The Aranese Dialect and Ancient Armenians

The Aranese Dialect and Ancient ArmeniansAbout 1,000 years ago, the whole population of southern France and northern Spain spoke the Aranese dialect, a variety of the Occitan language spoken in northwestern Catalonia. Catalan is a variety of the Occitan language as well. In 2010, the Aranese dialect was named the third official language of Catalonia.

Today, the Aranese dialect belongs to the Romance languages. 75% of its vocabulary demonstrates a close affinity with that of Spanish and Italian, though the differences between the languages were much more evident back in the days. This dialect hasn’t been studied in-depth, if you don’t take the Basque and Gascon dialect into account that, as argued by scholars, is the dialect from which the Aranese derives.

The Basque dialect has been studied quite well. Some strong similarities between Basque and Armenian single-root words have been discovered, including similarities in toponymy. Of particular scientific interest is the toponymy of the Aragon community in Spain. In one of the local dialects, the name of its ancient capital Jaca is now pronounced as “Hayka” (the legendary progenitor of the Armenians was named Hayk). Additionally, the name of one of the first kings of Aragon, Jaime, can’t be translated from any Romance language. Another remarkable toponym is Havas, which is pronounced “Hayas”.

Of certain interest to us also are the lands of Aragon, which had included Catalonia, Valencia, Corsica, Sardines, and Sicily, the populations of which fully or partly spoke the Aranese dialect or, alternatively, other related dialects.

The toponymy of River Ebro clearly points to Ebr, one of the main rivers of historical Armenia, which has long been named the Euphrates. The tributaries of Aragón are also noteworthy: Eska (possibly shares its root with the Armenian word “voski” (“gold”)), Arga (possibly derives from the root “arg/ark”, either meaning “silver” or “slowly”), and Irati (could be derived from the name “Aratta”).

The numerous coincidences between the toponyms and single-root words of the Armenian language and the Aranese dialect could bear no meaning, but studies of the haplogroup of the speakers of the Basque-Aranese dialects demonstrates their high level of genetic affinity with modern Armenians.

by Alexandr Bakulin

Aranese area in the traditional Occitan-speaking territory.
The map of Aragon with the rivers Aragón and Ebro.
Areas of the Aragon Community.
Map of the state formations of the region in the medieval period from the 8th to the 14th centuries.

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