Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Ways to Say “And”

Unlike English, and many other languages, Armenian has two words to say “and.” But, as with many synonyms, people tend to use one particular word and put aside all others. It is a matter of style. If you care about your speech, you will want to speak accurately. Otherwise . . . you may see the results every day.

The two conjunctions in question are yev (եւ) and oo (ու). Do they have any difference in meaning? No.

If you want to say “I will first go to eat and then go home,” you can either say
Նախ պիտի ուտեմ եւ յետոյ պիտի քնանամ (Nakh bidi oodem yev hedo bidi knanam) or
Նախ պիտի ուտեմ ու յետոյ պիտի քնանամ (Nakh bidi oodem oo hedo bidi knanam).

However, you can take advantage of the existence of both words to improve your quality of speech. Thus,
1) You should not use yev or oo alone several times in the same sentence, as in:
Ես եւ դուն պաղպաղակ կերանք եւ յետոյ տուն գացինք
(Yes yev toon baghbaghag gerank yev hedo doon katsink, “You and I ate ice cream and then went home”).
It is better to use oo between yes and toon (“You and I”):yes oo toon.

2) In general, when a word ends in a consonant and the next starts with a consonant, it is advisable to use oo (շուն ու կատու/ shoon oo gadoo “dog and cat”), and when a word ends in a vowel and the next starts with a vowel, yev is the word of choice (քու եւ իմ/koo yev im “your and my”).

3) If the surrounding words are filled with oo¬, it is better not to use the conjunction oo. For instance, instead of ուրախութիւն ու երջանկութիւն (oorakhootioon oo yerchangootioon “joy and happiness”), it is better to say ուրախութիւն եւ երջանկութիւն (oorakhootioon yev yerchangootioon).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Don’t Rub This on Anyone’s Face

If you still use a pencil to write, then you probably have an eraser around to rub out pencil marks. Because of such use, the elastic substance that came from tropical plants has been called rubber since the end of the eighteenth century.

Something similar happened in Armenian: the elastic substance was called redeen (ռետին) and your eraser bears the same name redeen. Unlike English, however, the word had no relation with the function of the eraser, but was created from a different source. It was the name of a substance that flowed from trees as a balsam or a medicine. Armenian medical books from the Middle Ages advised: “Redeen, which is a balsam.”

The word redeen probably entered the Armenian language through the translation of the Bible in the fifth century, and its source was the Greek word rhetine “pine resin.” Several other languages borrowed this word: Latin resina, Arabic ratinag, Farsi ratiyan.

Of course, the Latin word sounds familiar. It is the indirect source, through Old French, for the current English word resin.

But where does the Greek word, the common ancestor for Armenian redeen and English resin, come from? That is one of the many mysteries that students of the language have not been able to solve so far.