Thursday, April 2, 2009

Language tips

There are two main languages spoken in Yerevan: Armenian and Russian. The level of proficiency in Russian varies from person to person, but nearly everyone understands it. Georgian (the country right next door is The Republic of Georgia) also floats around. All three have a different alphabet (AHH!) and are very easy to pick out from one another when heard and when seen written. Of the three alphabets, I found the Russian Cyrillic alphabet the easiest of the three to understand, though that's not really a fair assessment as it was the ONLY one I could ever decipher,lol. Armenian and Georgian script to me looks very elegant, but ultimately to my eyes looks like scribble. Georgian, to me, resembles Greek slightly in written form.

As I mentioned earlier, due to political influences the older crowd uses Russian much more frequently than the younger crowd, which uses Armenian almost exclusively. The political influence being that Armenian was once until recently (1991) part of the Soviet Union, and much of the education was in Russian. Incidentally, most of the lab equipment was Russian.

Personally, I found Russian on the whole easier to pronounce as well. Many Armenian words have guttural sounds made in the back of the throat that are very difficult for people who aren't used to making those sounds. Don't get me wrong, Russian can get very hairy, and they do have a few guttural sounds as well, but they aren't nearly as difficult as Armenian (for me at least). The Russians also have a particular fondness for twenty-five letter words (only two of which are vowels) for words like "ice", so you end up spitting on yourself trying to say some words. You think I'm kidding. **Bear in mind this is being written after I have visited Russia, as well**

To me, Armenian is characterized by hard, hard sounds with a lot of "g's" and "cha's". Russian, is characterized to the ear as a lot of hard soft hard soft hard soft hard soft sounds with a lot of "z's" and "ka's", and "nyeh's".

Some useful Armeinian phrases (bear in mind I'm spelling these phonetically):

"Inch ka" -- What's up

"Voncets" -- How are you? (formal)

"Yes ozoum ___" -- I would like ____

"Hashiva bereq, khndrumem/khndrem" -- basically equates to "Check please"

"Shnorakalutsyun" -- Thank you very much (they really like it when foreigners use this one)

"Merci" -- thanks (it's not quite as accented as in French)

"Yes chem haskanoum" -- I don't understand (you'll use this one a lot)

"Ayo/Ha" -- yes/yeah

"Knereq" -- I'm sorry/excuse me

"Che" -- no

"Che ha!" -- like no way! or "Really?!"

"Chegidem" -- I Don't know

"Genazig" -- Let's go/let's move

And of course knowing numbers is infinitely helpful.

And how about some Russian?

"Kakh dzela?" -- how are you?

"Min yeh zavoot ___" -- my name is

"spasiba" -- Thanks

"Stop!" -- stop ;)

"pazhalstahn/dobra pazhalstahn" -- "welcome/you're welcome"

"Yeh nyeh poonamayhoo__" -- I don't understand

"Prosti" -- Sorry/excuse me

"Da vai" -- go/move it/let's go

"Maladyetz" -- well done/good work

"Yeh hachoo __" -- I would like __

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