street slang. Language must always be correct, natural and alive,” Armenian State Language Committee Chairman David Gyurjinyan said.

But the report states that soap operas are not the only ones at ‘fault’ – television talk shows are just as guilty. Ironically, the report points at the hosts of TV programmes, not the guests, as demonstrating poor usage of Armenian.

Because Armenians are accessing more and more media, the language used on TV channels and other media have also come under the scrutiny of the committee:

“We are literally breathing down the necks of TV presenters. We monitor the literacy of their speech, present our recommendations, and even encourage the use of more literary language,” Gyurjinyan said.

The committee’s recommendations include ‘explainers on how to correctly write and pronounce certain words’, so that viewers are exposed to a more sophisticated, literary Armenian.

Not even the prime minister is above criticism

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is also guilty of ‘deviating from the literary register’, the report states. Pashinyan’s speeches often include foreign words, even though they have equivalents in Armenian.

“The speeches of the prime minister are, as a whole, literate and correct. However, at particularly emotional moments, he loses control and abandons classical Armenian,” Gyurjinyan says.

Pashinyan is not alone in this. According to the report, almost all officials fail to stick to classical Armenian. To standardize the classical Armenian of state officials, the committee has a department responsible for monitoring their speeches and giving them suggestions for improving their Armenian.

For the time being, Gyurjinyan has decided to forgive younger MPs:

“Some MPs are still young, but they should pay attention to their language errors. For the time being we are only submitting general comments to them, but if they do not respond, we will be forced to identify these ‘violators’ by name.”

Attention to language – a government priority

A government programme which was recently adopted by the Armenian National Assembly includes provisions for “cleansing” the Armenian language. The goal is “to spread literary Armenian and to ensure all Armenians begin to develop and wield literary Armenian from a preschool age”.

For this purpose, the production of educational television programmes, cartoons and films has been proposed. The government programme specifically stipulates the need to “cleanse” the TV of “vulgar” language.

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