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www.dorasakayan.com > press releases > Homage to Edward Atayan (2007)


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PRESS RELEASE

The international conference under the heading “Homage to Edward Atayan” concluded its sessions on October 3, 2007, following a spirited exchange of ideas over the course of three days. The conference was dedicated to the memory and 75th anniversary of the birth of Professor Dr. Edward Atayan.

Edward Atayan was born on February 10, 1932, in Yerevan. In 1949 he graduated with a gold medal from Dzerzhinsky secondary school in Yerevan and subsequently studied in the Department of Romance-Germanic Philology (DRGP) at Yerevan State University (YSU). From 1969 to 1970 he was appointed Head of the Department of General Linguistics at Yerevan State Linguistic University (YSLU). From 1970 to 1976 he led the DRGP at YSU and served as professor in the Department of General and Comparative Linguistics at YSU. In 1986 he was elected a Corresponding Member to the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (NAS RA). From 1990 to 1996 he was Head of the Department of Language Typology, Theory and Methods of the Russian Language at YSU. In 1993 he was elected Member and Vice-President of the Armenian Philosophical Academy. In 1996 he was elected Member of NAS RA. In 1999 he was awarded the medal “Movses Khorenatzi” for notable achievements in science and education.

The main monographs of the celebrated linguist and philosopher are: The Subject and Main Concepts of Structural Syntax (1968), Aspects of Organization and Functioning of the Language Sphere (1976), The Internal Organization and the External Reference of the Language World (1981), Language and Extralinguistic Reality: An Experiment of Ontological Comparison (1987), Freedom as an Idea and as Reality (1992), Illness of the Healthy, Characterology and Typology of non-Freedom (1997). Edward Atayan has written over 60 articles, many of them seminal. Being a polyglot, he has contributed many substantial translations from various authors.

This forum brought together 42 specialists from a variety of universities and institutes from Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and Armenia, including the Academy of Sciences, the YSU, the YSLU, etc. The opening session was held at the Charents Assembly Hall of YSU and was filled to capacity with YSU faculty members and students. A significant part of the audience consisted of Atayan's former students, mostly established scholars in various areas of the academic world, as well as of former colleagues, friends and admirers. Members of the Atayan family were also present.

In her opening speech, chairperson and organizer of the conference, Professor Dora Sakayan of McGill University, in Quebec, Canada, expressed her hope that this conference would lay the foundation for the diffusion of Atayan's ideas in Armenia and all over the world.

Professor Aram Simonyan welcomed the audience and the YSU Rector, wishing the conference great success. Simonyan then paid tribute to the memory of Edward Atayan, describing him as “…a titan in science, the likes of which we lack in our academic communities nowadays.” The YSU Rector emphasized the importance of “Atayan Readings” (Atayanakan Entertsumner) and put forth the proposal to adopt them as a standard.

“Edward Atayan,” said the Academician, Professor Georg Brutian, “is the visiting card that allows Armenian people to present themselves worldwide, a name by which our nation can enter the international world of science and culture.”

At the conclusion of the opening ceremony, video footage of Atayan making a speech at the plenary session of a conference dedicated to Prof. Dora Sakayan's 65th birthday anniversary in 1996 was shown. The appearance of Atayan onscreen, and the excerpts of his insightful speech, came as a pleasant surprise to the audience.

After this inspiring and moving opening event, the conference officially began with a plenary session featuring keynote speakers Dora Sakayan (McGill University, Canada), Bernard Bichakchjian (Radboud University, The Netherlands) and Alexander Maxapetyan (NAS RA).

The plenary session and all of the morning sessions were followed by a buffet lunch, courtesy of the Rector of the University. The regular sessions began after the lunch break on day one. The three-day program included papers from as many as 42 participants discussing topics in the following focal areas: 1. Philosophy of Language, 2. Semiotics, 3. Pragmatics and Theory of Argumentation, and 4. Language Typology. An additional session was devoted to problems of Foreign Language didactics.

Among the presentations made during these sessions, one presentation in particular attracted the audience’s attention the most; it was that of Edward Atayan's son, Vahram Atayan, on a topic in argumentation: “Peu or un peu. A semantic description of lexical markers for small quantities with respect to their potential in argumentation.” Vahram Atayan had come to this conference from Germany, where he is teaching in two universities, the University of Saarland and the University of Bonn. He had arrived in Armenia subsequent to having received the prestigious Elise-Richter Prize, which is awarded every second year for the best work in Romance linguistics in Germany. Vahram Atayan, the worthy son of his father, accepted the award on the 30th Congress of German Romance Linguistics, at the University of Vienna, Sept. 23-27, 2007, which was given to him in recognition of a recent monograph, dedicated to the theory of argumentation.

In summing up the conference, both the organizers and the competent audience expressed the opinion that, for the most part, the presented papers reflected Atayan's theories and the high standards the great scholar stood for.

On the third day, a roundtable-talk commemorating Edward Atayan was held in the Balian hall of the YSU. Friends, colleagues and members of his family exchanged their vivid recollections of Atayan, the great humanist, educator, linguist, philosopher, publicist, translator, but most importantly, devoted friend. There were both moving and elevating moments that culminated when participants of the conference visited E. Atayan’s grave to lay flowers on the scholars tomb, where a memorial service was held.

A jovial banquet in the Restaurant “Yerevan Nights” ended the conference on a high note.

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