The Armenian word մանկապարտէզ (mangabardez) is what linguists call a “calque translation” of the concept, first introduced in Germany, of a pre-school class or institution. While English simply copied the German word and adopted kindergarten, Armenian took the pains of translating it.
The translation of German kinder is մանուկ (manoog) in Armenian, indeed (the oo “disappears” when used in compound words). The Armenian word, which is also a proper name, derives from the Indo-European root *menu [the e should be read as a schwa], meaning “small, little,” with the addition of the diminutive suffix – ուկ (oog). Besides the meaning of “child,” manoog also means “small, of early age.”
That much we know. But how to make sense of the following passage in the ending part of the Holy Mass, which we hear every Sunday:
« Զխաղաղութիւն պարգեւեա (…) հայրապետութեան եւ հանրապետութեան ազգիս Հայոց, եւ հանրապետութեան Միացեալ նահանգացն Ամերիկայի, եւ զինուորեալ մանկանց նոցա (…)»
“Uzkhaghaghootyoon barkevya (…) hayrabedootyan yev hanrabedootyan azkis Hayots, yev hanrabedootyan Miyatsyal Nahankatsn Amerigayi, yev zinvoryal mangants notsa (…)”
For those who do not know Classical Armenian, zinvoryal mangants notsa is rendered into Modern Armenian as անոնց զինեալ մանուկներուն (anonts zinyal manoogneroon). Now, zinyal means “armed,” and if manoog is “children,” does it mean that the Holy Mass talks about the infamous practice of … “children soldiers”?
That would be ridiculous, because the sentence actually asks God: “Grant peace (…) to the Patriarchate and the Republic of the Armenian nation, and to the Republic of the United States of America, and…”
The issue is that manoog does not mean “children” here. The word had another meaning in Classical Armenian that has not been kept in Modern Armenian, namely, “young person, servant, soldier.” Therefore, zinvoryal mangants notsa refers to the “armed young people” of Armenia and the United States.
Interestingly, the prayer asks to grant peace to them. Therefore, to avoid wars as much as possible.