Lessons in Love (in Armenian)

I have married an Armenian.

I can barely speak English, but want to learn her native tongue. But, a brisk walk with my wife over the South Downs lends itself to learning. I prefer not to do grammar at this point. I have the language skills of a  toddler, and am only interested in saying the names of the animals we see en routre. ‘Sheep’ is ‘Votchkaair’. Baa humbug! I am not cut out for this. I am told the ‘votch’ is like the word for ‘no’ which I have (apparently) learnt before. I imagine the word is like ‘vodka’ pronounced with a slur. I need mnemonics or at least some sort of memory aids. Perhaps word association and crosswords will help.

Next we see a horse. ‘Tsi’ – I’m told. ‘It’s stupid’ I think, which reminds me of an ass, which reminds me of a horse – sort of. Next?

Elephant. ‘Peeyer’ OK, so we haven’t spied an elephant yet on the Sussex hillside, but I’ve already learned ‘sheep’ and ‘horse’, and those are the only animals we’ve spotted. So ‘elephant’ is ‘peeyer’. Well, elephants pee. So they’re pee-ers. Hmm. All animals pee, but I think I’ve got that one.

Next is dog – ‘Shaun’. That’s easy. I have two friends called Shaun. Both of whom are relatively loyal, and both have wet noses.

Cat is ‘gadou’ which is an anagram of ‘gouda’. There is a Cheshire Cat, so this is close enough.

‘Cow’ is ‘gov’. Almost (Michael) Gove – who talks bull.

I am now ready to book that first holiday in Armenia. On a farm. But not a sheep farm. Votch votch votch!

Best wishes,

John (Paul)


3 responses to “Lessons in Love (in Armenian)

  1. One of the finest examples of word association came from a friend of mine who was learning 10 French verbs (as were we all) at the age of about 13.

    Déraper: (To Skid or Slide). He said “Skidmark in me draps, déraper”
    I still remember this 28 years later. Aren’t human beings wonderful?

  2. Dear John (Paul),
    As an ex-pat, I love being able to get your Guardian crosswords online and have just found your blog, which made me chuckle. I’m like you in that whenever I see or hear a word I can’t help but break it up into crossword clues. But of late I’ve been learning a new language and found this has wreaked havoc with my ability to solve cryptic clues – my mind automatically focuses on translating the clue into the new language, rather than solving it! I hope that learning Armenian doesn’t present the same problem for you.
    (in the land of a thousand ancient eggs (7))

    • Hi Chris,

      Glad you like the crosswords, and the blog – many thanks for taking the time to say hello. Hmmm, perhaps I now have an excuse to avoid learning Armenian!

      Do keep up the solving, and enjoy your week.

      All best,


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