Thursday, March 23, 2017

Appetite versus Mood

Բարի ախորժակ (paree akhorjag).  
This is the phrase that may appear on your table, be it on napkins or, perhaps, table covers.
By now, you probably know that it means “Bon appétit.”
The word akhorjag is always linked to eating. For instance, if a nice power walk made you hungry, then you can say «Ախորժակս բացուեցաւ» (Akhorjagus patsvetsav). The literal translation would be “My appetite was opened,” but we do not say that. (The perils of literal translation are always present.) We usually say “it gave me an appetite.”
You can use the word in a figurative way. For instance, if you have a friend with a powerful need to eat at all times, you can say that he or she has a “wolf’s appetite” (գայլի ախորժակ/kayli akhorjag). Or, for instance, if there is a president or an autocrat in any country with a huge appetite for power, then you can always say: «Ան իշխանութեան ախորժակ ունի» (An ishkhanootian akhorjag ooni).
Outside eating, you simply cannot use akhorjag, unlike English. You cannot render the figurative expression “to whet your appetite” as ձեր ախորժակը բանալ (tser akhorjage panal). The word does not fit in there. There is another word we use: տրամադրութիւն (dramatrootioon). For instance, if a romantic comedy whetted your appetite for this genre of movies, you can say: «Սիրային շարժանկար դիտելու տրամադրութիւնս բացուեցաւ» (Sirayeen sharjanugar tideloo dramatrootioonus patsvetsav “My appetite for watching love movies has opened”).
The word dramatrootioon literally means “mood.” Thus, you would say “I’m in the mood to go fishing,” namely, «Ձկնորսութեան երթալու տրամադրութիւն ունիմ» / Tsugnorsootian yertaloo dramatrootioon oonim. If you are not in the mood to study for your lesson, then the best choice is: «Այսօր տրամադրութիւն չունիմ դաս սորվելու» (Aysor dramatrootioon choonim tas sorveloo). “I am not in the mood to study.”
We hope that the latter does not happen very often…

Thursday, March 9, 2017

How Art and Craft Came Together

We have seen many times how certain words have unexpected origins. For instance, the Proto-Indo-European word *ar  (“to fit together, to join”) generated a derivative word *ar-ti, which gave origin to a series of cognate terms in various Indo-European languages, including Latin ars (“work of art; practical skill; a business, craft”).  The latter’s declined form artem entered Old French as art and then reached English as the same word, which meant “skill as a result of learning or practice” in the thirteenth century and started being used with the meaning “skill in creative arts” three centuries later.
However, despite what you might think, the Armenian word արուեստ (arvesd) does not come from the same root *ar. This word was abundantly used in Classical Armenian (pronounced arwest), starting in the fifth century, with different meanings, such as “skill, mental or manual art,” “handicraft, object skillfully made,” “miracle,” and “deceptive trick.” Much later, the parallel form արհեստ (arhesd) appeared. In Modern Armenian, arvesd and arhesd went separate ways: arvesd means “art” and arhesd means “craft.” Today, we know that a sculptor is an արուեստագէտ (arvesdaked  “artist”), and a carpenter is an արհեստաւոր (arhesdavor “craftsman”).
Where does arvesd come from, then? There is not a definite answer, but it is probable that the source was Iran, as it happened for many words borrowed into the Armenian language after millennia of political domination and/or cultural interaction. Old Persian language, at the time of the Achaemenid dynasty, had the word aruastam, whose meaning is debatable, but probably meant “activity, physical prowess,” and Pahlavi (during the Arsacid dynasty, which later had a branch in Armenia) had the word rwst (vowels were not represented), which meant “virtue.” It is possible that rwst actually sounded arwest, and the distance from “virtue” to “skill” was not very big.