Armenian Language Corner

You Need Something to Transfer

Western Armenian is always engaged into various types of interactions, be them with different foreign languages or its sister variety, Eastern Armenian.

The latter has gone for a long time, and it became more and more prominent after the fall of the Soviet Union. Each variety borrows words and expressions missing from their core vocabulary. In the case of Western Armenian, the frequent use of information produced in Eastern Armenian brings certain words that become a sort of parasites.

Such is the case of the word փոխանցել (pokhantsel), which literally means “to pass from one to another,” and you translate it as “transfer.” For instance, when you make a money transfer, you call it դրամի փոխանցում (tramee pokhantsoom). You can also transmit information—from one source to the other—and call it տեղեկութեան փոխանցում (deghegootian pokhantsoom)

However, if you say something, you are communicating it. This is called հաղորդել (haghortel). For instance, a radio anchor who reads the news is making a news communication (լուրերու hաղորդում / looreroo haghortoom ).

The problem comes when you use pokhantsel instead of haghortel, something that did not happen decades ago. It is common to hear expressions of the type « Տիկինը փոխանցեց, որ …» (Deegeenuh pokhantsets, vor… “The lady transferred that…”), as if you were transferring something, when the actual expression should be «Տիկինը հաղորդեց , որ …» (Deegeenuh haghortets, vor … “The lady communicated that…”).

This is a calque from Eastern Armenian, where people with deficient knowledge of the language, at their turn, are making a mistranslation from Russian. These days, you can unknowingly learn bits and pieces from a language spoken thousands of miles from you. Who knew?