The Multiple Faces of «Եւ Կամ»

We have two new exercises on the Armenian conjunctions եւ (yev, “and”) and կամ (k’am, “or”), but in both exercises I have omitted the conjunction «եւ կամ». The phrase may seem trivial at first hand because both words are used identically in modern Armenian and the phrase has an obvious English counterpart in “and/or”, but careful readers of Classical Armenian will have noticed that this is not always apt.

«Եւ կամ» is not an uncommon phrase: It occurs 108x throughout the Classical Armenian Աստուածաշունչ: 45x in the Old Testament, 42x in the Apocrypha, and 21x in the New Testament. Koriwn uses it once in his biography of Mashtots, Yeznik uses it 11x in his treatise on free will, Yeghishe uses it just over a dozen times in his history of the Battle of Avarayr, P’awstos Buzand uses it 15x in his History, but no Golden Age author uses the phrase more than Ghazar P’arpec’i, whose History of the Armenians contains 127 instances of the phrase.

Here, I focus only on instances from the New Testament, which has the advantage of being manageable in number and affording many translations to compare with. The following are some of the different meanings associated with the phrase:

And/or

Grabar: «Ով ոք երկրպագեաց գազանին եւ պատկերի նորա, եւ կամ զդրոշմ նշանի նորա առ ի ճակատ իւր եւ կամ ի վերայ աջոյ ձեռին իւրոյ:»
–Յայտնութիւն 14:9

English: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and/or receive [his] mark in his forehead, and/or in his hand.”
–Revelation 14:9

Either/or

Grabar: «Գիտեմ զգործս քո, զի ոչ ցուրտ ես եւ ոչ ջերմ. պարտ էր քեզ ցուրտ լինել եւ կամ ջերմ:»
–Յայտնութիւն 3:15

English: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot!”
–Revelation 3:15

Neither/nor

Grabar: «Եւ ոչ ի տաճարի անդ գտին զիս ընդ ումեք խօսեցեալ, եւ կամ ժողովս արարեալ բազմաց...»
–Գործք 24:12

English: “And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd...”
–Acts 24:12

Or else

Grabar: «Ոմանք յԱսիացւոց անտի Հրեայք, որոց պարտ էր գալ առաջի քո եւ ամբաստան լինել, եթէ ունիցին ինչ զինէն: Եւ կամ ինքեանք սոքա ասասցեն, զի՞նչ գտին յիս անիրաւութիւն մինչդեռ կայի յատենին:»
–Գործք 24:20

English: “But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council.”
–Acts 24:19-20

Perhaps even

Grabar: «Թէ դէպ լիցի, առ ձեզ մնացից եւ կամ ձմերեցից, զի դուք յուղարկիցէք զիս ուր եւ երթալոցն իցեմ:»
–Ա Կորնթացիս 16:6

English: “And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go.”
–1 Corinthians 16:6

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