Armenian Language Corner

Speaking about Movies

As in every language, the idea of pictures that moved was originally backed with a Greek word, and this is how cinematography was born in 1896 (Greek kinema movement, from Greek kinein “to move” + graphein “to write”). Afterwards, the word was cut short to cinema.

These words are reserved to the art of making what we today call “movie,” “motion picture,” “moving picture,” or “film.” How do you say it in Armenian?

We first have sharzhanegar (շարժանկար), which is the Armenian calque of “motion picture” (sharzh / շարժ > sharzhum / շարժում “movement”+ negar / նկար “picture”). You can also say sharzhanegari srah (շարժանկարի սրահ “movie theater”), if you wish.

If you want to say “cinematography,” you can use a slightly different word: sharzhabadger (շարժապատկեր), which also literally means “motion picture.” It is the combination of sharzh and badger (պատկեր “image”).

Let’s add that the word sinema (սինեմա) is colloquially used with both meanings of “movie theater” and “cinematography.” In the 1920s a periodical called Haygagan sinema («Հայկական սինեմա») was published in Cairo, edited by writer Yervant Odian (1869-1926). However, it was not about movies, but a satirical periodical (the editor was himself one of the best Armenian satirical writers).

However, since (Western) Armenian is a language that does not like borrowings from other languages, you are not going to find sinema in dictionaries.

But you will find film (ֆիլմ), which is currently used with the same meaning as in English.