Thursday, May 18, 2017

Don’t Mess With… “With”

How do you cut a melon? Whether in English or in Armenian, you cut it with a knife, of course.
Let’s clarify that “with” is a preposition in English, while its Armenian counterpart hետ (hed) is a postposition, which means that it is used at the end of the sentence.
In English, you employ “with” to indicate various things: being together or involved; belonging; use; feeling; agreement or understanding. However, in Armenian, you only employ hed to indicate being together or involved, and agreement or understanding:
1)      Being together: Ես հոն գացի ամուսինիս հետ (Yes hon katsee amooseenees hed) “I went there with my husband”
2)      Agreement: Ես համաձայն եմ ձեզի հետ (Yes hamatzayn em tsezi hed) “I agree with you”
In all other cases, Armenian declension rules apply. Let’s remember that Armenian nouns are declined; for instance, in the first sentence, we find amooseenees, formed by the combination of the genitive declension of the noun amooseen (ամուսին “husband”), amooseenee, and the possessive s (ս). Conversely, English does not have declension, and it uses the construction “with my husband” (preposition + possessive + noun) to say what Armenian expresses with a single word.
Therefore, in the other three cases, when we want to indicate belonging, use, or feeling in Armenian, we never use the postposition hed, but the instrumental declension ով (ov):
1)      Belonging: Կապոյտ աչքերով աղջիկ մը (Gabooyd achkerov aghcheeg muh “A girl with blue eyes”)
2)      Use: Սեխը դանակով կտրեցի (Sekhuh tanagov gudretsee “I cut the melon with a knife”)
3)      Feeling: Ջերմ համբոյրներով (Cherm hampooyrnerov With warm kisses”)   
Otherwise, if you said, for instance, « Սեխը դանակ ին հետ կտրեցի » ( Sekhuh tanagin hed   gudretsee ), this would be nothing but English disguised in an Armenian cloak, or, in other words, a bad translation from English.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Of Pants and Panties

Many readers most probably are regular users of trousers or pants. As it happens with other words in the English language, the word “pants” is one of those shortened terms whose origin has been forgotten over time. First used in 1840, it was associated with a silly old man in Italian comedy, Pantaloun, whose name was derived from Italian Pantalone. (The Spanish word for “trousers” is, coincidentally, pantalón or pantalones.).
You may assume that panties is also related to “pants.” Indeed, it is its diminutive. It was a derogatory term used for men’s underpants in the nineteenth century, and took its current meaning of underwear for women or children in the early twentieth century.
Despite their distance, languages sometimes have curious analogies. The case for pants and panties in Armenian is not very far from English. The word վարտիք (vardik), meaning “pants,” was borrowed in Classical Armenian from Pahlavi (the language used by the Parthian dynasty of the Arsacids in Persia, from the third century B.C. to the third century A.D.), where varti meant “pants” and composed the form andarvarti (“outside pants”), which became անդրավարտիք (andravartik, pronounced antravardik in Western Armenian). The ք (k) was, of course, the Classical Armenian plural form (like pant-s). The word was used in both forms antravardik and vardik, and there was also the form անվարտի (anvardi), meaning “pant-less.”
What happened in Modern Armenian? The word antravardik has kept its meaning “pants” in Eastern Armenian until today. However, Western Armenian left it aside and adopted a term of unknown origin, տաբատ (dapad), scantily used in Classical Armenian, meaning “pants.” On the other hand, vardik (without the prefix antr) became “underwear” in both Western and Eastern Armenian, which means that, like in English, pants became the origin for panties.