The word ‘genocide’ was invented by a polish – Jewish origin lawyer ‘Ralphael Lemkin’. Raphael followed the widely-reported massacres and deportations of armenians in his youth and then later on he came up with the word ‘genocide’ as an original term to reflect and highlight the phenomenon.The Armenian genocide is the phenomenon of terribly killing of people after World War I in the Near East and the Russian Caucasus. About 1.5 million people suffered; some were killed and those who were not killed were tortured brutally by either rape, beating, driving through mountains and deserts without food, drink and shelter. (thesis statement)
In “How Not To Do Things with the Word: Barack Obama on the Armenian Genocide,” Suren Zolyan talks how Obama deals with the situation by using an interpretive approach to describe the genocide. He describes how the use of word ‘genocide’ caused fear by the people of Turks to the Armenians and the U.S. In the article, “Armenian Genocide of 1915: An Overview”, Kifner describes the genocide and its consequences following the war and its impact on the other nations including the U.S. Thesis John Kifner talks about the Armenian Genocide and highlights about the use of term genocide and its impacts. In 1915, the strong Armenian community in Los Angeles (the United States)were criticized because of the genocide and in response, the turks condemned the U.S. for using this term “genocide.” (Kifner) Moreover the use of word ‘genocide’ lead to threatning of the White house regarding the Turkey hindering the air space and ground-route access to the U.S. military. In both articles, the important literary techniques used are historic context, and selection of detail is to show how the use of a particular word can have an impact on the nation. Lemkin uses “point of view” to state the situation of the armenain people during war by giving a particular term whereas obama’s point of view for this word is different which can be seen in the text.
Barack Obama released a statement in January, 2008 about the complicated matter for using the word “genocide” to describe the Turks slaughtering thousands of Armenians.” In “How Not To Do Things with the Word: Barack Obama on the Armenian Genocide,” Zolyan describes the Obama’s strategy for replacing the term “Genocide” with the word “Meds Yeghern,’ meaning the genocide in Armenian language. Obama’s situation was in dilemma and complex because as a candidate for President, he promised that if elected he would recognize the Armenian genocide. So, when he became the US president, he gives an unexplained expression ‘Meds Yeghern’ (Zolyan 63) the Armenian name of the 1915 Genocide) means “everything and nothing”. For the Armenian audience, this indicates a full acceptance of their point of view and even their language, but for the rest of the world, it was vague sign.
In “How Not To Do Things with the Word: Barack Obama on the Armenian Genocide,” It is argued that the transliteration of the Armenian name of the genocide can mean “everything and nothing”. This is because for the Armenians who has lost their people has great impact of this word on their lives(everything) and for the rest of the world it seems meaningless sign(nothing).
On April 24, 1994, Bill Clinton made American President’s Statement during an annual event and named this day as Armenian Remembrance Day. He also established a particular textual pattern with its vocabulary for such addresses, later inherited by George W. Bush.The discourse on the one hand shows political loyalty regards to the US approach to 1915 events, while on the other hand it is determined by foreign policy indications with regard to the usage of the term ‘genocide’. (Zolyan 66)The main objective, nevertheless, is to make everyone aware of the phenomena of genocide without denying it. Therefore, the main communicative purpose is to pay tribute to the genocide victims but without uttering the tabooed word. This case is more than the conventional political correctness; it can be considered as a peculiar manifestation of taboo in modern ritualized political communication.
In 2006, the use of word genocide lead to the dismissal of the Americcan ambassador to Armenia. During his stay in the USA, Ambassador Evans had a semi-official meeting with some representatives of the Armenian Diaspora in California and expressed his opinion:“I will today call it the Armenian Genocide. I think we, the U.S. government, owe you, our fellow citizens, a more frank and honest way of discussing this problem. The Armenian genocide was the first genocide of the 20th century. I pledge to you. We are going to do a better job at addressing this issue”. By this statement the ambassador was expressing support for the armenain people but due to difference in “point of view” the use of word lead to the firing of U.S ambassador.
In the article of the “New York Times,” Kifner says “Turkey, which cut military ties to France over a similar action, has reacted with angry threats,” means the use of word genocide lead to the critical situation among the two countries. The author also says that after the world war, there was no peace. This situation takes us back to the historical times thinking of how threatening it might be during the war and how the use of a word can lead to a conflict between countries.
The U.S ambassador, Henry Morganthau Sr., was also outspoken. In his memoirs, the ambassador would write: “When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact.” Henry Morgenthau Sr. was highly troubled by the atrocities committed against the Armenians and was among those who sought to rouse the world’s conscience in response. I
The Armenian Genocide laid the ground for the more-homogeneous nation-state that eventually became the Republic of turkey. By the end of the war, more than 90 percent of the Armenians in the Ottoman empire were gone, and many traces of their former presence had been erased. The massacre ended only when the pressure from the European powers increased and they threatened to military intervene in the same way they had done in the Christian Balkan countries.
Therefore, this mass atrocities and genocide are often perpetrated within the context of war. This shows how the use of a particular word lead to anger and tension among nations. The war can not only lead to terrific conditions between two nations, but its effect is seen all over the world.
- Kifner, John. “Armenian Genocide of 1915: An Overview” The New York Times https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/ref/timestopics/topics_armeniangenocide.html?mcubz=0
- Zolyan, Suran. “How Not To Do Things with the Word: Barack Obama on the Armenian Genocide”
- The Russian Journal of Linguistics 2019 Vol. 23 No. 1 62—82