Gulbenkian Foundation: ISO Code an Important Milestone for Western Armenian

LISBON, Portugal—The Armenian Communities department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation enthusiastically welcomed the decision of SIL International to issue Western Armenian its own ISO code: HYW.

The Armenian Alphabet monument at the now-shuttered Melkonian Educational Institute in Nicosia, Cyprus (Photo: Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra)

“This decision has a direct bearing on the revitalization of Western Armenian,” read a part of a statement released by the department on Feb. 6. It said the move allows the branch of the language to be uniquely identified in information systems and databases, enabling software engineers to develop electronic tools specific to Western Armenian.

“For example, the creation of Wikipedia, online translation services, and dictionaries in Western Armenian will be greatly facilitated, not to mention the research undertaken by linguists, ethnographers, and other experts. The ISO code confers, moreover, international recognition to Western Armenian as a distinct language branch, which is important to advocate for online services and programs provided by corporations in the field of information technologies,” the statement read in part.

SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics) is a U.S.-based, worldwide nonprofit organization that studies, develops, and documents languages—especially those that are lesser-known.

Ethnologue: Languages of the World is an annual reference publication in print and online, published by SIL. Starting with its 16th edition in 2009, Ethnologue uses the ISO 639-3 standard, which assigns 3-letter codes to languages.

“We are so pleased to see our collaboration with Wikimedia Armenia bear such an important result,” said Razmik Panossian, the director of the Armenian Communities department at the Foundation. “We worked on the submission process together, and received invaluable support from international experts and prominent intellectuals, resulting in a very strong application.”

The effective date for the use of the new code is Jan. 23. The statement of Wikimedia Armenia in Armenian on receiving the HYW ISO code can be found here:  Արեւմտահայերէնը արդէն առանձին լեզուական կարգանիշ ունի.

1 Comment

  1. Pleased that this has happened, but if HY represents Eastern Armenian, it is erroneous to have HYW represent Western Armenian.

    Western Armenian is not a dialect of Eastern Armenian.

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