AČAṘEAN, HRAČʾEAY YAKOBI, Armenian linguist, born 8 March 1876 (O. S.; 20 March N. S.) at Constantinople. He studied general linguistics and Indo-European at the Sorbonne under Antoine Meillet, was elected a member of the Société de Linguistique de Paris in 1897, and in 1898 attended Heinrich Hübschmann’s lectures at Strasbourg. Between 1902 and 1923, Ačaṙean lived at Šūša (Azerbaijan), Tabrīz, Nor Bayazet (now Kamo), Rostov (Arm. Nor Naxiǰewan), Tehran, and again at Tabrīz, teaching Armenian studies and continuing his research in Armenian dialectology and historical and comparative linguistics. In 1923 Ačaṙean was appointed professor at the newly founded Erevan State University, where he remained until his death on 16 April 1953.

Ačaṙean’s early work and doctoral dissertation (Classification des dialectes arméniens, Sorbonne, 1911) in modern Armenian dialects laid the foundation for his four encyclopedic works: Hayerēn armatakan baṙaran (“Armenian etymological dictionary”), 7 vols., Erevan, 1926-35 (repr. Erevan, 1971-79 in 4 vols.); Hayocʾ lezvi patmutʾyun (“History of the Armenian language”), 2 vols., Erevan, 1940-51; Hayocʾ anǰnanunneri baṙaran (“Dictionary of Armenian proper names”), 5 vols., Erevan, 1942-62 (repr. Beirut, 1972); and Liakatar kʾerakanutʾyun Hayocʾ lezvi (“Complete grammar of the Armenian language”), 6 vols., Erevan, 1952-71. The dictionary lists about 11,000 root entries; each article is divided into five parts: 1. literary sources; 2. lexical value; 3. critical survey of previous research and etymology; 4. dialect forms; 5. borrowings from Armenian in other languages. Together with the works of Hübschmann, Lagarde, Benveniste, Bailey, et al., it is an important source for the study of Iranian material in Armenian. The dictionary of proper names is unrivaled as a source of reference for medieval Armenian letters and learning (it may be superseded only by Anasyan’s Haykakan matenagitutʾyun [“Armenian bibliology”], of which only the first two volumes have been published), and is a valuable complement to the etymological studies of Hübschmann and Justi. The complete grammar has many valuable sections dealing with Indo-European comparative linguistics and Indo-Iranian. Ačaṙean’s Hayerēn gawaṙakan baṙaran (“Armenian dialect dictionary,” Tiflis, 1913) is still an important source with its 30,000 entries in a field which has advanced considerably since his time (rev. Meillet, BSL 25, 1925, pp. 66-67; Revue des études arméniennes 7, 1927, pp. 313-15).

Ačaṙean was a warm and modest man. His all-embracing interest in the culture of the Armenian people is reflected in his works Patmutʾiwn Hayocʾ nor grakanutʾean (“History of modern Armenian literature”) in 3 parts, 1906-12; Tačkahayocʾ harcʾi patmutʾiwnə (“The History of the Turkish Armenian question”), 1915; Hay gałtʾakanutʾyan patmutʾyun (“History of the Armenian diaspora”); and Havakʾacu polsahay folklori (“Collection of the folklore of the Armenians of Constantinople”). Among his approximately 200 works are catalogues of the Armenian MSS of Tabrīz (1910), Nor Bayazet (1924), and Tehran (1936). His autobiography, Kyankʾis hušericʾ (“From the memories of my life”), was published in Erevan in 1967.


Selected works: H. Adjarian, Etude sur la langue laze, Paris, 1898 (MSL X; rev. Meillet, Revue critique 47, 1899, p. 516).

Usumnasirutʾiwnner haykakan gawaṙabanutʾean, I: Kʾnnutʾiwn Aslanbegi barbaṙin (“Studies in Armenian dialectology, I: Study of the dialect of Aslan Bēg”), Venice, 1898 (rev. Meillet, JA, 1902, pp. 561-7l).

Kʾnnutʾiwn Łarabałi barbaṙin (“Study of the dialect of Łarabał”), Vałaršapat, 1899.

“Les explosives de l’ancien arménien étudiées dans les dialectes modernes,” Revue internationale de Philologie, Otologie, Laryngologie et Phonetique experimentale, 1899, pp. 1-15 (rev. Meillet, Revue critique 47, 1889, p. 516).

“Lautlehre des Van-dialekts,” Zeitschrift für armenische Philologie, 1902, pp. 74-86, 121-38.

Tʾurkerēn pʾoxaṙeal baṙer hayerēni mēǰ (Polis, Vani, Łarabałi ew Nor Naxiǰewani barbaṙner) (“Turkish loanwords in Armenian—Constantinople, Van, Łarabał and Nor Naxiǰewan dialects”), Moscow and Vałaršapat, 1902.

Hayerēn nor baṙer hin matenagrutʾean mēǰ (“Modern Armenian words in ancient books”), Venice, 1913 (rev. Meillet, Revue des études arméniennes, 4, 1924, p. 231; BSL 25, 1925, pp. 66-67; Revue des études arméniennes, 7, 1927, pp. 313-15).

Hayocʾ grerə (“The Armenian script”), Vienna, 1928 (rev. Meillet, BSL 30, 1930, pp. 91-94).

For reviews of the dictionary, see Meillet in Revue des études arméniennes, 6, 1926, pp. 333-34; BSL 27, 1927, pp. 49-51; Revue des études arméniennes, 10, 1930, p. 226; BSL 31, 1931, p. 79.

Secondary sources: G. X. Stepʾanyan, “H. Ačaṙyan,” Patma-banasirakan Handes 2-3, 1959.

A. S. Łaripyan, “Hay lezvabanutʾyan xošoraguyn nerkayacʾucʾičə,” P-bH 2, 1966.

Ē. Ałayan, “Ačaṙyan, Hračʾya Hakobi,” Haykakan Sovetakan Hanragitaran I, Erevan, 1974, pp. 267-68.

J. A. C. Greppin, “Armenia’s Greatest Linguist,” Ararat Quarterly 20, no. 2, 1979, pp. 49-51.

(J. R. Russell)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 4, pp. 412-413

Cite this entry:

J. R. Russell, “AČAṘEAN, HRAČʾEAY YAKOBI,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/4, pp. 412-413; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/acarean-hraceay-yakobi-armenian-linguist (accessed on 2 February 2014).