Armenian Language Corner

When Speakers Invent New Words

People apparently tend to think that the diphthongs yoo (իւ) and ioo (իու) are pronounced in the same way, and that the fact that their spelling is different is nothing more than a quirky twist of the language (think of the English words cheese, please, sleaze, and freeze). Therefore, the two diphthongs in the word miootyoon (միութիւն “union”) are pronounced in the same way. But they should not be. The failure to understand this difference has led to common twists in pronunciation.

You have the case of diphthongs being inverted, as if the speakers were affected by dyslexia:

  1.       haryoor (հարիւր “hundred”) => hayroor (հայրուր)
  2.       aryoon (արիւն “blood”) => ayroon (այրուն).

Then we have some diphthongs where the sound yoo is turned by the magic wand into ooy:

  1.       myoos (միւս “other”) => mooys (մույս)
  2.       tzyoon (ձիւն “snow”) => tzooyn (ձույն)
  3.       kyood (գիւտ “invention, discovery”) Ü kooyd (գույտ)
  4.       pyoor (բիւր “many”) => pooyr (բույր)

(Note: the word pooyr (correctly spelled բոյր means “fragrance”)

And vice versa:

  • voghchooyn (ողջոյն “greetings”) => voghchyoon (ողջիւն)

To close the gallery, it is worth mentioning a case where the uncomplicated sound oo becomes yoo:

  •  pedoor (փետուր “feather) => pedyoor (փետիւր)

Those speakers of the English language who are of Spanish or Italian origin always have difficulty to properly pronounce, for instance, ship and sheep. If you go and check the writing of the above mentioned Armenian words, you will notice that there is no such problem: you pronounce what you read. If you can’t, then you may need… to get glasses.