All About Words a Success

Shahan Deirmenjian, AGBU Toronto, 25 October 2011

On September 30th, 2011 the Toronto Armenian community enjoyed a fascinating and entertaining lecture at the Alex Manoogian Cultural Centre on the origins and derivations of Armenian and English words. The presentation was titled “Around the World in 1,001 Words.”

Around the World in 1,001 Words     
By Mr. Jirair Tutunjian
Sponsored by AGBU Toronto, Alex Manoogian Cultural Centre
Filmed and Edited by Vako Nicolian
A variation of the lecture was delivered in Montréal, Canada
Copyright (c) 2011 by Jirair Tutunjian

Shahan Deirmenjian, AGBU Toronto, 25 October 2011

On September 30th, 2011 the Toronto Armenian community enjoyed a fascinating and entertaining lecture at the Alex Manoogian Cultural Centre on the origins and derivations of Armenian and English words. The presentation was titled “Around the World in 1,001 Words.”

Around the World in 1,001 Words     
By Mr. Jirair Tutunjian
Sponsored by AGBU Toronto, Alex Manoogian Cultural Centre
Filmed and Edited by Vako Nicolian
A variation of the lecture was delivered in Montréal, Canada
Copyright (c) 2011 by Jirair Tutunjian

After a brief welcome Ms. Salpi Der Ghazarian introduced the speaker–Mr. Jirair Tutunjian–who has, for years, studied the history of the Armenian language and words. A graduate of Ryerson Journalism with a Masters degree in Communications from Northwestern University, author and founding editor of numerous Canadian periodicals, Mr. Tutunjian gave a passionate lecture on the origins of Armenian and English words to a standing room only audience of over 150 people.

Mr. Tutunjian began his talk by giving the audience a brief introduction on the rules of transliteration (daratartsoutune), and why words change their spelling and pronunciation over time. To put his presentation into context, he then spoke about the Indo-European language group and its major division into East and West: Armenian being part of the east branch, together with Iranian, Beluchi, and Sanskrit in India.

With the aid of PowerPoint Mr. Tutunjian proceeded to provide a history of how and why languages borrow from one another. With humorous anecdotes he illustrated how Iranian and Arabic words have infiltrated the Armenian and English languages, and how the English language has adopted certain Armenian words in their everyday lexicon.

Using a small sample of over 40 Indo-European and Sanskrit words which are very similar to Armenian and English, he unravelled the fascinating connections of how words have changed shape and meaning over the centuries. The examples used were but a small sample of the vastness of this relationship that exists between words of seemingly different languages.

The audience was surprised to learn that Armenian has even given birth to a little known language called Lomavren, which is a mixture of Armenian and a Gypsy language. As recently as 2004 it is a known fact that about 50 people could speak Lomavren in the Republic of Armenia.

Mr. Tutunjian’s presentation created a flurry of questions from the audience. In the course of 90 minutes the audience was not only entertained but had gained knowledge about a fascinating subject which most often people wonder about but seldom take the time to acquaint themselves with.

Mr. Tutunjian has been invited to give similar lectures at AGBU in Montréal and elsewhere.
 

5 comments
  1. Lecture Video

    Re "Around the World in 1,001 Words"…I appreciate it if in the future you video taped lectures about such fascinating topics, that are rarely offered, and make them available online to those of us who are thousands  of miles away and therefore can not  attend but would like to hear the lecture. The video tape also gives the organizers of the event an archive of such important and wonderful knowledge to be passed on to future Armenian generations.

     

  2. Did I know about Calouste Gulbenkian?

    Did I know, as Jirair points out, that in “The Very Rich: A History of Wealth” Joseph Thorndike wrote: -In his [Calouste Gulbenkian] private life Gulbenkian, though he had long since become a British citizen, did not desert the traditions of his Middle Eastern homeland [Ottoman Turkey]. Since it was not legal to keep a harem in Paris or Lisbon, where he lived most of the time, he kept company with a string of beautiful young women. Seventeen was about the right age he counseled his son Nubar—and change them every year”?

    Yes, I did know about it having read it in the autobiography of his son Noubar Gulbenkian; however, not within the context of a Sultan keeping a harem, as implied in the paragraph.

    Incidentally my interest in Calouste Gulbenkian stems from the fact his foundation enabled me to continue my education at AUB. During my post-graduate studies I was also invited by the Foundation to attend a science course in Portugal at the Foundation’s science institute.

    His son Noubar writing about his father’s routine in Portugal notes that he kept the company of young women and changed them every so often after having the young women undergo thorough medical examination to establish that they are disease free. The truth of the matter is that Calouste Gulbenkian was finicky when it came to his health. Noubar notes, perhaps as an eastern thought, that an older man enjoying the intimacy of a young woman will rejuvenate him. There is no record of his philandering, in way of casual sex, in the prime of his life and immensely wealthy.

    He was very controlling not only of every and any expense, however trivial, but also of his family’s well being as he understood. When Noubar came into age, it was his father Calouste, who had an Armenian doctor find a woman and examine her to assure of her health and then present her to his son Noubar to consummate his virginity.

    1. More about Caloust Sarkis Gulbenkian

      It was  in the 1950´s  that  C.Sarkis Gulbenkian and above  all his son Nubar began to make the headlines, in London. I was around 16/17 as student, when first  article  in a British newspaper, don´t  recall which, Nubar, a tall man, unlike  his  father, appeared with  his long beard, monocle, top hat (Cyliner) and in tails (Frack) and striped trousers, next to his specially produced Rolls Royce car, parked in front of the Savoy.

      He always wore in his lapel an orchid  each morning, leaving the hotel Savoy, that was when he was photographed.The Sterling (my English co students  called  Rolls Royce cars  so) was specially made for him with American styling.The Longer than ordinary RR, pretty much like the Limousines of today. The chauffer´s front seat seperated and top convertible. It  was  an outrage  in the press, how  could  Rolls  Royce  turn out a model like that, side stepping English tradition. How dare they…even worse to come now.

      In an almost 10 page Article  in the American (International)  LIFE   magazine (please go search 60 yrs ago…

      There were several large and small photos of Nubar and father Caloust. One depicting Nubar in tails,as always, and Top hat and orchid in lapel, out, on a Fox hunting with British nobility.  One such, asks Nubar why the city tails outfit.  Answer comes (check it out in LIFE magazine) "when you are out with an Armenian, expect anything!!!".

      Yet  in another section it was published  in same issue  that  Nubar liked to order a few belly dancers (no not from Arab  countries, but  from  Istanbulla,Turkey) to come and perform for him in a nightclub, while he watched pompously.

      Further ahead in same issue, it was disclosed that Nubar not satisfied with the allowance, rather funds that his father placed under his disposition had started a lawsuit  against  his father, demanding much more….

      Let  me see if I can remember  more about  this extravagant playboy  of the time (at that time Playboy was  not out  yet).Suffice  it to say, that  if  anyone wishes to learn more about Caloust, not son, here goes:-

      He built  the St. Sarkis Church in centre  of London near Harrods, where I, with brother went now and then on Armenian holidays mainly.

      Also, Caloust, though had a mansion in Paris on a famous Avenue he preferred staying at the Ritz  in Lisbon, occupying the whole First or mezzanine floor and always used a Taxi. Never did he own a car.

      More about Caloust? please read a book of Saroyan, in which along many short stories he recounts his near one week stay at same hotel, when Saroyan almost-always dined with him. Caloust so wanted, if Saroyan was not out at Estoril Casino, gambling. He wrote, "If you need anything, just  anything, let me know." Saroyan being the proud Bitlistsi Armenian never asked for anything, not even when he was now and then broke gambling.

    2. Excuse my confusion…

      Excuse my confusion.  What does Calouste Gulbenkian and his ‘harem’ have to do with Mr. Tutunjian’s lecture?

      1. Nercess, I am bewildered as well

        Nercess,

        I am bewildered as well.

        I wrote this comment as a response to a quote from a journalist regarding Caloust Gulbenkian allegedly keeping a harem. I am not sure now if it was Tutunjian who had quoted the journalist.

        Surely, it has not nothing to do with going around with 1001 words we are eager to attend in LA as well.

         

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