Armenian Language Corner


“A palatial house in a very expensive neighborhood.”

We find sometimes this description when they talk about some multimillion-dollar piece of real estate in an exclusive area, to make it sound similar to a palace.

Does it ring a bell? (Not “the” bell of that particular place, of course).

The root “palat-ial” and the Armenian word պալատ (balad “palace”) have the same sound. Let’s remember that in Classical Armenian balad sounded palat, as it sounds today in Eastern Armenian.

Let’s start with “palace,” which comes from Old French palais, derived at its turn from Medieval Latin palacium. The source of this word was Latin palatium, which designated a palace in plural and the name of one of the seven hills on which Rome was built, the Palatinus. What was the connection between the hill and the palace? The first Roman emperor, Augustus, built his palace there, and then Nero did the same with another no less splendid residence.  

In the case of Armenian, because Latin has left very little trace in our language, the source of the word balad/palat is Greek, which borrowed the word palation from Latin palatium.

Therefore, the ultimate source for both English and Armenian words is the same language: Latin. Granted, there were middlemen in both cases: French for English and Greek for Armenian.

However, despite the slight change in sound, the meaning is the same: if you have enough money, you can have a palace/balad.