Armenian Language Corner


You rent a car, hire someone, or earn a salary. For these and other uses, you have the Armenian word վարձ (vartz), of Iranian origin. In the beginning, it was the Classical Armenian word with the meaning “payment for work; reward.” The verb վարձատրել (vartzadrel), meaning “compensate” and “payment,” derived from it, the same as the word վարձկան (vartzgan) for “mercenary” or “man for hire.” In Modern Armenian, new meanings and words came up, for instance վարձել (vartzel “to rent; hire”) and աշխատավարձ (“salary”), and of course վարձք (vartzk “rental; reward”). Eastern and Western Armenian dialects had the word vartzk with another meaning: “good work deserving celestial reward.” This is the meaning of the well-known Western Armenian expression վարձքդ կատար (vartzket gadar), wishing someone God’s reward for any kind word, namely, moral compensation. You can translate this as “May your good deed be rewarded,” but of course this does not give the full sense of the expression. (Of course, this use of the expression is for second person in the singular.)

Lately, however, several new “translations” have emerged.  If you dare, out of curiosity, to write vartzket gadar in Google Translate, you will be surprised to see what a machine translation can give you: “pay your rent.” Of course, right now Google Translate only knows “rent” as translation and there is nothing else you can do, until better translations come up to their attention. What Facebook offers to you if you choose the automatic translation of someone else’s status is even more ludicrous. Their senseless programs can only translate vartzket and gadar(el) as separate words, in the same way that they confuse the nudity of  a work of art like the Venus of Milo with pornography because of that same senselessness. This how we come across վարձքերնիդ կատար (vartzkernit gadar, a colloquial form in plural of vartzket gadar) translated as … “rental perform.”

Do you ever pay rent or  “perform” a rental when you do a good deed?