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Maraghi Dialect, Iran’s Nominee for UNESCO


03 June 2004



Iran intends to propose for inscription on UNESCO’s list of world intangible heritage Nowruz as a common heritage shared by the countries in Iranian civilization sphere and the Maraghi dialect as its specific national heritage.

The two files are Iran’s first nominations for inscription on the world intangible heritage list to be submitted to UNESCO four years after the approval and coming into force of proclamation of masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage.

Maraghi dialect, about which little research has been carried out, is used in 15 villages throughout the Alamut area, and since the number of its users does not go beyond one thousand, linguists consider it an endangered dialect. It meanwhile enjoys features that make it remnant of an ancient language.

Two reasons have been given for the dialect’s survival so far; first the location of the villages in remote areas, in some sort of natural dead end; and second the traditional culture and conduct specific to their residents.

However, some do not agree on the presentation of Maraghi dialect for inscription and believe that there are other dialects worthy of nomination. But director of Iran’s language and dialect research center, Saeed Oryan believes that one has no other way but to choose among them and the Maraghi dialect is considered capable of getting the world attention due to reasons such as its being a pure Iranian language, its being ancient and also its being on the verge of disappearance; moreover, its file was already compiled and the upcoming meeting of UNESCO is a good opportunity to save and recognize the dialect.

The report to be handed to UNESCO seeks to provide a perspective on the situation of the dialect in the past and right now, its distribution and the culture of its speakers.



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