2016, Volume 13, Issue 2

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Armen Petrosyan
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the NAS of the Republic of Armenia
Yerevan, Republic of Armenia

Armenians’ Self-Appellation Hay

Voprosy onomastiki, 2016, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp. 146–161 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2016.13.2.022

Received 22 April 2016

Abstract: The article provides a critical overview of all suggested etymologies for the Armenians’ self-designation Hay. The author points out that the ethnonym coincides with the dialectal appellative noun hay ‘master, husband, housholder’ (cf. mer hayə ‘our hay’, that is ‘our husband, our householder’, an expression used by old women to designate their husbands). The word must be associated with PIE *poti- ‘husband, housholder’. In the ethnogenic myth, the ethnonym originates from the name of the mythological ancestor of all Armenians, Hayk, who was the head of a large patriarchal family. In Armenian, the Orion constellation is also called after him, Haykn. The endings of the above homonyms make think of the PIE suffix *-kon (*-ko-n) which, in the name of Hayk, coincided with the suffix *-ik (< Iranian): Haykn, Hayik > Hayk. This suffix with diminutive and deferential meaning is present in Armenian names of elder family members and mythological characters, cf. hayr/hayrik ‘father’, theonym Astƚik ‘Venus (goddess)’ (ad litteram “little star”). In the myth, Hayk kills his adversary, Bel the Babylonian, with a “three-winged” arrow. The image of Bel is derived from the supreme god of Babylon Bel-Marduk whose name is associated with the Semitic b‘l ‘lord, master’, while Bel himself represents the negative mirror image of Hayk. In Indo-European context, the most suitable parallel for Hayk is the Indian god Rudra who kills the divine personification of the Orion constellation with a “three-jointed” arrow. Furthermore, Hayk, as the father and leader of Hays (Armenians) corresponds to Rudra, the father and leader of Rudras / Maruts, his sons called after him. The author also puts forward other arguments confirming the origin of hay from *poti-.

Key words: etymology, origin of Armenians, prehistory of Armenian people, Armenian ethnonyms, Armenian ethnogenic myth, Armenians’ patriarch Hayk, myth about Hayk and Bel, mythological eponyms


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