Armenian Language Corner

Of Assemblies and Spellings

The Greek word ekklesia (“assembly”) is the root of the word ecclesiastic in English and has become the word for “church” in a few Latin languages like French, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as in Armenian: yegeghetsi (եկեղեցի).

The Greek word has its Armenian counterpart, joghov (ժողով “assembly, gathering; meeting”), and this is why the title of the Book of Ecclesiastes (Ekklesiastes means “Gatherer” in Greek) has been translated in Armenian as Kirk Joghovoghi (Գիրք Ժողովողի).

The word joghov, which is the source for joghovurt (ժողովուրդ “people”), has also been used by Evangelical Armenians to denominate their temples as joghovaran (ժողովարան), even though they have retained the word “church” in English.

If you wanted to gather people for any purpose, the verb to use would be joghvel (ժողվել), where popular use in Western Armenian has left aside the second o of the root joghov. Eastern Armenian uses the standard form joghovel (ժողովել).

The spelling of the verb joghvel, with վ instead of ու, represents an exception to the orthographic rule establishing that the sound v after a consonant and before a vowel is always spelled with the diphthong ու (u), which sounds v (e.g. arvesd – արուեստ “art”; badvel – պատուել “to honor”). This is why you cannot write joghuel (ժողուել), because the root of the word is joghov (ժողով) and not joghu (ժողու)!