Armenian language

Armenian
հայերէն/հայերեն, hayeren
Pronunciation [hɑjɛˈɾɛn]
Native to Armenia
Ethnicity Armenians
Native speakers
6.7 million[1]
Indo-European
  • Armenian
Early forms
Standard forms
Official status
Official language in
Organizations
Recognised minority
language in
List
Regulated by Armenian National Academy of Sciences (Armenia)[26]
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Western Armenian, de facto)[27][28]
Language codes
ISO 639-1 hy
ISO 639-2 arm (B)
hye (T)
ISO 639-3 Variously:
hye – Eastern Armenian
hyw – Western Armenian
xcl – Classical Armenian
axm – Middle Armenian
Glottolog arme1241
Linguasphere 57-AAA-a
Armenian Language distribution map.png
The current distribution of the Armenian language in the southern Caucasus
Map-of-speakers-of-armenian.png
  Official language spoken by the majority
  Recognized minority language
  Significant number of speakers
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Armenian (classical: հայերէն, reformed: հայերեն, [hɑjɛˈɾɛn], hayeren) is an Indo-European language belonging to an independent branch of which it is the only member. It is the official language of Armenia. Historically spoken in the Armenian Highlands, today Armenian is widely spoken throughout the Armenian diaspora. Armenian is written in its own writing system, the Armenian alphabet, introduced in 405 AD by the priest Mesrop Mashtots. The total number of Armenian speakers worldwide is estimated between 5 and 7 million.[29][30]

Geographic distribution

The number of Armenian-speakers by country according to official government sources, including censuses and estimates:

Country/territory[f] Armenian speakers Note Source
 Armenia 2,956,615 "Mother tongue" 2011 census[31]
 Russia 829,345 "Native language" 2010 census[32][33]
660,935 "Language proficiency"
 United States 240,402 "Language Spoken at Home" 2010 ACS[34]
 Georgia 144,812 "Native language" 2014 census[35]
 Artsakh[g] 142,323 "Mother tongue" 2015 census[36]
 Ukraine 51,847 "Mother tongue" 2001 census[37][38]
 Canada 35,790 "Mother tongue" 2016 census[39][40]
21,510 "Language spoken most often at home"
 Australia 10,205 "Language spoken at home" 2016 census[41]
 Bulgaria 5,615 "Mother tongue" 2011 census[42]
 Belarus 5,245 "Mother tongue" 2019 census[43]
1,710 "Language spoken most often at home"
 Poland 2,115 "Mother tongue" 2011 census[44]
1,847 "Language used in home relations"
 Cyprus 1,409 2011 census[45]
 Romania 739 2011 census[46]
 Lithuania 575 "Mother tongue" 2011 census[47]
 Hungary 444 "Mother tongue" 2011 census[48]
 Finland 316 2019 estimate[49]
 Tajikistan 219 "Mother tongue" 2010 census[50]

History

Classification and origins

Irina, a speaker of the Artsakh dialect of Armenian

Armenian is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages.[51] 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 (and Phrygian) and Indo-Iranian were dialectally close to each other;[52][53][54][55][56][57] within this hypothetical dialect group, Proto-Armenian was situated between Proto-Greek (centum subgroup) and Proto-Indo-Iranian (satem subgroup).[58] Ronald I. Kim has noted unique morphological developments connecting Armenian to Balto-Slavic languages.[59]

Armenia was a monolingual country by the 2nd century BC at the latest.[60] Its language has a long literary history, with a 5th-century Bible translation as its oldest surviving text. Its vocabulary has historically been influenced by Western Middle Iranian languages, particularly Parthian;[61] its derivational morphology and syntax were also affected by language contact with Parthian, but to a lesser extent.[62] Contact with Greek, Persian, and Syriac also resulted in a number of loanwords. There are two standardized modern literary forms, Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian, with which most contemporary dialects are mutually intelligible.[63][64][65][66]

Although 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),[67] 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 Georgian alphabet and the Caucasian Albanian alphabet.

While Armenian constitutes the sole member of the Armenian branch of the Indo-European family, Aram Kossian has suggested that the hypothetical Mushki language may have been a (now extinct) Armenic language.[68]

Early contacts

W. M. Austin (1942) concluded[69] that there was 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. There are words used in Armenian that are generally believed to have been borrowed from Anatolian languages, particularly from Luwian, although some researchers have identified possible Hittite loanwords as well.[70] One notable loanword from Anatolian is Armenian xalam, "skull", cognate to Hittite ḫalanta, "head".[71]

In 1985, Soviet linguist Igor M. Diakonoff 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.[72] Noting that Hurro-Urartian-speaking peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium BC, Diakonoff 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 Armenian belonged to the Iranian language family.[73] The distinctness of Armenian was recognized when philologist Heinrich Hübschmann (1875)[73][74] used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian words 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 book Esquisse d'une histoire de la langue latine (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 who believe the Indo-European homeland to be located in the Armenian Highlands, the "Armenian hypothesis".[75][76][77][78] Early and strong evidence was given by Euler's 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.[79]

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).[52][53]

Evolution

Armenian manuscript, 5th–6th century.

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,[80] and contains smaller inventories of loanwords from Greek,[80] Syriac,[80] Aramaic,[81] Arabic,[82] Mongol,[83] Persian,[84] 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.[85]

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 well above a thousand new words,[86] 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.[87]

The Four Gospels, 1495, Portrait of St Mark Wellcome with Armenian inscriptions
First printed Armenian language Bible, 1666

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. Halfway through the 19th century, two important concentrations of Armenian communities were further consolidated.[88] Because of persecutions or the search for better economic opportunities, many Armenians living under Ottoman rule gradually moved to Istanbul, 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.[89]

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 Istanbul crystallized the common elements of the regional dialects, paving the way for 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.[90]

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.

Armenian language road sign.

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.[91]

Phonology

Spoken Eastern Armenian

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.[92]

Stress

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, [ɑχɔɾˈʒɑk], [mɑʁɑdɑˈnɔs], [ɡiˈni] but [vɑˈhɑɡən] 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.

Vowels

Modern Armenian has six monophthongs. Each vowel phoneme in the table is represented by three symbols. The first is the sounds transcription in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). After that appears the corresponding letter of the Armenian alphabet. The last symbol is its Latin transliteration.

Armenian vowel phonemes [93]
Front Central Back
Close /i/
ի
i
/u/
ու
u
Mid /ɛ/
ե, է
e, ē
/ə/
ը
ë
/ɔ/
ո, օ
o, ò
Open     /ɑ/
ա
a

Consonants

The following table lists the Eastern Armenian consonantal system. The occlusives and affricates have an aspirated series, commonly transcribed with a reversed apostrophe after the letter. Each phoneme in the table is represented by IPA, Armenian script and romanization.

Eastern Armenian consonant phonemes [94]
Labials Dental/
Alveolar
Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal /m/ մ – m /n/ ն – n [ŋ]
Stop voiced /b/ բ – b /d/ դ – d /ɡ/ գ – g
voiceless /p/ պ – p /t/ տ – t /k/ կ – k
aspirated /pʰ/ փ – pʻ /tʰ/ թ – tʻ /kʰ/ ք – kʻ
Affricate voiced /d͡z/ ձ – j /d͡ʒ/ ջ – ǰ
voiceless /t͡s/ ծ – ç /t͡ʃ/ ճ – č
aspirated /t͡sʰ/ ց – cʻ /t͡ʃʰ/ չ – čʻ
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
  1. Sources differ on the place of articulation of these consonants.
  • Some of the dialects may release the voiceless stops and affricates as ejectives.[95]

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:[96]

Correspondence in initial position
Indo-European *d * *t
Sebastia d
Yerevan t
Istanbul d
Kharberd, Middle Armenian d t
Malatya, SWA
Classical Armenian, Agulis, SEA t d
Van, Artsakh t

Morphology

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.[97][98] Both classical Armenian and the modern spoken and literary dialects have a complicated system of noun declension, 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.

Noun

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
Հեռախոս Heṙaxos (telephone)
Case Singular Plural
Nominative հեռախոս(ը-ն)*
heṙaxos(ë-n)*
հեռախոսներ(ը-ն)*
heṙaxosner(ë-n)*
Accusative հեռախոսը(-ն)*
heṙaxosë(-n)*
հեռախոսները(-ն)*
heṙaxosnerë(-n)*
Genitive հեռախոսի
heṙaxosi
հեռախոսների
heṙaxosneri
Dative հեռախոսին
heṙaxosin
հեռախոսներին
heṙaxosnerin
Ablative հեռախոսից
heṙaxosic'
հեռախոսներից
heṙaxosneric'
Instrumental հեռախոսով
heṙaxosov
հեռախոսներով
heṙaxosnerov
Locative հեռախոսում
heṙaxosum
հեռախոսներում
heṙaxosnerum
Մայր Mayr (mother)
Case Singular Plural
Nominative մայր(ը-ն)*
mayr(ë-n)*
մայրեր(ը-ն)*
mayrer(ë-n)*
Accusative մայրը(-ն)*
mayrë(-n)*
մայրերը(-ն)*
mayrerë(-n)*
Genitive մոր
mor
մայրերի
mayreri
Dative մորը(-ն)*
morë(-n)*
մայրերին
mayrerin
Ablative մորից
moric'
մայրերից
mayreric'
Instrumental մորով
morov
մայրերով
mayrerov

Animate nouns do not decline for locative case.

Հանրապետություն Hanrapetut'yun (republic)
Case Singular Plural
Nominative հանրապետություն(ը-ն)*
hanrapetut'yun(ë-n)*
հանրապետություններ(ը-ն)*
hanrapetut'yunner(ë-n)*
Accusative հանրապետությունը(-ն)*
hanrapetut'yunë(-n)*
հանրապետությունները(-ն)*
hanrapetut'yunnerë(-n)*
Genitive հանրապետության
hanrapetut'yan
հանրապետությունների
hanrapetut'yunneri
Dative հանրապետությանը(-ն)*
hanrapetut'yanë(-n)*
հանրապետություններին
hanrapetut'yunnerin
Ablative հանրապետությունից
hanrapetut'yunic'
հանրապետություններից
hanrapetut'yunneric'
Instrumental հանրապետությամբ
hanrapetut'yamb
հանրապետություններով
hanrapetut'yunnerov
Locative հանրապետությունում
hanrapetut'yunum
հանրապետություններում
hanrapetut'yunnerum
Examples of noun declension in Western Armenian
  դաշտ / tašd (field) կով / gov (cow)
singular plural singular plural
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)
singular plural singular plural singular plural
Nom-Acc (Ուղղական-Հայցական) գարուն
karun
գարուններ
karunner
օր
or
օրեր
orer
քոյր
kuyr
քոյրեր
kuyrer
Gen-Dat (Սեռական-Տրական) գարնան
karnan
գարուններու
karunneru
օրուայ
oruay
օրերու
oreru
քրոջ
kr
քոյրերու
kuyreru
Abl (Բացառական) գարունէ
karune
գարուններէ
karunnere
օրուընէ
oruəne
օրերէ
orere
քրոջմէ
kročme
քոյրերէ
kuyrere
Instr (Գործիական) գարունով
karunov
գարուններով
karunnerov
օրով
orov
օրերով
orerov
քրոջմով
kročmov
քոյրերով
kuyrerov
  հայր / hayr (father) Աստուած / Asdvadz (God) գիտութիւն / kidutiun (science)
singular plural singular plural singular plural
Nom-Acc (Ուղղական-Հայցական) հայր
hayr
հայրեր
hayrer
Աստուած
Asdvadz
աստուածներ
asdvadzner
գիտութիւն
kidutiun
գիտութիւններ
kidutiunner
Gen-Dat (Սեռական-Տրական) հոր
hor
հայրերու
hayreru
Աստուծոյ
Asdudzuy
աստուածներու
asdvadzneru
գիտութեան
kidutean
գիտութիւններու
kidutiunneru
Abl (Բացառական) հորմէ
horme
հայրերէ
hayrere
Աստուծմէ
Asdudzme
աստուածներէ
asdvadznere
գիտութենէ
kidutene
գիտութիւններէ
kidutiunnere
Instr (Գործիական) հորմով
hormov
հայրերով
hayrerov
Աստուծմով
Asdudzmov
աստուածներով
asdvadznerov
գիտութեամբ /
գիտութիւնով
kiduteamp /
kidutiunov
գիտութիւններով
kidutiunnerov

Verb

Verbs in Armenian have an expansive system of conjugation with two main verb types in Eastern Armenian and three in Western Armenian changing form based on tense, mood and aspect.

Dialects

Map of the Armenian dialects in early 20th century:
  -owm dialects, nearly corresponding to Eastern Armenian
  -el dialects (intermediate)
  -gë dialects, nearly corresponding to Western Armenian

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.

Classical Armenian (Grabar), which remained the standard until the 18th century, was quite homogenous across the different regions that works in it were written; it may have been a cross-regional standard.[99] The Middle Armenian variety used in the court of Cilician Armenia (1080-1375) provides a window into the development of Western Armenian, which came to be based on what became the dialect of Istanbul, while the standard for Eastern Armenian was based on the dialect around Mount Ararat and Yerevan.[99] Although the Armenian language is often divided into "east" and "west", the two standards are actually relatively close to each other in light of wealth of the diversity present among regional non-standard Armenian dialects. The different dialects have experienced different degrees of language contact effects, often with Turkic and Caucasian languages; for some, the result has been significant phonological and syntactic changes.[99] Fortson notes that the modern standard as well has now attained a subordinate clausal structure that greatly resembles a Turkic language.[100]

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 peoples;[101] 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,[102] and by Armenians in Samtskhe–Javakheti province of Georgia (Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsikhe).[103]

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[104]

Some general examples of differences in phonology
Eastern Armenian Western Armenian
«b» «p»
«g» «k» [105]
«d» «t»
«dj» «ch»
Examples
English Eastern Armenian Western Armenian
Yes Ayo (Այո) Ayo (Այո)
No Voch' (Ոչ) Voch' (Ոչ)
I see you Yes kez tesnum em (Ես քեզ տեսնում եմ) Yes kez(i) gə desnem (Ես քեզ(ի) կը տեսնեմ)
Hello Barev (Բարև) Parev (Բարեւ)
I'm going Gnum em (Գնում եմ) G'ertam (gor) (Կ՚երթամ (կոր))
Come! Ari! (Արի՛) Yegur! (Եկո՛ւր)
I will eat Utelu em (Ուտելու եմ) Bidi udem (Պիտի ուտեմ)
I must do Petk e anem (Պետք է անեմ) Bedk e ənem (Պէտք է ընեմ)
I was going to eat Utelu ei (Ուտելու էի) Bidi udeyi (Պիտի ուտէի)
Is this yours? Sa k'onn e? (Սա քո՞նն է) Asiga kuget e? (Ասիկա քո՞ւկդ է)
His grandma Nra tatikə (Նրա տատիկը) Anor nenen / medz maman (Անոր նէնէն / մեծ մաման)
Look at that one! Dran nayir (Դրան նայիր) Ador naye / Anor naye (Ատոր նայէ / Անոր նայէ)
Have you brought these? Du es berel srank'? (Դո՞ւ ես բերել սրանք) Asonk tun perir? (Ասոնք դո՞ւն բերիր)
How are you? I'm fine. Inchpes es? / Vonc' es? Lav em (Ինչպե՞ս ես։ / Ո՞նց ես։ Լավ եմ։) Inchbes es? Lav em (Ինչպէ՞ս ես։ Լաւ եմ։)
Did you say it? Say it! Du es asel da? Asa! (Դո՞ւ ես ասել դա: Ասա՛։) Tun əsir? Əse! (Դո՞ւն ըսիր։ Ըսէ՛։)
Have you taken it from us? Mezanic' es vertsrel? (Մեզանի՞ց ես վերցրել) Mezme aradz es? (Մեզմէ՞ առած ես)
Good morning Bari luys (Բարի լույս) Pari luys (Բարի լոյս)
Good evening Bari yereko (Բարի երեկո) Pari irigun / Parirgun (Բարի իրիկուն / Բարիրկուն)
Good night Bari gišer (Բարի գիշեր) Kisher pari (Գիշեր բարի)
You love me Sirum es indz (Սիրում ես ինձ) Indzi gə sires (Ինծի 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) Garodtsa kezi (Կարօտցայ քեզի)

Orthography

Armenian keyboard layout using the Armenian alphabet.

The Armenian alphabet (Armenian: Հայոց գրեր, romanizedHayots grer or Armenian: Հայոց այբուբեն, romanizedHayots 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 has been adopted by Diaspora Armenians, including Eastern Armenian speakers of Iran and all Western Armenian speakers, who keep using the traditional alphabet and spelling.

Vocabulary

Indo-European cognates

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.

However, due to extensive loaning, only around 450 words are known to have been inherited from Indo-European by the Classical Armenian stage; the rest were lost, a fact that presents a major challenge to endeavors to better understand Proto-Armenian and its place within the family, especially as many of the sound changes along the way from Indo-European to Armenian remain quite difficult to analyze.[106]

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.[107])

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" *méh₂tēr "mother"
հայր hayr "father" father ( ← OE fæder) pater "father" پدر pedær "father" πατήρ patēr "father" पितृ pitṛ "father" папа "daddy"

papa

athair "father" *ph₂tḗr "father"
եղբայր eġbayr "brother" brother ( ← OE brōþor) frāter "brother" برادر bærɒdær "brother" φράτηρ phrātēr "brother" भ्रातृ bhrātṛ "brother" брат brat bráthair "brother" *bʰréh₂tēr "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)" *dʰugh₂tḗr "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" *gʷḗn "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, , -on etc. "my, of mine" मम mama "my" мой moy mo "my, me" *h₁me- "my, mine"
անուն anun "name" name ( ← OE nama) nōmen "name" نام nɒm "name"

(<MPers. nʾm /nām/)

ὄνομα onoma "name" नामन् nāman "name" имя im'a ainm "name" *H₁noH₃m-n̥- "name"
յոթ (<եաւթն "eawtʿn") yotʿ "7" seven ( ← OE seofon) septem

"seven"

هفت haft' "seven"

(< MPers. hp̄t /haft/)

επτά heptá "seven" सप्तन् saptán

"seven"

семь semʹ secht "seven" *septḿ̥ "seven"
ութ utʿ "8" eight ( ← OE eahta) octō "eight" هشت hæʃt "eight" ὀκτώ oktō "eight" अष्ट aṣṭa "eight" во́семь vosem' ocht "eight" *oḱtṓw "eight"
ինն inn "9" nine ( ← OE nigon) novem "nine" نه noh "nine" ἐννέα ennea "nine" नवन् navan "nine" де́вять dev'at' noí "nine" *h₁néwn̥ "nine"
տաս tas (<տասն "tasn") "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 (archaic) *H₃okʷ- "to see"
արմուկն armukn (<*h₂(e)rH-mo-+ -ուկն) "elbow"
arm ( ← OE earm "joined body parts below shoulder") armus "shoulder" آرنج ɒrendʒ "elbow" ἄρθρον arthron "a joint" ईर्म īrma "arm" рамя ram'a "shoulder" (archaic) *h₂er- "fit, join (that which is fitted together)"
ծունկ cunk[108] "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

"heel"

(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' *múh₂s "mouse, small rodent"
կով kov "cow" cow ( ← OE ) bos "cow" گاو gɒv "cow" βοῦς bous "cow" गो go "cow" говядина gov'adina "beef" "cow" *gʷṓws "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" "dog" *ḱwṓ "hound, dog"
ամիս amis "month" moon, month ( ← OE mōnaþ) mēnsis "month" ماه mɒh "moon, month" μήν mēn "moon, month" मास māsa "moon, month" месяц mes'ac "month" *meH₁ns- "moon, month"
ամառն amaṙn

(< Proto-Armenian *sm̥h₂er-m̥ <*s(e)m-eh₂-)

"summer"

summer ( ← OE sumor) هامین hāmīn

(< MPers hʾmyn' /hāmīn/)

समा samā "season" saṃ "summer" *sem- "hot season of the year" *semh₂-
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" *h₁ed- "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" *weyd- "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[108] "work " work ( ← OE weorc) urgēre "push, drive" کار kɒr "work" ἔργον ergon "work" वर्चस् varcas "activity" *werǵ- "to work"
մեծ mec[108] "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[108] "stranger, unfamiliar" unknown[109] ( ← OE uncnawen) ignōtus[109] "unknown" ἄγνωτος agnōtos[109] "unknown" अज्ञात ajñāta[109] "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'

"death"

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" *médʰyos from *me- "mid, middle"
այլ ayl "other" else ( ← OE elles "other, otherwise, different") alius "other" ἄλλος allos "other, another" aile "other" *h₂élyos "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"

See also

Other Languages

Copyright