Armenian Language Corner

Not “Armed Children”

As anyone knows, մանուկ (manook) means “child.” But this is the modern meaning. In the past, this Armenian word, which has an Indo-European origin (from *menu “small”), had another meaning.

If you pay attention every Sunday during the Divine Liturgy, you can detect it in this passage by the celebrant, when he asks for peace “to the whole world, to the churches, to the priests, to the Christian kings, to the Armenian Church, to the Republic of Armenia, and to the Republic of the United States of America…” (Of course, “United States of America” changes with the country where the Divine Liturgy is being officiated.)

The continuation says “… and to their armed forces” in English and անոնց բանակին (anonts panageen) in Modern Armenian. But if you are attentive to the actual words from the altar, you will hear եւ զինուորեալ մանկանց նոցա (yev zinvoreal mangants notsa).

The word mangants is the genitive plural of manoog in Classical Armenian (մանուկներուն / manoogneroon in Western Armenian). If you think in Modern Armenian, you might be inclined to believe that the liturgy talks about “armed children”!

Nothing farther from the truth.

In ancient times, manoog also meant “young soldier.” The Classical Armenian words yev zinvoreal mangants notsa literally mean “and to their armed soldiers,” which has become “armed forces” in the English translation.

And here is the meaning of manoog in this passage of the Divine Liturgy, which was inserted in the early twentieth century, most likely after the Republic of Armenia was founded in 1918.