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Questions from a non-Armenian

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  • Questions from a non-Armenian

    Hi, and I apologize for butting in...

    I'm writing a novel with some Armenian
    characters, and have become utterly fascinated and
    obsessed with Armenians and their cultural past as
    well as their present situation as a people spread
    over many continents, with strong traditions and a
    capacity to fit in anywhere and be successful. I have
    always believed that people are basically the same,
    but as someone without a strong sense of my own family
    history or cultural background, I have become
    convinced that Armenians have something unique and
    profound to offer me as a write and a human being, and
    I hope to convey that sense to my readers someday.

    I have been doing lots of reading about Armenian
    history and culture, and have spent many long lunches
    with Father Mesrop of St. Vartan's Church in Oakland,
    but I feel like I'm still missing a lot in terms of
    what growing up in a Armenian family in North American
    is like. So wondered if I could ask some questions:

    What are the Armenian family nicknames or endearments
    that people in North America might still use? (Like,
    to use other examples, nana for grandmother, snuki for
    sweetie etc).

    How important is the cultural and historical past to
    most Armenians living in North America?

    Is the Genocide (and whether it is officially
    recognized by countries like the USA or not) still
    very important to Armenians worldwide? How do they
    feel about Turkey as a nation now?

    What important aspect of Armenian family life (in
    North America or elsewhere) should non-Armenians know
    about?

    What were your favorite traditional Armenian dishes
    growing up? Least favorite?

    How might Armenians respond to a comic novel written
    by a non-Armenian that deals with Armenian characters?
    Are there areas where jokes are not appreciated? (I
    mean, apart from the Genocide, obviously, which I plan
    to deal with seriously, and which in fact forms a
    fairly large part of the novel's backstory.)

    Do Armenians identify with any other racial or
    national groups around the world?

    Do Armenians in North America tend to seek certain
    kinds of jobs and avoid others?

    Do Armenians in North America pay close attention to
    life and politics in Armenia?

    Are there certain arts, fields or cultural genres that
    Armenians are especially attracted to?

    What key words (Armenian or English) do you associate
    with being Armenian, and why?

    What tempermental, intellectual, or emotional
    qualities do you associate with your fellow Armenians?
    Are there actions or sayings or attitudes that have
    struck you as being "typical" in some sense?

    Thanks in advance for any answers, insights or advice
    you might be able to give. I hope these questions
    don't strike you as impertinent or nosy. I'm still
    looking to learn as much as I can.

    yours, Brad Buchanan

    P.S. I know some of these questions will be partly answered when I look at the other threads (like the one on food), but I thought I'd announce myself first, then start looking around. I don't like to feel like a troll.


    [email protected]
    Last edited by BradWilliam; 07-24-2006, 03:55 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Questions from a non-Armenian

    those are broad questions. first try reading some threads on the topics you asked about. you might narrow down your questions that way. if you ask how do you say something specific, you are more likely to get a few specific responses.

    you might also try the search function at the top of the page. you can put in a keyword and find some threads about what you are wanting to learn. whatever you write be sure to verify that and have several armenians read for accuracy and consistency. with the language, there is eastern and western armenian. slang and older idioms.

    you might even want to post some small parts of the novel here and see if you get feedback? i think people might tell you if you say something that is really wrong. maybe people have other comments.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Questions from a non-Armenian

      Hey Brad. Welcome ma man, I'll gladly answer your questions as long as you name two of the male Armenian character "Polos Mukuch" and "Dodi Vago", the latter being a very popular Armenian name.

      What are the Armenian family nicknames or endearments
      that people in North America might still use? (Like,
      to use other examples, nana for grandmother, snuki for
      sweetie etc).
      You mean terms in English? Well in English they'll be your average terms, like nana or sweetie or baby or whatever. In Armenian, common terms of endearment are: jans (my dear), yars (my love), hamovs (means my tasty), kyanks (means my life), jigyars (lit. my liver).

      How important is the cultural and historical past to
      most Armenians living in North America?
      It's not just important, it's crucial. This cultural link is what allows Armenians from all over the planet find in eachother some sense of self-awareness. We are all bound by common history, legacy and culture, and the knowledge of this makes an Armenian from Lebanon a brother of an Armenian from LA. It is also this link that makes Armenians from countries near and far have a sense of obligation and/or emotional endearment to the country of Armenia, a country they may never have set foot on.

      Is the Genocide (and whether it is officially
      recognized by countries like the USA or not) still
      very important to Armenians worldwide? How do they
      feel about Turkey as a nation now?
      Obsolutely. The Armenian Genocide was a cataclysmic event that has reshaped the nature of Armenian peoples. Imagine, being driven off your paternal lands, which were your home for thousands of years and in the process loosing more than half of your total population to massacres of the worst kind. As far as Turkey, I can speak only for myself, but it is a cancer masquerading itself as a valid organ, a nation that through the centuries has based its survival on parasitic and downright criminal conduct.

      What important aspect of Armenian family life (in
      North America or elsewhere) should non-Armenians know
      about?
      The sanctity of the parent, especially the mother. No, "your mama's so fat" jokes among Armenians, unless one of them wants to die. No self-respecting Armenian will ever think of sending their parent to the rest-home. Rest-homes are an abomination and not part of traditional Armenian family values.

      At the same token, parents are not so eager to send their kids out when they turn 18. It's certainly still important for an adult to stand up on their feet and provide for the house, but it is not a shame to live with the parents and the parents in fact like it that way.

      What were your favorite traditional Armenian dishes
      growing up? Least favorite?
      One dish any Armenian is bound to love is the "Khorovats", which is an Armenian barbeque: big chunks of marinaded meat on long steel sticks slow cooking over wood ambers.

      How might Armenians respond to a comic novel written
      by a non-Armenian that deals with Armenian characters?
      Are there areas where jokes are not appreciated? (I
      mean, apart from the Genocide, obviously, which I plan
      to deal with seriously, and which in fact forms a
      fairly large part of the novel's backstory.)
      As long as it's original and like you said does not make fun of painful things, I personally won't mind.

      Do Armenians identify with any other racial or
      national groups around the world?
      What do you mean identify? We have amicable feelings towards our historical and even modern geo-political alies: Greeks, Russians, Persians.


      Are there certain arts, fields or cultural genres that
      Armenians are especially attracted to?
      Armenians are historically gifted stone-masons. Whether Armenians build huge cathedrals, like the Zvartnots Cathedral that is an architectural marvel given the time it was built (too bad it is mostly in ruins), or small ornamental khachkars or cross-stones, the work is an unmistakable work of art.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Questions from a non-Armenian

        i think karoaper made lots of good points. i would say that you try to learn lots about armenian culture and you'll write better. whatever you write about the genocide, make be certain that you get others feedback for certain.

        there are other things that aren't joked about too. if you write something like that and show that you will get a feedback. i think your armenian characters should be good people too.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Questions from a non-Armenian

          Karoaper did a fairly good job answering your questions. What kind of Armenian family will this be? Western Armenian (from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, etc.) or Eastern Armenian (from Armenia, Iran, Russia...)?

          This is important, because it wouldn't seem very authentic if you mix Eastern Armenian names with Western Armenian expressions, etc.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Questions from a non-Armenian

            Thank you for your quick and thoughtful replies.

            The family I am writing about is Western Armenian, from Turkey, and then they moved to Egypt before emigrating to North America.

            I suppose I am also curious about religion, and how important it is for contemporary Armenians. I know this too is a broad question, but is religion more of a cultural, social thing thse days for Armenians around the world, or is there a strong current of faith in young Armenians? I will admit that I am not a religious person myself, so religion is one thing that my Armenian (and non-Armenian characters) tend to joke about.

            Having said that, I am trying to frame the plot of the narrative so that ultimately religion is seen as a constructive, unifying force in people's lives. I get the sense that Armenians are very proud of their religious heritage, and so they should be, seeing how much persecution so many of them have suffered (as Christians in parts of the world that were and are hostile to Christianity). I suppose I feel that I come from a generation who cannot quite take religion seriously before poking some fun at it. I just wonder if that is still a particularly sensitive issue for people today.

            I plan to take your advice and do more reading online, here and elsewhere, but I find that asking direct, broad questions sometimes elicits the most telling answers.

            I also hope to feel confident enough in my work to post some of it here someday. Right now, though, I'm still struggling to make the writing presentable.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Questions from a non-Armenian

              Brad, btw I was kidding about those names.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Questions from a non-Armenian

                karaoper: I thought so, but couldn't be sure...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Questions from a non-Armenian

                  As your characters are Western Armenian in origin, I'll add some nicknames more often used by Western Armenians:

                  Hokees ("my soul") -- the most common, can be used by parent to child, or between lovers, or even friends

                  Yavreeg (Turkish, not sure what it means in Turkish) -- used as a term of endearment toward young children

                  ---

                  Also, as your characters lived in Egypt for a couple of generations, they would also use Arabic terms and phrases. You might consider that as well.
                  Մեր շուրջը լեզուներ նոր ու հին,
                  Մեր շուրջը կը խօսին այլօրէն,
                  Ե՛կ, խօսի՛նք, եղբա՛յր իմ, հայերէն...
                  —Խաչիկ Դաշտենց

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Questions from a non-Armenian

                    Originally posted by Che_Ka
                    Yavreeg (Turkish, not sure what it means in Turkish) -- used as a term of endearment toward young children
                    It's Yavrum in turkish ( this is also used as a term of endearment toward young children in turkish) (The turkish word for child is yavru and also çocuk).....

                    Comment

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