A Village Remembered: The Armenians of Habousi - The Compatriotic Union of Habousi

Chapter 15:

Folk Idioms

Even though each district in Armenia had its own dialect, and often people of neighboring villages spoke slightly differently from each other, the following idioms were in common use in the Plain of Kharpert:

- It cuts my eye.
           = I can’t do this work.
- It fell out of my eye.
           = I was fond of something or someone, but not any more.
- It entered to my eye.
           = I liked or loved something or someone a lot.
- The attic is wooden.
           = The person isn’t clever, not enough brain.
- My eye remained in it.
           = I liked it a lot but couldn’t take it, I wish I had.
- The person has a back.
           = The person has strong, influential friends.
- May your face be black.
           = Be ashamed.
- May your face be white
           = Be proud.
- There is something under the tongue, I don’t know what it is.
           = The person has something to say but is keeping it secret.
- The eyes remained open.
           = Was extremely amazed.
- Take the wool out of your ears.
           = It’s hopeless.
- Throw it in the back of your ear.
           = Don’t pay attention to what has been said.
- May Satan take you away.
           = Die.
- Dips a tale in the molasses.
           = Interferes in any matter.
- Your tongue is very long.
           = You talk too much.
- Who’s the donkey, who’s the basil.
           = The person was not worthy of something but was entrusted to it.
- Satan falls from someone’s eye.
           = The person is very capable.
- (Someone) Doesn’t let (someone’s) collar.
           = Someone never lets go of someone else.
- Someone doesn’t dip a finger in the ashes.
           = Someone never works.
- Someone searches my mouth.
           = Someone wants to know something.
- Someone’s eye is hollow.
           = Someone is stingy.
- Someone’s eye is full.
           = Someone is generous.

* * *
(In the Armenian original of the History of the Village of Habousi there is a passage written by Kasbar Arakelian in Habousi dialect. The translator deemed it important to include the following paragraphs here because they reflect some beliefs pertinent to the Habousetzies.)

Habousetzies knew well that when Turks and Kurds die, they will go to hell, and that when even a hair of an Armenian dies, or, God forbid, an Armenian passes away, Gabriel will show up after the priest’s psalm and take the soul directly to heaven.

Our grandparents were honest people. They worked hard, worshiped their God, never stole cattle, or water, or the harvest of a neighbor, and always paid their debts even without a signed document, committed to a gentleman’s agreement.

Sometimes we come across ignorant peasants who know by heart the history of the Jews and their kings and their prophets because they have read the Bible for thirty to forty years, but when you ask them a question related to the history of their ancestors, they can’t tell you a thing. They haven’t made an effort to learn that Armenians numbered more than forty million once upon a time, that they were equal to other nations as conquerors and defeaters. Let me write the names of some brave Armenian kings: Hayk, Trdat, Levon, Artashes, Khosrov(1).

These peasants don’t know even the names of Armenian saints who have at least had the same strength as non-Armenian saints. St. Sahak and St. Mesrop(2) are the crown of our saints, and knowing these things is an obligation for us. Learning the history of others before learning our own is not good.
Now why don’t we do like our ancestors? They were merciful; are we going to be merciless? They gained honest reputations; are we going to disgrace ourselves? They left their belongings to the generations that followed; to whom are we going to leave our belongings? Do you see the difference between us and our ancestors?

If our ancestors were alive, we would tell them: “Look! I’m in a free, rich, intelligent country; I’ve seen and learned lots of things; I act like the Americans, dressed like them; my house is decorated with Persian rugs instead of carpets; I’ve learned to read the Bible better than a priest, and I can even give a sermon!”

Well, it’s fine to have all these advantages, but when it comes to criticizing us, we’ll tell them: “Go away! We don’t want to hear a wolf’s sermon. If you’re truly my son, do what you’ve learned from me! For as long as you’re alive, never, never forget your villagers, your nation. Now go, and God bless you!”