Hrachia Adjarian

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Hrachia Adjarian
Hrachia Adjarian.jpg
Hrachia Acharian in circa 1925
Born (1876-03-08)March 8, 1876
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Died April 16, 1953(1953-04-16) (aged 77)
Yerevan, Armenian SSR, USSR
Nationality Armenian
Fields Linguistics, Etymology and Philology
Alma mater University of Paris
University of Strasbourg
Hr. Atcharian

Hrachia Adjarian (Armenian: Հրաչեայ Աճառեան (classical) Hračʿeay Ačaṙean; Հրաչյա Աճառյան (reformed) Hračʿya Ačaṙyan; March 8, 1876 - April 16, 1953) was an Armenian linguist, lexicographer, etymologist, philologist, professor, academic at the Armenian Academy of Sciences, and a member of the French Linguistic Association and the Czechoslovakian Institute of Oriental Studies.

He studied at the Sorbonne with Antoine Meillet and at the University of Strasbourg. Acharian worked as a teacher at the Ejmiatsin Gevorkian seminary in Shusha and Tehran.[1] A survivor of the Armenian Genocide, he came to Yerevan in 1923, where he taught foreign languages, comparative grammar, and the history of the Armenian language at Yerevan State University.[1] He is the author of more than 200 scientific publications on Armenology, Armenian language and Oriental Languages.

The Armenian State Institute of Linguistics is named after him.


Acharian was born on March 8, 1896 in the Samatya neighborhood of Constantinople, under the Ottoman Empire. His father was a shoemaker.

When Acharian was less than a year old, he had an accident. On a sunny day, his mother took him to a park. The boy stared at the sun and suddenly burst into tears. His mother immediately took him home. He cried all night, and the next morning he could not open his eyes. Though doctors made great efforts to cure him, his left eye remained blind for the rest of his life.

However, this did not prevent him from becoming a renowned scholar and the author of dozens of multi-volume studies.

Hrachia was just under seven years old when his father took him to the Armenian School, where he revealed his linguistic ability: the boy studied Armenian, French, and Turkish, and in just two years he completed his studies. Then at nine, he attended the Sahakian School and, after four years, he graduated with honors. After the Sahakian School, Acharian attended the Getronagan School, followed by years of study at the Sorbonne and the University of Strasbourg, where he studied modern languages and also became known for his exceptional research in the field of Armenology.

Career and love[edit]

Hrachia Adjarian in his youth

After many years of education, Hrachia Acharian worked as a teacher in Ejmiatsin, and later in Shusha, where he met his future love – the beautiful Arusyak. They loved each other sincerely. Neither the First World War, nor the Armenian Genocide, nor the years of wandering, were able to separate Hrachia and Arusyak. Together with 600 Armenians, they miraculously survived the Massacre of Shemakha, with Arusyak moving to Tabriz. Also in 1923 have already outstanding educator and scientist, received an invitation from the authorities Soviet Armenia and his wife reside in Yerevan, where he was to teach at the Yerevan State University. In the next 30 years Yerevan State University was for a great scientist, as his home.

Survived one of his letters, written in 1924 from one of the Persian relatives of his wife, in which Acharian wrote that happy with his life. And in 1925, in a letter to the same person, Hrachia Acharian reports the death of his wife, his Arusyak. After the death of his wife Acharian changed dramatically, and this worried his friends. They advised him to marry, but the 60-year-old Acharian at first did not want to even hear about it. However, after some time he married one of his students – Sophiko which played an important role in his fate. The Acharians together endured the blows of fate.


In 1937, during the Great Purge, many prominent intellectuals across the country who were declared as "nationalists", "enemies of the people", "spies" were arrested, shot or exiled. Hrachia Acharian also did not escape this. The decision to arrest Hrachia Acharian was made by a junior lieutenant of NKVD secret police on 18 September 1937. On 29 September 1937 he was arrested. The professor was accused of being an English resident in Soviet Azerbaijan and a spy operating at the University of counter-revolutionary group of professors. Academic three times were taken for interrogation and beaten, while assuring him that if he admitted his "guilt" and signed a trumped-up case, then in a few days he would be released. Driven to despair, broken by torture, a scientist under the dictation of the investigator wrote a statement addressed to the head of NKVD, which recognized all of what he was accused of. His typewriter and manuscripts were confiscated, and the doors of rooms in the apartment sealed. Hrachia Acharian, Sophiko and housekeeper Palina were allowed to live in the kitchen. Acharian's manuscript, that was subject to seizure, remained in the living room. Mrs. Sophiko and Pauline thought about how to save these priceless works of Acharian. They decided to take out a tiny window from the kitchen to the living room. Sophiko somehow managed to squeeze through it and rescue part of the materials. However, they had to be hidden in a safe place, and with this her brother and her mother helped - he put these precious manuscripts into an iron box and buried under a tree in the garden Nor Butaniya. For two years (1937–1939) is not watered this tree - to suddenly spoiled papers

About how the investigator Kirakosov managed to "snatch" from Acharian this testimony, later told cellmates Rooks. When one of the interrogators accused Acharian in being German, French, English, Japanese and Turkish spy, he replied: "If there are such stupid people who would believe that a scientist, an Armenian linguist, is a spy, and if such a lie can help your career, go ahead and write whatever you want - I'll sign it. But that I, an Armenian scholar Acharian - is a Turkish spy - this is complete nonsense, unprecedented outrageous insult, and even if I were cut to pieces, I still would not recognize that libel and I am sure that any Armenian who had not lost his dignity will tell you the same thing!"

For these words the investigator struck the weak and helpless old man in the face. Acharian looked back at him in the face and disdainfully added: "Yes, this is great heroism for a young, strong guy to hit the sick old man! .."

During the subsequent interrogation, the investigator, having failed to wrest confession from Acharian, put out a burning cigarette on his forehead. Then, brutally beat an old man so that he could not walk up to the camera, and had to pull guards. It was after this that totally broken and depressed scholar incriminated himself, "confessing" that in August and September, 1915 served as a revolutionary power Baku as an agent of the Intelligence Service, as well as to the fact that during the interviews at the university allowed himself to express nationalist and Anglophile sentiments. However, despite the promises,even after the "voluntary recognition"Acharyan's case was not reviewed even after a few days and a half years. The court sentenced him to six years' imprisonment. Deceived and disappointed, Acharyan could only say: "Is this your justice?".

Because of some combination of circumstances, Hrachya Acharyan held in prison for the whole 2 year, and 19 December 1939 and he was released "for lack of corpus delicti". He regained the position and rights. He returned to the university.

According to the stories daughter Acharyan, Knarik, her father was a deeply religious man. It is known that he prayed four times a day, and not to forget that this is a prayer in a row, after each knot is one of the corners of a handkerchief.


Adjarian's bust in Yerevan

In the 1950s was the most calm surviving suffering scientist. Until his death (16 April 1953) Acharyan taught at the university. 16 April, as usual, Acharyan came to the lecture, held a training session for the Persian language, went home, shaved, ate dinner with gusto and satisfaction, told his wife: "Sophiko, I'm happy. Thank God, my wife is healthy, his daughter well, today I also was able to go to university, and classes were a success. The main thing I have completed my, lived 77 years - two magic numbers in a row, has had all seen the days we dream about. And now for me it's all over."

These were the last moments of life of the great scientist. That day he bought his wife and daughter tickets to the opera Almast. Seeing them in the theater, kissed them and pressed to his chest. Returning home, they found him sprawled in his chair: his eyes were closed, his left hand under his head, and the right - a handkerchief tied with three knots. He finished reading the last prayer ...[1]



  • Concise Armenian Encyclopedia, Ed. by acad. K. Khudaverdyan, Yerevan, 1990, Vol. 1, p. 145-146.

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