Armenians asked to write Wikipedia entries to promote culture

August 04, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

LONDON: There’s more to Armenia than carpets and its most famous daughter, Kim Kardashian.

To remind the world of this, Armenians across the globe are being asked to write at least one Wikipedia article each to try and promote the country’s language and culture.

A national campaign entitled One Armenian, One Article, is being fronted by government ministers, musicians and journalists, and encourages Armenians to each write at least one entry for the online encyclopaedia to ‘’enrich it’’ with more information on the country, and the things that matter most to its people.

In a video being broadcast on Armenian television, Defence Minister Seyran Ohanyan says he has contributed an article about the country’s military, and encourages all citizens to take part, whether they have specialist knowledge or not.

‘’One Armenian, one article - I will definitely do that and believe you will too,’’ Armen Ashotyan, the country’s education minister, says in an online clip.

The campaign began with a YouTube video, but is now being promoted to worldwide audiences on Armenian satellite TV channels, according to the BBC. Armenia’s population numbers around three million, but more than eight million Armenians live outside the country, across the world.

‘’I think it’s a good idea,’’ Misak Ohanian of the London-based Centre for Armenian Information and Advice (CAIA) said. ‘’If it can help increase the profile of Armenian language and culture then I say why not.’’

The Armenian language Wikipedia launched in 2003, but didn’t start developing in earnest until a few years later. As of 2013, it had around 90,000 articles, according to its entry on the English-language version of the online encyclopaedia.

However, it may be difficult for Armenians living abroad to take part in the scheme to boost this number, because many are no longer able to read or write in either the eastern dialect (most commonly used in Armenia) or the western dialect, which is recognised by Unesco as an endangered language.

Ohanian estimates that of the 20,000 Armenians living in London, around 40 percent can speak either language, and only 10 percent can read and write in them.

‘’Armenians are a diaspora nation,’’ said Lucine Shahbazian, 30, who is involved in health outreach and advice programmes for Armenians in the capital. ‘’We are great at assimilating with our host nations — which is a good thing — but it also means that stuff like language tends to get a bit lost.’’

Shahbazian, who was born in the UK, says she would write an article if she could, but that her Armenian isn’t good enough.

‘’The reasons why Armenians are so spread out around the world are often traumatic; my grandparents came here to escape the [Armenian] genocide,’’ she told the Guardian. ‘’So I think it’s important to help people connect, and something like [the Wikipedia entries] are useful to boost identity and culture.’’

The Guardian

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