Armenian Jerusalem

The uniquely mellifluous and lilting kaghakatsi accent continues to intrigue

scholars around the world eager to rescue it from oblivion.

A few years ago, a US professor, Bert Vaux, undertook the onerous task of persuading some of the denizens of the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem to allow him to record their speech. He collected quite some nuggets along the way. Now a professor from Salzburg university in Austria, has pitched in for another go, using a different and, what she asserts would be, a more professional approach. Dr. Jasmine Dum-Tragut introduced herself as a self-employed scholar at the Linguistic Department of the university of Salzburg, and as an armenologists specialized in Modern Armenian. She also heads the head of the department for Armenian Studies at the Mayr-Melnhof- Institute for the Christian East. She was encouraged to contact the kaghakatsi Armenian Family Tree project by a staunch friend of ours, professor Michael Stone, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "I have been working in Armenian studies for more than 20 years now," she says. Last November, she had a short-term visiting professorship at the Hebrew University, and it was there, where my friend and colleague "Michael Stone convinced me to work on the highly endangered kaghakatsi dialect." Jasmine concentrates on the languages of endangered minorities. Over the past four years, she has been working on a concise linguistic description of Modern Eastern Armenian as written and spoken in the Motherland, with the support of the Austrian Science Fund, and the result, almost 700 pages, will be published this year by Benjamins, Amsterdam. "I am really very interested and eager to work on this [kaghakatsi] dialect," she says. She will be using the tapes previously recorded by Theo van Lint, but most probably will have to do some more recording and conduct specific interviews. She will be staying in Jerusalem at least for a month which would give her the opportunity to do some teaching on armenological subjects again at the Hebrew University.   
Kaghakatsi christening
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