Monday, 14 May 2007

Articles on Armenain Names, Cryptos (for a laugh)

Those Strange Sounding Armenian Family Names

Most Armenian names end in "ian" or "yan," meaning the "son of ," but
some Diaspora Armenians have changed these endings to blend in their host
societies. Today in Turkey "oglu" often replaces "ian," while Russian
Armenians may change the endings to "ov"; e.g., Gary Kasparov, Serge

A name ending in "ian" is not always exclusively Armenian, since "ian"
ending can also be occasionally found in names in Irish, Persian, English,
Philippine and some other cultures. Armenian last names generally fall into
five specific categories:

Aristocracy, Parent, Geography, Occupation or Trait.


The ancient Armenian aristocracy ("Nakharar" class) was derived from
Parthian-Persian stock and many of their names ended in "uni" or "ooni."
Most of these families were destroyed over the centuries but some still
survive today; e.g., Sasuni, Rshtuni.


Many Armenian names are derived from the first names of an ancestor; e.g.
Davidian, "son of David," Stepanian, "son of Stepan," or Krikorian, "son of
Krikor/Grigor." Until the 19th century, virtually all first names had a
religious origin, so most of those last names are also religious.


Some last names are based on geographic origin and end in "lian" (Turkish)
or "tsian" (Armenian). Typical examples are Sivaslian "from Sivas,"
Urfalian "from Urfa" and Vanetzian "from Van." These names were typically
given to an immigrant who migrated from a different region of Armenia.
Obviously everyone living in Marash would not call himself or herself


Most last names were taken from the professions of an ancestor. These names
frequently originated with the tax collectors who needed to identify all
individuals for tax purposes. Typical examples are Najarian "son of a
carpenter," Arabian "son of a wagon/teamster," and Vosgerichian "son of a
goldsmith." Many of these occupations are not Armenian, since the tax
man(typically a Moslem Turk, Persian, Arab, etc.) would use his own native
word for the occupation; e.g., the name Boyajian is based on the
Arab/Turkish term "boyaji" "one who dyes."


The most confusing and curious names are those based on some trait of an
ancestor. Typical examples are Topalian "son of the cripple," Dilsizian "son
of the tongueless one," or Sinanian "son of the spearpoint." Many of the
origins of these names are unclear unless one understands the original
context. As an example, Dilsizian indicates that an ancestor had his tongue
cut out by the Turks for using the Armenian language, while the term "Sinan"
was a slang term applied to somebody either with a very erect military-like
carriage or who was "hung like a horse."

Some of these traits are not physical, but rather reflect personality or
social status; e.g., Melikian "son of the king or Harutunian "son of the
resurrection." The name Harutunian could be based on an ancestor named
Harutune (so-named because he was born around Eastertime), or adopted by a
convert to Protestantism to show his status as a "born-again Christian."

Many last names today have been shortened or modified to aid pronunciations
by non-Armenians; e.g., the name Mugerditchian/ Mkrtichian" becomes "Mugar,"
"Husseniglian",becomes "Hewsen," and Samourkashian" becomes "Samour." These
abbreviated names often drop the ian" ending, and are not immediately
identifiable as being Armenian to an outsider.

The name categories of Occupation and Trait can differ significantly
between Eastern Armenians and Western Armenians, since the eastern names
often have Persian, Georgian or Russian roots, while the western names may
have Turkish, Arab, or Greek roots. Names with the prefix "Der" or "Ter"
show that one of the ancestors was a "Der Hayr" a married parish priest), a
position of great social status among Armenians; e.g., DerBedrosian, Ter

The study of Armenian Names is a fascinating exercise, since virtually
every aspect of the culture is reflected in names.

There have been extensive studies of Armenian names in the Armenian
language, but little has appeared in English and many Armenians (born
outside of Armenia) do not understand the significance of their own names.


** REPLY from 'gamavor':

The author of this article is Armenian 'wanna be'...

"Ian" simply means "belonging to", "possesson of", 'related to', "comming
from", exactly the same way as the slavonic "OV".

JohanSON, PeterSON, etc.. may mean SON OF as well as IBN or BEN Eliazer,
(son of), or BEN Gurion, etc...

The word for SON in Armenian is VORTI or DGHA. In Armenian there is no word
'IAN'. Ian is just ending just like in Latin and English - example:
CanadIAN! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

BTW, while 'ian' is perfect Armenian native ending indicating possesion,
like in "Nairian aghchigner" or "Hovagimian aiky", it was not the typical
Armenian surname ending until late 18 century. Indeed, before that the
surname was formed eihter by a short father's name of the person or
geographic location, profession, social status, etc..

'Crypto- Armenians' seen as threat in Turkey
Istanbul MILLI GAZETE newspaper (28.12.05) publishes the following
report under the title: "The Crypto-Armenians among us":

The descendants of the "Crypto-Armenians" who hid their identities
and appeared to be Muslims in order to escape from the forced
migration applied during the deportations imposed in 1915 are now
returning to their true identities.

It has been stated that Armenians who changed their religion to be
ostensible Muslims in order to escape from the forced migration due
to the deportation imposed by the Ottoman State in 1915, or else who
were given to various families for adoption, succeeded in hiding
their existence under this "secret identity" for many years. It is
being claimed that there are currently 30 to 40 thousand
"Crypto-Armenians" living in Turkey as Turks or Kurds.

According to Professor Salim Cohce, who is known for his researches
regarding the Armenians, the Crypto-Armenians appear to be Muslims
but still maintain their Gregorian traditions. Cohce, stating that
some studies have been carried out on these people in recent periods,
points out that, in the near future, they are going to be used in
order to realize the dreams of the Armenians.

Cohce says that they identified over 3,500 Crypto-Armenians in
fieldwork conducted in Malatya.

Speaking with Aksiyon magazine, Cohce states that yet another
interesting determination had been made in Tunceli. He stresses that
the population records of two thousand people were taken to Aydin
although they themselves did not emigrate, and that two years later,
these records were modified to read "Muslim" rather than "Christian"
in the religion category, and they were then taken back to Tunceli.
Cohce states that the number of converts to Islam following the
deportation was about 100 thousand.

There are 40 thousand hidden Armenians

According to a study entitled "Armenians in Turkey Today" [provided
in English] written in 2002 by Dr Tessa Hofmann, who serves as an
"expert witness" in the hearings of Turks of Armenian origin who
apply for political asylum in Germany, there are "40 thousand hidden
Armenians" in Turkey. But it is being seen clearly, in the numbers of
people changing their religions, that, apart from certain exceptions,
the Armenians who ostensibly converted to Islam in the past are now
engaged in returning to their actual identities. While 2,630 people
in Turkey changed their religions during the years 1916-2004, 2,172
of these consisted of those returning to their previous religions.
Over 60 percent of those returning to their original religion, or
1,340 people, consisted of Armenians. Those changing their religions
were largely registered in various provinces such as Istanbul,
Diyarbakir, Adiyaman, Batman, Sivas, Tunceli, Malatya, Elazig,
Kayseri, Mersin, and Mardin.

Professor Salim Cohce explains that activities involving hidden and
converted Armenians in Malatya increased after 1995, and that in
2003, some 120 persons of Armenian origin with Muslim names submitted
a petition for the re-opening of the church at Cavusoglu.

Cohce stresses that covert efforts are being made, via citizens of
Armenian origin, to regain deed records and former properties. Cohce
also claims that, during investigations conducted in Malatya, they
identified "converts" [Turkish muhtedi] who had assumed the position
of MHP [Nationalist Action Party] Provincial Chairman.

Could be used in "Urban Terrorism"

Cohce, indicating that there are also, among the converts, those who
truly became Muslims and live accordingly, says that "The 'Crypto-'
or 'secret' Armenians are those who only appear to be Muslim in
identity. Since they have not to date been seen as a threat, they
have not been monitored by the state. Also, they have manipulated
their population records. For this reason, it is very difficult to
determine their actual numbers."

Stressing his belief that the Crypto-Armenians are going to
constitute a danger, Cohce points as examples to the efforts made by
Armenian groups regarding them, particularly in recent years. Cohce
claims that "Efforts are being made to remind them of their
identities. Financial assistance is being provided. I think that,
just like the emergence of the PKK after ASALA [Armenian Secret Army
for the Liberation of Armenia], these people will be used for "urban
terrorism" within Turkey in the post-PKK period. Such a formation
could be brought about by 2010. Likewise, I believe that, by
reminding them consciously of their Armenian identity, these people
are in the future going to come before Turkey with demands for land
and compensation."

Maintain close contact with PKK

Cohce, drawing attention to the close contact between the
Crypto-Armenians and the PKK, says the following: "A meeting was held
in 1980 at the Gulbenkian Foundation, which financed ASALA. It was
decided to use the PKK as a "pawn" organization in order for Turkey's
authority in the region to be weakened, and for its population to be
The PKK's initial ability to form an effective lobby in
Europe and the United States, and to get support, came about with the
help of these circles. And the existence of individuals of Armenian
origin within the PKK, and even the killing of a number of them,
corroborates this. Likewise, the existence of 'Turks' among the
founders and current leaders of the PKK is thought-provoking."

Armenian Reporter
May 12, 2007-
From the community section.
A symposium asks what comes after recognition

by Lory Tatoulian

GLENDALE, Calif. -- On Monday May 7, 250 people gathered at the Glendale
Public Library to attend a special symposium titled, "
If The Armenian
Genocide is Recognized, What Does the Armenian Community Expect Next?"
event was organized by the Armenian Professional Society, one of whose many
goals is to bring vibrant programs, thinkers, and speakers to the public
arena. The evening's program brought together a panel of five guests: Ben
Charchian, Mark Chenian, Levon Marashlian, Harut Sassounian, and Hovann
Simonian. The colloquium was moderated by Hrair Dekemejian, professor of
political science at USC and author of many books.

During the forum each panelist was allotted eight minutes to present his
articles and opinions on the matter. The range of thought and abstracts
varied from legal resources to a more opinion-oriented discourse.

Ben Charchian, an attorney representing the law firm Vartkes Yeghiayan and
Associates, spoke first. Charchian's presentation focused on how the courts
can be used to go beyond Genocide recognition. "The court system is an
excellent means to get reparations from companies. These are companies that
unduly profited because of the Armenian Genocide."

The law firm of Vartkes Yeghiayan settled two major lawsuits regarding
reparations; one was with AXA, the other with New York Life. Yeghiayan's law
firm believes in being active now, not waiting for Genocide recognition.
Charchian explained: "These companies issued life insurance policies to
Armenians before the Genocide. After the Genocide they breached their
contracts, didn't pay the beneficiaries of those who were murdered during
the Armenian Genocide. We have to attend to these lawsuits." This is
contract law, he said, "and the Genocide is a background issue."

Yeghiayan's law firm is systematically preparing to file many more
lawsuits against companies to gain reparations. Charchian believes that the
power of the court will be the conduit through which success can be
achieved. "The courts listen to these issues on common law, breaching of
contract; those are the way they decide,. We need to go after these
companies now. The good news is we don't have to wait until Genocide
recognition, we are actually getting reparations as these two companies
show." Charchian also expressed his views on the courts' limitations. He
gave the example of Deutsche Bank's presence in Western Armenia during and
after the Genocide. Deutsche Bank looted the accounts of Armenian patrons'
assets after the Genocide, he said. In addition, the bank used Armenians who
survived the death marches as slave laborers to construct significant
portions of the Berlin-Baghdad railways.

Next in line on the panel was entrepreneur and community activist Mark
Chenian, vice president of an investment firm in Beverly Hills. Chenian is
also serves on the Steering Committee at USC's Institute of Armenian
Studies. Chenian began by reworking the question and posing one of his own.
He asked "What direction will the Armenian community take if and when the
Genocide is recognized?" Chenian presented a series of suggestions.
"Armenians fundamentally have to change their thinking from relying on
others into self-reliance. We need a core of legal scholarship. We should
recruit top-notch students to study the constitutional private law and
combine the students with revered scholars and then be allowed to claim our
case within the sphere of human rights, international law, genocide, and
other related war crimes." Chenian continued a litany of his admonitions,
one being that all Armenians should not only have a sophomoric understanding
of the Genocide, but be able to expand the scope of their knowledge and
understand it with scholarly insight.

Levon Marashilian began by expressing many of his viewpoints "Turkey's
recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not anywhere around the corner. If
there were no financial or territorial consequences for Turkey to worry
about, recognition would be easier." Marashlian teaches at the local
community college here. He has written many newspaper articles on the
Armenian Genocide. Marashlian said that many Armenians wish to have
recognition but feel it is no longer realistic to gain back territory or
financial compensation. "Recognition without justice is nowhere near enough.
Justice is essential for Armenia's survival and prosperity as a country.
Without justice Armenia has a very dark future. The purpose of the Genocide
was to eliminate Armenia as a factor from the region forever. Armenia now is
a landlocked country with little resources. If it weren't for the Genocide,
there would be about 25 million Armenians living there today. Justice for
the Genocide is the only way Armenia can become a country you can be proud
of. The Armenians who say that compensation is out of the picture are
willingly condemning Armenia to remain in its current state." Marashlian's
closing statements were echoed with favorable applause form the audience.

Harut Sassounian, a community activist and prolific writer, has written
many articles on the Armenian Genocide. He is the publisher of the
California Courier and his other roles include serving as the vice president
of the Lincy Foundation and president of the United Armenia Fund. In his
opening remarks, Sassouinian declared "The Armenian Genocide is already
recognized. The whole world already knows that there was a genocide." He
continued, "countries and presidents around the world for years have
recognized the Genocide. President Reagan recognized it in 1981. We have to
get out of the victim mentality, and instead be self-assured and demand our
rights. We have to get on the offensive and take the initiative. The Turkish
government has not officially recognized the Armenian Genocide; that's their
problem. They know its true; we know its true. It would be in their interest
to recognize it." He went on to explain that if Turkey continues to deny the
Genocide, they it will continually have to pay the price with aversive
public opinion on a global scale. "Our dream is not for Turkey to recognize
the Genocide. An entire civilization was annihilated, our ancient lands were
taken from us. We need the return of the looted assets of the Armenian

The last guest on the panel to speak was doctorial candidate Hovann
Simonian. He is co-author of the book, Troubled Waters: The Geopolitics of
the Caspian. He also recently published a book about the Hemshin people
living in Northern Turkey who were forcefully converted to Islam about 300
years ago. Simonian's presentation was more linear. "The type of
compensation Armenian should ask for is private restitution. People should
be able to ask for either the return of their private property or monetary
compensation. The Armenian Church can likewise ask for all its churches ands
monasteries back. That can be negotiated."

The program continued with a dialogue session of questions and answers
with the audience. Academic cadences and sheer concern mixed throughout the
evening, with audience members exploring insightful solutions to this most
pressing issue.

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