The infinitive form of the verb in Eastern Armenian (provided there are infinitives) is a suppletive 'linEl'. I am surprised to notice its resemblance to most Finno-Ugric words of similar meaning, e.g.

   Finnish     lienee    (Potentialis of olla = to be in 1st p.sg. affirmative)
   Hungarian   lenni     (to be)
   North Sami  leat      (to be)
   Komi        [lony]    (to become, to be, to turn into)

What are the oldest records of the Armenian verb? Are there any correlates in Iranian and/or Paleo-Balcanic languages? Or maybe there are some correlates with languages from Anatolian group?

  • What are the easternmost Finno-Ugrian languages? Commented Jun 23, 2013 at 1:41
  • Well Erzya / Moksha / Mordvin would be the closest to Armenia... Commented Jun 23, 2013 at 2:04
  • I am not a fan of these languages.
    – Manjusri
    Commented Jun 23, 2013 at 12:44

3 Answers 3


The oldest attested form is Old Armenian լինիմ (linim), whose origin in uncertain. Possibly derived from PIE *ḱley- "to lean", whence Ancient Greek κλίνω, Latin clino. See wiktionary for more.

The descendant of PIE *h₁ésmi is եմ (em).


According to Wiktionary the ultimate origin of the Armenian word for to be "լինել" (linel) is unknown.

Old Armenian had such forms as լինիմ, լինենամ, and back to the earliest known *լէնիմ (lēnim) - which looks to be a hypothetical form from its asterisk.

If you follow links around the Armenian and Old Armenian entries you will find some other words. "To be" is a pretty fuzzy word over time in most languages and can float around concepts such as existence on one hand, a mere syntactic copula on another hand, and then there can be senses like "there is" which can blur into words that also mean "stand", "lie", etc.


In PIE the verb was e̯esmi/e̯essi/e̯esti (I/you/he is). As such the Armenian word cannot be inherited from PIE.

  • OK, so this is more like a Hittite paradigm; but what is the ancient Armenian form?
    – Manjusri
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 19:10

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