The Intensive Introductory Course to Eastern Armenian began with a conversation. The instructor was less interested in pronouns and more curious about who we are, where we came from and what we are doing here. I had the impression she wanted a better idea of how we would use the language in daily life and what to teach us so that it would be the most useful. The course lasted for one week, there were five other volunteers including myself and one very patient teacher. Majority of the time we would ask her to interpret things spoken about in our host family homes, but every so often we would pause from the lesson and she would ask us what would have otherwise been inappropriate questions outside of Armenia. Questions that would make us think more about how we define ourselves and our identity. I did not expect to get this time for self-reflection in a crash language course, but I realized the course was more of a cultural exchange. Our instructor was educating us in Armenian language and customs and we were teaching her common practices from where each of us are from.
Now, Lucine is not just our language instructor and model citizen of Armenia, she is our friend. The course set the foundations for our Armenian language skills, as well as a lasting friendship between six individuals from all over the world.
Useful Armenian Words and Expressions
By Gabrielle Hairabedian
Use կանգառում կանգնեք/kangaroom ganknek (stop at the station) when on a marshrutka in Yerevan to stop at a bus station.
Say ներեցեք/neretsek (excuse me) when in a crowd to be excused.
Tell anyone who will listen, yes կամավոր/kamavor em (I am a volunteer) to explain why you are in Armenia.
Say bari ախորժակ/akhorzhak (Bon Appétit) before every meal.
After taking a shower your host mother will probably wish you well by saying բաղնիքդ անուշ/bagnikd anush (“shower be good”).
Use ինչ կա չկա/inch ga chiga (What’s up?) when hanging out with friends.
Ask ոնց ես/vonts es (How are you?) instead of ինչպես ես/inchpes es.
Say խնդրեմ/khndremm (you are welcome) after someone says շնորհակալություն/shnorhakalutyun (thank you).
During the summer, many people complain by saying շոգ է/shok e (it is hot).
Call someone you love իմ աշխարհ/im ashkhar (my world) to tell them you care.
The answer to almost everything is չգիտեմ/chigitem (I don’t know).
Say չեմ հասկանում/chem haskanum (I don’t understand) when people try to speak to you in Armenian and you don’t understand.