The surprising similarities between Armenian and Urdu language

Armenian is a great language

“Armenian is a great language, and I felt extremely enthralled when I started studying and exploring it”

Sarmad Iqbal

Barev (‘Hello’ in Armenian) and Salaam everyone. While I am writing this article I am extremely glad with the overwhelmingly positive response and feedback my previous article “Can Harissa act as an ice-breaker between Armenia and Pakistan?” garnered, and I want to express my gratitude to all those who gave it a read and loved it. Along with Shukriya, I would like to utter this beautiful Armenian phrase for all those who loved my article: Shnorhakalutyun (meaning ‘thanks a lot’). The love and warmth I received in the form of comments, private messages on Facebook and Twitter as well as likes on my previous article from many Armenian friends and from several Pakistanis, was so overwhelming and massive that I may not be able to describe it in words. The love and warmth wasn’t just confined to the praise of my article, but I was also delighted to see some Armenian friends inviting me to their home country and calling me the “Best Pakistani” they had ever seen. These compliments mean more than anything to me in this world and are priceless. As I promised in my previous article, this present write-up is going to be devoted to the common words between Armenian and Urdu. Armenian is truly a great language, and I felt extremely enthralled when I started studying and exploring it (through online Armenian learning sites and Armenian TV series like Full House including Armenian pop songs sung by divas like Lilit Hovhannisyan and Sirusho, with English subtitles of course).

Now, some of the common words I am going to write about may not be exactly the same in their respective meanings and there may be slight differences too. Also, many of the below mentioned Armenian words are from colloquial usage.

In my last article, I stopped at the common word for “sign” between Armenian and Urdu which was “nishan”. Henceforth, I would love to proceed with the word “hazar” which is a common word for “thousand” in Armenian and Urdu language. We (Pakistanis and Armenians) also have a word for “ten” in common, both Armenians and Pakistanis call it “das”. A word in common for the colour “black” comes with slight difference in pronunciation, with Pakistanis calling it “sia” (a Persian loanword) and Armenians calling it “sev” (which is in turn, derived from the above mentioned Persian loanword in Urdu). Urdu and Armenian speakers also have the word for “colour” in common. People call it “rang” in Urdu and Armenians pronounce it with a slight difference as “yerang”. For the word “student” we also have a common word though again with slight differences in pronunciation; Armenians call it “ashagert” and Pakistanis call it “shagird” which is again a Persian loanword in Urdu. Pakistanis and Armenians also have the word for “seal” in common, both calling it “mohr”. Armenian and Urdu speakers also have the word for “free” in common, both calling it “azad”. We also share the word for “man” which is “mard” in both languages. The word for “door keeper” in Urdu is “darban,” and its Armenian equivalent is “darpan”, used for doorkeepers in Mahals (palaces) of Badshahs (kings). We also share the word for “guardian” in common though again with slight differences as Armenians call it “pahapan” and Pakistanis call it “pasban”. For the word “difficult,” Urdu speakers use the Persian loanword “doshvar” and the Armenian word for it which is “dzhvar”, also derived from Persian. Armenians have been through several “dzhvar” times throughout their history with attempts by their neighbours to eradicate their nation’s identity, but Armenians triumphantly survived all such attempts and showed to the world that the use of physical force and power is not adequate to extinguish their passion and devotion for their nation. Armenians didn’t lose hope even after the calamity they suffered in 1915 at the hands of an empire being glorified in our country with the sermons of Mullahs of almost all firqas (Islamic sects) and even Pakistan Studies and History textbooks. In this regard, we Pakistanis are again (apart from numerous words our national language and lingua franca Urdu shares with Armenian language) very similar to our Armenian counterparts; we are very high spirited and never embrace despondency despite the fact that we have to confront multiple sanehaat (incidents of all sorts from terrorist attacks to corruption scandals) almost always on a daily basis in our Pak Sar Zameen (Pakistan).

Urdu and Armenian also share the Persian loanword “zendan” for “prison”. For a “military leader”, Pakistanis and Armenians also have a word in common which is “sepasalar”. In Urdu, the word “pahlevan” is used for a “wrestler”, but in Armenian and Persian it’s used for a “hero” or a “champion”. Urdu speakers have the Persian loanword “ashti” for “peace” (which is also present in colloquial Armenian vocabulary) though this isn’t frequently used by many Urdu speakers and is being replaced by the more popular word “aman”. We also have the word for “talent” in common, and in both languages it’s called “honar”. And I must admit that both nations are full of “honar”. Let’s take the field of music for example. How can I forget that if Pakistanis gave singing legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to the world , Armenians on the other hand gave legends like Charles Aznavour (also dubbed by many as France’s Frank Sinatra) and Cher (also known as Goddess of Pop) to music lovers around the world. While I am talking about all these singing legends, I would love to mention that both Armenian and Urdu languages also have the word for “musical composition” in common; both call it “saz”. And how can I forget to spill some beans on Cher’s “Pakistani connection”. Well, this may not be surprising news for many of those who will be reading this article, but I was amazed when I for the first time came across news that Cher was in love with a 29 year old male elephant named Kavaan from Islamabad’s Maraghazar Zoo. In fact, Cher out of her love for elephants sent her representative Mark Cowne to Islamabad to check up on Kavaan who has been kept chained for 27 of his 29 years at the Maraghazar Zoo in Islamabad.

Now back to the topic of my article, I will proceed with the word for “regret” which is common between Urdu and Armenian again though there are slight differences as Urdu speakers call it “afsoos” and Armenians call it “apsoos”. Urdu speakers have the word “taj” for “crown” while Armenians use “tag”. For “informed,” Urdu uses “agah” and Armenian uses “akah”. And through this article, I am doing my best to keep my readers “agah” and “Akah” about common words between Armenian and Urdu. We also share the word for “life” as both call it “jaan”. For “luck”, Urdu uses the word “qismat” along with the Persian loanword “bakht” which is present in colloquial Armenian dictionaries for the former. Urdu and Armenian also have the word for something “cold” in common as both call it “sard”. For something “warm”, Urdu has the word “garam” and Armenian uses the word “jarm”. For something “damp”, both languages have the word “nam”. Pakistanis and Armenians also share the word for “pain” which is “dard” in both languages. For “arm”, Urdu has the Persian loanword “bazoo” and Armenian has “bazook”. Urdu speakers use “rag” for “vein” and Armenians call it “yerag”. There is only an initial addition of the two letters “ye” in Armenian “yerag”. Otherwise, we have the “rag” (vein) common between our languages. Urdu speakers use the word “varzish” for “exercise” while Armenians call it “varz”.

Urdu speakers use the word “moom bati” for “candle” while Armenians simply call it “moom”, so we share the word “moom”. In Urdu, there is the word “gombad” for “dome”, and in Armenian there is “Gombet”. Urdu speakers along with the word “darwaza” also use the word “dar” for “door” which is another common word between Armenian and Urdu. In Urdu, there is the word “bazaar” for market and in Armenian there is “vazhaar”. We also have the word for “cheese” in common as both call it “panir”. Pakistanis use the word “shakar” for “sugar”, and Armenians call it the same. There are so many other similarities.

Lastly, how can I forget that Pakistanis and Armenians also share common names like “Gohar” even though it’s my elder cousin’s name, and it means a “precious stone” in Armenian. We also have words for number “four” and “one” in common though with slight differences; in Urdu it is “chaar”, and in Armenian it is “chors”. For “one” there is “ek” in Urdu from the Persian “yek”, and in Armenian instead of “yek” there is the word “mek”. I wish one day, both the nations will be “mek” and “ek” (united) for mutual peace and prosperity.

I hope everyone reading this article will utterly relish it and will be able to realise as I realised how connected Pakistanis and Armenians are through their respective languages. This connectivity and bond unfortunately hasn’t unraveled itself yet, and I hope one day our great nations will be friends so people like me can easily visit the beautiful Armenia and Armenians can easily do so too without any severe restrictions on visiting Pakistan.

Tstesutyun and Khuda Hafiz everyone.

Sarmad Iqbal

The writer is a Pakistani blogger and student who has a penchant for reading, writing, learning languages and studying cultures. He tweets at @sarmadiqbal7

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