Thursday, May 14, 2015

Be a Candidate, but Don’t Run for Office

Almost two centuries ago, in 1826, the expression “to run for office” appeared for the first time in American English. As one can grasp, it indicated the sense of a competition between various candidates for an elective position.

In the case of elections, we frequently hear the word vazel (վազել “to run”) in colloquial Armenian. For instance, “s/he runs for the parish council” is something like an geh vazeh yegeghetsvo hokapartzootian («կը վազէ եկեղեցւոյ հոգաբարձութեան համար»). Does this sound right?

No, it does not. The problem is that “run” is a figurative expression that cannot be conveyed with a literal translation. Anyone who does not know English would think that the person in question is physically running to enter the parish council. How many days he or she would run before getting exhausted?

This is one of those many cases when you have to think in Armenian to render the English expression. The best solution is the simplest one: An yegeghetsvo hokapartzootian tegnadzoo eh («Եկեղեցւոյ հոգաբարձութեան թեկնածու է», “S/he’s a candidate to the parish council”).

The candidate may enter office walking or running, but this will not change the outcome. However, if you don’t use vazel in this case, your Armenian proficiency will change a bit.