Armenian Language Corner

Where Is He? Here or There?

If you were looking for someone, one answer to the question above could be: “He may be either here or there.”
As anyone knows, these two adverbs are both related to the old axiom of realtors: “Location, location, location.” This is true regardless of what language we use, English or Armenian. In both languages, they mean exactly the same:

English   Meaning              Armenian                   Meaning
here       “in this place”     այստեղ /aysdegh    ays = this, degh = place
there     “in that place”    այնտեղ /ayndegh    ayn / = that, degh = place

There is a third word, այդտեղ (aytdegh), whose closest meaning in English is “that.” English has no exact equivalent, because the Armenian word actually indicates an object or a subject located beyond the place indicated by ayndegh/that. Those who know Spanish may figure out that exact equivalent: in Spanish, it is the word aquel (այդտեղ = aquel lugar)

The three Armenian words mentioned so far are equally used in Western and Eastern Armenian. Additionally, Western Armenian has three synonymous words, which can be used alternatively: այստեղ (aysdegh) հոս (hos)
այնտեղ (ayndegh) հոն (hon)
այդտեղ (aytdegh) հոդ (hot)
(As a matter of style, the word հոդ (hot) is less used in writing nowadays.)

Thus, you have two choices to ask the question of the title in Western Armenian
«Ո՞ւր են անոնք։ Այստե՞ղ, թէ՞ այնտեղ»։ (Oor en anonk? Aysdegh, teh ayndegh?)
«Ո՞ւր են անոնք։ Հո՞ս, թէ՞ հոն» (Oor en anonk? Hos, teh hon?)
However, it is very common—and very wrong—to hear people saying, for instance:

«Ես հոնտեղ գացի» (Yes hondegh katsi)
«Ես հոստեղ եկայ» (Yes hosdegh yega)

This is wrong for a very simple reason: the words hon and hos, unlike ayt and ayn, mean “that place” and “this place.” If you added the word degh, then you would mean “that place place” and “this place place,” which sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

As a bonus, the same applies to the word ուր (oor) “where,” which indicates “in what place.” You say «Ո՞ւր ես» (Oor es?) “Where are you,” but, obviously, you cannot say Ուրտե՞ղ ես (Oordegh es?),(*) which would be the same as saying “in what place place are you?” in English. . .

In conclusion:
Use aysdegh, ayndegh, aytdegh, whenever applicable
Use hos, hon, or, less usual, hot as synonyms;
Use oor;
Never use hosdegh, hondegh, or hotdegh;
Never use oordegh.

(*) On a side note, Eastern Armenian utilizes the word որտեղ (vordegh), as in «Որտե՞ղ ես» (Vordegh es?), where որ means “what” and not “where”