Thursday, July 26, 2018

Sometimes It Is Not a Line

You traced a line.

You have a call on the first line.

You read between the lines.

You are waiting on a line.

You happen to know a little Armenian word that means “line”: գիծ (keedz). If you have enough vocabulary, you may also know that the verb “to line,” գծել (kudzel), comes from the same source.

Your issue is solved (or so you think):
  1. “I traced a line”: Գիծ մը քաշեցի (Keedz muh kashetsee)
  2. “I have a call on the first line”: Զանգ մը ունիմ առաջին գիծէն (Zank muh oonim aracheen keedzen)
  3. “I read between the lines”: Գիծերու միջեւ կը կարդամ/կարդացի (Keedzeroo michev guh gartam/gartatsee)
  4. “I am waiting on a line”: Գիծի կը սպասեմ (Keedzee guh usbasem)

The first two are correct, because keedz in Armenian is used both with the meaning of “a succession of points” and “telephone line.”

The last two are wrong. You may use “line” with all those meanings, but it does not mean that other languages, Armenian included, only use one word for all those meanings. (In the same way, other languages, Armenian included, use one word for several meanings, and English has several words instead.)

If you bother to open a dictionary, you will find that “line” does not only mean keedz. If you are talking about the lines in a notebook, or the lines in a poem, or the figurative expression “to read between the lines,” then you should be thinking of տող (dogh).

Equally important: when you go to wait on a line, you are not waiting on a keedz. You are actually lined up on a row. Therefore, that is a շարք (shark).

If you do not want to look like you translate when you talk, then remember:
  1. “I read between the lines”: Տողերու միջեւ կը կարդամ/կարդացի (Dogheroo michev guh gartam/gartatsee)
  2. “I am waiting on a line”: Շարքի կը սպասեմ (Sharki guh sbasem)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

From Bombs to Soccer

You can probably figure out, without being an expert linguist, that the word “bomb” is related to the sound of “boom” that an explosive makes. Yes, that’s the way it is. The word came from French (what else) bombe, which derived from the Italian bomba. The Italian word, at its turn, probably came from the Latin bombus (“a deep, hollow noise,”), derived from Greek bombos (“deep and hollow sound”).

What about the Armenian word? The word ռումբ (roomp) should not be confused with the English rump , and even if you think that it is related to “boom,” you would be on the wrong track. Worse: it had nothing to do with an explosion.

The origin of roomp is unknown. It has been suggested a relation with Arabic rumH (ramaha ) “spear,” but it does not look promising for phonetic reasons.
What has a bomb to do with a spear? Apparently, nothing. However, this was one of the original meanings of roomp in Armenian ancient literature. In the fifth century, it meant “spear; sling-bullet, lead or iron ball.” In the thirteenth century, the Law Code of Mekhitar Gosh stated: “They have a spear, which is a roomp.” On the other hand, there was the word ռմբաքար (rumpakar) to designate the stone thrown with a catapult, a war machine used during sieges.
Therefore, since the spears and the stones are thrown, the word roomp designated in our days a bomb, which is also a projectile.

Of course, you also have the whole gallery of related words, such as ռմբակոծել (rumpagodzel “to bomb”) or ռմբահարել (rumpaharel “to explode a bomb”), but also ռմբակոծիչ (rumpagodzeech), which designates a “bombardier” (the type of airplane that bombs the enemy positions). However, do not think that all are just military words. The word ռմբարկու (rumpargoo), which means “bomber,” is also used in soccer, in a figurative sense of course, to designate… the goal scorer of a given team.  

Who will be the maximum rumpargoo (“goal scorer”) at the World Cup 2018? We will know very soon.