This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Ashot Sukiasian (August 18, 1922)

Ashot Sukiasian, linguist and lexicographer, was the author of a comprehensive thesaurus of the Armenian language that remains unsurpassed. 

He was born in Tbilisi (Georgia) on August 18, 1922. He graduate from the 86th Armenian high school in 1940 and was admitted to the section of Armenian literature of language of the School of Philology at Yerevan State University. He was drafted into the Soviet army during World War II and fought in the Caucasus battlefront in 1941-1942. Gravely wounded, he was discharged as disabled. He continued his university studies in 1945 and graduated in 1948. 

Sukiasian’s family, like thousands of Armenians, was deported to the region of Altai, in Central Asia, on June 14, 1949. Thanks to his complaints and addresses, he managed to have his family returned a few months later. 

In 1950, Sukiasian entered the Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia as graduate student in the specialty of Armenian Lexicography, and studied with famous linguist Hrachia Ajarian. He defended his first doctoral dissertation in 1954 on the subjectSoviet Armenian Lexicography” and became a senior researcher at the Institute (1954-1966). In 1966, he started teaching at Yerevan State University, becoming head of the chair of Armenian Modern Language from 1976 to 1991. He published his lengthy monograph Synonyms in Modern Armenian, which became the basis for his second doctorate in 1972. He earned the title of professor in 1974 and of Emeritus Worker of Science of Armenia in 1980. 

Sukiasian’s works are essentially in the field of lexicography. In 1967, he published the Theasurus of the Armenina Language, which included about 83,000 words and phrases. It had a second revised edition in 2003 (reprinted in 2009) and earned the Presidential Prize of Armenia in 2004. Sukiasian published the Modern Armenian Dictionary of Idiomatic Expressions, coauthored with Sergey Galstian, in 1975. His book Modern Armenian Language (Phonetics, Lexicon, Word-Composition) had three editions (1982, 1987, and 1989). He also compiled a thesaurus for school students (2000). 

Ashot Sukiasian passed away on January 15, 2007, in Yerevan.