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PRESS RELEASE

Launch ceremony of Eastern Armenian for the English-speaking World

The launch ceremony of EASTERN ARMENIAN FOR THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING WORLD (EA), authored by Dr. DORA SAKAYAN, was held in California, at the Glendale Public Library on Friday, May 16, 2008. The textbook was published in Fall 2007 by the Yerevan State University (YSU) press upon the recommendation of the Armenian Philology Faculty Senate of YSU. The event was organized jointly by the Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia and the Tekeyan Cultural Association, Los Angeles Chapter.

With an opening address on the importance of the preservation of the Armenian language in the Diaspora, and particularly of Eastern Armenian in the Greater Los Angeles area, Parsegh Kartalian, the Master of Ceremonies, welcomed Dr. Sakayan and a great number of guests, University faculty members, educators, teachers and representatives of cultural and educational institutions to this unique presentation.

Armen Liloyan, Consul General of the Republic of Armenia, Los Angeles, bestowed high praise on Dr. Sakayan for the fulfillment of a formidable task, namely for making such a remarkable and long-awaited addition to the tools of Armenian language instruction. Mr. Liloyan traced Dr. Sakayan’s outstanding contributions to the teaching of foreign languages in general, and Armenian (both Eastern and Western branches) in particular.

Dr. Anahid Aramouni Keshishian, UCLA, presented a brief biography of Dr. Dora Sakayan to the audience, outlining her most significant scholarly achievements and the national and international rewards she has received thus far. She went on to say that Sakayan’s name is well known in scholarly circles in Armenia and abroad. Formerly the long-standing Head of the Department of Foreign Languages at Yerevan State University, Dr. Sakayan has been living in Montreal, Canada since 1975, where, working as a Professor of German Studies at McGill University, she has contributed immensely to the field of Armenology. She is the author of “Modern Western Armenian for the English- Speaking World”, several monographs, articles and textbooks.

In welcoming the appearance of Sakayan’s new publication, Dr. Keshishian then reflected on some of her own teaching experiences: “For years, I searched in vain for a good Eastern Armenian textbook, waiting impatiently to see one on my desk. I was already aware of the Western Armenian version of the textbook written by Dr. Sakayan, and I envied those of my colleagues who worked with it in their Western Armenian classes. I also envied UCLA’s Western Armenian students, to whom Sakayan’s book was made available while I struggled with the daily preparation of handouts and the distribution of pages to my students.

When, for the first time I had the pleasure to hold EASTERN ARMENIAN FOR THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING WORLD in my hands and pore over its pages, it was a dream come true. I was so happy, because I felt that my years of misery had come to an end. The accompanying CD is also an invaluable asset to the book.” Dr. Keshishian concluded her remarks, stressing again and again the importance of the textbook and expressing her confidence that it would elevate the instruction of Eastern Armenian to an unprecedented level.

Dr. Keshishian then invited the author of EA to the podium.

In an emotional introduction, Dr. Dora Sakayan recognized the significance of the moment. Her textbook was being presented, thousand of miles from the homeland Armenia, in one of the largest communities of the Armenian Diaspora, where Eastern Armenian is very much alive. This was the second presentation of EA, she said, the premier launch having been held last November at the Yerevan State University (YSU).

Sakayan defined her book as an introductory, yet complete first-year course of Eastern Armenian for adults in the English-speaking world, a handbook for both the prospective teacher and the student of Armenian. The comprehensive guidance given in this textbook, as well as in the accompanying CD, she maintained, would allow motivated learners to use it for self -instruction as well. She indicated that the book incorporates recent achievements of applied linguistics into the instruction of Eastern Armenian, whereby Grammar is treated not as a goal, but rather as an important aspect in mastering the language. Other linguistic areas such as pragmatics, word formation, pronunciation, orthography, etc., were also given due attention in the book. Sakayan then cited one of the book’s evaluators, Armenologist Davit Gyulzadyan: "In its present layout, the structure of this book comes close to a template, a pattern that one can use for synthesizing any other foreign language textbook that draws on newer insights in foreign language teaching methodology."

In response to the audience’s suggestion to speak also about the appendix of the book, which is a book in itself for its rich reference material, Dr. Sakayan described the various sections of the appendix, singling out particularly the central part, which represents an anthology of carefully collected samples of Eastern Armenian folklore, prose and poetry, the latter entries appearing always in English translation. Dora Sakayan then gave a reading of her English translation of Sylva Kaputikian’s famous poem “WORDS TO MY SON”, and concluded her speech with the words:

“EASTERN ARMENIAN FOR THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING WORLD — along with its counterpart for Western Armenian — is the most important work of my life. The twin books reflect my pedagogical and scholarly experience of 55 years and my everlasting love for our magnificent language."

At the close of her speech, Dr. Sakayan responded to questions from the audience. Some of her answers elicited enthusiastic applause. The evening was concluded with a reception and book-signing.

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