Difference between revisions of "What's in a Name? The Etymology of Armenian Surnames"

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'''What's in a Name? The Etymology of Armenian Surnames'''
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Reading Lecture (On line)
  
'''by C. K. Garabed'''
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What’s in a Name?
  
'''Circa 2003'''
+
The Etymology of Armenian Surnames
  
 +
By C.K. Garabed
  
In the late 1970s, 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.
 
  
 +
Slide #1 – (title of presentation)
  
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, Haviters, and Soghanyemezian, sometimes I think we Armenians, more than any other ethnic group, possess the most fascinating surnames.”
+
Dear friends:
  
 +
I wish to emphasize, first and foremost, that I am not a linguist or philologist, and certainly not an expert on
  
I should qualify that by acknowledging the level of interest contained in the names of some of our “odar” spouses. To prepare for my talk, I reviewed the passenger list of Armenians attending the Armenian Heritage Cruise to the Caribbean we are embarking on today. I noticed some very interesting non-Armenian names, and I have tried to decipher some of them. So, those of you in attendance who possess non-Armenian names, don’t hesitate to fill out the form if you would like me to tackle them. If I don’t already know, I’ll do my best to find out and communicate the results to you.
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names or languages. I am simply an ordinary fellow who has taken an interest in Armenian surnames. Forty years ago,  
  
 +
I started collecting names from church telephone directories and donor lists as a hobby; at first manually, then
  
Now for my lecture:
+
with the aid of a personal computer. I have collected well over 10,000 names to date, though not all of them are
  
'''What's in a Name?  (The Etymology of Armenian Surnames)'''
+
defined yet. The task of collecting names has been made easier by the publication of the UNIARTS Armenian White
  
 +
Pages telephone directory in California.
  
'''Intro''' - I am a non-expert (not a Linguist or Philologist) on names/ languages.  25 years ago I started collecting names from church directories and donor lists as a hobby. Manually.  Then on personal computer, which made alphabetizing, sorting and editing easier. 7000 names collected to date. The task of collecting names has been made easier by the publication of the Armenian Yellow Pages in California.
+
Also, what greatly facilitated my work were the dictionaries that were provided me by my daughter, Lucine, and good
  
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.
+
friend, Cesar Chekijian. Of course, there were many other friends who helped me in my work, one way or another.  
  
 +
Their names are listed at the end of this lecture online.
  
My library has been enhanced by my daughter, Lucine Kasbarian, who furnished me with dictionaries (Armenian-English; Persian-English, Arabic-English, Turkish-English, Kurdish-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) and a book of Hebrew names, which comes in handy when working with names that have a Biblical background.
 
  
 +
Curiosity was my first motivation for exploring the subject of Armenian family names. However, I then came to
  
'''Indo-European language tree:'''
+
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 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 Bajaksouzian, which means legless, for a short man; Soghanyemezian, which means one who does not eat
 +
 
 +
onions; and Srmakeshkhanlian, which means owner/worker of a factory where gold/silver thread is drawn, I sometimes
 +
 
 +
think we Armenians, more than any other ethnic group, possess the most fascinating surnames. Incidentally, Armenian
 +
 
 +
writer Yervant Srmakeshkhanlian chose the name Yeroukhan as his pen name, a truncation and blending of his first and
 +
 
 +
last names.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
Now for my lecture –
 +
 
 +
What's in a Name? 
 +
 
 +
(The Etymology of Armenian Surnames)
 +
 
 +
 
 +
Slide #2 – (Sources)
 +
 
 +
The following are segments of an illustration by David S. Merrill for an article titled “The Mother Tongue”
 +
 
 +
published in U.S. News & World Report magazine on November 5, 1990.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
Slide #3 –(Mother Tongue)
 +
 
 +
Let’s start with the Indo-European language branch of the human language tree. An original Mother Tongue, the
 +
 
 +
provenance of which has never been determined, is the source of the Indo-European branch, seen in the highlighted
 +
 
 +
area, which includes Armenian.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
Slide #4 –(Indo-European Branch)
 +
 
 +
Recent scholarship suggests that, contrary to what was believed to be true of the order of languages in the branch,
 +
 
 +
Armenian has now been given a more prominent place.
 +
                                                                 
 +
 
 +
Starting from the base of the ProtoIndo-European branch, we see the European languages off to the left; and then to
 +
 
 +
the right are the Anatolian languages, which are extinct; and then, in between, is the Aryano-Greco-Armenio branch.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
Slide #5 – The follo
 +
 
 +
wing is a segment of the same illustration, enlarged and colorized.
 +
                   
 +
 
 +
Slide #6 – (The Aryano-Greco-Armenio branch)
 +
 
 +
From that orange point to the left are the Greek languages; and to the right, the Armeno-Aryan  languages, seen in
 +
 
 +
red. Then we come immediately to Armenian which is a continuation of the red, followed by the yellow group that
 +
 
 +
includes Persian; and subsequently to Sanskrit, that includes the Indian tongues: Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, etc.
 +
 
 +
Thus, we see that Armenian is closer to the Mother Tongue source than Persian and that Armenian and Persian are no
 +
 
 +
longer believed to be derived from Sanskrit.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
Slide #7 –(Anatolia) – This slide shows the movement of the language.
 +
                                                     
 +
It is now believed that the Indo-European model originated in Anatolia, and spread west to Europe, and east to India. Also, it is now believed that the language spread, not by horseback, as previously assumed, but by farming.
 +
 
 +
Slide #8 – (A suitable international language?)
 +
 
 +
There has been a great deal of interest in the formal adoption of an international language. Esperanto has been considered, but rejected as an artificial one that is deemed undesirable. English, which has become important in international relations, has also been rejected on grounds that it is too difficult to learn.
 +
 
 +
Slide #9 – (Ough – bough, cough, dough, rough, through)
 +
 
 +
Just take a look at these five English words that all end with the letters ough. They are all pronounced differently:
 +
bough
 +
cough
 +
dough
 +
rough
 +
through
 +
 
 +
Slide #10 – (Ghoti = fish: Shaw)
 +
 
 +
That eminent playwright and music critic, George Bernard Shaw, called English a ridiculous language. He said that he could take a word with the letters ghoti and make it spell fish.  He would take the gh from the English word rough for f, the o from women for i, and the ti from nation for sh. Result-- Fish.
 +
 
 +
Slide #11 – (Margaret Mead, Sol Tax, anthropologists)
 +
 
 +
Anthropologists Margaret Mead and Sol Tax have recommended that Armenian be adopted formally as the international language for two reasons: One is that adoption of the language of a larger or prominent country such as England, France or Germany would give that country significant political power. The other is that the proposed language should be relatively easy to learn. Armenia fills the bill in both cases. It is a small country with a small population, and its language is easy to learn. With some minor exceptions, the written alphabet provides a single sound for every letter and a single letter for every sound.
 +
 
 +
Interaction among languages is quite common in history, and all languages borrow from others. Latin borrows from Greek; while French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese borrow from Latin; and English borrows from everybody.
 +
 
 +
Certainly Armenian borrows from the languages of other cultures with which contact has been made, notably Persian, Greek, Arabic and Turkish. A language that borrows from others is thereby enriched. Very often, to make a point, a good speaker will have recourse to a borrowed word in preference to a native one.
 +
 
 +
Slide # 12 – (O.K.)
 +
 
 +
Can it be denied that the most successful English word (if you can call it that) to pervade practically all other world languages is “O.K.?”
 +
 
 +
English has been influenced by the same languages that have influenced Armenian, notably Persian and Arabic.
 +
 
 +
Slide # 13 – (Persian influence on English)
 +
Persian influence on English can be seen in the following:
 +
 
 +
· cummerbund: kamarband (waistband) 
 +
 
 +
· orange: naranj (The letter n shifted from a naranj to an orange)
 +
 
 +
· checkmate: shahmat (The king is dead).
 +
    (Persian/ Arabic)
 
    
 
    
(Slide #1) –  Mother Tongue
 
  
(Slide #2) Indo-European Branch
+
Slide # 14 = (Arabic influence on English)
 +
 
 +
Arabic influence on English can be seen in the following:
 +
 
 +
· algebra: al jabra ( reduction of parts to a whole).
 +
 
 +
· cipher: sifr (zero), which has come to mean a code. Arabic numerals provide a flexibility that Roman numerals cannot. One wonders how the Romans, with their cumbersome numerical system, were able to divide their enemies, and multiply their conquests.
 +
 
 +
· admiral: amir al bahr (lord of the sea). There’s nothing admirable about an admiral.
 +
   
 +
The Turkish influence on English is negligible. All we come away with is Turkish bath, Turkish coffee, Turkish tobacco, Turkish towel, and Turkish delight, none of which are truly Turkish in origin.
  
(Slide #3) – Anatolia
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Slide # 15 - (Persian influence on Armenian)
  
International language - Esperanto/English?
+
Armenian has likewise been influenced by interaction with Persian, Arabic, and Turkish.  Armenian use of Persian vocabulary includes, for example:
  
(Slide #4) -- Ough – bough, cough, dough, rough, through
+
· bakht to pakht (luck)
  
(Slide #5) -- Ghoti = fish (Shaw)  
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· dushvar to tuzhvar (difficult)
  
(Slide #6) -- Margaret Mead; Sol Tax; anthropologists.  
+
· pil to pigh (elephant)
 +
 +
Mardo Soghomian, a former staff member of the Armenian Prelacy of NY, told me that the father of the last Shah of Iran commissioned his scholars to study the Armenian language because he knew there were 200 loan words that Armenians borrowed from Persian which were no longer in use by the Persian people. The Shah wanted to restore those words to the Persian language.
 
   
 
   
  
Interaction among languages is quite common in history.
+
The late Krikor Pidedjian, esteemed Armenian educator and Ethnomusicologist, had this to say about Aryan languages: "There is some question as to which language influenced which when it comes to Persian and Armenian. Many people assumed Armenians derived words from the Persians. However, there are just as many words that the Persians derived from the Armenians."
 +
 
 +
One that comes to mind is the word vard for the rose flower. The primary word for rose in Persian is gul, and secondarily vard, which suggests that it came from vart, the Armenian word for rose.
 +
 
 +
Slide #16 (Arabic influence on Armenian)
 +
 
 +
Armenians, especially in their dialects, make use of Arabic vocabulary –Examples are:
 +
 
 +
· aman (woe, my God!)
  
French, Italian and Spanish are derived from Latin.
+
· Haji (pilgrim)
  
English is Teutonic in structure, while its vocabulary is 75% French- Latin.
+
· mashallah (how amazing!)
  
English has been influenced by the same languages that have influenced Armenian, notably Persian and Arabic.
 
  
 +
Slide #17 – (Turkish words used by Armenians)
  
'''Persian influence on English can be seen in the following:'''
+
Having lived for centuries with the Turks, who occupied the Armenian homeland, it would be remarkable if the Armenians had not adopted many Turkish terms in their everyday speech. Some Turkish words regularly used by Armenians, especially in the towns and cities with mixed populations, are:
  
'''Cummerbund''' = kamarband (waistband)
+
· chojouk (child)
  
'''Orange''' = Naranj
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· chuplak (naked)
  
'''Checkmate''' = Shahmat (The king is dead). (Persian/Arabic)
+
· lahana (cabbage)
  
 +
Slide #18 – (terms used by Armenians that are not Turkish, as thought)
  
'''Arabic influence on English can be seen in the following:'''
+
However, we tend to give the Turks too much credit for some common terms that most people are familiar with and use in their daily conversation. Examples are:
  
'''Algebra''' = al jabra = reduction of parts to a whole
+
· finjan (coffee cup)
 +
· jan (term of endearment)
 +
· zourna (wind instrument)
  
'''Cipher''' = zero = sifr, (Roman vs. Arabic numerals) Divide/Multiply (enemies/conquests)
+
The original source of these words is Persian.
  
'''Admiral''' = Amir al bahr = Lord of the sea. (Admirable?)
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We also have:
  
 +
· geuzel (graceful) 
 +
· kahve (coffee)
 +
· tanjara (pot)
  
'''The Turkish influence on English is negligible.'''
+
The original source of these words is Arabic.
All we come away with is Turkish Bath, Turkish Towel, Turkish Coffee, and Turkish Delight.
+
 +
Lieutenant Colonel Harry Sachaklian, a career U.S. Air Force officer stationed in Turkey, told me that the only truly Turkish vocabulary consists of military terms. The rest is all borrowed. Now, that may be an overstatement, but there is a germ of truth in it.
  
 +
Turkish, after all, is a carrier language, the Turks having borrowed from all the cultures in their midst.
  
'''Armenian has likewise been influenced by interaction with Persian and Arabic.'''
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My father, Hagop Der Kasbarian, advised me that it was the Armenians who beautified the Turkish language.  
  
'''Armenian use of Persian vocabulary''' – (English – Persian dictionary)
+
Slide #19 = (Martayan)
  
List:    anginar, azad, bakht, bulbul, dard, dushvar, dumbak, gav, haiwan, jins, jan, lubiyah, mard, nishan, pishgir, parishan, panir, pambah, paiman, turshi, tut, yar.  
+
This brings to mind the name Martayan, which is Turkish for mistress, and the family name of Hagop Martayan, commissioned by Mustafa Kemal to modernize the Turkish alphabet, and was given the title of Dilachar, tongue-opener.
 +
 +
What is true of the general vocabulary is also true of surnames.
  
Krikor Pidedjian, esteemed Armenian Ethnomusicologist, on Aryan languages: "There is some question as to which language influenced which when it comes to Persian and Armenian. Many people assumed Armenians derived words from the Persian. However, there are just as many words that the Persians derived from the Armenians."
+
Slide #20 - Examples of Armenian names that contain Persian roots are:
  
Armenian staff member at the Armenian Prelacy of NY, Mardig Soghomian: "The father of the last Shah of Iran made a request to scholars. He commissioned them to study the Armenian language because he knew there were 200 load words that Armenians borrowed from Persian which were no longer in use by the Persian people. The Shah wanted to restore those words to the Persian language."
+
· Goulkhasian (best variety of rose)
 +
· Shahbazian (royal falcon)
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· Zargarian (jeweler)
 +
 +
In 1969, when I attended a military comptrollership course at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana, there were two foreign service officers in our class, one Korean, and the other Iranian, whose name was Rezvanian. I introduced myself to him, and then began conversing in Armenian. I saw immediately that he did not understand me, so I apologized, and told him that I assumed he was Armenian because his last name ended in “IAN,” which in Armenian means “son of, family of, or issued from.” He then told me that many ethnic Persians have names that end with IAN.  
  
Persian names also end in IAN. Example: Rezvanian
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Slide #21 - Examples of names that contain Arabic roots are:  
  
'''Armenian use of Arabic vocabulary''' - (English-Arabic dictionary)
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· Habeshian (native of Abyssinia or Ethiopia)
 +
· Jelalian (majesty, glory)
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· Maksoudian (design, intention)
 +
 +
Slide #22 - Examples of names that contain Turkish roots:
  
List: mashallah (beautiful! how strange!), tabak, (plate, dish), tanjara (saucepan, pot), Haji (pilgrim) vs. Mukhsi (Mahdesi). (Maqdasi-y: Arab.) Mecca vs. Jerusalem. Saatjian vs. Zhamakordzian,
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Examples of names that contain Turkish roots are:
  
'''Armenian has been heavily influenced by interaction with Turkish, especially in the formation of surnames.'''
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· Boyajian (painter, dyer, or artist)
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· Deirmenjian (miller)
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· Kazanjian (kettle, boiler or cauldron maker)
  
'''Armenian use of Turkish vocabulary''' - Preponderance of Armenian surnames possess a Turkish root:
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Slide #23 – (Names that are not Turkish in origin)
  
  Sources: Lt. Col. H. Sachaklian, (Peynir, sheker); Hagop Kasbarian -- CK Garabed's father
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As with the general vocabulary, we tend to assume that many Armenian surnames reflect Turkish roots, when in fact a closer examination reveals that many of them are borrowed from Persian and Arabic, which were a significant part of the Ottoman Turkish language.
 +
Examples are:
 +
   
 +
· Najjarian (carpenter) from Arabic
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· Nalbandian (blacksmith specializing in the shoeing of horses) from Persian
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· Nakashian (engraver) from Arabic
 +
   
 +
Slide #24 – (Modified Armenian names India)
  
'''The Armenians and the Jews'''
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Because of the length of some Armenian surnames and the difficulty in their pronunciation, some Armenians have changed their family names. In some cases, it was done by removing the "ian" ending, and in others, by adapting to the customs of a new country. This practice, especially among the Armenian merchants who settled in India, has produced some surnames, which are very hard to recognize as being Armenian. Examples are:
  
 +
· Asdvadzadourian (God-given) evolved to Chater
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· Haroutiunian (resurrection) to Arathoon
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· Mardirosian (martyr) to Martyrose
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· Mgrdichian (baptist) to Mackertich
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· Sarkisian (rainbow) to Serkies
 +
 +
Slide # 25 – (The Armenians and the Jews)
 +
 
There was a time when people were known by one name, and if necessary to distinguish one from others, would be referred to by trade, location, or parent affiliation. For example, Resartus the tailor, Isaac of York, Abou ben Adhem. Then, some time later, not too long ago, people adopted family or surnames, so we got Herman Miller, Hovsep Shamlian, Jack Johnson.  
 
There was a time when people were known by one name, and if necessary to distinguish one from others, would be referred to by trade, location, or parent affiliation. For example, Resartus the tailor, Isaac of York, Abou ben Adhem. Then, some time later, not too long ago, people adopted family or surnames, so we got Herman Miller, Hovsep Shamlian, Jack Johnson.  
  
An interesting parallel can be drawn between the Jews of Germany and the Armenians of Turkey. In both cases, sometime about the eighteenth century, the rulers of those countries mandated the adoption of family names in the language of the host countries. The difference is that whereas the German Jews were often permitted to select their names, the Turkish Armenians were often assigned names by local officials. Thus came about the adoption by Jews of beautiful names, such as: Morgenthau (morning dew), Schoenberg (beautiful mountain), Blumenthal (blooming dale), Mandelbaum (almond tree), Saperstein (sapphire stone). The Armenians, on the other hand, were often as not given uncomplimentary names, in derision. For example: Topalian (lame, crippled), Chirkinian (ugly), Dilsizian (mute, without a tongue), Chukhasuzian (without an overcoat), Jambazian (acrobat, swindler), Tekirian (marked with spots), Zulumian (cruel, oppressive).
+
An interesting parallel can be drawn between the Jews of Germany and the Armenians of Turkey. In both cases, sometime about the eighteenth century, the rulers of those countries mandated the adoption of family names in the language of the host or occupying countries.  
 +
 
 +
The difference is that whereas the German Jews were often permitted to select their names, the Turkish Armenians were often assigned names by local officials. Thus came about the adoption by Jews of beautiful names, such as:  
 +
 
 +
Slide #26 – Jews in Germany
 +
 
 +
· Morgenthau (morning dew)
 +
· Schoenberg (beautiful mountain)
 +
· Blumenthal (blooming dale)
 +
· Mandelbaum (almond tree)
 +
· Saperstein (sapphire stone)
 +
 
 +
The Armenians, on the other hand, were as often as not given uncomplimentary names, in derision. For example:
 +
 
 +
Slide #27 – Armenians in occupied homeland
 +
 
 +
· Chirkinian (ugly)
 +
· Jambazian (swindler)
 +
· Tekirian (marked with spots)
 +
· Topalian (lame, crippled)
 +
· Zouloumian (cruel, oppressive)
 +
 +
Armenian names may possess endings such as ian, iantz, oghlu and ov, but their stems determine their basic meaning, Armenian surnames can be classed generally in seven categories, such as:
 +
 +
Slide # 28 – Name origins: Aristocracy, Patronymic, Occupation, Geographic origin, Physical trait, General descriptive, Special circumstances
 +
 
 +
Slide #29: Aristocracy
 +
 
 +
Aristocracy
 +
Armenians who are direct descendants of dynastic nobility still carry their ancestral family names. These names usually have the ending "ouni". Examples:
 +
· Arshagouni
 +
· Ardzrouni
 +
· Rshdouni
 +
 +
 
 +
Slide #30 - Patronymic
  
'''Name Endings'''
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Patronymic
 +
Many Armenian surnames originate from the first name of an ancestor. This practice is very common among all nations of the world. Examples:
  
Armenian names may possess endings such as ian, iantz, oghlu and ov, but their stems reflect royal lineage, trade, geographic location, description, and proper name.
+
· Avedisian (Good news!)
 +
· Garabedian (Forerunner)
 +
· Hagopian (Jacob)
  
'''Examples:'''
+
Slide #31 – Occupation
  
'''Lineage:'''
+
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:
 +
 
 +
· Chilingirian (locksmith)     
 +
· Demirjian (blacksmith)       
 +
· Tashjian (stonemason)
 +
Slide #32 – Geographic origin
 +
 
 +
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 (native of Izmir)
 +
· Marashian (native of Marash)
 +
· Vanetsian (native of Van)
 
   
 
   
Abahuni
+
Slide #33 - Physical trait
Amaduni
 
Ardzruni (Armenian dynasty; Possessing eagles)
 
Arshaguni (Royal house of King Arshag)
 
Darduni
 
Kachaznuni (Valiant, son of the brave)
 
Marduni ?
 
Pakraduni (Created or given by god – Mihr)
 
Rshduni (Armenian dynasty)
 
  
'''Trade:'''
+
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:
  
Dulgerian, Doghramajian, Marangozian, Najarian, Hiusenian (carpenter)
+
· Kalsahakian (bald Isaac)
Demirjian, Nalbandian, Tarpinian, Chilingirian, Vosgerichian, Kalayjian, Haddad (smith)
+
· Cholakian (crippled)
Kuyumjian, Jafargian (Javahirjian), Koharian (jeweler)
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· Shashoyan (squint-eyed)
Darakjian vs. Sandrakordzian (comb-maker)
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Tutunjian vs. Tombekjian (tobacconist): common tobacco vs. Persian tobacco for nargile (water-pipe)
+
Slide #34 – General descriptive
Deirmenjian vs. Chaghatsbanian (miller)
 
  
'''Geographic location:'''
+
General descriptive
 +
This is a catch-all category that contains names that do not fit the other categories,
 +
Examples:
  
Lachinian, Marashian, Shamlian, Terjanian, Stamboulian, Bolsetsian.
+
· Mampreyan (fertile, fruitful)
 +
· Yotnakhparian (seven brothers)
 +
· Servantsdiantz (contemporary, up-to-date)
 +
 +
Slide #35 - Special circumstances
  
'''Description:'''
+
Special circumstances
 +
An interesting category of names is that where some unusual occurrence or circumstance gave rise to the name.
 +
Examples:
  
Khachadourian (given by the cross), Aznavourian (titan, hero),
+
· Choukhasouzian  (without a winter overcoat)
Melikian (king, prince), Melekian (angel), Manougian (youth), Mangasarian (small mountain),
+
· Haviters (contrary nap)
Shahdanian = Shah (king) + dan (house) vs. danil/danel = to take, carry, bear (tolerate)
+
· Kherdian (break and run)
 +
 +
I will explain the origin of these names later in the lecture.
  
'''Proper names:'''
+
Editor Kathryn Manuelian has suggested the inclusion of yet another category, which is Biblical.
  
Davidian, Garabedian, Sahagian, Mesrobian, Hagopian (Jackson).
+
Slide #36 - Biblical
Dadoyan: Thaddeus > Tad > Dad (Karabagh) (Location?)
 
  
'''Names that require "Detective work":'''
+
This concept has merit as many Armenian surnames are derived from Biblical sources.
  
Name changes - Bohajian, Kahaumjian.
+
Examples are:
  
'''Kerbeykian:'''  Kur = grey, buyuk = moustache
+
Aprahamian (Father of peoples)
  
(actor) '''Akim Tamiroff''' - (Hovakim Tamirian) - Hovagim: Biblical name, demir: iron.
+
Hampartsoumian (Ascension of Jesus Christ)
  
'''Inchighoulian''' = what a giant! vs. inji + goul = pearl rose vs. inji + oghoul = pearl + son.
+
Mgrdichian (St. John the Baptist)
  
'''Shareshian'''  = black silk , according to Nicholas Shareshian
+
There is, of course, plenty of room for overlap. Many names can be classified as both Biblical and patronymic. I came to realize that like the O prefix to Irish names, and the Mac prefix to Scottish names, practically all Armenian names with the suffix ian can be considered patronymic even though they may not be derived from first names of ancestors.
  
ipek = (T.) silk
+
Slide #37 – Obscure names
metaqs (medaks)  = (Arm.) silk (from Greek: metaxi)
 
aprisoum (abrishoom) = (T.) sewing silk (from Arab: ibrishim)
 
iprisim (ibrishim) = (Arab.) silk thread (from Persian: abrishum)
 
  
seram (sheram) = (Arm.) silkworm
+
Some obscure names can be deciphered fairly easily, such as:
seramabou/oujiun (sheramapoodzootiun) = (Arm.) sericulture
 
sarmaj (sharmagh) = (Arm.) silk-sieve Prof. Hagopian, Anatolia College, Merzifoun, turkey
 
  
esh (esh) = (Arm.) donkey, ass.
+
· Bohajian for Boyajian (painter)
esh = (T.) one of a pair; husband, wife, mate
+
· Kahaumjian for Kouyoumjian (jeweler)
eshek = (T.) donkey, ass.
+
· Kerbeykian for Kurbuyukian (which means grey moustache), and
eshik = (T.) doorway threshold, violin bridge.
+
· Akim Tamiroff, the name of the noted actor, where Akim is the diminutive for Hovakim (the father of St. Mary), and Tamiroff is the Russian form of Demirjian (blacksmith)
 +
 
 +
Slide #38 = (Detective work)
 +
 
 +
There are other names that require extensive detective work in order to get at their meaning.
 +
 
 +
Shareshian is a case in point.
 +
 
 +
According to Nicholas Shareshian, the father of a prominent Dikranagerdtsi family that resided in Union City, New Jersey, the name means black silk. Now, how do you get black silk from Shareshian?
 +
 
 +
The Turkish word for silk is ipek.
 +
 
 +
The Arabic and Persian words for silk are abrishoom, abrishim, and ibrishim.
 +
 
 +
The Armenian word for silk is medaks, which, however, is borrowed from the Greek word for silk, metaxi.
 +
 
 +
Well, where do we go from here?
 +
 
 +
In the course of my perusing an English-Armenian Dictionary published by Mesrob Kouyoumjian, I came across the word for silk sieve, which was sharmagh. Further investigation revealed that the Armenian word for silkworm is sheram, and that sericulture is sherama-pou-dzou-tioun.
 
   
 
   
sew (sev) = (Arm.) black
+
Here, then, was an important clue. The shar portion of the name was validated as meaning silk.
kara =(T.) black
 
siyah = (P.) black;  also (T.) black, dark.
 
  
It is possible that share (of silk in Arm.) plus siyah (black in P.) =
+
Now, what about esh?
Sharesiyah plus ian = Sharesiyahian, which was contracted to
 
Sharesian, subsequently became Shareshian.
 
  
'''Spelling and Country of Origin  (Slide #7)'''
+
Esh is Armenian for donkey or ass. Nothing pertinent there.
  
Keshishian vs. Kechichian
+
Esh in Turkish can mean one of a pair; a husband, wife, or mate. Nothing there.
  
Harutunian vs. Arutunian (yan)
+
Eshek is Turkish for donkey or ass. Nothing there, either.
  
Ohanesian vs. Oganesian (yan)  (Hopak vs. Gopak; Horowitx vs. Gorovetz)
+
Eshik in Turkish is a doorway threshold, or a violin bridge. In other words, that which is weight-bearing. No connection here, also.
  
Vapurdjian vs. Vapurciyan
+
I, then, proceeded to check on the various words that were likely to yield the color black.
  
'''Intermission (Q & A)'''
+
The Armenian word for black is sev.
  
Other interesting or unusual names:
+
The Turkish word for black is kara. However, there is a secondary word for black used in Turkish, borrowed by Ottoman Turkish from Persian, and that word is siyah.
  
'''Adjeledjian''' (T): Someone always in a hurry
+
Voila!  siyah is Persian for black. It is also used in Turkish for black or dark.
  
'''Altiparmakian''' (T): One with six fingers. (Interestingly, this name was also given to string musicians who displayed remarkable musical aptitude)
+
It is possible that share (of silk in Armenian), plus siyah (black in Persian) = Sharesiyah plus ian = Sharesiyahian, which was contracted to Sharesian, subsequently became Shareshian.
  
'''Arkun''' (T/A): According to Aram Arkun, currently an editor of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, this is his reply to my question about the derivation and meaning of his surname:
+
The father, Nigoghos, or an ancestor was undoubtedly engaged in the silk industry which flourished in Dikranagerd, and was perpetuated in America by Armenian immigrants.
 +
 +
Slide # 39 – (Spelling and Country)
  
“My Sepastatsi grandfather’s name was originally Yesai Karageuzian. He is said to have traced his genealogy back 400 years to Van, with clergy in the family tree. Unfortunately, the information is lost to us. My grandfather was a physician in the Turkish army during WW I. For obvious reasons he changed his name to Ismail Shevket. His last name was probably formally changed during the name law in the 1930s to Arkun.. My grandfather was an amateur philologist, and I perceive a correlation between Shevket and Arkun, which latter can be construed as both Armenian and Turkish. Shevket, in Turkish, means majesty, pomp. Arkun, in Armenian, is a form of arka, a term used to describe a king or royalty. Thus, Arkun (or Arkuni) would mean, of the royal court, or, belonging to the king. In Turkish, as far as I know, Arkun has two meanings: soft, gentle; the name of a Mongol Ilkhanid ruler Arghun (the gh sound changed to k in modern Turkish.) For the foregoing reasons, there is only one family group with the name Arkun. As an interesting aside, I would mention that during the 1930s name change law, those who had changed their names earlier now had to register their names. Others were forced to take on new names. For example, a couple on my mother’s side went together to the same registry official. One was given the name Karabulut, black cloud, and the other Siyahbulut, also black cloud, siyah having been borrowed from Persian. The official was apparently playing a cruel joke on the couple by assiging different last names with the same meaning. They had a great deal of difficulty in trying to get the same last name for both husband and wife.
+
The spelling of a name can vary depending on the country to which the owner of the name has immigrated.
  
'''Arnavoudian''' (Al): Eddie Arnavoudian, who is a regular contributor to “Groong Armenian News Network” on the Internet, has the following to say about his family name as it was handed down to him:  
+
· Keshishian (English) vs. Kechichian (French) which means priest
 +
· Haroutiounian (English) vs. Arutunyan (Russian) which means resurrection
 +
· Ohanesian (English) vs. Oganesyan (Russian) which means John
 +
· Vapurdjian (French)  vs. Vapurciyan (Turkish) which means steamship owner or operator
 +
 
 +
Slide # 40 - Other Strange, Humorous and Unusual Names
 +
 +
Slide #41 – (Ajelejian)
 +
 
 +
Ajelejian: (T) Someone always in a hurry
 +
 
 +
Slide # 42 – (Altimarmakian)
 +
 
 +
Altiparmakian (T) One with six fingers. This can be taken literally, or figuratively. Literally: I, myself, in my youth, knew of a dishwasher who worked at the Bergenline Restaurant in Union City, N.J. who had six fingers on each hand. The sixth was a tiny finger adjoining the pinkie finger.
 +
 
 +
Figuratively: The name would be applied to someone who was possessed of great dexterity, such as a musician who played a string instrument with great skill so as to make one believe that he had six fingers.
 +
 +
Slide # 43 – (Arkun)
 +
 
 +
Arkun (T/A) According to Aram Arkun, currently the assistant editor of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, this is his reply to my question about the derivation and meaning of his surname:
 +
 
 +
“My Sepastatsi grandfather’s name was originally Yesai Karageuzian (which by the way means black or dark eyes). He is said to have traced his genealogy back 400 years to Van, with clergy in the family tree.
 +
 
 +
Unfortunately, the information is lost to us. My grandfather was a physician in the Turkish army during WW I. For obvious reasons he changed his name to Ismail Shevket. His last name was probably formally changed during the name law in the 1930s to Arkun. My grandfather was an amateur philologist, and I perceive a correlation between Shevket and Arkun, which latter can be construed as both Armenian and Turkish. Shevket, in Turkish, means majesty, pomp. Arkun, in Armenian, is a form of arka, a term used to describe a king or royalty. Thus, Arkun (or Arkuni) would mean, of the royal court, or, belonging to the king. In Turkish, as far as I know, Arkun has two meanings: soft, gentle; the name of a Mongol Ilkhanid ruler Arghun (the gh sound changed to k in modern Turkish.) For the foregoing reasons, there is only one family group with the name Arkun. As an interesting aside, I would mention that during the 1930s name change law, those who had changed their names earlier now had to register their names. Others were forced to take on new names. For example, a couple on my mother’s side went together to the same registry official. One was given the name Karaboulout, black cloud, and the other Siyahboulout, also black cloud, siyah having been borrowed from Persian. The official was apparently playing a cruel joke on the couple by assigning different last names with the same meaning. They had a great deal of difficulty in trying to get the same last name for both husband and wife.”
 +
 +
Slide # 44 – (Arnavoudian)
 +
 
 +
Arnavoudian (Al) Eddie Arnavoudian, who is a regular contributor to The Groong Armenian News Network, has the following to say about his family name as it was handed down to him:  
  
 
"My dad’s side of the family were from an area around Istanbul called Arnavoudkoy or something like that. The area was named after it was settled by emigrants from European Albania called Arnavouds. The Arnavouds were divided in their religion, one part Christian, the other Muslim. How they became Armenianised or why our family adopted this name if they were not actually Arnavouds will remain an eternal mystery."
 
"My dad’s side of the family were from an area around Istanbul called Arnavoudkoy or something like that. The area was named after it was settled by emigrants from European Albania called Arnavouds. The Arnavouds were divided in their religion, one part Christian, the other Muslim. How they became Armenianised or why our family adopted this name if they were not actually Arnavouds will remain an eternal mystery."
  
'''Bajaksuzian''' (T): Legless; short  man
+
Slide # 45 – (Boujicanian)
  
'''Boynubouroukian''' (T): One with a twisted neck
+
Boujicanian (T) Buchuk: half; an: man; half a man for a short man.
  
'''Chekijian,''' a relative of author Puzant Granian: Chekich vs. cheki (500 lbs for measuring firewood – a horseload).
+
Slide # 46 – (Boynoubouroukian)
  
'''Chukhasuzian''' (T): Without a winter overcoat
+
Boynoubouroukian (T) One with a twisted neck.
  
'''Dilimetin''' (T): Firm, strong tongue; Trustworthy
+
Slide # 47 – (Choukhasouzian)
  
'''Geuzugeutchugian''' (T): Small or deep-set eyes
+
Choukhasouzian:  (T) Without a winter overcoat.
 +
Now, chukha in Turkish is a kind of broadcloth used in the manufacture of heavy coats, and by extension synonymous with winter overcoat. The suffix souz means without.
 +
Thus: without an overcoat. I wasn’t sure if it meant that the bearer of the name could not afford an overcoat, or that he didn’t need one.
  
'''Hajian''' (Mecca) vs. Mukhsian, Mahdesian, Mahdesi, Maqdis-y (Jerusalem)
+
It wasn’t until I was introduced by my brother-in-law Ardashes Hamparian to a family relative, Levon Chookaszian that I was able to settle the matter. Levon is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Yerevan State University. When he was visiting the U.S., Levon advised that the name began with an ancestor, in Sepastia, when he bravely went out in winter without an overcoat. Levon also stated that all the persons with that surname and variations thereof are related, including Lily Chookasian, the famous opera singer.
  
'''Iguidbashian (T) Iguid:''' Var.of Yighit: brave. Bash: head; leader of brave men; (formerly) man responsible for carrying out the regulations of a guild.
+
Slide # 48– (Dadekian)
  
'''Jafargian''' (T): From Javahirji: Jeweler, gemologist
+
Dadekian: (A) According to Zaven Dadekian of New Jersey, this surname was originally Dadekhian. Research confirms this, and furthermore reveals that Dadekh is a variant of Dadegh, in turn a variant of Dadagh, which is a conflation of Dada and agha, Dada being the diminutive for David, and agha a term of respect for a gentleman, sir; therefore, David the gentleman.
 +
 +
Slide # 49 – (Deoshoghlanian)
  
'''Jingabedoghlu''' (T): A certain family migrated to the U.S.A. from Istanbul, Turkey with this unique name. The original name of the family was Mgrdichian. However, the grandfather, who had a given name of Garabed, earned the name of Jin-Garabed because he was shrewdly intelligent; jinni in Arabian folklore being related to genius. Jin-Garabed was, in time, abbreviated to Jin-Gabed, and thus the family name became Jingabedoghlu, or son of Jingabed.
+
Deoshoghlanian (T) Deosh: breast; oghlan: boy; literally breast boy; figuratively, a young man who proudly thrusts his chest forward. This comes compliments of Rosine Deoshoghlanian-Hovsepian of New Jersey, whose ancestor was assigned the name for the latter reason.
  
'''Kantzian''' (A): Treasure. However, really Khantzian (T) Native of village of Khan to Sepastia
+
Slide #50 – (Hajakian)
 +
 
 +
Hajakian: (Ab/H) This is a true story told to me by a bearer of the name Hajakian. Once there lived a man named Hagop who was a supervisor at the stable of the Padishah of the land. His jovial disposition and assiduous attitude for his work had earned him an unswerving trust of his employer, his master, his king. The people around him, the Turks, could not pronounce his Armenian name, Hagop. Instead they called him AKUH. One bright day the Padishah received a gift from some prince. It was a most ravishing, gorgeous looking, rare breed of an Arabian white horse. Akuh, the horse keeper, fell in love with this horse and decided to steal it and ride all the way to Jerusalem. He disappeared for seven years never to be heard from.
 +
 +
The Padishah, realizing that Akuh was more valuable to him than just a horse, issued a Firman (an edict) declaring that he had forgiven Akuh for his misdemeanor and that wherever this Akuh was he should return to the court and resume his work at the stable.
 +
 +
Lo and behold, Akuh returned home with a big welcome to spend the rest of his life as a contrite employee and determined to make up for his mistake. The horse had passed away but in Jerusalem Akuh became emblazoned with a cross tattooed on his wrist thus becoming a Hadji. The Turks, thereafter, call him HADJI AKUH.
 +
 +
This story was told to me by the late Yeghishe Hajakian of New Jersey. Hadji Akuh was Yeghishe’s great, great, great, great grandfather.
  
'''Kanayan''' (T): Blood. From Khudaverdi in the Lake urmia region came 5 brothers to Igdir. They were a
+
Yeghishe was born in Lebanon as Hadjiakuhian (son of Hadji Akuh). It was too long, so he shortened it to Hajakian.  
rough crowd, and became land barons; then became respectable.(Mardig Kanayan, son of General Dro.)
 
  
'''Kavazanjian''' (A/T/A): Stick, staff, cane.P-gav + asa –prod/urge cow on path to meadow
+
(Nasreddin Khoja - baby cow)
+
Slide # 51 – (Haviters)
  
'''Kiledjian''' (T): (Kile: measure of capacity just over a bushel) – Weighmaster.
+
Haviters: (T) In the city of Sepastia in Historic Armenia, there lived and worked two master rug weavers. A wealthy resident of the city wished to have a rug woven and commissioned one of the weavers to do the job. The weaver commenced the work, but halfway through, he died of consumption. The wealthy man who had commissioned the work then approached the other weaver to complete the job. This other master weaver accepted the offer, but being a proud artisan, decided to complete the job his own way. So, instead of picking up where the other had left off, he commenced from the other end and when he had gone far enough, joined the two parts. In doing so he ended up creating a rug with the nap going in opposite directions. This became a source for his being named haviters, hav (khav in old Turkish) meaning nap, and ters meaning contrary. Previously, the family name had been Manougian (which, by the way, means youth).
  
'''Mghtsavanchian''' (A): Nightmare.(Family in Florida per Angel Manoogian)
+
(This comes compliments of grandson Mircan Haviters of Farmingdale, NY, whose ancestors moved from Van to Sepastia 1030 years ago.)
  
'''Oulouhojian''' (Wolohojian) T: ulu: high, great; Hoja: Moslem teacher, priest (Avak Kahana)
+
Slide # 52 – (Jingabedoghlu)  
  
'''Soghanyemezian''' (T): One who does not eat onions
+
Jingabedoghlu: (T/A) A certain family migrated to the U.S.A. from Istanbul, Turkey with this unique name. The original name of the family was Mgrdichian. However, the grandfather, who had a given name of Garabed, earned the name of Jin-Garabed because he was shrewdly intelligent; jin in Turkish from Arabic being a genie or intelligent man. Jin-Garabed was, in time, abbreviated to Jin-Gabed, and thus the family name became Jingabedoghlu, or son of Jingabed.
  
'''Tazian''': – Greyhound (Retriever for Turkish hunters.)
+
This information comes compliments of Shakeh Torigian, a former secretary of this very church, whose maiden name was Jingabedoghlu.
  
'''Terlemezian''' (T): One who does not sweat. Folklore has it that Armenian fedayee Dajad Terlemezian carried out his assignments without a sweat.  Legend has it that an invading shah of Persia taxed the citizens of Van so severely that when they met every fresh demand of his, he was prompted to say, “Don’t these people sweat?” (Dajad Terlemezian's granddaughter, Arpi Haroutunian, says that: "Terlemezian is a Turkification of Talamazi: those with long-hair in the current sense of intellectual, who were also guards of the Armenian rulers of former times."
+
Slide # 53 – (Kanayan)
  
'''Tololian''': Corruption of Tel Volor (thread spinner), a name bestowed on the great great grandmother of Khachig Tololyan, professor of history at Wesleyan University, and the son of Minas Teoleolian, former editor of the Hairenik Daily. Before that, the family name was Sarkisyan. Totolian is a name unique to that family and Khachig is the last of the line.
+
Kanayan: (T) Kan is Turkish for blood or bloody. From Khudaverdi in the Lake Urmia region there came 5 brothers to Igdir. They were a rough crowd, and became land barons; then became respectable.
  
'''Vapurciyan''': Vapur = steamship, vapurji = S.S. builder, owner, operator, crewmember.
+
(This comes compliments of Mardig Kanayan, son of General Dro, whose full name was Drastamat Kanayan.)
  
'''Hajakian''':  (As told to me by Mr. Yeghishe Hajakian)
+
Slide # 54 – (Kardashian)
  
"Once there lived a man named Hagop who was a supervisor at the stable of the Padishah of the land. His jovial disposition and assiduous attitude for his work had earned him an unswerving trust of his employer, his master, his king.  The people around him, the Turks, could not pronounce his Armenian name Hagop, instead they called him AKUH.
+
Perhaps the best known Armenians in the United States are the Kardashian sisters. The name Kardash means “brother” in Turkish and “stone mason” in Armenian.  Courtney Kardashian, sister of Kim, named her son Mason, which leads us to believe that there may have been masons somewhere in the Kardashian family tree.
 
   
 
   
One bright day the Padishah receives a gift from some prince. It was a most ravishing, gorgeous looking, a rare breed of an Arabian white horse. Akuh, the horse keeper, falls in love with this horse and decides to steal it and ride all the way to Jerusalem. He disappears for seven years never to be heard from.
+
Slide # 55 – (Kavazanjian)
 +
 
 +
Kavazanjian: (A/T) Staff/cane maker or seller. [Minas Arakelian, a former employee at St. Leon’s Armenian Church, suggests that kavazan is derived from the Persian words gav for cow, and asa for rod or stick. Thus, a cow prod.]
 
   
 
   
The Padishah, realizing that Akuh was more valuable to him than just a horse, issues a Firman (an edict) declaring that he has forgiven Akuh for his misdemeanor and that wherever this Akuh is he should return to the court and resume his work at the stable.
+
This reminds me of a Nasreddin Khoja tale. Someone who was skeptical of Khoja’s reputation as a great teacher, decided to put him to the test by asking, “What do you call a baby cow?” to which Khoja replied, “We don’t call it anything. We wait for it to grow up and then call it a cow.
 
   
 
   
Lo and behold, Akuh returns home with a big welcome to spend the rest of his life as a contrite employee and determined to make up for his mistakeThe horse had passed away but in Jerusalem he becomes emblazoned with a cross tattooed on his wrist thus becoming a Hadji. The Turks, therafter, call him HADJI AKUH."
+
(Slide # 56)  - Kherdian
 +
 
 +
Kherdian: (T) Truncation of kherd-kach: break and run.
 +
The Kherdian sub-clan traces back to a common ancestor. The name of the entire clan was Bakaian. One part of the clan became Kherdian as a result of the following event:
 +
 
 +
Garabed Kherdian, was a carpenter by trade. One day a Turk from a neighboring village came to Khulakugh (a village near Kharpert City) and asked Grandfather Garabed to make and hang a door for him. When the job was completed, Grandfather Garabed went to see the Turk to get paid. The Turk told him that he did not have the money that day and that Grandfather should come back another day. Each time Grandfather went to see the Turk to get paid, he got the same answer. Finally, he was convinced that the Turk had no intention of paying him.
 +
So Garabed came up with a plan. Late one night, he along with his brothers and cousins went to this Turkish village. While everyone was sound asleep, they chopped down the door and fled. As they were fleeing, the Turks woke startled and started screaming “kherduh khashduh” which in Turkish dialect means “destroyed and fled.”
 +
 
 +
This comes compliments of Charles (Garabed) Hardy of Racine, Wisconsin, whose family name was Kherdian. Immigration officials gave his father a hard time and, in desperation, he chose the name of the fellow who had passed through ahead of him.
 +
 +
Slide # 57 – (Kherlopian)
 +
 
 +
Kherlopian: (T) Kher: good; Lop: bolt (as in food). One who swallows food by the mouthful; a gourmand.
 +
 
 +
Slide # 58 – (Koulaksouzian)
 +
 
 +
Koulaksouzian: (T) Literally, without an ear; figuratively, having no ear for music.
 +
 +
 
 +
Slide # 59 – (Mghtsavanchian)
 +
 
 +
Mghtsavanchian: (A) One who dreams nightmares. According to Angele Manougian of the Armenian Relief Society, there is a family in Florida by that name.
 +
 +
Slide # 60 – (Shilgevorkian)
 +
 
 +
Shilgevorkian: (A/Gr) Shil is cross-eyed; Gevork is George; thus cross-eyed George.
 +
 
 +
Slide # 61 – (Sebiljian)
 +
 +
Sebiljian (Ab/T): Sebil in Arabic is a fountain where one can wash one’s hands and feet before prayer; and a sebilji is Turkish for someone who distributes water in the expectation of receiving charity.
 +
 
 +
Slide # 62 – (Sabiha Gokcen (Khatun  Sebiljian)
 +
 
 +
Khatoun Sebiljian (Hatun Sebilciyan) was the name of the orphan girl who was adopted by Mustafa Kemal, and given the name Sabiha Gokçen (Sabiha Gokchen). In Turkish, both Sabiha and Gokchen mean beautiful, and was obviously a made-up name.
 +
According to interviews with Sabiha, she was the daughter of Mustafa Izzet Bey and Hayriye Hanim. However, in February 2004, journalist Hrant Dink published an article in Agos daily newspaper titled “The Secret of Sabiha Hatun,” describing how the so-called first Turkish female fighter pilot and Mustafa Kemal’s adopted child Sabiha Gokchen, was actually Armenian.
 +
   
 +
In the article, Hripsime Sebilciyan Gazalyan said that her grandfather Nerses Sebilciyan was killed during the Armenian Genocide and that, in her words, “his two daughters were Hatun and Diruhi, my mother. Hatun is Sabiha Gokchen, my aunt.” Hripsime continued by saying that “Ataturk visited the orphanage in the Cibin village of Sanliurfa’s Halfeti township. He liked my aunt Hatun and adopted her. She was 5-6 years old then. My mother cried a lot when her niece was taken away.”
 +
 
 +
However according to Turkish official registers, Gokchen, who died in 2001, was born of Bosnian extraction in Bursa, and lost her father, an exiled Ottoman official, when she was in primary school. She was adopted by Kemal in 1925, who later trained her to become a pilot.
 +
Later on, she became the first so-called “female combat pilot” of Turkey.
 +
An International Airport serving Istanbul is named after Sabiha Gökçen.
 +
Lest we harbor feelings of pride as Armenians, let us bear in mind that Sabiha Gokchen took part in the bombing of Dersim in 1937-1938 in which 10,000 Turkified Armenians, Alevis and Kurds were massacred by the Turkish government in response to a so-called rebellion, and thousands were left homeless.
 +
 
 +
Out of respect for proper language usage and historical accuracy, we should take issue with calling Sabiha Gokchen a “combat pilot,” which by definition means that she was fighting another regular armed force. Dropping bombs on civilians is not combat but genocide. Young Turk policies stripped Hatun of her Armenian identity. Mustafa Kemal then trained her to kill her own people in addition to other innocent populations.
 +
 
 +
We must add that Hrant Dink’s exposé of Gokchen’s true identity is considered one of the several reasons why the Turkish “Deep State” arranged for Dink’s assassination in 2007.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
Slide # 63 – (Tahtabourounian)
 +
 
 +
Tahtabourounian  (T): Wooden nose or beak. Figuratively, it can be construed to mean someone who has no sense of smell, or even one with low self-esteem, as a nose was considered a symbol of pride.
 +
 
 +
Slide #64 – (Tycho Brahe)
 +
 
 +
In the event that anyone is skeptical of such a thing as an artificial nose, he is reminded of Tycho Brahe, the 16th century Danish astronomer who lost part of his nose in a duel, and was fitted with a golden one.
 +
 
 +
Slide # 65 – (Tazian)
 +
 
 +
Tazian (T/P): From tazuh for greyhound. Retriever for Turkish hunters. (This comes compliments of ARF leader Zohrab Tazian, whose forebear earned the name.).
 +
 
 +
Slide # 66 – (Terlemezian)
 +
 +
Terlemezian (T): One who does not sweat. (I can imagine Armenian patriot Dajad Terlemezian, when given orders to dispose of Davo the Traitor, saying, “No sweat!”)
 +
Legend has it that an invading shah of Persia taxed the citizens of Van so severely that when they met every fresh demand of his he was prompted to say, “Don’t these people sweat?” According to Dajad, Terlemezian is a Turkification of Talamazi.
 +
 
 +
His ancestors from Van were advisors to royalty, and the symbol of their sagacity was the long hair that they displayed. Thus they were referred to as talamazi, which, it is conjectured, was a truncation of talarmazi, where talar, in Armenian, is deemed as verdant, and maz as hair. In many cultures long hair was a sign of nobility. The Parthians and Persians of high rank wore long flowing hair.
 +
 
 +
(This comes compliments of Arpi Haroutunian, Dajad Terlemezian’s grand-daughter.)
 
   
 
   
Hadji Akuh was Yeghishe’s great, great, great, great, great grandfather.
+
Slide # 67 – (Teoleolian)
 +
 
 +
Teoleolian- (A) Corruption of Tel Volor (thread spinner), a name bestowed on the great, great grandmother of Khachig Teoleolian, professor of history and literature at Wesleyan U., and the son of Minas Teoleolian, former editor of the Hairenik Daily newspaper. Before that, the family name was Sarkisyan. Teoleolian is a name unique to that family and Khachig is the last of the line.
 
   
 
   
Yeghishe was born in Lebanon as Hadjiakuian (son of Hadji Akuh)It was too long, so he shortened it to Hajakian.
+
Now, you might ask why people perpetuate strange, unusual or even uncomplimentary names. After all, it’s easy to just change them by adaptation.
 +
 
 +
Well, people often are attached to their names because it gives them a sense of continuity and tradition. There’s also the desire to honor their martyrs by perpetuating the memory of their identity as Armenian Christians. We should be grateful to our fellow Armenians for having retained their names as eloquent historical testimony to the oppression suffered by the Armenians at the hands of the Turks. It’s fortunate for me that Armenians have hung on to their names; otherwise I wouldn’t be here talking to you today.
 +
   
 +
I’m reminded of a story in this regard:
 +
 
 +
An American citizen of Armenian extraction wished to legally change his name, and in applying to the court of jurisdiction, appeared for a hearing before a judge.
 +
The judge addressed the applicant, “I understand you wish to change your name. What is it?” The applicant replied, “Jack Beshigtashlian.” The judge replied, “I don't blame you. What do you wish to change it to?” The applicant replied, “Joe Beshigtashlian.”
 +
Incidentally, Beshigtash means stone cradle.
 +
It is also the name of a district in Istanbul.
 +
Thus, Beshigtashli would mean a native of that district.
 +
 
 +
Slide # 68  - (Website of Dictionary URL)
  
'''Haviters''' (T): Contrary nap (rug). In the city of Sepastia in Turkish Armenia, there lived and worked two master rug weavers. A wealthy resident of the city wished to have a rug woven and commissioned one of the weavers to do the job. The weaver commenced the work, but when halfway through, died of consumption. The wealthy man who had commissioned the work then approached the other weaver to complete the job. This other master weaver accepted the offer, but being a proud artisan, decided to complete the job his own way. So, instead of picking up where the other had left off, he commenced from the other side and when he had gone for enough, joined the two parts. In doing so he ended up creating a rug with the nap going in opposite directions. This became a source for his being named haviters, hav (khav in old Turkish) meaning nap, and ters meaning contrary. Previously, the family name had been Manougian.
+
This concludes my presentation. I wish to thank the Committee, and all those who have been helpful in sharing their knowledge with me. You can find a long list of personal acknowledgments in the Dictionary online. I also encourage all to discover what their own names mean by consulting this Dictionary. If you cannot find your name, email me and I will try to assist you if I can.  
(Background compliments of great grandson Mircan Haviters of Farmingdale, NY, whose ancestors moved from Van to Sepastia 1030 years ago.) (Armenian Heritage Cruise VIII)
 
  
Now, you might ask why people perpetuate strange, unusual or even uncomplimentary names. After all, it’s easy to just change them by adaptation. I’ve known Armenians who have done so: Fourounjian to Baker; Baghchajian to Gardner; Kaprielian to Gabriel; and Terzian to Taylor.
+
Slide # 69  - (C.K. Garabed photo w/email)
  
Well, people often are attached to their names because it gives them a sense of continuity and tradition. There’s also the desire to honor their martyrs by perpetuating the memory of their identity as Armenian Christians. We should be grateful to our fellow Armenians for having retained them as eloquent historical testimony to the oppression suffered by the Armenians at the hands of the Turks. It’s fortunate for me that Armenians have hung on to their names; otherwise I wouldn’t be here talking to you today.
+
Slide #70 – (Sketch. Last slide. The end.)
 
 
An Armenian appears in court in connection with an application he made for a legal name change. The presiding judge asks, "What is your current name?" The applicant replies, "Joe Beshigtashlian." The judge says, "I don't blame you for wishing to change your name. What name do you wish to change it to?" The applicant replies, "Jack Beshigtashlian."
 
 
   
 
   
I have not published anything on Armenian names, but my daughter, Lucine, has a few passages on names in her book about Armenia. (Slide #8)
+
Slide #71 – Image Credits
 +
 
 +
If anyone asks, the sources are:
 +
· Hrachia Adjarian’s Root Dictionary and Etymological Dictionary of the Armenian Language;
 +
· Tigran Avetisyan’s Dictionary of Armenian Surnames;
 +
· Stepan Malkhasian’s Explanatory Dictionary;
 +
· Dictionaries in Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Greek, Kurdish, Persian, Turkish.
 +
 
 +
Questions?
 +
 
 +
 
  
I wish to publicly thank the Organizing Committee including Messrs Bandazian and DerBedrosian, and all those who have been helpful in sharing their knowledge with me. The following individuals in particular provided me with a great deal of assistance and I am indebted to them: Mr. Cesar Chekijian; Ms. Arpie Dadoyan; Mr. Onnik Dinkjian; Mr. Aram Khachadourian; Dr. Herand Markarian; Mr. Ashot Merijanian; Mr. Vahe Surenian; Mr. Jirair Tutunjian; and Mr. Alfred Yeznaian.
 
  
Note: This lecture, with modifications, was delivered on the following dates, at the given locations:
+
VOA TV coverage:
  
St. Thomas 2001
+
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzbNyJ_b0tA
AAHPO 2003
 
APCLG 2004
 
ACAA 2006
 
HMLG 2006
 
St. Leon 2007
 
AASCO 2008
 

Latest revision as of 21:18, 21 October 2019

Reading Lecture (On line)

What’s in a Name?

The Etymology of Armenian Surnames

By C.K. Garabed


Slide #1 – (title of presentation)

Dear friends:

I wish to emphasize, first and foremost, that I am not a linguist or philologist, and certainly not an expert on

names or languages. I am simply an ordinary fellow who has taken an interest in Armenian surnames. Forty years ago,

I started collecting names from church telephone directories and donor lists as a hobby; at first manually, then

with the aid of a personal computer. I have collected well over 10,000 names to date, though not all of them are

defined yet. The task of collecting names has been made easier by the publication of the UNIARTS Armenian White

Pages telephone directory in California.

Also, what greatly facilitated my work were the dictionaries that were provided me by my daughter, Lucine, and good

friend, Cesar Chekijian. Of course, there were many other friends who helped me in my work, one way or another.

Their names are listed at the end of this lecture online.


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 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 Bajaksouzian, which means legless, for a short man; Soghanyemezian, which means one who does not eat

onions; and Srmakeshkhanlian, which means owner/worker of a factory where gold/silver thread is drawn, I sometimes

think we Armenians, more than any other ethnic group, possess the most fascinating surnames. Incidentally, Armenian

writer Yervant Srmakeshkhanlian chose the name Yeroukhan as his pen name, a truncation and blending of his first and

last names.


Now for my lecture –

What's in a Name?

(The Etymology of Armenian Surnames)


Slide #2 – (Sources)

The following are segments of an illustration by David S. Merrill for an article titled “The Mother Tongue”

published in U.S. News & World Report magazine on November 5, 1990.


Slide #3 –(Mother Tongue)

Let’s start with the Indo-European language branch of the human language tree. An original Mother Tongue, the

provenance of which has never been determined, is the source of the Indo-European branch, seen in the highlighted

area, which includes Armenian.


Slide #4 –(Indo-European Branch)

Recent scholarship suggests that, contrary to what was believed to be true of the order of languages in the branch,

Armenian has now been given a more prominent place.


Starting from the base of the ProtoIndo-European branch, we see the European languages off to the left; and then to

the right are the Anatolian languages, which are extinct; and then, in between, is the Aryano-Greco-Armenio branch.


Slide #5 – The follo

wing is a segment of the same illustration, enlarged and colorized.


Slide #6 – (The Aryano-Greco-Armenio branch)

From that orange point to the left are the Greek languages; and to the right, the Armeno-Aryan languages, seen in

red. Then we come immediately to Armenian which is a continuation of the red, followed by the yellow group that

includes Persian; and subsequently to Sanskrit, that includes the Indian tongues: Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, etc.

Thus, we see that Armenian is closer to the Mother Tongue source than Persian and that Armenian and Persian are no

longer believed to be derived from Sanskrit.


Slide #7 –(Anatolia) – This slide shows the movement of the language.

It is now believed that the Indo-European model originated in Anatolia, and spread west to Europe, and east to India. Also, it is now believed that the language spread, not by horseback, as previously assumed, but by farming.

Slide #8 – (A suitable international language?)

There has been a great deal of interest in the formal adoption of an international language. Esperanto has been considered, but rejected as an artificial one that is deemed undesirable. English, which has become important in international relations, has also been rejected on grounds that it is too difficult to learn.

Slide #9 – (Ough – bough, cough, dough, rough, through)

Just take a look at these five English words that all end with the letters ough. They are all pronounced differently: bough cough dough rough through

Slide #10 – (Ghoti = fish: Shaw)

That eminent playwright and music critic, George Bernard Shaw, called English a ridiculous language. He said that he could take a word with the letters ghoti and make it spell fish. He would take the gh from the English word rough for f, the o from women for i, and the ti from nation for sh. Result-- Fish.

Slide #11 – (Margaret Mead, Sol Tax, anthropologists)

Anthropologists Margaret Mead and Sol Tax have recommended that Armenian be adopted formally as the international language for two reasons: One is that adoption of the language of a larger or prominent country such as England, France or Germany would give that country significant political power. The other is that the proposed language should be relatively easy to learn. Armenia fills the bill in both cases. It is a small country with a small population, and its language is easy to learn. With some minor exceptions, the written alphabet provides a single sound for every letter and a single letter for every sound.

Interaction among languages is quite common in history, and all languages borrow from others. Latin borrows from Greek; while French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese borrow from Latin; and English borrows from everybody.

Certainly Armenian borrows from the languages of other cultures with which contact has been made, notably Persian, Greek, Arabic and Turkish. A language that borrows from others is thereby enriched. Very often, to make a point, a good speaker will have recourse to a borrowed word in preference to a native one.

Slide # 12 – (O.K.)

Can it be denied that the most successful English word (if you can call it that) to pervade practically all other world languages is “O.K.?”

English has been influenced by the same languages that have influenced Armenian, notably Persian and Arabic.

Slide # 13 – (Persian influence on English) Persian influence on English can be seen in the following:

· cummerbund: kamarband (waistband)

· orange: naranj (The letter n shifted from a naranj to an orange)

· checkmate: shahmat (The king is dead).

   (Persian/ Arabic) 
 

Slide # 14 = (Arabic influence on English)

Arabic influence on English can be seen in the following:

· algebra: al jabra ( reduction of parts to a whole).

· cipher: sifr (zero), which has come to mean a code. Arabic numerals provide a flexibility that Roman numerals cannot. One wonders how the Romans, with their cumbersome numerical system, were able to divide their enemies, and multiply their conquests.

· admiral: amir al bahr (lord of the sea). There’s nothing admirable about an admiral.

The Turkish influence on English is negligible. All we come away with is Turkish bath, Turkish coffee, Turkish tobacco, Turkish towel, and Turkish delight, none of which are truly Turkish in origin.

Slide # 15 - (Persian influence on Armenian)

Armenian has likewise been influenced by interaction with Persian, Arabic, and Turkish. Armenian use of Persian vocabulary includes, for example:

· bakht to pakht (luck)

· dushvar to tuzhvar (difficult)

· pil to pigh (elephant)

Mardo Soghomian, a former staff member of the Armenian Prelacy of NY, told me that the father of the last Shah of Iran commissioned his scholars to study the Armenian language because he knew there were 200 loan words that Armenians borrowed from Persian which were no longer in use by the Persian people. The Shah wanted to restore those words to the Persian language.


The late Krikor Pidedjian, esteemed Armenian educator and Ethnomusicologist, had this to say about Aryan languages: "There is some question as to which language influenced which when it comes to Persian and Armenian. Many people assumed Armenians derived words from the Persians. However, there are just as many words that the Persians derived from the Armenians."

One that comes to mind is the word vard for the rose flower. The primary word for rose in Persian is gul, and secondarily vard, which suggests that it came from vart, the Armenian word for rose.

Slide #16 (Arabic influence on Armenian)

Armenians, especially in their dialects, make use of Arabic vocabulary –Examples are:

· aman (woe, my God!)

· Haji (pilgrim)

· mashallah (how amazing!)


Slide #17 – (Turkish words used by Armenians)

Having lived for centuries with the Turks, who occupied the Armenian homeland, it would be remarkable if the Armenians had not adopted many Turkish terms in their everyday speech. Some Turkish words regularly used by Armenians, especially in the towns and cities with mixed populations, are:

· chojouk (child)

· chuplak (naked)

· lahana (cabbage)

Slide #18 – (terms used by Armenians that are not Turkish, as thought)

However, we tend to give the Turks too much credit for some common terms that most people are familiar with and use in their daily conversation. Examples are:

· finjan (coffee cup) · jan (term of endearment) · zourna (wind instrument)

The original source of these words is Persian.

We also have:

· geuzel (graceful) · kahve (coffee) · tanjara (pot)

The original source of these words is Arabic.

Lieutenant Colonel Harry Sachaklian, a career U.S. Air Force officer stationed in Turkey, told me that the only truly Turkish vocabulary consists of military terms. The rest is all borrowed. Now, that may be an overstatement, but there is a germ of truth in it.

Turkish, after all, is a carrier language, the Turks having borrowed from all the cultures in their midst.

My father, Hagop Der Kasbarian, advised me that it was the Armenians who beautified the Turkish language.

Slide #19 = (Martayan)

This brings to mind the name Martayan, which is Turkish for mistress, and the family name of Hagop Martayan, commissioned by Mustafa Kemal to modernize the Turkish alphabet, and was given the title of Dilachar, tongue-opener.

What is true of the general vocabulary is also true of surnames.

Slide #20 - Examples of Armenian names that contain Persian roots are:

· Goulkhasian (best variety of rose) · Shahbazian (royal falcon) · Zargarian (jeweler)

In 1969, when I attended a military comptrollership course at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana, there were two foreign service officers in our class, one Korean, and the other Iranian, whose name was Rezvanian. I introduced myself to him, and then began conversing in Armenian. I saw immediately that he did not understand me, so I apologized, and told him that I assumed he was Armenian because his last name ended in “IAN,” which in Armenian means “son of, family of, or issued from.” He then told me that many ethnic Persians have names that end with IAN.

Slide #21 - Examples of names that contain Arabic roots are:

· Habeshian (native of Abyssinia or Ethiopia) · Jelalian (majesty, glory) · Maksoudian (design, intention)

Slide #22 - Examples of names that contain Turkish roots:

Examples of names that contain Turkish roots are:

· Boyajian (painter, dyer, or artist) · Deirmenjian (miller) · Kazanjian (kettle, boiler or cauldron maker)

Slide #23 – (Names that are not Turkish in origin)

As with the general vocabulary, we tend to assume that many Armenian surnames reflect Turkish roots, when in fact a closer examination reveals that many of them are borrowed from Persian and Arabic, which were a significant part of the Ottoman Turkish language. Examples are:

· Najjarian (carpenter) from Arabic · Nalbandian (blacksmith specializing in the shoeing of horses) from Persian · Nakashian (engraver) from Arabic

Slide #24 – (Modified Armenian names India)

Because of the length of some Armenian surnames and the difficulty in their pronunciation, some Armenians have changed their family names. In some cases, it was done by removing the "ian" ending, and in others, by adapting to the customs of a new country. This practice, especially among the Armenian merchants who settled in India, has produced some surnames, which are very hard to recognize as being Armenian. Examples are:

· Asdvadzadourian (God-given) evolved to Chater · Haroutiunian (resurrection) to Arathoon · Mardirosian (martyr) to Martyrose · Mgrdichian (baptist) to Mackertich · Sarkisian (rainbow) to Serkies

Slide # 25 – (The Armenians and the Jews)

There was a time when people were known by one name, and if necessary to distinguish one from others, would be referred to by trade, location, or parent affiliation. For example, Resartus the tailor, Isaac of York, Abou ben Adhem. Then, some time later, not too long ago, people adopted family or surnames, so we got Herman Miller, Hovsep Shamlian, Jack Johnson.

An interesting parallel can be drawn between the Jews of Germany and the Armenians of Turkey. In both cases, sometime about the eighteenth century, the rulers of those countries mandated the adoption of family names in the language of the host or occupying countries.

The difference is that whereas the German Jews were often permitted to select their names, the Turkish Armenians were often assigned names by local officials. Thus came about the adoption by Jews of beautiful names, such as:

Slide #26 – Jews in Germany

· Morgenthau (morning dew) · Schoenberg (beautiful mountain) · Blumenthal (blooming dale) · Mandelbaum (almond tree) · Saperstein (sapphire stone)

The Armenians, on the other hand, were as often as not given uncomplimentary names, in derision. For example:

Slide #27 – Armenians in occupied homeland

· Chirkinian (ugly) · Jambazian (swindler) · Tekirian (marked with spots) · Topalian (lame, crippled) · Zouloumian (cruel, oppressive)

Armenian names may possess endings such as ian, iantz, oghlu and ov, but their stems determine their basic meaning, Armenian surnames can be classed generally in seven categories, such as:

Slide # 28 – Name origins: Aristocracy, Patronymic, Occupation, Geographic origin, Physical trait, General descriptive, Special circumstances

Slide #29: Aristocracy

Aristocracy Armenians who are direct descendants of dynastic nobility still carry their ancestral family names. These names usually have the ending "ouni". Examples: · Arshagouni · Ardzrouni · Rshdouni


Slide #30 - Patronymic

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 (Good news!) · Garabedian (Forerunner) · Hagopian (Jacob)

Slide #31 – Occupation

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:

· Chilingirian (locksmith) · Demirjian (blacksmith) · Tashjian (stonemason) Slide #32 – Geographic origin

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 (native of Izmir) · Marashian (native of Marash) · Vanetsian (native of Van)

Slide #33 - Physical trait

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:

· Kalsahakian (bald Isaac) · Cholakian (crippled) · Shashoyan (squint-eyed)

Slide #34 – General descriptive

General descriptive This is a catch-all category that contains names that do not fit the other categories, Examples:

· Mampreyan (fertile, fruitful) · Yotnakhparian (seven brothers) · Servantsdiantz (contemporary, up-to-date)

Slide #35 - Special circumstances

Special circumstances An interesting category of names is that where some unusual occurrence or circumstance gave rise to the name. Examples:

· Choukhasouzian (without a winter overcoat) · Haviters (contrary nap) · Kherdian (break and run)

I will explain the origin of these names later in the lecture.

Editor Kathryn Manuelian has suggested the inclusion of yet another category, which is Biblical.

Slide #36 - Biblical

This concept has merit as many Armenian surnames are derived from Biblical sources.

Examples are:

Aprahamian (Father of peoples)

Hampartsoumian (Ascension of Jesus Christ)

Mgrdichian (St. John the Baptist)

There is, of course, plenty of room for overlap. Many names can be classified as both Biblical and patronymic. I came to realize that like the O prefix to Irish names, and the Mac prefix to Scottish names, practically all Armenian names with the suffix ian can be considered patronymic even though they may not be derived from first names of ancestors.

Slide #37 – Obscure names

Some obscure names can be deciphered fairly easily, such as:

· Bohajian for Boyajian (painter) · Kahaumjian for Kouyoumjian (jeweler) · Kerbeykian for Kurbuyukian (which means grey moustache), and · Akim Tamiroff, the name of the noted actor, where Akim is the diminutive for Hovakim (the father of St. Mary), and Tamiroff is the Russian form of Demirjian (blacksmith)

Slide #38 = (Detective work)

There are other names that require extensive detective work in order to get at their meaning.

Shareshian is a case in point.

According to Nicholas Shareshian, the father of a prominent Dikranagerdtsi family that resided in Union City, New Jersey, the name means black silk. Now, how do you get black silk from Shareshian?

The Turkish word for silk is ipek.

The Arabic and Persian words for silk are abrishoom, abrishim, and ibrishim.

The Armenian word for silk is medaks, which, however, is borrowed from the Greek word for silk, metaxi.

Well, where do we go from here?

In the course of my perusing an English-Armenian Dictionary published by Mesrob Kouyoumjian, I came across the word for silk sieve, which was sharmagh. Further investigation revealed that the Armenian word for silkworm is sheram, and that sericulture is sherama-pou-dzou-tioun.

Here, then, was an important clue. The shar portion of the name was validated as meaning silk.

Now, what about esh?

Esh is Armenian for donkey or ass. Nothing pertinent there.

Esh in Turkish can mean one of a pair; a husband, wife, or mate. Nothing there.

Eshek is Turkish for donkey or ass. Nothing there, either.

Eshik in Turkish is a doorway threshold, or a violin bridge. In other words, that which is weight-bearing. No connection here, also.

I, then, proceeded to check on the various words that were likely to yield the color black.

The Armenian word for black is sev.

The Turkish word for black is kara. However, there is a secondary word for black used in Turkish, borrowed by Ottoman Turkish from Persian, and that word is siyah.

Voila! siyah is Persian for black. It is also used in Turkish for black or dark.

It is possible that share (of silk in Armenian), plus siyah (black in Persian) = Sharesiyah plus ian = Sharesiyahian, which was contracted to Sharesian, subsequently became Shareshian.

The father, Nigoghos, or an ancestor was undoubtedly engaged in the silk industry which flourished in Dikranagerd, and was perpetuated in America by Armenian immigrants.

Slide # 39 – (Spelling and Country)

The spelling of a name can vary depending on the country to which the owner of the name has immigrated.

· Keshishian (English) vs. Kechichian (French) which means priest · Haroutiounian (English) vs. Arutunyan (Russian) which means resurrection · Ohanesian (English) vs. Oganesyan (Russian) which means John · Vapurdjian (French) vs. Vapurciyan (Turkish) which means steamship owner or operator

Slide # 40 - Other Strange, Humorous and Unusual Names

Slide #41 – (Ajelejian)

Ajelejian: (T) Someone always in a hurry

Slide # 42 – (Altimarmakian)

Altiparmakian (T) One with six fingers. This can be taken literally, or figuratively. Literally: I, myself, in my youth, knew of a dishwasher who worked at the Bergenline Restaurant in Union City, N.J. who had six fingers on each hand. The sixth was a tiny finger adjoining the pinkie finger.

Figuratively: The name would be applied to someone who was possessed of great dexterity, such as a musician who played a string instrument with great skill so as to make one believe that he had six fingers.

Slide # 43 – (Arkun)

Arkun (T/A) According to Aram Arkun, currently the assistant editor of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, this is his reply to my question about the derivation and meaning of his surname:

“My Sepastatsi grandfather’s name was originally Yesai Karageuzian (which by the way means black or dark eyes). He is said to have traced his genealogy back 400 years to Van, with clergy in the family tree.

Unfortunately, the information is lost to us. My grandfather was a physician in the Turkish army during WW I. For obvious reasons he changed his name to Ismail Shevket. His last name was probably formally changed during the name law in the 1930s to Arkun. My grandfather was an amateur philologist, and I perceive a correlation between Shevket and Arkun, which latter can be construed as both Armenian and Turkish. Shevket, in Turkish, means majesty, pomp. Arkun, in Armenian, is a form of arka, a term used to describe a king or royalty. Thus, Arkun (or Arkuni) would mean, of the royal court, or, belonging to the king. In Turkish, as far as I know, Arkun has two meanings: soft, gentle; the name of a Mongol Ilkhanid ruler Arghun (the gh sound changed to k in modern Turkish.) For the foregoing reasons, there is only one family group with the name Arkun. As an interesting aside, I would mention that during the 1930s name change law, those who had changed their names earlier now had to register their names. Others were forced to take on new names. For example, a couple on my mother’s side went together to the same registry official. One was given the name Karaboulout, black cloud, and the other Siyahboulout, also black cloud, siyah having been borrowed from Persian. The official was apparently playing a cruel joke on the couple by assigning different last names with the same meaning. They had a great deal of difficulty in trying to get the same last name for both husband and wife.”

Slide # 44 – (Arnavoudian)

Arnavoudian (Al) Eddie Arnavoudian, who is a regular contributor to The Groong Armenian News Network, has the following to say about his family name as it was handed down to him:

"My dad’s side of the family were from an area around Istanbul called Arnavoudkoy or something like that. The area was named after it was settled by emigrants from European Albania called Arnavouds. The Arnavouds were divided in their religion, one part Christian, the other Muslim. How they became Armenianised or why our family adopted this name if they were not actually Arnavouds will remain an eternal mystery."

Slide # 45 – (Boujicanian)

Boujicanian (T) Buchuk: half; an: man; half a man for a short man.

Slide # 46 – (Boynoubouroukian)

Boynoubouroukian (T) One with a twisted neck.

Slide # 47 – (Choukhasouzian)

Choukhasouzian: (T) Without a winter overcoat. Now, chukha in Turkish is a kind of broadcloth used in the manufacture of heavy coats, and by extension synonymous with winter overcoat. The suffix souz means without. Thus: without an overcoat. I wasn’t sure if it meant that the bearer of the name could not afford an overcoat, or that he didn’t need one.

It wasn’t until I was introduced by my brother-in-law Ardashes Hamparian to a family relative, Levon Chookaszian that I was able to settle the matter. Levon is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Yerevan State University. When he was visiting the U.S., Levon advised that the name began with an ancestor, in Sepastia, when he bravely went out in winter without an overcoat. Levon also stated that all the persons with that surname and variations thereof are related, including Lily Chookasian, the famous opera singer.

Slide # 48– (Dadekian)

Dadekian: (A) According to Zaven Dadekian of New Jersey, this surname was originally Dadekhian. Research confirms this, and furthermore reveals that Dadekh is a variant of Dadegh, in turn a variant of Dadagh, which is a conflation of Dada and agha, Dada being the diminutive for David, and agha a term of respect for a gentleman, sir; therefore, David the gentleman.

Slide # 49 – (Deoshoghlanian)

Deoshoghlanian (T) Deosh: breast; oghlan: boy; literally breast boy; figuratively, a young man who proudly thrusts his chest forward. This comes compliments of Rosine Deoshoghlanian-Hovsepian of New Jersey, whose ancestor was assigned the name for the latter reason.

Slide #50 – (Hajakian)

Hajakian: (Ab/H) This is a true story told to me by a bearer of the name Hajakian. Once there lived a man named Hagop who was a supervisor at the stable of the Padishah of the land. His jovial disposition and assiduous attitude for his work had earned him an unswerving trust of his employer, his master, his king. The people around him, the Turks, could not pronounce his Armenian name, Hagop. Instead they called him AKUH. One bright day the Padishah received a gift from some prince. It was a most ravishing, gorgeous looking, rare breed of an Arabian white horse. Akuh, the horse keeper, fell in love with this horse and decided to steal it and ride all the way to Jerusalem. He disappeared for seven years never to be heard from.

The Padishah, realizing that Akuh was more valuable to him than just a horse, issued a Firman (an edict) declaring that he had forgiven Akuh for his misdemeanor and that wherever this Akuh was he should return to the court and resume his work at the stable.

Lo and behold, Akuh returned home with a big welcome to spend the rest of his life as a contrite employee and determined to make up for his mistake. The horse had passed away but in Jerusalem Akuh became emblazoned with a cross tattooed on his wrist thus becoming a Hadji. The Turks, thereafter, call him HADJI AKUH.

This story was told to me by the late Yeghishe Hajakian of New Jersey. Hadji Akuh was Yeghishe’s great, great, great, great grandfather.

Yeghishe was born in Lebanon as Hadjiakuhian (son of Hadji Akuh). It was too long, so he shortened it to Hajakian.


Slide # 51 – (Haviters)

Haviters: (T) In the city of Sepastia in Historic Armenia, there lived and worked two master rug weavers. A wealthy resident of the city wished to have a rug woven and commissioned one of the weavers to do the job. The weaver commenced the work, but halfway through, he died of consumption. The wealthy man who had commissioned the work then approached the other weaver to complete the job. This other master weaver accepted the offer, but being a proud artisan, decided to complete the job his own way. So, instead of picking up where the other had left off, he commenced from the other end and when he had gone far enough, joined the two parts. In doing so he ended up creating a rug with the nap going in opposite directions. This became a source for his being named haviters, hav (khav in old Turkish) meaning nap, and ters meaning contrary. Previously, the family name had been Manougian (which, by the way, means youth).

(This comes compliments of grandson Mircan Haviters of Farmingdale, NY, whose ancestors moved from Van to Sepastia 1030 years ago.)

Slide # 52 – (Jingabedoghlu)

Jingabedoghlu: (T/A) A certain family migrated to the U.S.A. from Istanbul, Turkey with this unique name. The original name of the family was Mgrdichian. However, the grandfather, who had a given name of Garabed, earned the name of Jin-Garabed because he was shrewdly intelligent; jin in Turkish from Arabic being a genie or intelligent man. Jin-Garabed was, in time, abbreviated to Jin-Gabed, and thus the family name became Jingabedoghlu, or son of Jingabed.

This information comes compliments of Shakeh Torigian, a former secretary of this very church, whose maiden name was Jingabedoghlu.

Slide # 53 – (Kanayan)

Kanayan: (T) Kan is Turkish for blood or bloody. From Khudaverdi in the Lake Urmia region there came 5 brothers to Igdir. They were a rough crowd, and became land barons; then became respectable.

(This comes compliments of Mardig Kanayan, son of General Dro, whose full name was Drastamat Kanayan.)

Slide # 54 – (Kardashian)

Perhaps the best known Armenians in the United States are the Kardashian sisters. The name Kardash means “brother” in Turkish and “stone mason” in Armenian. Courtney Kardashian, sister of Kim, named her son Mason, which leads us to believe that there may have been masons somewhere in the Kardashian family tree.

Slide # 55 – (Kavazanjian)

Kavazanjian: (A/T) Staff/cane maker or seller. [Minas Arakelian, a former employee at St. Leon’s Armenian Church, suggests that kavazan is derived from the Persian words gav for cow, and asa for rod or stick. Thus, a cow prod.]

This reminds me of a Nasreddin Khoja tale. Someone who was skeptical of Khoja’s reputation as a great teacher, decided to put him to the test by asking, “What do you call a baby cow?” to which Khoja replied, “We don’t call it anything. We wait for it to grow up and then call it a cow.”

(Slide # 56) - Kherdian

Kherdian: (T) Truncation of kherd-kach: break and run. The Kherdian sub-clan traces back to a common ancestor. The name of the entire clan was Bakaian. One part of the clan became Kherdian as a result of the following event:

Garabed Kherdian, was a carpenter by trade. One day a Turk from a neighboring village came to Khulakugh (a village near Kharpert City) and asked Grandfather Garabed to make and hang a door for him. When the job was completed, Grandfather Garabed went to see the Turk to get paid. The Turk told him that he did not have the money that day and that Grandfather should come back another day. Each time Grandfather went to see the Turk to get paid, he got the same answer. Finally, he was convinced that the Turk had no intention of paying him. So Garabed came up with a plan. Late one night, he along with his brothers and cousins went to this Turkish village. While everyone was sound asleep, they chopped down the door and fled. As they were fleeing, the Turks woke startled and started screaming “kherduh khashduh” which in Turkish dialect means “destroyed and fled.”

This comes compliments of Charles (Garabed) Hardy of Racine, Wisconsin, whose family name was Kherdian. Immigration officials gave his father a hard time and, in desperation, he chose the name of the fellow who had passed through ahead of him.

Slide # 57 – (Kherlopian)

Kherlopian: (T) Kher: good; Lop: bolt (as in food). One who swallows food by the mouthful; a gourmand.

Slide # 58 – (Koulaksouzian)

Koulaksouzian: (T) Literally, without an ear; figuratively, having no ear for music.


Slide # 59 – (Mghtsavanchian)

Mghtsavanchian: (A) One who dreams nightmares. According to Angele Manougian of the Armenian Relief Society, there is a family in Florida by that name.

Slide # 60 – (Shilgevorkian)

Shilgevorkian: (A/Gr) Shil is cross-eyed; Gevork is George; thus cross-eyed George.

Slide # 61 – (Sebiljian)

Sebiljian (Ab/T): Sebil in Arabic is a fountain where one can wash one’s hands and feet before prayer; and a sebilji is Turkish for someone who distributes water in the expectation of receiving charity.

Slide # 62 – (Sabiha Gokcen (Khatun Sebiljian)

Khatoun Sebiljian (Hatun Sebilciyan) was the name of the orphan girl who was adopted by Mustafa Kemal, and given the name Sabiha Gokçen (Sabiha Gokchen). In Turkish, both Sabiha and Gokchen mean beautiful, and was obviously a made-up name. According to interviews with Sabiha, she was the daughter of Mustafa Izzet Bey and Hayriye Hanim. However, in February 2004, journalist Hrant Dink published an article in Agos daily newspaper titled “The Secret of Sabiha Hatun,” describing how the so-called first Turkish female fighter pilot and Mustafa Kemal’s adopted child Sabiha Gokchen, was actually Armenian.

In the article, Hripsime Sebilciyan Gazalyan said that her grandfather Nerses Sebilciyan was killed during the Armenian Genocide and that, in her words, “his two daughters were Hatun and Diruhi, my mother. Hatun is Sabiha Gokchen, my aunt.” Hripsime continued by saying that “Ataturk visited the orphanage in the Cibin village of Sanliurfa’s Halfeti township. He liked my aunt Hatun and adopted her. She was 5-6 years old then. My mother cried a lot when her niece was taken away.”

However according to Turkish official registers, Gokchen, who died in 2001, was born of Bosnian extraction in Bursa, and lost her father, an exiled Ottoman official, when she was in primary school. She was adopted by Kemal in 1925, who later trained her to become a pilot. Later on, she became the first so-called “female combat pilot” of Turkey. An International Airport serving Istanbul is named after Sabiha Gökçen. Lest we harbor feelings of pride as Armenians, let us bear in mind that Sabiha Gokchen took part in the bombing of Dersim in 1937-1938 in which 10,000 Turkified Armenians, Alevis and Kurds were massacred by the Turkish government in response to a so-called rebellion, and thousands were left homeless.

Out of respect for proper language usage and historical accuracy, we should take issue with calling Sabiha Gokchen a “combat pilot,” which by definition means that she was fighting another regular armed force. Dropping bombs on civilians is not combat but genocide. Young Turk policies stripped Hatun of her Armenian identity. Mustafa Kemal then trained her to kill her own people in addition to other innocent populations.

We must add that Hrant Dink’s exposé of Gokchen’s true identity is considered one of the several reasons why the Turkish “Deep State” arranged for Dink’s assassination in 2007.


Slide # 63 – (Tahtabourounian)

Tahtabourounian (T): Wooden nose or beak. Figuratively, it can be construed to mean someone who has no sense of smell, or even one with low self-esteem, as a nose was considered a symbol of pride.

Slide #64 – (Tycho Brahe)

In the event that anyone is skeptical of such a thing as an artificial nose, he is reminded of Tycho Brahe, the 16th century Danish astronomer who lost part of his nose in a duel, and was fitted with a golden one.

Slide # 65 – (Tazian)

Tazian (T/P): From tazuh for greyhound. Retriever for Turkish hunters. (This comes compliments of ARF leader Zohrab Tazian, whose forebear earned the name.).

Slide # 66 – (Terlemezian)

Terlemezian (T): One who does not sweat. (I can imagine Armenian patriot Dajad Terlemezian, when given orders to dispose of Davo the Traitor, saying, “No sweat!”) Legend has it that an invading shah of Persia taxed the citizens of Van so severely that when they met every fresh demand of his he was prompted to say, “Don’t these people sweat?” According to Dajad, Terlemezian is a Turkification of Talamazi.

His ancestors from Van were advisors to royalty, and the symbol of their sagacity was the long hair that they displayed. Thus they were referred to as talamazi, which, it is conjectured, was a truncation of talarmazi, where talar, in Armenian, is deemed as verdant, and maz as hair. In many cultures long hair was a sign of nobility. The Parthians and Persians of high rank wore long flowing hair.

(This comes compliments of Arpi Haroutunian, Dajad Terlemezian’s grand-daughter.)

Slide # 67 – (Teoleolian)

Teoleolian- (A) Corruption of Tel Volor (thread spinner), a name bestowed on the great, great grandmother of Khachig Teoleolian, professor of history and literature at Wesleyan U., and the son of Minas Teoleolian, former editor of the Hairenik Daily newspaper. Before that, the family name was Sarkisyan. Teoleolian is a name unique to that family and Khachig is the last of the line.

Now, you might ask why people perpetuate strange, unusual or even uncomplimentary names. After all, it’s easy to just change them by adaptation. 

Well, people often are attached to their names because it gives them a sense of continuity and tradition. There’s also the desire to honor their martyrs by perpetuating the memory of their identity as Armenian Christians. We should be grateful to our fellow Armenians for having retained their names as eloquent historical testimony to the oppression suffered by the Armenians at the hands of the Turks. It’s fortunate for me that Armenians have hung on to their names; otherwise I wouldn’t be here talking to you today.

I’m reminded of a story in this regard:

An American citizen of Armenian extraction wished to legally change his name, and in applying to the court of jurisdiction, appeared for a hearing before a judge. The judge addressed the applicant, “I understand you wish to change your name. What is it?” The applicant replied, “Jack Beshigtashlian.” The judge replied, “I don't blame you. What do you wish to change it to?” The applicant replied, “Joe Beshigtashlian.” Incidentally, Beshigtash means stone cradle. It is also the name of a district in Istanbul. Thus, Beshigtashli would mean a native of that district.

Slide # 68 - (Website of Dictionary URL)

This concludes my presentation. I wish to thank the Committee, and all those who have been helpful in sharing their knowledge with me. You can find a long list of personal acknowledgments in the Dictionary online. I also encourage all to discover what their own names mean by consulting this Dictionary. If you cannot find your name, email me and I will try to assist you if I can.

Slide # 69 - (C.K. Garabed photo w/email)

Slide #70 – (Sketch. Last slide. The end.)

Slide #71 – Image Credits

If anyone asks, the sources are: · Hrachia Adjarian’s Root Dictionary and Etymological Dictionary of the Armenian Language; · Tigran Avetisyan’s Dictionary of Armenian Surnames; · Stepan Malkhasian’s Explanatory Dictionary; · Dictionaries in Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Greek, Kurdish, Persian, Turkish.

Questions?



VOA TV coverage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzbNyJ_b0tA