Armenian Language Corner


You call them “Board of Trustees” and “trustees,” because you trust them that they will do the job for which they have been elected, whether you are a parishioner or a corporate shareholder. The Armenian equivalent words have nothing to do with trust, and everything to do… with the job.

Thus, the trustees are called հոգաբարձու (hokapartzoo) and the collective body of trustees becomes a հոգաբարձութիւն (hokapartzootioon). What does the compound word hokapartzoo mean?

The first word is հոգ (hok), which has nothing to do with հոգի (hokee “soul”), in case you ask. Hok means “worry, preoccupation; care,” and we are left to find out what բարձ(ու) (partzoo) means.

Another caveat: this word has no relation whatsoever with բարձ (partz “pillow”), even if they have the same spelling. It is related, however, to the words բարձունք (partzoonk “elevation”) and բարձր (partzur “elevated, tall”).

This is because the word in question comes from the Classical Armenian root բարձ (partz), which is part of several irregular conjugations of the verb բառնալ (parnal, “to lift, to elevate”), and the word hokapartzoo itself was used by Mesrop Mashtots’ student Koriun in the fifth century A.D. The word literally means “the one who lifts the worries,” and this is what an Armenian parishioner or shareholder or stakeholder expects from someone who is a trustee: he trusts them to alleviate or make disappear the problems that the organization may have.

By the way, the same root appears in a word we all know, Համբարձում (Hampartzoom), which designates the Ascension of the Lord (i.e. his elevation to Heaven).

It is quite a ubiquitous root, since we find it in the word midwife. Not the English word, indeed, which refers to “the woman who is with (the mother)” around the time of childbirth. In the Armenian case, the word has been constructed around the moment after the childbirth and designates both the midwife and the obstetrician: մանկաբարձ (mangapartz). It combines մանուկ (manoog, “child”) and բարձ (partz, “to lift”), referring to when the child is lifted after birth.

Each language has its own means to enrich itself. The Armenian language and its speakers have them too…