Author: Nora Sarafian-Tachjian, 25/08/20 (Last modified 25/08/20) - Translator: Simon Beugekian
The region known as Hadjin, and which has historically been called Harkan and Ache, has given birth to its own unique dialect of Armenian. This dialect is an amalgam of classical Armenian and Cilician vernacular. Hadjin, alongside the neighboring city of Zeytun, was located in the Armenian-speaking region of Cilicia.
The people of Hadjin historically spoke a purer form of Armenian. However, due to the natural and often forced movements and displacements of the population, the local language evolved into a discrete dialect. Like other provincial Armenian dialects, the Hadjin dialect borrows from Greek, Farsi, Kurdish, and Turkish.
There is still a small number of people around the world who speak the Hadjin dialect. Their ability to retain their native tongue was predicated on many factors, including the environment in which they grew up, their knowledge and use of conventional Armenian, and the type of relationship they had with their elders (who used the dialect as a language of daily communication). The dialect used by these surviving speakers has changed over time, due to outside influences.
Etymological investigations, including dialectological studies, can only be undertaken properly when we establish the applicable dialect’s geographic range, the historical patterns of movement and travel of the population that speaks it, and the interactions that this population had with other people and languages. The usage of the same dialect in geographically disconnected areas is evidence of the speakers’ migratory movements. From a linguistic perspective, the study of dialects offers a crucial opportunity to study the influence of environment on language and to determine the origins of non-native words. Thus, dialectological investigations also contribute to our understanding of demography and anthropology.
The first comprehensive, theoretical study of Armenian dialects was Hrachia Acharian’s Hay Parparakidoutyun (Ourvakidz yev Tasavoroutyun Hay Parparneri) [Armenian Dialectology (Overview and Classification of Armenian Dialects)] (Moscow, Nor Nakhichevan, 1911). This was the first documented attempt to codify and classify Armenian dialects based on a single essential linguistic attribute: how they formed the indicative present tense and indicative past progressive tense.
According to Acharian’s system, Armenian dialects can be classified into three main branches – ԿԸ [gu], ՈՒՄ [oum], and ԵԼ [el-yel]. Based on this taxonomy, the Hadjin dialect belongs to the ԿԸ branch.
This classification system, based on a single defining trait, leads to an effective taxonomy. However, it does not fully explain the complications of and inter-relations between various Armenian dialects. It also makes no distinctions between the categories of dialect groups, dialects, and vernacular. After studying these issues, Kevork Djahougian created the foundations for a multi-faceted scientific classification of Armenian dialects in his work Hay Parparakidoutyan Neradzoutyun [An Overview of Armenian Dialectology] (Yerevan, 1972). According to Djahougian’s taxonomy, the Hadjin dialect is a sub-branch of the southwestern (Cilician) dialect group.
Djahougian’s classification takes into account various lexical, grammatical, and phonetic characteristics of spoken languages, which are then compared during the process of classification. In this article, we will attempt to use these same principles to analyze the Hadjin dialect, or, as its practitioners call it, the Hadjno lizou.
Those who are not proficient in this dialect often find it odd and difficult to understand. However, once they become accustomed to its inflections and other characteristics, they quickly grasp that it is simply a derivative of conventional Armenian.
The variety of phonetic permutations in the Hadjin dialect can be compared to the variety found in the Zeytun dialect.
In this article, we will examine many of the characteristics of the Hadjin dialect. We have omitted any technical study of the dialect’s phonetic system.
A defining characteristic of Cilician dialects is the replacement of the stressed vowel ա (a) with օ (o). For example, panal (to open) becomes panol (Zeytun dialect); g’ertam (I’m going) becomes gashdom (Hadjin dialect); kaghak (city) becomes kaghok (Marash dialect).
Change in Vowels
The stressed ա (a) is replaced by օ (o)
հայր (hayr; father)
In monosyllabic words, as well as words consisting of one-and-a-half syllables, ա (a) is replaced by օ (o)
տղայ (dgha; boy)
In two-syllable words, only the ա (a) in the second syllable is replaced by օ (o)
հիւանդ (hivant; sick)
In polysyllabic words, only the ա (a) in the last syllable is replaced by օ (o)
գաւազան (kavazan; staff)
ա (a) is replaced by է (e/ē)
աչք (achk; eye)
ա (a) is replaced by ե (e/y)
շահիլ (shahil; to gain)
ա (a) is replaced by ը (u/ə)
առատ (arad, abundant)
ա (a) is replaced by ե (e/y)
քալել (kalel; to walk)
ա (a) in the first syllable of a word is replaced by է (e/ē)
աշակերտ (ashagerd, student)
օ (o) is replaced by է (e/ē)
օձ (ots; snake)
The diphthong այ (ay) is replaced by է (e/ē)
այծ (aydz; goat)
ե (e/y) is replaced by է (e/ē)
երկու (yergou; two)
The people of Hadjin pronounced the consonant ռ (ṙ) as ր (r). As for the consonant ր, it was replaced by the semivowel յ (y).
Most Armenian consonants retained their original pronunciation in the Hadjin dialect, with the following exceptions and special cases:
Change in Consonants
The letter ռ (ṙ) retains the ր (r) pronunciation
դուռ (tour; door)
In both proper and common nouns, ր (r) is replaced by յ (y)
դրամ (tram; money)
The letter հ (h) is sometimes replaced by ֆ (f) or խ (kh/x); or becomes silent
հոգ (hok; concern)
The letter ղ (gh/ġ) is often replaced by խ (kh/x)
եղջիւր (yeghchyur; antler)
At the start of a word, the letter յ (y) is sometimes dropped
յիսուս (hisous; Jesus)
The letters տ (d/t) and ր (r), when appearing together, are replaced by ռ (ṙ)
կտրիճ (gdridj; champion)
The letter տ (d/t) is sometimes not pronounced
աստղ (asdgh, star)
The letter ռ (ṙ), without exceptions, retains the ր (r) pronunciation
փուռ (pour; oven)
If the letter ր (r) is followed by the letter ս (s), they are replaced by շ (sh; š)
հարսանիք (harsanik, wedding)
The declension of nouns follows conventional Armenian grammatical rules – with the addition of suffixes to the end of the words.
For example, dzar (tree), dzari (of the tree), dzare (from the tree), dzarov (with the tree). Hats (bread), hatsi (of the bread), hatse (from the bread), hatsov (with the bread).
Of course, in the Hadjin dialect, the words are pronounced dzor, dzori, dzore, dzorov/hots, hotsi, hotse, hotsov.
Like conventional Armenian, the Hadjin dialect has two classes of verbs, regular and irregular. They are conjugated accordingly, just as they are in conventional Armenian.
In the present tense, verbs retain the particle ge. In the future tense, the particle bidi is replaced by bi. In the subjunctive, yete is replaced by te. In the negative imperative, the particle mi remains unchanged. For example:
Kalel (to walk): ge kelem (I am walking), bikelem (I will walk), te kelem (if I walk), mi kele (don’t walk).
When the verb begins with a vowel, the ge became a g’. For example, g’enie, meaning he/she/it does.
The verbs oudel (to eat), yertal (to go), and ouzel (to want) are exceptions and do not require the use of the particle ge.
The conjugation of irregular verbs is more complicated, as it is in every language. For example, the conjugation of the verb oudel (to eat):
- Present tense: g’avdiem, g’avdies, g’avdie
- Simple past tense: geyo, geyoy, geyov
- Future tense: b’oudiem, b’oudes, b’oude
- Imperative: m’oudey, m’oudek
- Subjunctive: te oudem, te oudes, te oude
Examples of the conjugation of the three main types of Armenian verbs:
- Example of verbs with the ել (el) suffix: vazel-vaziel (to run)
- Example of verbs with the իլ (il) suffix: haknil (to dress)
- Example of verbs with the ալ (al) suffix: hazal-hazol (to cough)
VAZEL (to run)
Eies gu vaziem
G’ouziem ey vaziem
Toun gu vazies
G’ouzies ey vazies
An gu vaze
G’ouze ey vaze
Miene gu vazienk
G’ouzienk ey vazienk
Touk gu vazek
G’ouzek ey vazek
Envenk gu vazien
G’ouzien ey vazein
HAKNIL (to dress)
Eies gu haknim
G’ouziem ey haknim
Toun gu haknis
G’ouzies ey haknis
An gu hakni
G’ouze ey hakni
Miene gu haknink
G’ouzienk ey haknienk
Touk gu haknik
G’ouzek ey haknek
Envenk gu haknin
G’ouzien ey haknein
HAZAL (to cough)
Eies gu hazom
G’ouziem ey hazom
Toun gu hazos
G’ouzies ey hazos
An gu hazo
G’ouze ey hazo
Miene gu hazonk
G’ouzienk ey hazonk
Touk gu hazok
G’ouziek ey hazok
Envenk gu hazon
G’ouzien ey hazon
Subjunctive mood, present/imperfect
SIREL (to love)
Siye; mi siye; siyitsek; mi siyek
HAKNIL (to dress)
Hakiy; mi hakni; hakek; mi haknik
HAZAL (to cough)
Hazo; mi hazoy; hazatsek; mihazok
- vi – archuvi (in the Hadjin dialect); archevi (conventional Armenian); in front (English).
- vouey – halivouey; alevor; grizzled | dzoutsvouey; dzotsvor; pregnant.
- oued – yeghoued; yughod; oily | mazoued; mazod; hairy.
- gon – lalgon; lalgan; weepy | baydgon; bardagan; indebted.
- von – iygvon; irigvan; of the evening | shiyvon; kishervan; of the night.
- onk – meyonk; mayrenk; of the mothers.
- vodzk – khosvodzk; khosvadzk; speech | kilvodzk; kalvadzk; gait.
- vouts – idivouts; yedeven; from behind.
In the Hadjin dialect, plurals are formed in several ways:
- - ni: tkalni; tkalner; spoons | urzanki; Abrankner; possessions | tsyanni; tsyer; horses.
- - sdanni: hikisdanni; hokiner; souls | ekisdanni; aykiner; orchards.
- - niey: lerniey; lerner; mountains | dzarniey; dzaraner; servants | turniey; trner; doors.
- - iey: koughiey; kogher; thieves | khoudiey; khoder; grasses | goutiey; goter; handles.
- - dek: aghpiydek; yeghpayrner; brothers | aghchgundek; aghchigner; girls | bulzdek; bzdigner; children | gundek; giner; women.
- - ik: osgik; vosginer; golds | moytik; marter; people.
- - vuni: tservuni; tserker; hands | kutvuni; kiter; noses.
- - vouenk: tservouenk; tserkerov; with the hands.
Giyegi (Giragi; Sunday)
Eygoushepti (Yergoushapti; Monday)
Iyekshepti (Yerekshapti; Tuesday)
Bakey (Chorekshapti; Wednesday)
Hinkshepti (Hinkshapti; Thursday)
Ouypot (Ourpat; Friday)
Shapot (Shapat; Saturday)
Vaygyon (vayrgyan; minute)
Sahat (jam; hour)
Dihiy (tar; century)
Ey (meg; one)
Eygey (yergou; two)
Amis (amis; month)
Dayi (dari; year)
Shafokh (ardou ganoukh; early morning)
Geaey (gesor; noon)
Iyguvon (irigoun; evening)
Below, we present the transcripts of two recorded conversations with two different speakers of the Hadjin dialect, alongside their English translations. The first speaker is Boghos Ganachian (1929-2017), born in the Nor Hadjin (New Hadjin) neighborhood of Lebanon. The second speaker is Yeghisapet Tapanian-Oghloukian (1943-2019), also born in the Nor Hadjin neighborhood of Lebanon.
These two conversations are evidence that the Hadjin dialect, despite some of the changes it sustained over time, always retained its nature as a fundamentally Armenian dialect. The two transcripts are snapshots of the dialect as spoken by different generations.
First Conversation in the Hadjin Dialect (Boghos Ganachian)
“Inchots igik Shamen Tamasgosen?”
“How did you make your way here from Damascus?”
“Hadjno Moutasarrufu eygou askoy gu ghuyge, katsek Toyos Vaybedu peyek. Gashdon Toyos Vaybedin kev gu g’asen, te Moutasarrufu ke g’avze. Moytu gu g’ene, gashdo.”
“The moutasarref [governor] of Hadjin sent two soldiers and ordered Master Toros to be brought to him. The soldiers went to Master Toros and told him that he was being summoned by the moutasarref. The man went and presented himself.”
‘Oh, payev igiy Toyos Varbed.’
‘Oh, welcome, Master Toros.’
‘Good to see you.’
‘Nisd! Keno eygou hod ghayfe aso te piyen.’ Neyise, ghayfan gupiyen. Iyents gu g’ase, te eskeyneyoun, ‘touk katsek, pon mu chounik mey hedu.’
‘Sit down! Fetch us a couple of coffees!’. They brought the coffee. Then he turned to the soldiers – ‘You’re dismissed, you’ve got nothing to do here!’
“Gu nusdin, ghonoushmoush g’anon.”
“They sat down and talked.”
‘Toun zis shod gou siyes, che mu?’
‘Toros, you like me very much, don’t you?’
“Toyosn al, ho g’ase.”
“Toros said yes.”
‘Yes al kiy shod gou siyem. Amma kalik oreru erind chi ko eyveno ermenots. Yete zis deynemmish unesne, aylet ar! Or! Esdeghotsu keno.’
‘And I like you very much, too. But the coming days don’t look good for Armenians. If you want my advice, you should take your family and get out of here!’
“Toyos ghalfan doun gako, gu genche dughan, achkindeku, hoyseyu. Meselen undas-undas e, inch gu g’asek ishdonk te minonk?”
“Master Toros went back home, gathered his sons, daughters, and brides around him, and explained the situation to them. He asked them, ‘What do you think? Should we stay or should we go?’”
“Keris, Ghazaria Babahikian, hech mi gaynik, eygou katur araba peyek inch gone litsek, yalla Souria!”
“My uncle, Ghazaria Babayikian, said: ‘Let’s leave immediately! Let’s get a couple of chariots, fill them up, and set out for Syria!’”
“Yev undats Souria gakon. Our? Djaramana. Hon doun ge purnen, ge nusdin. Moytu nadjoy e, bzdig arvag mu, bdig chouyi ochk mu go yegher, keopliv shinel gou dan gor. Moytu shad nazig naloun hivant g’ounno, ge meyni.”
“So they moved to Syria. Where? Djaramana [southeast of Damascus]. There, they settled down and built a house. The man was a carpenter. There was a stream there, a brook, they had him build a bridge over it. But he had a very weak constitution. He fell ill and died.”
“Amma bobis, keris askoy en yegher harbi g’ashdon. Harbu lmnnalen yedk g’akon Djaramana, irents gou kudnon, dayi me gu nusdin, sarrafoutyun gu g’enen. Bobis nadjoy e, inch gu shine? Kermen, okhlaghou, berid. Asang tyam g’arne gor dadjigneren. Djong mu payo g’aynen keriyis hed sarrafoutyun gu g’enen Djarmanayen Shom gu g’ichnen yev yed gou kan. 1925-in Dyurzineroun yev Souryatsineroun grivu g’ella. Keris gu g’ese, te menk hos chenk gano menol, yalla Beirut b’ishdonk, Beirut al kalen yedk, yes hes chim geno, Ameyiga b’ishdom. Kerin g’elle gor Arjantin g’erta gor, moyus, bobus al yedevnen g’ashdon, achki trikoma (trachoma) ellalloun, yed gakon. Hayrus, mayrus, yeghpayrus, kouyrus.”
“My father and uncle, on the other hand, were soldiers. They went off to war. After the end of the war, they settled down in Djaramana, and got their feet under them. For a year they stayed there, working as currency exchangers. My father was a carpenter. What did he make? Spindles, containers, berids. So this is how they made money from the local Muslims. They saved a little bit of money and the two went down to Damascus, then went back to Djaramana. In 1925, the fighting between the Druze and the Syrians broke out. My uncle decided that he could no longer live there, and that they would go down to Beirut. But after arriving in Beirut, he decided he could not stay there, and decided to move to America. My uncle went to Argentina. My mother and father followed him there, but after contracting trachoma, they decided to return. My father, mother, brother, and sister.”
“Yes ayn aden chi gam. Yes kalen yedk, hes dzner em, 1928.”
“I wasn’t around yet at that time. I was born here, after they came back, in 1928.”
Second Conversation in the Hadjin Dialect (Yeghisapet Tapanian-Oghloukian)
I’ll tell you now.
Achku gouyno undas lisin (…) meh endeghu undas goudjog mu go gou gokhes, tim ashkharhu lis gounno. Meh endeghu evel menk lamba gou varonk kidi, lamba, eygou meg gou gerenk temizlamish uneliken gou gerenk. Esdeghu undak pon chou go lisu godjage gou gokhes tim deghe lis gouno.
May the light of this place be cursed... At our place, we have just one button. When you press it, the whole world lights up. Back home, we had lamps that we lit. We occasionally broke a couple while cleaning them. Here, there is no lamp. You just press the button and there is light everywhere.
- Hayreni Parparakidagan Adlasi Nyuteri Havakman Dzrakir [Armenian Dialectological Atlas – MaterialsCollection Project], H. T. Gosdantian, A. N. Hanenian, M. H. Mouradian, A. V. Krikorian (eds), Yerevan, 1977.
- Hagop B. Boghosian, Hadjni Enthanour Badmoutyune yev Shrchaga Kozan-Daghi Haygagan Kyugheru [A General History of Hadjin and the Nearby Armenian Villages of Kozan-Dagh], Second Edition, Holy See of Cilicia, Antilias, 2014.
- Hrachia Acharian, Knnoutyun Giligyayi Parpari [Study of the Cilicia Dialect], Yerevan State University Press, Yerevan, 2003.