On September 30, 2011, the Armenian community in Toronto enjoyed a fascinating lecture at AGBU’s Alex Manoogian Cultural Centre entitled “Around the World in 1,001 Words.” The presentation, given by author and editor Jirair Tutunjian, covered the origins and derivations of Armenian and English words. Over 150 people attended the event.
Tutunjian began his talk by giving the audience a brief lesson on the rules of transliteration and why words change their spelling and pronunciation over time. He also spoke about the Indo-European language group and its major division into East and West — Armenian being part of the east branch, together with Iranian, Beluchi, and Sanskrit in India.
The lecturer proceeded to provide a history of how and why languages borrow from one another. Using humorous anecdotes, he illustrated how Iranian and Arabic words have infiltrated the Armenian and English languages, and how the English language has adopted certain Armenian words in their everyday lexicon. Using a sampling of over 40 Indo-European and Sanskrit words, which are very similar to Armenian and English, he unraveled the fascinating connections of how words have changed shape and meaning over the centuries. Tutunjian has been invited to give similar lectures at AGBU in Montreal and elsewhere.