Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Voch/Che Debate

Way back in an earlier post, I mentioned that I had gotten some conflicting information about when to use "voch" and when to use "che." Voch is the formal way to say "no", and che is the informal way. Che literally means "it's not."

My mom told me a while ago that she was not allowed to say "voch" at home, that her mother said that "brats say voch." The people at church thought this was strange, because voch is more proper.

Over Thanksgiving, my mom's older sister and her husband were visiting, and I asked her about voch/che. This particular sister is really, really into being Armenian, and is also very bright, so I knew she would be able to help me.

Mystery solved. The people at church were right. My mom wasn't allowed to say voch, but not because it was rude per se, it was because she was not allowed to say no to her mother. If her mother asked her to do something, the answer always had to be "ayo!" (yes). Voch = talking back.

This conversation then launched into a discussion about how my grandmother was so much stricter with the older girls than with my mom, who was the baby. The older girls were not even allowed to give their mom a dirty look. My aunt (third child, second oldest girl, 8 years older than my mother) was saying that she could not speak her mind at all, had to keep her mouth shut, could not even look at their mom funny. Total obedience. However, my mom was able to pretty much do what she wanted.

I laughed and laughed and laughed on the inside at this story, because I would say that when my sister and I were growing up, my mother's expectations were definitely closer to how my aunt described those for the older girls than those for my mother. We were not allowed to say no either! Always yes.

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