The Armenian language (classical: հայերէն; reformed: հայերեն [hɑjɛˈɾɛn] hayeren) occupies an independent branch of the Indo-European language tree. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh. It has historically been spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands and today is widely spoken in the Armenian diaspora. Armenian is written using the Armenian alphabet, introduced in AD 405 by Mesrop Mashtots.
|Native to||Armenian Highlands|
|8-12 million (ca.2001 – some figures undated)|
Official language in
|Regulated by||Institute of Language (Armenian National Academy of Sciences)|
The Armenian-speaking world:
regions where Armenian is the language of the majority
Armenian has developed since the separation from Indo-European mother tongue in the third millennium BC to at least the time of the first Armenian dynasty (the Yervanduni dynasty, founded in the 6th century BC). Hellenistic influences during the Artashesian Dynasty (2nd century BC to 1st century AD) led to word borrowings from Greek and Latin. As the state language of the succeeding Arshakuni dynasty (1st to 5th century) was Parthian, a large portion of Armenian vocabulary has been formed from Parthian borrowings. The earliest extant form of written Armenian is from the 5th century and is known as Classical Armenian (5th to 11th century); translations of the Bible and other religious texts during this period led to extensive word borrowings from Hebrew and Syriac. Middle Armenian (12th to 15th century) began with the establishment of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia in the 12th century and is marked by an increased influence of European languages on Armenian, particularly Old French (which had become the secondary language of the Cilician nobility) and Italian (which had become the secondary language of Cilician commerce). Middle Armenian is the first written form of Armenian to display Western-type voicing qualities. Early Modern Armenian (16th to 18th centuries) is a mix of Middle Armenian and an evolving, non-standardized literary Modern Armenian (in Constantinople, Venice, the Ararat plain, and the Persian Armenian communities, particularly New Julfa). As Armenian communities were spread across a large geographic area during this period, early Modern Armenian was influenced by the languages of host societies, with a large amount of loan words being borrowed from Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Georgian, and smaller amounts in Latin, Greek, Italian, French, German, Polish, Hungarian, and Russian.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Armenian linguist Hrachia Acharian identified 31 spoken Armenian dialects and classified them into 3 branches (7 dialects of the "-oom" branch, loosely corresponding to Eastern Armenian dialects; 21 dialects of the "-gu" branch, loosely corresponding to Western Armenian dialects; and 3 dialects of the "-el" branch).
The two standard forms of written Modern Armenian – Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian – began to take shape during the early to mid 19th century, with Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire being the center of literary Western Armenian, and Tiflis in the Russian Empire being the center of literary Eastern Armenian. The Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 had a catastrophic impact on the Armenian population living in the Armenian homeland, with two-thirds of the total Armenian population being killed and nearly all of the remaining Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire being expelled from their ancestral homeland; this had an especially catastrophic effect on the 21 Western Armenian dialects. While some survivors from the western regions of the Ottoman Empire fled as far as the United States, France, and South America, most fled south to Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Iraq, with Beirut becoming the new center of literary Western Armenian. With the migration of survivors from eastern regions of the Ottoman Empire to the Russian Empire, the emergence of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922, and the migration of Armenian intellectuals of Tiflis to the new Republic, Yerevan became the new center of literary Eastern Armenian. Eastern Armenian was influenced from the Russian rule and incorporated some loanwords, while Western Armenian was influenced by the diaspora in Arabic speaking countries.
Various spelling reforms implemented in Soviet Armenia in the 1920s led to a further divide between the literary Eastern and literary Western Armenian languages, with the latter (and Eastern Armenian writers of Iran) continuing to use traditional Armenian orthography. Thus, today the two modern dialects of Armenian differ in their phonology, morphology, vocabulary, and orthography.
Classification and originsEdit
Armenian is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages. It is of interest to linguists for its distinctive phonological developments within that family. Armenian exhibits more satemization than centumization, although it is not classified as belonging to either of these subgroups. Some linguists tentatively conclude that Armenian, Greek (Phrygian), Albanian and Indo-Iranian were dialectally close to each other; within this hypothetical dialect group, Proto-Armenian was situated between Proto-Greek (centum subgroup) and Proto-Indo-Iranian (satem subgroup).
Armenia was a monolingual country by the 2nd century BC at the latest. Its language has a long literary history, with a 5th-century Bible translation as its oldest surviving text. Its vocabulary has been influenced by Western Middle Iranian languages, particularly Parthian, and to a lesser extent by Greek, Persian, and Arabic, throughout its history. There are two standardized modern literary forms, Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian, with which most contemporary dialects are mutually intelligible.
Although the Armenians were known to history much earlier (for example, they were mentioned in the 6th century BC Behistun Inscription and in Xenophon's 4th century BC history, The Anabasis), the oldest surviving Armenian-language text is the 5th century AD Bible translation of Mesrop Mashtots, who created the Armenian alphabet in 405, at which time it had 36 letters. He is also credited by some with the creation of the Caucasian Albanian alphabet. In The Anabasis, Xenophon describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality in around 401 BC. He relates that the Armenian people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians.
W. M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine gender and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not considered conclusive evidence of a period of common isolated development.
Soviet linguist Igor M. Diakonoff (1985) noted the presence in Classical Armenian of what he calls a "Caucasian substratum" identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages. Noting that Hurro-Urartian-speaking peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium BC, Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms such as ałaxin "slave girl" ( ← Hurr. al(l)a(e)ḫḫenne), cov "sea" ( ← Urart. ṣûǝ "(inland) sea"), ułt "camel" ( ← Hurr. uḷtu), and xnjor "apple(tree)" ( ← Hurr. ḫinzuri). Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings do not undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.
Loan words from Iranian languages, along with the other ancient accounts such as that of Xenophon above, initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. Scholars such as Paul de Lagarde and F. Müller believed that the similarities between the two languages meant that Iranian and Armenian were the same language. The distinctness of Armenian was recognized when philologist Heinrich Hübschmann (1875) used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary. He showed that Armenian often had 2 morphemes for the one concept, and the non-Iranian components yielded a consistent PIE pattern distinct from Iranian, and also demonstrated that the inflectional morphology was different from that in Iranian languages.
The hypothesis that Greek is Armenian's closest living relative originates with Holger Pedersen (1924), who noted that the number of Greek-Armenian lexical cognates is greater than that of agreements between Armenian and any other Indo-European language. Antoine Meillet (1925, 1927) further investigated morphological and phonological agreement, postulating that the parent languages of Greek and Armenian were dialects in immediate geographical proximity in the Proto-Indo-European period. Meillet's hypothesis became popular in the wake of his Esquisse (1936). Georg Renatus Solta (1960) does not go as far as postulating a Proto-Graeco-Armenian stage, but he concludes that considering both the lexicon and morphology, Greek is clearly the dialect most closely related to Armenian. Eric P. Hamp (1976, 91) supports the Graeco-Armenian thesis, anticipating even a time "when we should speak of Helleno-Armenian" (meaning the postulate of a Graeco-Armenian proto-language). Armenian shares the augment, and a negator derived from the set phrase Proto-Indo-European language *ne h₂oyu kʷid ("never anything" or "always nothing"), and the representation of word-initial laryngeals by prothetic vowels, and other phonological and morphological peculiarities with Greek. Nevertheless, as Fortson (2004) comments, "by the time we reach our earliest Armenian records in the 5th century AD, the evidence of any such early kinship has been reduced to a few tantalizing pieces".
Graeco-(Armeno)-Aryan is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid-third millennium BC. Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).
Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European homeland to be located in the Armenian Highlands, the "Armenian hypothesis". Early and strong evidence was given by Euler's 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.
Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armenian hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and "Armeno-Aryan" (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).
Classical Armenian (Arm: grabar), attested from the 5th century to the 19th century as the literary standard (up to the 11th century also as a spoken language with different varieties), was partially superseded by Middle Armenian, attested from the 12th century to the 18th century. Specialized literature prefers "Old Armenian" for grabar as a whole, and designates as "Classical" the language used in the 5th century literature, "Post-Classical" from the late 5th to 8th centuries, and "Late Grabar" that of the period covering the 8th to 11th centuries. Later, it was used mainly in religious and specialized literature, with the exception of a revival during the early modern period, when attempts were made to establish it as the language of a literary renaissance, with neoclassical inclinations, through the creation and dissemination of literature in varied genres, especially by the Mekhitarists. The first Armenian periodical, Azdarar, was published in grabar in 1794.
The classical form borrowed numerous words from Middle Iranian languages, primarily Parthian, and contains smaller inventories of loanwords from Greek, Syriac, Arabic, Mongol, Persian, and indigenous languages such as Urartian. An effort to modernize the language in Bagratid Armenia and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (11–14th centuries) resulted in the addition of two more characters to the alphabet ("օ" and "ֆ"), bringing the total number to 38.
The Book of Lamentations by Gregory of Narek (951–1003) is an example of the development of a literature and writing style of Old Armenian by the 10th century. In addition to elevating the literary style and vocabulary of the Armenian language by adding about well above a thousand new words, through his other hymns and poems Gregory paved the way for his successors to include secular themes and vernacular language in their writings. The thematic shift from mainly religious texts to writings with secular outlooks further enhanced and enriched the vocabulary. “A Word of Wisdom”, a poem by Hovhannes Sargavak devoted to a starling, legitimizes poetry devoted to nature, love, or female beauty. Gradually, the interests of the population at large were reflected in other literary works as well. Konsdantin Yerzinkatsi and several others even take the unusual step of criticizing the ecclesiastic establishment and addressing the social issues of the Armenian homeland. However, these changes represented the nature of the literary style and syntax, but they did not constitute immense changes to the fundamentals of the grammar or the morphology of the language. Often, when writers codify a spoken dialect, other language users are then encouraged to imitate that structure through the literary device known as parallelism.
In the 19th century, the traditional Armenian homeland was once again divided. This time Eastern Armenia was conquered from Qajar Iran by the Russian Empire, while Western Armenia, containing two thirds of historical Armenia, remained under Ottoman control. The antagonistic relationship between the Russian and Ottoman empires led to creation of two separate and different environments under which Armenians lived and suffered. Halfway through the 19th century, two important concentrations of Armenian communities were further consolidated. Because of persecutions or the search for better economic opportunities, many Armenians living under Ottoman rule gradually moved to Constantinople, whereas Tbilisi became the center of Armenians living under Russian rule. These two cosmopolitan cities very soon became the primary poles of Armenian intellectual and cultural life.
The introduction of new literary forms and styles, as well as many new ideas sweeping Europe, reached Armenians living in both regions. This created an ever-growing need to elevate the vernacular, Ashkharhabar, to the dignity of a modern literary language, in contrast to the now-anachronistic Grabar. Numerous dialects existed in the traditional Armenian regions, which, different as they were, had certain morphological and phonetic features in common. On the basis of these features two major standards emerged:
- Western standard: The influx of immigrants from different parts of the traditional Armenian homeland to Constantinople crystallized the common elements of the regional dialects, paving the way to a style of writing that required a shorter and more flexible learning curve than Grabar.
- Eastern standard: The Yerevan dialect provided the primary elements of Eastern Armenian, centered in Tbilisi, Georgia. Similar to the Western Armenian variant, the Modern Eastern was in many ways more practical and accessible to the masses than Grabar.
Both centers vigorously pursued the promotion of Ashkharhabar. The proliferation of newspapers in both versions (Eastern & Western) and the development of a network of schools where modern Armenian was taught, dramatically increased the rate of literacy (in spite of the obstacles by the colonial administrators), even in remote rural areas. The emergence of literary works entirely written in the modern versions increasingly legitimized the language’s existence. By the turn of the 20th century both varieties of the one modern Armenian language prevailed over Grabar and opened the path to a new and simplified grammatical structure of the language in the two different cultural spheres. Apart from several morphological, phonetic, and grammatical differences, the largely common vocabulary and generally analogous rules of grammatical fundamentals allows users of one variant to understand the other as long as they are fluent in one of the literary standards.
After World War I, the existence of the two modern versions of the same language was sanctioned even more clearly. The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (1920–1990) used Eastern Armenian as its official language, whereas the diaspora created after the Armenian Genocide preserved the Western Armenian dialect.
The two modern literary dialects, Western (originally associated with writers in the Ottoman Empire) and Eastern (originally associated with writers in the Russian Empire), removed almost all of their Turkish lexical influences in the 20th century, primarily following the Armenian Genocide.
Proto-Indo-European voiceless stop consonants are aspirated in the Proto-Armenian language, one of the circumstances that is often linked to the glottalic theory, a version of which postulated that the voiceless occlusives of Proto-Indo-European were aspirated.
In Armenian, the stress falls on the last syllable unless the last syllable contains the definite article [ə] or [n], and the possessive articles ս and դ, in which case it falls on the penultimate one. For instance, [ɑχoɾˈʒɑk], [mɑʁɑdɑˈnos], [giˈni] but [vɑˈhɑgən] and [ˈdɑʃtə]. Exceptions to this rule are some words with the final letter է (ե in the reformed orthography) (մի՛թէ, մի՛գուցե, ո՛րեւէ) and sometimes the ordinal numerals (վե՛ցերորդ, տա՛սներորդ, etc.), as well as նաեւ, նամանաւանդ, հիմա, այժմ, and a small number of other words.
Modern Armenian has six monophthongs. Each vowel phoneme in the table is represented by three symbols. The first indicates the phoneme's pronunciation in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). After that appears the corresponding letter of the Armenian alphabet. The last symbol is its Latin transliteration (according to ISO 9985).
The following table lists the Eastern Armenian consonantal system. The occlusives and affricates have a special aspirated series (transcribed with an apostrophe after the letter): p’, t’, c’, k’ (but č). Each phoneme in the table is represented by three symbols. The first indicates the phoneme's pronunciation in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), after that appears the corresponding letter of the Armenian alphabet, and the last symbol is its Romanization according to ISO 9985 (1996).
|Nasal||/m/ մ – m||/n/ ն – n||[ŋ]|
|Stop||voiceless||/p/ պ – p||/t/ տ – t||/k/ կ – k|
|voiced||/b/ բ – b||/d/ դ – d||/ɡ/ գ – g|
|aspirated||/pʰ/ փ – p’||/tʰ/ թ – t’||/kʰ/ ք – k’|
|Affricate||voiceless||/t͡s/ ծ – ç||/t͡ʃ/ ճ – č̣|
|voiced||/d͡z/ ձ – j||/d͡ʒ/ ջ – ǰ|
|aspirated||/t͡sʰ/ ց – c’||/t͡ʃʰ/ չ – č|
|Fricative||voiceless||/f/ ֆ – f||/s/ ս – s||/ʃ/ շ – š||/x ~ χ/1 խ – x||/h/ հ – h|
|voiced||/v/ վ – v||/z/ զ – z||/ʒ/ ժ – ž||/ɣ ~ ʁ/1 ղ – ġ|
|Approximant||[ʋ]||/l/ լ – l||/j/ յ – y|
|Trill||/r/ ռ – ṙ|
|Flap||/ɾ/ ր – r|
- Sources differ on the place of articulation of these consonants.
The major phonetic difference between dialects is in the reflexes of Classical Armenian voice-onset time. The seven dialect types have the following correspondences, illustrated with the t–d series:
Armenian corresponds with other Indo-European languages in its structure, but it shares distinctive sounds and features of its grammar with neighboring languages of the Caucasus region. Armenian is rich in combinations of consonants. Both classical Armenian and the modern spoken and literary dialects have a complicated system of noun declensions, with six or seven noun cases but no gender. In modern Armenian the use of auxiliary verbs to show tense (comparable to will in "he will go") has generally supplemented the inflected verbs of Classical Armenian. Negative verbs are conjugated differently from positive ones (as in English "he goes" and "he does not go") in many tenses, otherwise adding only the negative չ to the positive conjugation. Grammatically, early forms of Armenian had much in common with classical Greek and Latin, but the modern language, like modern Greek, has undergone many transformations, adding some analytic features.
Classical Armenian has no grammatical gender, not even in the pronoun, but there is a feminine suffix (-ուհի "-uhi"). For example, ուսուցիչ (usuts'ich, "teacher") becomes ուսուցչուհի (usuts'chuhi, female teacher). This suffix, however, does not have a grammatical effect on the sentence. The nominal inflection, however, preserves several types of inherited stem classes. Nouns are declined for one of seven cases: nominative (ուղղական uxxakan), accusative (հայցական hayc'akan), locative (ներգոյական nergoyakan), genitive (սեռական seṙakan), dative (տրական trakan), ablative (բացառական bac'aṙakan), or instrumental (գործիական gorciakan).
- Examples of noun declension in Eastern Armenian
Animate nouns do not decline for locative case.
- Examples of noun declension in Western Armenian
|դաշտ / tašd (field)||կով / gov (cow)|
|Nom-Acc (Ուղղական-Հայցական)||դաշտ / tašd||դաշտեր / tašder||կով / gov||կովեր / gover|
|Gen-Dat (Սեռական-Տրական)||դաշտի / tašdi||դաշտերու / tašderu||կովու / govu||կովերու / goveru|
|Abl (Բացառական)||դաշտէ / tašde||դաշտերէ / tašdere||կովէ / gove||կովերէ / govere|
|Instr (Գործիական)||դաշտով / tašdov||դաշտերով / tašderov||կովով / govov||կովերով / goverov|
|գարուն / karun (Spring)||օր / or (day)||Քոյր / kuyr (sister)|
|հայր / hayr (father)||Աստուած / Asdvadz (God)||գիտութիւն / kidutiun (science)|
Armenian is a pluricentric language, having two modern standardized forms: Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian. The most distinctive feature of Western Armenian is that it has undergone several phonetic mergers; these may be due to proximity to Arabic- and Turkish-speaking communities.
For example, Eastern Armenian speakers pronounce (թ) as [tʰ], (դ) as [d], and (տ) as a tenuis occlusive [t˭]. Western Armenian has simplified the occlusive system into a simple division between voiced occlusives and aspirated ones; the first series corresponds to the tenuis series of Eastern Armenian, and the second corresponds to the Eastern voiced and aspirated series. Thus, the Western dialect pronounces both (թ) and (դ) as [tʰ], and the (տ) letter as [d].
There is no precise linguistic border between one dialect and another because there is nearly always a dialect transition zone of some size between pairs of geographically identified dialects.
Armenian can be divided into two major dialectal blocks and those blocks into individual dialects, though many of the Western Armenian dialects have become extinct due to the effects of the Armenian Genocide. In addition, neither dialect is completely homogeneous: any dialect can be subdivided into several subdialects. Although Western and Eastern Armenian are often described as different dialects of the same language, many subdialects are not readily mutually intelligible. Nevertheless, a fluent speaker of one of two greatly varying dialects who is also literate in one of the standards, when exposed to the other dialect for a period of time will be able to understand the other with relative ease.
Distinct Western Armenian varieties currently in use include Homshetsi, spoken by the Hemshin people; the dialects of Armenians of Kessab (Քեսապի բարբառ), Latakia and Jisr al-Shughur (Syria), Anjar, Lebanon, and Vakıflı, Samandağ (Turkey), part of the "Sueidia" dialect (Սուէտիայի բարբառ).
Forms of the Karin dialect of Western Armenian are spoken by several hundred thousand people in Northern Armenia, mostly in Gyumri, Artik, Akhuryan, and around 130 villages in Shirak Province, and by Armenians in Samtskhe-Javakheti province of Georgia (Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsikhe).
Nakhichevan-on-Don Armenians speak another Western Armenian variety based on the dialect of Armenians in Crimea, where they came from in order to establish the town and surrounding villages in 1779 (Նոր Նախիջևանի բարբառ).
Western Armenian dialects are currently spoken also in Gavar (formerly Nor Bayazet and Kamo, on the west of Lake Sevan), Aparan, and Talin in Armenia (Mush dialect), and by the large Armenian population residing in Abkhazia, where they are considered to be the first or second ethnic minority, or even equal in number to the local Abkhaz population
|English||Eastern Armenian||Western Armenian|
|Yes||Ayo (այո)||Ayo (այո)|
|No||Voč' (ոչ)||Voč' (ոչ)|
|I see you||K'ez em tesnum (քեզ եմ տեսնում)||Gdesnem kez(i) (կը տեսնեմ քեզ(ի))|
|Hello||Barev (բարև)||Parev (բարեւ)|
|I'm going||Gnum em (գնում եմ)||Gertam (gor) (կ՚երթամ (կոր))|
|Come!||Ari! (արի՛)||Yegur! (եկո՛ւր)|
|I will eat||Utelu em (ուտելու եմ)||Bidi udem (պիտի ուտեմ)|
|I must do||Piti anem (պիտի անեմ)||Enelu em (ընելու եմ)|
|I was going to eat||Utelu ei (ուտելու էի)||Bidi udei (պիտի ուտէի)|
|Is this yours?||Sa k'onn e? (սա քո՞նն է)||Asiga k'ugt e? (ասիկա քո՞ւկդ է)|
|His granma||Nra tatikə (նրա տատիկը)||Anor nenen/mecmaman (անոր նէնէն/մեծմաման)|
|Look at that one!||Dran nayir (դրան նայիր)||Ador naye (ատոր նայէ)|
|Have you brought these?||Du es berel sranc'? (դո՞ւ ես բերել սրանց)||Tun perir asonk? (դո՞ւն բերիր ասոնք)|
|How are you? I'm OK.||Vonc' es? Voč'inč' (Ո՞նց ես։ Ոչինչ։)||Inč'bes es? Lav (Ինչպէ՞ս ես։ Լաւ։)|
|Did you say it? Say it!||Asac'ir? Asa! (Ասացի՞ր։ Ասա՛։)||əsir? əse! (Ըսի՞ր։ Ըսէ՛։)|
|Have you taken it from us?||Mezanic' es arel? (մեզանի՞ց ես առել)||Mezme arac es? (մեզմէ՞ առած ես)|
|Good morning||Bari louys (բարի լույս)||Pari louys (բարի լոյս)|
|Good evening||Bari yereko (բարի երեկո)||Pari irigoun (բարի իրիկուն)|
|Good night||Bari gišer (բարի գիշեր)||Kišer pari (գիշեր բարի)|
|You love me||Siroum es inc' (սիրում ես ինձ)||Zis gë sires (զիս կը սիրես)|
|I am Armenian||Yes hay em (ես հայ եմ)||Yes hay em (ես հայ եմ)|
|I missed you||Karotel em k'ez (կարոտել եմ քեզ)||K'ez garodtser em (քեզ կարօտցեր եմ)|
The Armenian alphabet (Armenian: Հայոց գրեր, translit. Hayots grer or Armenian: Հայոց այբուբեն, translit. Hayots aybuben) is a graphically unique alphabetical writing system that is used to write the Armenian language. It was introduced around AD 405 by Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader, and originally contained 36 letters. Two more letters, օ (o) and ֆ (f), were added in the Middle Ages. During the 1920s orthography reform in Soviet Armenia, a new letter և (capital ԵՎ) was added, which was a ligature before ե+ւ, whereas the letter Ւ ւ was discarded and reintroduced as part of a new letter ՈՒ ու (which was a digraph before). This alphabet and associated orthography is used by most Armenian speakers of the Republic of Armenia and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Neither the alphabet, nor the orthography have been adopted by Diaspora Armenians, including Eastern Armenian speakers of Iran and all Western Armenian speakers, who keep using the traditional alphabet and spelling.
Armenian is an Indo-European language, so many of its Proto-Indo-European-descended words are cognates of words in other Indo-European languages such as English, Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit. This table lists only some of the more recognizable cognates that Armenian shares with English (more specifically, with English words descended from Old English). (Source: Online Etymology Dictionary.)
|Armenian||English||Latin||Persian||Classical and Hellenistic Greek||Sanskrit||Russian||Old Irish||PIE|
|մայր mayr "mother"||mother ( ← OE mōdor)||māter "mother"||مادر mɒdær "mother"||μήτηρ mētēr "mother"||मातृ mātṛ "mother"||мать mat'||máthair "mother"||*máH₂ter- "mother"|
|հայր hayr "father"||father ( ← OE fæder)||pater "father"||پدر pedær "father"||πατήρ patēr "father"||पितृ pitṛ "father"||папа
|athair "father"||*pH₂tér- "father"|
|եղբայր eġbayr "brother"||brother ( ← OE brōþor)||frāter "brother"||برادر bærɒdær "brother"||φράτηρ phrātēr "brother"||भ्रातृ bhrātṛ "brother"||брат brat||bráthair "brother"||*bʱráH₂ter- "brother"|
|դուստր dustr "daughter"||daughter ( ← OE dohtor)||(Oscan futrei "daughter")||دختر doxtær "daughter"||θυγάτηρ thugatēr "daughter"||दुहितृ duhitṛ "daughter"||дочь doč'||der, Dar- "daughter (of)"||*dʱugH₂-tér- "daughter"|
|կին kin "woman"||queen ( ← OE cwēn "queen, woman, wife")||کیانه kianæ "woman, wife"||γυνή gunē "a woman, a wife"||ग्ना gnā/ जनि jani "woman"||жена žena "wife"||ben "woman"||*gʷén-eH₂- "woman, wife"|
|իմ im "my"||my, mine ( ← OE min)||me-us, -a, -um etc. "my"||من/ـم mæn/æm "my"||ἐμ-ός, -ή, -όν em-os, -ē, -on etc. "my, of mine"||मम mama "my"||мой moy||mo "my, me"||*mene- "my, mine"|
|անուն anun "name"||name ( ← OE nama)||nōmen "name"||نام nɒm "name"||ὄνομα onoma "name"||नामन् nāman "name"||имя im'a||ainm "name"||*H₁noH₃m-n̥- "name"|
|ութ utʿ "8"||eight ( ← OE eahta)||octō "eight"||هشت hæʃt "eight"||ὀκτώ oktō "eight"||अष्ट aṣṭa "eight"||во́семь vosem'||ocht "eight"||*H₁oḱtō(u) "eight"|
|ինն inn "9"||nine ( ← OE nigon)||novem "nine"||نه noh "nine"||ἐννέα ennea "nine"||नवन् navan "nine"||де́вять dev'at'||noí "nine"||*(H₁)néwn̥ "nine"|
|տաս tas "10"||ten ( ← OE tien) ( ← P.Gmc. *tekhan)||decem "ten"||ده dæh "ten"||δέκα deka "ten"||दश daśa "ten"||де́сять des'at'||deich "ten"||*déḱm̥ "ten"|
|աչք ačʿkʿ "eye"||eye ( ← OE ēge)||oculus "eye"||ὀφθαλμός ophthalmos "eye"||अक्षि akṣi "eye"||око oko||*H₃okʷ- "to see"|
|արմունկ armunk "elbow"||arm ( ← OE earm "joined body parts below shoulder")||armus "shoulder"||آرنج ɒrendʒ "elbow"||ἄρθρον arthron "a joint"||ईर्म īrma "arm"||рамо ramo "shoulder" (archaic)||*H₁ar-mo- "fit, join (that which is fitted together)"|
|ծունկ cunk "knee"||knee ( ← OE cnēo)||genū "knee"||زانو zɒnu "knee"||γόνυ gonu "knee"||जानु jānu "knee"||glún "knee"||*ǵénu- "knee"|
|ոտք otkʿ "foot"||foot ( ← OE fōt)||pedis "foot"||پا، پای pɒ, pɒj "foot"||πούς pous "foot"||पाद् pād "foot"||пята p'ata
|(Gaul. ades "feet")||*pod-, *ped- "foot"|
|սիրտ sirt "heart"||heart ( ← OE heorte)||cor "heart"||دل del "heart"||καρδία kardia "heart"||हृदय hṛdaya "heart"||се́рдце serdce||cride "heart"||*ḱerd- "heart"|
|կաշի kaši "skin"||hide ( ← OE hȳdan "animal skin cover")||cutis "skin"||پوست pust "skin"||κεύθω keuthō "I cover, I hide"||कुटीर kuṭīra "hut"||кожа koža||(Welsh cudd "hiding place")||*keu- "to cover, conceal"|
|մուկ muk "mouse"||mouse ( ← OE mūs)||mūs "mouse"||موش musc "mouse"||μῦς mūs "mouse"||मूष् mūṣ "mouse"||мышь myš'||*muH₁s- "mouse, small rodent"|
|կով kov "cow"||cow ( ← OE cū)||bos "cow"||گاو gɒv "cow"||βοῦς bous "cow"||गो go "cow"||говядина gov'adina "beef"||bó "cow"||*gʷou- "cow"|
|շուն šun "dog"||hound ( ← OE hund "hound, dog")||canis "hound, dog"||سگ sæg "dog"||κύων kuōn "hound, dog"||श्वन् śvan "dog"||сука suka "bitch"||cú "dog"||*ḱwon- "hound, dog"|
|տարի tari "year"||year ( ← OE gēar)||hōrnus "of this year"||یاره، سال jɒre, sɒl "year"||ὥρα hōra "time, year"||यरे yare "year"||яра jara "springtime" (archaic)||*yeH₁r- "year"|
|ամիս amis "month"||moon, month ( ← OE mōnaþ)||mēnsis "month"||ماه mɒh "moon, month"||μήν mēn "moon, month"||मास māsa "moon, month"||месяц mes'ac||mí "month"||*meH₁ns- "moon, month"|
|ամառ amaṙ "summer"||summer ( ← OE sumor)||समा samā "season"||saṃ "summer" *sem- "hot season of the year"|
|ջերմ ǰerm "warm"||warm ( ← OE wearm)||formus "warm"||گرم gærm "warm"||θερμός thermos "warm"||घर्म gharma "heat"||жарко žarko "hot"||geirid "warm (v)"||*gʷʰerm- "warm"|
|լույս luys "light"||light ( ← OE lēoht "brightness")||lux "light"||روز ruz "day"||λευκός leukos "bright, shining, white"||लोक loka "shining"||луч luč' "beam"||lóch "bright"||*leuk- "light, brightness"|
|հուր hur "flame"||fire ( ← OE fȳr)||(Umbrian pir "fire")||آذر، آدور ɒzær, ɒdur "fire"||πῦρ pur "fire"||पु pu "fire"||*péH₂wr̥- "fire"|
|հեռու heṙu "far"||far ( ← OE feor "to a great distance")||per "through"||فرا færɒ "beyond"||πέρα pera "beyond"||परस् paras "beyond"||пере- pere-, про- pro-||ír "further"||*per- "through, across, beyond"|
|հեղել heġel "to pour"||flow ( ← OE flōwan)||pluĕre "to rain"||پور pur "pour"||πλύνω plunō "I wash"||प्लु plu "to swim"||плавать plavat' "swim"||luí "rudder"||*pleu- "flow, float"|
|ուտել utel "to eat"||eat ( ← OE etan)||edō "I eat"||هور hvor "eat"||ἔδω edō "I eat"||अद्मि admi "I eat"||есть jest'||ithid "eat"||*ed- "to eat"|
|գիտեմ gitem "I know"||wit ( ← OE wit, witan "intelligence, to know")||vidēre "to see"||ویده vidæ "knowledge"||εἰδέναι eidenai "to know"||विद् vid "to know"||видеть videt' "see, understand"||adfet "tells"||*weid- "to know, to see"|
|գետ get "river"||water ( ← OE wæter)||(Umbrian utur "water")||رود rud "river"||ὕδωρ hudōr "water"||उदन् udan "water"||вода voda||uisce "water"||(*wodor, *wedor, *uder-) from *wed- "water"|
|գործ gorc "work "||work ( ← OE weorc)||urgēre "push, drive"||کار kɒr "work"||ἔργον ergon "work"||वर्चस् varcas "activity"||*werǵ- "to work"|
|մեծ mec "great "||much ( ← OE mycel "great, big, many")||magnus "great"||مه، مهست meh, mæhest "great, large"||μέγας megas "great, large"||महति mahati "great"||много mnogo "many"||maige "great, mighty"||*meǵ- "great"|
|անծանոթ ancanotʿ "stranger, unfamiliar"||unknown ( ← OE uncnawen)||ignōtus "unknown"||ἄγνωστος agnōstos "unknown"||अज्ञात ajñāta "unfamiliar"||незнакомый neznakomyj||*n- + *ǵneH₃- "not" + "to know"|
|մեռած meṙac "dead"||murder ( ← OE morþor)||mors "death"||مرگ mærg "death" / مرده morde "dead"||βροτός brotos "mortal"||मृत mṛta "dead"||смерть smert'
|marb "dead"||*mrtro-, from (*mor-, *mr-) "to die"|
|միջին miǰin "middle"||mid, middle ( ← OE mid, middel)||medius "middle"||میان miɒn "middle"||μέσος mesos "middle"||मध्य madhya "middle"||между meždu "between"||mide "middle"||*medʱyo- from *me- "mid, middle"|
|այլ ayl "other"||else ( ← OE elles "other, otherwise, different")||alius "other"||ἄλλος allos "other, another"||अन्य anya "other"||иной
|aile "other"||*al- "beyond, other"|
|նոր nor "new"||new ( ← OE nīwe)||novus "new"||نو now "new"||νέος neos "new"||नव nava "new"||новый novyj||núae "new"||*néwo- "new"|
|դուռ duṙ "door"||door ( ← OE dor, duru)||fores "door"||در dær "door"||θύρα thurā "door"||द्वार dvāra "door"||дверь dver'||dorus "door"||*dʱwer- "door, doorway, gate"|
|տուն tun "house"||timber ( ← OE timber "trees used for building material, structure")||domus "house"||مان، خانه mɒn, xɒne "home"||δόμος domos "house"||दम dama "house"||дом dom||dún "fort" (Welsh dinas "city")||*domo-, *domu- "house"|
|բերրի berri, berel "fertile, to carry"||bear ( ← OE beran "give birth, carry")||ferre "to bear"||بردن، برـ bordæn, bær- "to bear, carry"||φέρειν pherein "to bear, carry"||भरति bharati "he/she/it carries"||брать brat' "to take"||beirid "carry"||*bʱer- "to bear, to carry"|
- Armenian has no legal status in Samtske-Javakheti, but it is widely spoken by its Armenian population, which is concentrated in Ninotsminda and Akhalkalaki districts (over 90% of the total population in these two districts). There were 144 state-funded schools in the region as of 2010 where Armenian is the main language of instruction.
- The Lebanese government recognizes Armenian as a minority language, particularly for educational purposes.
- In education, according to the Treaty of Lausanne
- Various state government agencies in California provide Armenian translations of their documents, namely the California Department of Social Services, California Department of Motor Vehicles, California superior courts. In the city of Glendale, there are street signs in Armenian.
- Modern Armenian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Classical Armenian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Middle Armenian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
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The right of Iraqis to educate their children in their mother tongue, such as Turkmen, Syriac, and Armenian shall be guaranteed in government educational institutions in accordance with educational guidelines, or in any other language in private educational institutions.
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...Javakheti for use in the region’s 144 Armenian schools...
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Armenian schools in Georgia are fully funded by the government...
- "About Lebanon". Central Administration of Statistics of the Republic of Lebanon. Archived from the original on 26 May 2014.
Other Languages: French, English and Armenian
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Right of minorities to learn their language. The Lebanese curriculum allows Armenian schools to teach the Armenian language as a basic language.
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Moreover, the Lebanese government approved a plan whereby the Armenian language was to be considered from now on as one of the few 'second foreign languages' that students can take as part of the official Lebanese secondary school certificate (Baccalaureate) exams.
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No other language can be taught as a mother language other than Armenian, Greek and Hebrew, as agreed in the Lausanne Treaty....
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Private Minority Schools are the school established by Greek, Armenian and Hebrew minorities during the era of the Ottoman Empire and covered by Lausanne Treaty.
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...trilingual street signs in English, Armenian, and Spanish at intersections...
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Main Fields of Activity: investigation of the structure and functioning, history and comparative grammar of the Armenian language, exploration of the literary Eastern and Western Armenian Language, dialectology, regulation of literary language, development of terminology
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- Strabo, Geographica, XI, 14, 5; Հայոց լեզվի համառոտ պատմություն, Ս. Ղ. Ղազարյան։ Երևան, 1981, էջ 33 (Concise History of Armenian Language, S. Gh. Ghazaryan. Yerevan, 1981, p. 33).
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Although mutually intelligible, eastern Armenian preserved classical phonology, whereas western Armenian demonstrated sound loss among closely related consonants.
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There are two main dialects: Eastern Armenian (Soviet Armenia, Persia), and Western Armenian (Middle East, Europe, and America) . They are mutually intelligible.
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This second form is known as Western Armenian; Eastern Armenian is the written and spoken language used in the CIS. The two forms are mutually intelligible, indeed very close to each other.
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...Classical (Grabar), Middle, and Modern: two mutually intelligible literary dialects, East and West Armenian.
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Thus, even today the Erzerum dialect is widely spoken in the northernmost districts of the Armenian republic as well as in the Akhalkalak (Javakheti; Javakhk) and Akhaltskha (Akhaltsikh) districts of southern Georgia
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- The word "yare" (year) in the Persian and Sanskrit columns is actually from an Indo-Iranian sister language called Avestan.
- The prefix for "not" in English is "un-", "i(n)-" in Latin, "a(n)- or nē-" in Greek and "a(n)-" in Sanskrit, which correspond to the PIE *n-.
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|Armenian edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Armenian edition of Wikisource, the free library|
- Armenian Lessons (free online through the Linguistics Research Center at UT Austin)
- Armenian Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh list appendix)
- ARMENIA AND IRAN iv. History, discussion, and the presentation of Iranian influences in Armenian Language over the millennia
- Nayiri.com (Library of Armenian dictionaries)
- dictionaries.arnet.am Collection of Armenian XDXF and Stardict dictionaries