Eduard Aghayan was a well-regarded scholar in Armenia who made extensive contributions to different areas of Armenian linguistics.
He was born on March 16, 1913, in Meghri, in southern Armenia. He graduated from high school in 1928 and after working at the local kolkhoz (collective farm) as bookkeeper and accountant, he entered the Faculty of History and Literature of Yerevan State University in 1932, while he worked as accountant in a tobacco factory. He graduated from YSU in 1938, entered graduate studies the next year and defended his first doctoral dissertation in 1941 (“The Dialect of Meghri”) and the second in 1945 (“History of Armenian Linguistics”). He became a lecturer in 1942 and received the title of professor in 1946. He became a corresponding member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences in 1953. He would become a full member in 1982.
Aghayan worked for several decades at his alma mater. He was dean of the Faculty of Philology of YSU (1948-1950), deputy rector of scientific work (1953-1956), head of the chair of General Linguistics (1956-1985), head of the Center of Armenian Studies (1968-1991), and editor in chief of the journal “Banber Yerevani hamalsarani” (1986-1989). He lectured on general linguistics, history of linguistic theory, introduction to linguistics, comparative grammar of Armenian, history of the Armenian language, grammar of Classical Armenian, Farsi, and Latin, Oriental philology, and other courses.
He also worked for several decades at the Institute of Linguistics Hrachia Ajarian of the Academy of Sciences, where he was deputy director (1950-1953) and head of the department of general and comparative linguistics (1963-1991). For a short time (1947-1948), he also headed the committee of higher education institutions of the Ministry of Education. He was also elected member of the city council of Yerevan (1953) and the Supreme Soviet of Armenia (1980 and 1985). He was conferred the title of Emeritus Worker of Science in 1970.
Aghayan passed away on December 29, 1991.
His scholarly output was devoted to general linguistics, history of Armenian linguistics, history of the Armenian language, grammar, lexicology, dialectology, and contemporary Armenian language. He wrote an Introduction to Linguistics (1952, 1963, 67) that became an officially approved university textbook in the Soviet Union after its translation into Russian in 1959. He also wrote some groundbreaking works like The Historico-Comparative Method in Linguistics (1959), Grammar of Classical Armenian (1964), Declension and Conjugation in Contemporary Armenian (1967), General and Comparative Lexicology (1984), et cetera.
Aghayan also made valuable contributions to the study of the phonetics, vocabulary, and morphology of the Armenian language. He was also the author of the highly regarded Explanatory Dictionary of the Armenian Language (2 volumes, 1976), which collected 136,000 words and 11,000 idioms.
He coauthored various textbooks of Armenian language for primary schools, which had several editions. His scholarly productions included the edition of various multivolume works of his teacher, the famous linguist Hrachia Ajarian (1876-1953), including the Complete Grammar of the Armenian Language in Comparison with 562 Languages (1955-1971) and the second, printed edition of the Etymological Dictionary of the Armenian Language (1971-1979).