Thursday, December 24, 2015

How to Get Dressed?

What do you do after you wake up? You get up and get dressed. It goes without saying: to get dressed, you put, say, a shirt and pants on.

Of course, there is a difference between “to get dressed” and “to put on.” The former refers to a general rule, without taking into consideration what kind of clothes you refer to, while the latter requires to specify what clothes you are putting on. In other words, “to get dressed” is an intransitive verb, and “to put on” is a transitive verb that needs a direct object). This is why you put a shirt (or a skirt) on.

The same happens in Armenian. The problem, in this case, is that in both cases it is the same verb with a slight variant. We have haknil (հագնիլ) and hakvil (հագուիլ). Which one is what?

To make thing easier, one should remember as a general rule that all verbs ending in –vil (ուիլ), such as lusvil (լսուիլ “to be heard”), khosvil (խօսուիլ “to be talked”), or patsvil (“to be opened”), are intransitive, and do not require a direct object. Therefore, hakvil means “to get dressed,” and Yes hakvetsa (Ես հագուեցայ) means “I got dressed.” If there is a toddler named Haig around, for instance, who needs to be dressed, you use the verb hakvetsnel (հագուեցնել) to indicate that you perform the action on him: Yes Haigu bidi hakvetsnem (Ես Հայկը պիտի հագուեցնեմ “I will get Haig dressed”). When you are finished, you simply say Haigu hakvetsav (Հայկը հագուեցաւ “Haig got dressed”).

We are left with haknil, which means “to put on.” You say Yes verargoos haknetsa (Ես վերարկուս հագնեցայ), meaning “I put my overcoat on.” This is the formal way to conjugate the verb. Besides, there is an informal way to conjugate it, Yes verargoos hakah (Ես վերարկուս հագայ), which means the same. Is the latter correct? It is actually as correct as the use of khagtsah (խաղցայ) instead of the formal form khaghatsi (խաղացի “I played”) or nusdah (նստայ) instead of the formal form nusdetsah (նստեցայ “I sat down”). You will not find it in grammar books, in the same way that you do not find... “don’t” or “won’t.”

Thursday, December 10, 2015

What Is the Armenian Word for “Hotel”?

Any speaker of Western Armenian knows that the word for “hotel” is bantog (պանդոկ). However, if you visit Yerevan and you ask directions for the hotel where you are staying, they will look at you inquisitively, until you rectify yourself and say hiooranots (հիւրանոց), even if you know that hiooranots is that place in your home that you know in English as “living room.” (Western Armenian has the word hiooradoon / հիւրատուն “guesthouse”).

If you are curious enough to ask what bantog means there, they will tell you: “Tavern.” You will even find a restaurant called Bantog Yerevan (Պանդոկ Երեւան), translated into English as “Tavern Yerevan,” a few blocks away from the Marriot-Armenia hiooranots!

The standard word for a place of lodging in Armenian has been bantog since the fifth century (pronounced pandok in Classical Armenian, as it is today in Eastern Armenian). However, when you open the best dictionary of Classical Armenian, the monumental Nor Haigazian Lezvi Pararan (Նոր Հայկազեան Լեզուի Բառարան) published by three monks of the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice (1836-1837), you find out that bantog means taberna (Latin), a word that translates into English as both “tavern” and “inn.”

Incidentally, there is a word close to bantog in Arabic, funduk (“hotel”), briefly borrowed by Armenian as pntuk (փնտուկ) before the 12th century. Since neither the origin of bantog nor of funduk can be explained through the Armenian or the Arabic languages, the natural conclusion is that there must be a common source for both. That common source is the Greek word pandokeion, which means “all-receiving” (the prefix pan “all” is the one we recognize in the word panamerican), and was borrowed by both languages without the ending –eion. A hotel or an inn is a place that may accommodate all sorts of people.

Back to the twenty-first century, the word bantog is used exclusively in Western Armenian with the meaning “hotel” and in Eastern Armenian with the meaning “tavern.” Where does hiooranots come from? Hioor (հիւր) means “guest” in Armenian (whether Western or Eastern), and hiooranots is a translation of the Russian word gostinitsa (“hotel”), where gost is the same word “guest.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

How Should Husbands Introduce Their Wives?

Husband and wives have a problem these days in the Armenian language. Two couples meet each other. The man in one couple and the woman in the other know each other, and introduce their significant others.

Wife 1: -- This is my husband, Bedros.
Husband 1: -- This is my wife, Anna

If you’re listening to this dialogue in Armenian, you will probably get the following version

- Amoosinus՝ Bedros (Ամուսինս՝ Պետրոս “My husband, Bedros”)

- Geenus՝ Anna (Կինս՝ Աննա “My wife, Anna”)

Many husbands use inaccurately deegeen (տիկին) instead of geen and say Deegeens`Anna. You do not say “This is my madam” in English when you introduce your wife. Thus, you do not say Asiga deegens eh (Ասիկա տիկինս է).

Both deegeen and madam are honorific titles and compound words. Madam comes from the French madame (ma + dame = “my lady”), while deegeen is composed by the words dee (տի) and geen (կին); dee means “great” and geen, “woman, lady.”

Remember: You use deegeen as a title in the same way that you use “Madam” or “Mrs.,” namely, to address a lady with or without mention of her name.