(b) The linguistic diversity
The first Armenians or Greek-Armenians, being fully integrated into the Greek society and having been raised and educated in the Greek milieu, use Greek as their current language of communication. Nevertheless, they also speak Western Armenian. The latter is the language that was spoken by Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and which was brought to Greece by the refugees. It is the language that is mainly spoken among the
Armenians of the diaspora. Also, Greek-Armenians often embellish their use of Greek with linguistic items from Western Armenian.
On the contrary, the new immigrants speak Eastern Armenian, which is the official language of the Republic of Armenia. Both languages, of course, share a common linguistic origin. However, they have some morphological differences, such as endings, and some phonological differences, such as the pronunciation of some sounds. Eastern Armenian, as it is the official language of Armenia, is taught in the Armenian School of Thessaloniki. The students are mainly second-generation immigrants who came to Greece with their parents at a very young age or who were born in Greece. The teachers of the school are also of immigrant background.
It should be noted that the issues mentioned above are not simply linguistic differences but reflect the social or cultural status of the speakers or even their political and ideological orientations. The use of Western Armenian supports the historical memory and tradition of refugees and strengthens the ideological-political ideals of the community. That is the reason why Western Armenian is used for public discourse. In addition, the use of Greek by the first Armenians, along with their Greek nationality, allows them to claim the same status as Greek natives.
It is quite interesting that, although Eastern Armenian has been adopted as the language of school, it remains a school subject and is not widely used in the community. What is more, the lack of understanding or speaking Greek on the part of the immigrants puts them directly in the position of “foreigners”, even within the community.