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Hrachia Ajarian (1876-1953 AD)

The son of a Constantinople shoemaker, Hrachia Ajarian became a linguist and etymologist of world renown. His love of languages developed early. In 1893, at the age of seventeen, he spent time among the Lazes and wrote the first grammar of their language. He left for Europe in 1898 to study in France and Germany. On his return, he taught at the Jemaran in Etchmiadzin and at schools in Shushi, Tavriz, Nor Nakhichevan, and Tehran. He came to Yerevan in 1923, where he taught foreign languages, comparative grammar, and the history of the Armenian language at the university. Offered the post of assistant director of the Sorbonne in Paris in 1931, Ajarian rejected the position because he was unwilling to leave Armenia. Instead he concentrated on his linguistic and pedagogical endeavors. During his career, Ajarian traveled the Caucasus, Turkey, and Persia, researching some thirty Armenian provincial dialects, on which he based his monumental six volume "Etymological Dictionary of the Armenian Language", a definitive work. He also compiled a four volume dictionary of Armenian proper names, which included all Armenian proper names from prehistoric times to the present. Among his most famous works is a two volume grammar of the Armenian language. Ajarian considered his magnum opus to be a comparative grammar including references to 560 languages and covering 8000 pages.

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