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Introduction to Dictionary of Armenian Surnames

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'''INTRODUCTION'''
 
  
'''The Etymology of Armenian Surnames'''
+
Dictionary of Armenian Surnames in English Transliteration
 +
Introduction
  
'''by C. K. Garabed'''
+
Armenian surnames are a true reflection of the culture and heritage of this ancient civilization. As with Armenian first names, Armenian surnames are often influenced by other civilizations with whom we have lived and interacted, such as the Persians, Georgians, Russians, Turks, Arabs, and Greeks.  
  
 +
Practically all Armenian surnames consist of a root or stem and a suffix denoting son of or family of or issued from.
 +
The preponderance of these suffixes consist of the Armenian IAN, with its variations such as, IANS, IANZ, IANTS, IANTZ, YAN, YANS, YANZ, YANTS, YANTZ, ENTS, ENTZ. Similar suffixes are derived from other languages, such as, OGHLI, OGLI, OGHLU, OGLU  from Turkish, and OV, OFF, EV, EFF  from Russian. ZADE from Georgian; ESCU from Rumanian.
  
Many years ago, I was struck by how many Armenians didn’t know the meaning of their names. It was a pleasure to conduct research and then pass on the results. I felt gratified in helping people learn more about their names.
+
It is worth mentioning that other nations such as the Persians, English and Irish also have surnames ending with "ian”. It is also to be noted that, historically, endings were changed to preclude undue attention, especially in Turkey, were "oghlu" (also meaning the "son of” in Turkish) was used.
  
 +
This compendium reflects the root or stem of the name in upper case letters, and the suffix, customarily ian, in lower case. Excluded are prefixes such as DER, TER (denoting descent from married clergy) whether joined to the stem or not.
  
Curiosity was my first motivation for exploring the subject of Armenian family names. However, I then came to appreciate the diverse nature of Armenian surnames, which appear to cover the gamut of our ancestors’ life activities in the Old Country. I found that many interesting and unusual names cannot be deciphered merely by looking them up in books, but also require a knowledge of the circumstances leading to the formation of such names. In many cases, direct contact with their owners is needed in order to get the insiders’ views. With names like Chukhasuzian (without an overcoat), Haviters (contrary nap), and Soghanyemezian (he who does not like onions), for example, sometimes I think we Armenians, more than any other ethnic group, possess the most fascinating surnames.  We can observe that an Armenian name can denote a number of things about the carrier of that name: royalty; trade or profession; geographic location; proper nouns; physical characteristics; those assigned in derision by Turkish officials; and special circumstances. The prefix Der (lord) denotes married clergy in the family's ancestry.
+
Armenian surnames can be classed generally in six categories, such as:
  
 +
Aristocracy
  
You may wish to consult my lecture, [http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/What%27s_in_a_Name%3F_The_Etymology_of_Armenian_Surnames  ''What's in a Name''] for a longer treatment on etymology.
+
Armenians who are direct descendants of nobility, such as the "Nakharars", still carry their ancestral family name. These names usually have the ending "uni". Examples: Arshagouni, Ardsruni, Rshduni.
  
 +
Patronymic
  
I am a non-expert (not a linguist or philologist) on names/ languages. In the late 1970s, I started collecting names from church directories and donor lists as a hobby. First, manually, then on personal computer, which made alphabetizing, sorting and editing easier. More than 10,000 names have been collected to date, but not all of them defined. The task of collecting names has been made easier by the publication of the Armenian Yellow Pages in California.
+
Many Armenian surnames originate from the first name of an ancestor. This practice is very common among all nations of the world. Examples: Avedisian, Garabedian, Hagopian.
  
 +
Occupation
  
Whenever I came across a particularly unusual name and I knew a person carrying that name, I would ask him what he knew about the provenance of that name. Those who were familiar with the origins of their name would oblige me by telling me what they knew. I had begun writing a column for ''the Armenian Weekly'' newspaper in 1989 but it wasn't until 2004 that I began to include in each week's column an Armenian surname, its definition and background. This resulted in many readers contacting me who wanted to know if I could tell them what their own family names meant, as they didn't know. If I was able to oblige, I did so. And so my ultimate aim evolved from deciphering names for my own pleasure to publishing the results for the interest and pleasure of my fellow Armenians.
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Some Armenian surnames are derived from a person’s profession or trade, or that of an ancestor. These names (most have Arabic, Persian or Turkish origins) were assigned by the taxation officers to help them identify individuals in their own language. Examples:
 +
Bakalian, Najarian, Tashjian.
  
 +
Geographic origin
  
My library has been enhanced by my daughter, [http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Lucine_Kasbarian  Lucine Kasbarian,] who furnished me with dictionaries (Amharic-English; Arabic-English; Armenian-English; Assyrian-English; Azerbaijani-English; Coptic-English; Georgian-English; Greek-English; Kurdish-English; Persian-English; Turkish-English; Turkmen-English; Uzbek-English) and my good friend Cesar Chekijian, who furnished me with Dikran Avedisian's book of Armenian names (''Hayots Azkanuneri Pararan,'' Van Aryan Publishers, Yerevan, Armenia, 2000). I also consult ''The Bilingual Dictionary of Armenian Names'' by Ohannes Hannessian (Shirak Publishing House, Los Angeles, CA, 1990); ''The Comprehensive English-Armenian Dictionary'' by Mesrob Kouyoumdjian (Sahag-Mesrob Press, Cairo, Egypt, 1961); ''The Comprehensive Armenian-English Dictionary'' by Mesrob Kouyoumdjian (Atlas Publishers, Beirut, Lebanon, 1970); and a book of Hebrew names, which comes in handy when working with names that have a Biblical background, among others.
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An Armenian who has migrated from a certain geographic region (city, town or village) in Armenia, was typically given a surname, which was based on his/her geographic origin. Examples: Izmirlian, Marashian, Vanetsian.
  
 +
Physical trait
  
I wish to thank all those who have been helpful in sharing their knowledge with me. The following named individuals in particular provided me with a great deal of assistance: Mr. Cesar Chekijian; Ms. Arpie Dadoyan; Mr. Onnik Dinkjian; Ms. Lucine Kasbarian; Mr. Aram Khachadourian; Dr. Herand Markarian; Mr. Ashot Merijanian; Mr. Vahe Surenian; Mr. Jirair Tutunjian; and Mr. Alfred Yeznaian.
+
A significant number of names are derived from obvious physical characteristic features
 +
The names often are not flattering, but the category is too extensive to be ignored. Examples: Bournazian, Shashoyan, Topalian.
  
 +
Special circumstances
  
'''A Note on Pronunciation:'''
+
An interesting category of names is that where some unusual occurrence or circumstance gave rise to the name. Examples: Chokaszian, Haviters, Kherdian.
  
In this work, the oo sound, as in fool, is generally represented by the letter combination ou.
+
Note on pronunciation
  
The uh sound, as in but, is represented by the letter u or the letter combination uh.  
+
In this work, the “oo” sound, as in fool, is represented by the letter combination “ou”. The “uh” sound, as in but, is represented by the letter “u”. The “oo” sound in Persian, Arabic and Turkish continues to be represented by the letter u.
  
The oo sound in Persian, Arabic and Turkish continues to be represented by the letter u.
+
Language key
  
 +
A:  Armenian
 +
Ab:  Arabic
 +
An:  Anglo-Saxon
 +
Ar:  Aramaic
 +
As:  Assyrian
 +
C:  Chaldean
 +
Ct:  Celtic
 +
E:  English
 +
F:  French
 +
Ge:  German
 +
Gr:  Greek
 +
H:  Hebrew
 +
Hi:  Hindi
 +
Ir:  Irish
 +
It:  Italian
 +
K:  Kurdish
 +
L:  Latin
 +
N:  Norwegian
 +
P:  Persian/Pahlavi
 +
R:  Rumanian
 +
Rs:  Russian
 +
S:  Scottish
 +
Sp:  Spanish
 +
Sw:  Swedish
 +
T:  Turkish
 +
Tn:  Teutonic
 +
TT:  Tatar
 +
U:  Urdu
 +
W:  Welsh
  
'''Language key:'''
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For a comprehensive presentation given by the author on the etymology of Armenian surnames, access the following site:
  
A = Armenian
+
http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/What%27s_in_a_Name%3F_The_Etymology_of_Armenian_Surnames
  
Ab = Arabic
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Acknowledgments
  
AL = Albanian
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The author thanks the following named individuals for their kind and valuable assistance:
  
As = Assyrian
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Mr. George Aghjayan
 
+
Mr. Aram Arkun
F = French
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Mr. Eddie Arnavoudian
 
+
Mr. Armen Aroyan
Ge = German
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Prof. George Bournoutian
 
+
Mr. Cesar Chekijian
Go - Georgian
+
Prof. Levon Chookaszian
 
+
Prof. Levon Chorbajian
Gr = Greek
+
Ms. Joyce Chorbajian
 
+
Mr. Zaven Dadekian
H = Hebrew
+
Ms Arpie Dadoyan
 
+
Mr Joseph Dagdigian
K = Kurdish
+
Mr. Onnik Dinkjian
 
+
Mr. Yeghishe Hajakian
P = Persian
+
Mr. Charles Hardy
 
+
Ms Arpi Haroutunian
R = Russian
+
Mr. Mircan Haviters
 
+
Mr. Appo Jabarian
T = Turkish
+
Mr. Hrach Kalsahakian
 
+
Mr. Mardig Kanayan
TT = Tatar
+
Mr. Aram Khatchadourian
 +
Mr. Stepan Karadian
 +
Mr. Antranig Kasbarian
 +
Ms. Lucine Kasbarian
 +
Mr. Armen Lucas
 +
Dr. Herand Markarian
 +
Mr. Ashot Merijanian
 +
Ms. Alice Sachaklian
 +
Mr. Emil Sanamyan
 +
Mr. Richard Shareshian
 +
Mr. Vahe Surenian
 +
Mr. Zohrab Tazian
 +
Prof. Khachig Tololyan
 +
Ms. Shakeh Torigian
 +
Mr. Jirayr Tutunjian
 +
Mr. Alfred Yeznaian

Revision as of 05:48, 18 September 2018

Dictionary of Armenian Surnames in English Transliteration Introduction

Armenian surnames are a true reflection of the culture and heritage of this ancient civilization. As with Armenian first names, Armenian surnames are often influenced by other civilizations with whom we have lived and interacted, such as the Persians, Georgians, Russians, Turks, Arabs, and Greeks.

Practically all Armenian surnames consist of a root or stem and a suffix denoting son of or family of or issued from. The preponderance of these suffixes consist of the Armenian IAN, with its variations such as, IANS, IANZ, IANTS, IANTZ, YAN, YANS, YANZ, YANTS, YANTZ, ENTS, ENTZ. Similar suffixes are derived from other languages, such as, OGHLI, OGLI, OGHLU, OGLU from Turkish, and OV, OFF, EV, EFF from Russian. ZADE from Georgian; ESCU from Rumanian.

It is worth mentioning that other nations such as the Persians, English and Irish also have surnames ending with "ian”. It is also to be noted that, historically, endings were changed to preclude undue attention, especially in Turkey, were "oghlu" (also meaning the "son of” in Turkish) was used.

This compendium reflects the root or stem of the name in upper case letters, and the suffix, customarily ian, in lower case. Excluded are prefixes such as DER, TER (denoting descent from married clergy) whether joined to the stem or not.

Armenian surnames can be classed generally in six categories, such as:

Aristocracy

Armenians who are direct descendants of nobility, such as the "Nakharars", still carry their ancestral family name. These names usually have the ending "uni". Examples: Arshagouni, Ardsruni, Rshduni.

Patronymic

Many Armenian surnames originate from the first name of an ancestor. This practice is very common among all nations of the world. Examples: Avedisian, Garabedian, Hagopian.

Occupation

Some Armenian surnames are derived from a person’s profession or trade, or that of an ancestor. These names (most have Arabic, Persian or Turkish origins) were assigned by the taxation officers to help them identify individuals in their own language. Examples: Bakalian, Najarian, Tashjian.

Geographic origin

An Armenian who has migrated from a certain geographic region (city, town or village) in Armenia, was typically given a surname, which was based on his/her geographic origin. Examples: Izmirlian, Marashian, Vanetsian.

Physical trait

A significant number of names are derived from obvious physical characteristic features The names often are not flattering, but the category is too extensive to be ignored. Examples: Bournazian, Shashoyan, Topalian.

Special circumstances

An interesting category of names is that where some unusual occurrence or circumstance gave rise to the name. Examples: Chokaszian, Haviters, Kherdian.

Note on pronunciation

In this work, the “oo” sound, as in fool, is represented by the letter combination “ou”. The “uh” sound, as in but, is represented by the letter “u”. The “oo” sound in Persian, Arabic and Turkish continues to be represented by the letter u.

Language key

A: Armenian Ab: Arabic An: Anglo-Saxon Ar: Aramaic As: Assyrian C: Chaldean Ct: Celtic E: English F: French Ge: German Gr: Greek H: Hebrew Hi: Hindi Ir: Irish It: Italian K: Kurdish L: Latin N: Norwegian P: Persian/Pahlavi R: Rumanian Rs: Russian S: Scottish Sp: Spanish Sw: Swedish T: Turkish Tn: Teutonic TT: Tatar U: Urdu W: Welsh

For a comprehensive presentation given by the author on the etymology of Armenian surnames, access the following site:

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/What%27s_in_a_Name%3F_The_Etymology_of_Armenian_Surnames

Acknowledgments

The author thanks the following named individuals for their kind and valuable assistance:

Mr. George Aghjayan Mr. Aram Arkun Mr. Eddie Arnavoudian Mr. Armen Aroyan Prof. George Bournoutian Mr. Cesar Chekijian Prof. Levon Chookaszian Prof. Levon Chorbajian Ms. Joyce Chorbajian Mr. Zaven Dadekian Ms Arpie Dadoyan Mr Joseph Dagdigian Mr. Onnik Dinkjian Mr. Yeghishe Hajakian Mr. Charles Hardy Ms Arpi Haroutunian Mr. Mircan Haviters Mr. Appo Jabarian Mr. Hrach Kalsahakian Mr. Mardig Kanayan Mr. Aram Khatchadourian Mr. Stepan Karadian Mr. Antranig Kasbarian Ms. Lucine Kasbarian Mr. Armen Lucas Dr. Herand Markarian Mr. Ashot Merijanian Ms. Alice Sachaklian Mr. Emil Sanamyan Mr. Richard Shareshian Mr. Vahe Surenian Mr. Zohrab Tazian Prof. Khachig Tololyan Ms. Shakeh Torigian Mr. Jirayr Tutunjian Mr. Alfred Yeznaian




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