This Tarkmanchats, let’s celebrate Armenian names

This Tarkmanchats, let’s celebrate Armenian names

My name is Nareg Hovsep Seferian.

It ends in “-ian” – characteristic for most Armenian surnames, also with its other spelling, “-yan.”

“Seferian.” That means “traveler.” My ancestors were probably merchants. Little surprise there for any Armenian. The sefer part is ultimately an Arabic root, but it surely became a surname for Armenians under Turkish or Persian rule. “Safarian” is another version. So, alongside the Armenian suffix, that surname reflects the mark of medieval and modern empires and neighboring cultures.

“Hovsep,” my middle name, is Armenian for “Joseph” – a name from the Bible, Hebrew via Greek. This is an indication of how Armenians have long formed part of the broader cultural landscape around the Mediterranean and Middle East. It also indicates the Christian heritage which forms a significant part of the Armenian identity. It is my father’s name. And my nephew’s name – the first-born grandson of my immediate family. That tells you something about naming practices prevalent in Armenian culture.

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