AGBU Webtalks


Language Use and Development in the Armenian Diaspora

Shushan Karapetian

Dr. Karapetian explores the effects of diaspora on heritage language development.


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August 2020

Language Use and Development in the Armenian Diaspora

Dr. Shushan Karapetian, a linguist and scholar of language education, illuminates the challenges facing heritage language speakers in diasporic environments. What happens when a child transitions from a home environment where Armenian is the primary language to a world where English dominates their daily experiences? Dr. Karapetian argues that by understanding and accepting the limitations of heritage language development in the diaspora, we can move toward more effective systems of language transmission and education for the next generation.

Dr. Shushan Karapetian is the director of the USC Dornsife Institute of Armenian Studies, which promotes research that examines the social, cultural, educational, and political challenges facing Armenia, Artsakh, and the Armenian communities in the Diaspora. She received a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from UCLA in 2014, where she taught Armenian Studies courses for ten years. Her dissertation, “‘How Do I Teach My Kids My Broken Armenian?’: A Study of Eastern Armenian Heritage Language Speakers in Los Angeles,” received the Society for Armenian Studies Distinguished Dissertation Award in 2015. In 2018, she was the recipient of the Russ Campbell Young Scholar Award in recognition of outstanding scholarship in heritage language research. Dr. Karapetian researches, teaches, and writes about the Armenian experience, particularly focusing on competing ideologies at the intersection of language and the construction of transnational identity. She is the host of the popular IG/YouTube Word of the Day series through which she teaches Armenian in a fun and engaging manner. She is also host of the podcast series, Language Therapy with Dr. K, which looks at language, in all kinds of contexts, with an Armenian twist. 

Topics: Education Language Learning Linguistics