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Armenian language

հայերէն/հայերեն hayeren
Native to Armenian Highland
Native speakers
6 million (ca.2001 – some figures undated)[1]
  • Armenian
Early forms
Standard forms
Armenian alphabet
Armenian Braille
Official status
Official language in
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
Recognised minority
language in
Official (de jure) status:
Unofficial (de facto) status
Regulated by Institute of Language (Armenian National Academy of Sciences)[21]
Language codes
ISO 639-1 hy
ISO 639-2 arm (B)
hye (T)
ISO 639-3 Variously:
hye – Modern Armenian
xcl – Classical Armenian
axm – Middle Armenian
Glottolog arme1241[22]
Linguasphere 57-AAA-a
The Armenian-speaking world:
  regions where Armenian is the language of the majority

The Armenian language (classical: հայերէն; reformed: հայերեն hayeren) is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenians. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia and the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It has historically been spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands and today is widely spoken in the Armenian diaspora. Armenian has its own unique script, the Armenian alphabet, restored in 405 CE by Mesrop Mashtots.

Linguists classify Armenian as an independent branch of the Indo-European language family.[23] It is of interest to linguists for its distinctive phonological developments within the Indo-European languages. Armenian shares a number of major innovations with Greek,[24] and some linguists group these two languages with Phrygian and the Indo-Iranian[25][26] family into a higher-level subgroup of Indo-European, which is defined by such shared innovations as the augment. More recently, others have proposed a Balkan grouping including Greek, Phrygian, Armenian, and Albanian.[27][28]

Armenia was a monolingual country by the second century BC at the latest.[29] Its language has a long literary history, with a fifth-century Bible translation as its oldest surviving text. Its vocabulary has been heavily 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.


  • Classification and origins 1
    • Early contacts 1.1
    • Graeco-Armenian hypothesis 1.2
    • Greco-Armeno-Aryan hypothesis 1.3
  • Evolution 2
    • Modern changes 2.1
  • Phonology 3
    • Stress 3.1
    • Vowels 3.2
    • Consonants 3.3
  • Morphology 4
    • Noun 4.1
    • Verb 4.2
  • Dialects 5
  • Writing system 6
  • Indo-European cognates 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • Footnotes 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13

Classification and origins

History of the Armenian language
Armenian alphabet
Romanization of Armenian

Although the Armenians were known to history much earlier (for example, they were mentioned in the 6th century BC Georgian alphabet.

Early contacts

The enormous amount of loans from Iranian languages initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. Another reason behind this is that Armenian word forms are close to or even identical with Iranian and especially Modern Persian forms in so many cases that the particular connection between the two languages could not escape the notice of scholars even at the beginning of modern Armenological studies.[31] However, as the Encyclopaedia Iranica states, such words were not at first recognized as borrowings, and as a result, in the mid-19th century experts both in Armenian and in Iranian, foremost among whom were Paul de Lagarde and F. Müller, concluded that Armenian belongs to the Iranian group of languages.[32] The distinctness of Armenian was only recognized when Hübschmann (1875)[33][34] used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary.

W. M. Austin (1942) concluded[35] 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 and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.

Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985)[36] noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages. Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium b.c., 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.

Graeco-Armenian hypothesis

The hypothesis that Greek is Armenian's closest living relative originates with 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. 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 PIE *ne h2oiu 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, linguists, including Fortson (2004), comment "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."

Greco-Armeno-Aryan hypothesis

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 3rd 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 Highland.[37][38][39][40] Early and strong evidence was given by Euler's 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.[41]

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).[25][26]


Armenian manuscript, 5th–6th century.

Classical Armenian, or Grabar, imported numerous words from Middle Iranian languages, primarily Parthian,[42] and contains smaller inventories of borrowings from Greek,[42] Syriac,[42] Arabic,[43] Mongol,[44] Persian,[45] and autochthonous languages such as Urartian. In the period that followed the invention of the alphabet and up to the threshold of the modern era, Grabar lived on. An effort to modernize the language in Greater Armenia and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (11–14th centuries) resulted in the addition of two more characters to the alphabet, bringing the total number to 38.[46]

The Book of Lamentations by Gregory of Narek (951–1003) is an example of the development of a literature and writing style in Middle Armenian. In addition to elevating the literary style of the Armenian language, Gregory of Nareg paved the way for his successors to include secular themes 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 altered the nature of the literary style and syntax, but they did not constitute radical changes to the fundamentals of the grammar or the morphology of the language.

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

The Treaty of Turkmenchay of 1828, which granted for the forced cession of all of Eastern Armenia from Qajar Iran into the Russian Empire, once again divided the traditional Armenian homeland. This time, Western Armenia remained under Ottoman control, whereas the other large chunk of historical Armenia (Eastern Armenia), amongst which the soil of the contemporary Republic of Armenia, after centuries of Iranian rule, was ceded by Qajar Iran to neighbouring Russia following the latters' victory in the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828. 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 constituted.[47]

Because of persecutions or the search for better economic opportunities, many Armenians living under Ottoman rule gradually moved to

  • Armenian–English dictionary with pronunciations, etymologies and inflection tables.
  • Armenian English Dictionary Armenian–English dictionary.
  • (Library of Armenian dictionaries):
    • Armenian dictionary (about 18,000 terms; definitions in Armenian).
    • Armenian Explanatory Dictionary (Հայերէն Բացատրական Բառարան) by Stepan Malkhasiants (about 130,000 entries). One of the definitive Armenian dictionaries.
    • Armenian Etymological Dictionary (Հայերէն Արմատական Բառարան) by Hrachia Acharian (5,062 word roots). The definitive study of the history and origins of word roots in Armenian. Also includes explanations of each word root as it is used today.
    • Explanatory Dictionary of Contemporary Armenian (Ժամանակակից Հայոց Լեզվի Բացատրական Բառարան) published by the Armenian SSR Academy of Sciences between 1969 and 1980. In Eastern Armenian, reformed orthography (about 125,000 headwords).
    • Հայոց Լեզուի Նոր Բառարան, Western Armenian dictionary published in two volumes in Beirut in 1992 (about 56,000 headwords).
    • Modern Armenian Explanatory Dictionary (Արդի Հայերենի Բացատրական Բառարան) by Edward Aghayan (about 135,600 headwords). In Eastern Armenian and reformed Armenian orthography.
    • Armenian Language Thesaurus (Հայոց Լեզվի Հոմանիշների Բառարան) by Ashot Sukiasyan (about 83,000 entries). In Eastern Armenian and reformed Armenian orthography.
    • Armenian-English dictionary (about 70,000 entries).
    • English-Armenian dictionary (about 96,000 entries).
    • Armenian-French dictionary (about 18,000 entries).
    • French-Armenian dictionary (about 20,000 entries).
  • Armenian–English Dictionary, more than 17,000 terms.
  • Collection of Armenian XDXF and Stardict dictionaries
  • Armenian–English Dictionary, more than 9,000 terms.
  • Daoulagad - mobile Armenian OCR dictionary

Armenian Online Dictionaries

  • Armenian Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh list appendix)
  • AGBU – Armenian Virtual College – First online university to learn Armenian
  • Armenian language resources
  • The Armenian alphabet
  • Learn Armenian (Organization teaching grammar vocabulary and phrases)
  • ARMENIA AND IRAN iv. History, discussion, and the presentation of Iranian influences in Armenian Language over the millenia

External links

  • Adjarian, Herchyah H. (1909) Classification des dialectes arméniens, par H. Adjarian. Paris: Honoro Champion.
  • Clackson, James. 1994. The Linguistic Relationship Between Armenian and Greek. London: Publications of the Philological Society, No 30. (and Oxford: Blackwell Publishing)
  • Holst, Jan Henrik (2009) Armenische Studien. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  • Mallory, J. P. (1989) In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • Vaux, Bert. 1998. The Phonology of Armenian. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Vaux, Bert. 2002. "The Armenian dialect of Jerusalem." in Armenians in the Holy Land. "Louvain: Peters.

Further reading


  1. ^ 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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  23. ^ Armenian language – Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b Handbook of Formal Languages (1997) p. 6.
  26. ^ a b Indo-European tree with Armeno-Aryan, exclusion of Greek
  27. ^ Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, Benjamin W. Fortson, John Wiley and Sons, 2009, p383.
  28. ^ Hans J. Holm (2011): “Swadesh lists” of Albanian Revisited and Consequences for its position in the Indo-European Languages. The Journal of Indo-European Studies, Volume 39, Number 1&2.
  29. ^ 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).
  30. ^ "Armenia as Xenophon Saw It", p. 47, A History of Armenia. Vahan Kurkjian, 2008
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ Igor Mikhailovich Diakonov, "Hurro-Urartian Borrowings in Old Armenian", Journal of the American Oriental Society 105.4 (1985) text
  37. ^ Renfrew, A.C., 1987, Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins, London: Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-6612-5; T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov, The Early History of Indo-European Languages, Scientific American, March 1990;
  38. ^ Russell D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson, Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin, Nature 426 (27 November 2003) 435-439
  39. ^
  40. ^ A. Bammesberger in The Cambridge History of the English Language, 1992, ISBN 978-0-521-26474-7, p. 32: the model "still remains the background of much creative work in Indo-European reconstruction" even though it is "by no means uniformly accepted by all scholars".
  41. ^ Indoiranisch-griechische Gemeinsamkeiten der Nominalbildung und deren indogermanische Grundlagen (= Aryan-Greek Communities in Nominal Morphology and their Indoeuropean Origins; in German) (282 p.), Innsbruck, 1979
  42. ^ a b c Hurro-Urartian Borrowings in Old Armenian, I. M. Diakonoff, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 105, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1985), 597.
  43. ^ How Did New Persian and Arabic Words Penetrate the Middle Armenian Vocabulary? Remarks on the Material of Kostandin Erznkac'i's Poetry, Andrzej Pisowicz, New Approaches to Medieval Armenian Language and Literature, edited by Joseph Johannes Sicco Weitenberg, (Rodopi B.V., 1995), 96.
  44. ^ Tangsux in Armenia, E. SCHÜTZ, Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, Vol. 17, No. 1 (1964), 106.
  45. ^ Razmik Panossian, The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars, (Columbia University Press, 2006), 39.
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ James Clackson, Indo-European Linguistics, An Introduction (2007, Cambridge)
    Robert S.P. Beekes, Comparative Indo-European Linguistics, An Introduction (1995, John Benjamins)
    Oswald J.L. Szemerényi, Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics (1996, Oxford)
  51. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009:13)
  52. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009:17–20)
  53. ^ Price (1998)
  54. ^ (Armenian is the only indoeuropean language which is agglutinative)
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^ However, an Italic sister language called Oscan preserved the form "futrei" (daughter).
  58. ^ a b c d The letter c represents /ts/. In the Armenian words cunk, gorc, mec, and ancanotʿ, it corresponds to PIE *ǵ-.
  59. ^ a b c The words "bum" (cow), "pir" (fire) and "utur" (water) in the Latin column are actually from an Italic sister language called Umbrian.
  60. ^ a b The word "yare" (year) in the Persian and Sanskrit columns is actually from an Indo-Iranian sister language called Avestan.
  61. ^ a b c d The prefixes for "not" in Latin are "in-" and "i-", and "an-" and "a-" in Greek and Sanskrit, which correspond to the PIE *n-.


  1. ^ Although Armenian has no legal status in Samtske-Javakheti, it is widely spoken by the Armenian population, which is concentrated in Ninotsminda and Akhalkalaki districts (over 90% of the total population in these two districts).[8] The Georgian government fully funds around 144 Armenian school in the region (as of 2010).[9][10]
  2. ^ Various state government agencies in California provide Armenian translations of their documents, namely the California Department of Social Services,[11] California Department of Motor Vehicles,[12] California superior courts.[13] In the city of Glendale, there are street signs in Armenian.[14][15]
  3. ^ The Lebanese government recognizes Armenian as a minority language,[16] particularly for educational purposes.[17][18]
  4. ^ In education, according to the Treaty of Lausanne[19][20]


See also

Armenian English Latin Persian Classical and Hellenistic Greek Sanskrit Russian Old Irish PIE
mayr "mother" mother ( ← OE mōdor) māter "mother" mādar "mother" mētēr "mother" mātṛ "mother" mat' máthair "mother" *máH₂ter- "mother"
hayr "father" father ( ← OE fæder) pater "father" pedar "father" patēr "father" pitṛ "father" athair "father" *pH₂tér- "father"
eġbayr "brother" brother ( ← OE brōþor) frāter "brother" barādaṛ "brother" phrātēr "brother" bhrātṛ "brother" brat bráthair "brother" *bʱráH₂ter- "brother"
dustr "daughter" daughter ( ← OE dohtor) Latin cognate lost[57] doxtar "daughter" thugatēr "daughter" duhitṛ "daughter" doč' der, Dar- "daughter (of)" *dʱugH₂-tér- "daughter"
kin "woman" queen ( ← OE cwēn "queen, woman, wife") cognate is unknown Old Persian kiana "woman, wife" gunē "a woman, a wife" gnā/jani "woman" žena "wife" ben "woman" *gʷén-eH₂- "woman, wife"
im "my" my, mine ( ← OE min) me-us, -a, -um etc. "my" man/am "my" em-os, -e, -on etc. "my, of mine" mama "my" moy mo "my, me" *mene- "my, mine"
anun "name" name ( ← OE nama) nōmen "name" nām "name" onoma "name" nāman "name" im'a ainm "name" *H₁noH₃m-n̥- "name"
utʿ "8" eight ( ← OE eahta) octō "eight" (h)aşt "eight" oktō "eight" aṣṭa "eight" vosem' ocht "eight" *H₁oḱtō(u) "eight"
inn "9" nine ( ← OE nigon) novem "nine" noh "nine" ennea "nine" nava "nine" dev'at' noí "nine" *(H₁)néwn̥ "nine"
tas "10" ten ( ← OE tien) ( ← P.Gmc. *tekhan) decem "ten" dah "ten" deka "ten" daśa "ten" des'at' deich "ten" *déḱm̥ "ten"
ačʿkʿ "eye" eye ( ← OE ēge) oculus "eye" čaşm "eye" ophthalmos "eye" akṣan "eye" oko *H₃okʷ- "to see"
armunk "elbow" arm ( ← OE earm "joined body parts below shoulder") armus "shoulder" arenj "elbow" arthron "a joint" īrma "arm" ramo "shoulder" (archaic) *H₁ar-mo- "fit, join (that which is fitted together)"
cunk[58] "knee" knee ( ← OE cnēo) genū, "knee" zānu "knee" gonu "knee" jānu "knee" glún "knee" *ǵénu- "knee"
otkʿ "foot" foot ( ← OE fōt) pedis "foot" "foot" pous "foot" pāda "foot" (Gaul. ades "feet") *pod-, *ped- "foot"
sirt "heart" heart ( ← OE heorte) cor "heart" qalb "heart" kardia "heart" hṛdaya "heart" serdtse cride "heart" *ḱerd- "heart"
kaši "skin" hide ( ← OE hȳdan "animal skin cover") cutis "skin" pust "skin" keuthō "I cover, I hide" kuṭīra "hut" koža (Welsh cudd "hiding place") *keu- "to cover, conceal"
muk "mouse" mouse ( ← OE mūs) mūs "mouse" muş "mouse" mus "mouse" mūṣ "mouse" myš' *muH₁s- "mouse, small rodent"
kov "cow" cow ( ← OE ) bos "cattle", bum[59] "cow" gāv "cow" bous "cow" gauḥ "cow" gov'adina "beef" "cow" *gʷou- "cow"
šun "dog" hound ( ← OE hund "hound, dog") canis "hound, dog" (canine) sag "dog" kuōn "hound, dog" śvan "dog" suka "bitch" "dog" *ḱwon- "hound, dog"
tari "year" year ( ← OE gēar) hōrnus "of this year" yare[60] "year" hōra "time, year" yare[60] "year" jara "springtime" (archaic) *yeH₁r- "year"
amis "month" moon, month ( ← OE mōnaþ) mēnsis "month" māh "moon, month" mēn "moon, month" māsa "moon, month" mes'ats "month" *meH₁ns- "moon, month"
amaṙ "summer" summer ( ← OE sumor) samā "season" saṃ "summer" *sem- "hot season of the year"
ǰerm "warm" warm ( ← OE wearm) formus "warm" garm "warm" thermos "warm" gharma "heat" žarko "hot" geirid "warm (v)" *gʷʰerm- "warm"
luys "light" light ( ← OE lēoht "brightness") lucere, lux, lucidus "to shine, light, clear" ruz "day" leukos "bright, shining, white" roca "shining" luč' "beam" lóch "bright" *leuk- "light, brightness"
hur "flame" fire ( ← OE fȳr) pir[59] "fire" azer "fire" pur "fire" pu "fire" plam'a "flame" *péH₂wr̥- "fire"
heṙu "far" far ( ← OE feor "to a great distance") per "through" farā "beyond" pera "beyond" paras "beyond" pere-, pro- ír "further" *per- "through, across, beyond"
heġel "to pour" flow ( ← OE flōwan) pluĕre "to rain" pur "pour" plenō "I wash" plu "to swim" plavat' "swim" luí "rudder" *pleu- "flow, float"
utel "to eat" eat ( ← OE etan) edō "I eat", edulis "edible" xur "eat" edō "I eat" admi "I eat" jest' ithid "eat" *ed- "to eat"
gitem "I know" wit ( ← OE wit, witan "intelligence, to know") vidēre "to see" Old Persian vida "knowledge" eidenai "to know" vid "to know" videt' "see" adfet "tells" *weid- "to know, to see"
get "river" water ( ← OE wæter) utur[59] "water" rōd "river" hudōr "water" udan "water" voda uisce "water" (*wodor, *wedor, *uder-) from *wed- "water"
gorc[58] "work " work ( ← OE weorc) urgēre "push, drive" kār "work" ergon "work" varcas "activity" *werǵ- "to work"
mec[58] "great " much ( ← OE mycel "great, big, many") magnus "great" mega "great, large" megas "great, large" mahant "great" mnogo "many" maige "great, mighty" *meǵ- "great"
ancanotʿ[58] "stranger, unfamiliar" unknown ( ← OE uncnawen) ignōtus,[61] ignōrāntem[61] "unknown, ignorant" ajnabi "stranger, unfamiliar" agnōstos[61] "unknown" ajñāta[61] "unfamiliar" neznakomyj *n- + *ǵneH₃- "not" + "to know"
meṙac "to die" murder ( ← OE morþor) mors "death", mortalis "mortal" marg "death" / morde "dead" ambrotos "immortal" mṛta "dead" mertvyj marb "dead" *mrtro-, from (*mor-, *mr-) "to die"
miǰin "middle" mid, middle ( ← OE mid, middel) medius "middle" meyān "middle" mesos "middle" madhya "middle" meždu "between" mide "middle" *medʱyo- from *me- "mid, middle"
ayl "other" else ( ← OE elles "other, otherwise, different") alius, alienus "other, another" allos "other, another" anya "other" aile "other" *al- "beyond, other"
nor "new" new ( ← OE nīwe) novus "new" now "new" neos "new" nava "new" novyj núae "new" *néwo- "new"
duṙ "door" door ( ← OE dor, duru) fores "door" dar "door" thura "door" dvār "door" dver' dorus "door" *dʱwer- "door, doorway, gate"
tun "house" timber ( ← OE timber "trees used for building material, structure") domus "house" khune "home" domos "house" dama "house" dom *domo-, *domu- "house"
berri, berel "fertile, to carry" bear ( ← OE beran "give birth, carry") ferre, fertilis "to bear, fertile" bordan, bar- "to bear, carry" pherein "to carry" bharati "he/she/it carries" brat' "to take" beirid "carry" *bʱer- "to bear, to carry"
) [56] language). (Source: Online Etymology Dictionary.Old English (Anglo-Saxon). This table lists only some of the more recognizable cognates that Armenian shares with English (more specifically, with English words descended from the Sanskrit, and Greek, Latin, English of words in other Indo-European languages such as cognates-descended words are Proto-Indo-European, so many of its Indo-European languageArmenian is an

Indo-European cognates

The Armenian alphabet (Armenian: Հայոց գրեր Hayots grer or Հայոց այբուբեն Hayots aybuben) is a graphically unique alphabetical writing system that is used to write the Armenian language. It was introduced around 405 AD 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, 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).

Armenian keyboard layout using the Armenian alphabet.

Writing system

Other distinct dialects include the Homshetsi language of the Hemshin people and the divergent and almost extinct Lomavren language of the Bosha people,[55] both of which are categorized as belonging to the Armenian language family.

English Eastern Armenian Western Armenian
Yes Ayo (այո) Ayo (այո)
No Voč' (ոչ) Voč' (ոչ)
Excuse me Neroġout'ioun (ներողություն) Neroġout'ioun (ներողութիւն)
Hello Barev (բարև) Parev (բարեւ)
How are you (formal) Vonts' ek (ո՞նց եք) Inč'bes ek (ինչպէ՞ս էք)
How are you (informal) Inč' ka č'ka (ի՞նչ կա չկա) Inč' ga č'ga (ի՞նչ կայ չկայ)
Please Khntrem (խնդրեմ) Khntrem (խնդրեմ), Hadjiss (հաճիս)
Thank you Šnorhakal em (շնորհակալ եմ) Šnorhagal em (շնորհակալ եմ)
Thank you very much Šat šnorhakal em (շատ շնորհակալ եմ) Šad šnorhagal em (շատ շնորհակալ եմ)
Welcome (to a place) Bari galoust (բարի գալուստ) singular: Pari yegar (բարի եկար)
plural or polite: Pari yegak' (բարի եկաք)
Welcome (as a response to 'thank you') Khntrem (խնդրեմ) Khntrem (խնդրեմ)
Goodbye C'tesout'ioun (ցտեսություն) C'desout'ioun (ցտեսութիւն)
Good morning Bari louys (բարի լույս) Pari louys (բարի լոյս)
Good afternoon Bari òr (բարի օր) Pari ges òr (բարի կէս օր)
Good evening Bari yereko (բարի երեկո) Pari irigoun (բարի իրիկուն)
Good night Bari gišer (բարի գիշեր) Kišer pari (գիշեր բարի)
I love you Yes k'ez siroum em (ես քեզ սիրում եմ) Yes ëzk'ez gë sirem (ես զքեզ կը սիրեմ)
I am Armenian Yes hay em (ես հայ եմ) Yes hay em (ես հայ եմ)
I miss you (Eastern) / I missed you (Western) Yes k'ez karotum em (ես քեզ կարոտում եմ) Yes k'ez garodtser em (ես քեզ կարօտցեր եմ)

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, some subdialects are not readily mutually intelligible. Nevertheless, a fluent speaker of one of two greatly varying dialects who is exposed to the other dialect for even a short period of time will be able to understand the other with relative ease.

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.

For example, Eastern Armenian speakers pronounce (թ) as an aspirated "t" as in "tiger", (դ) like the "d" in "develop", and (տ) as a tenuis occlusive, sounding somewhere between the two as in "stop." 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 an aspirated "t" as in "tiger", and the (տ) letter is pronounced like the letter "d" as in "develop".

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.

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


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


Case (holov) Singular Plural
Nominative (uxxakan) հանրապետություն(ը-ն)* հանրապետություններ(ը-ն)*
Accusative (haycakan) հանրապետությունը(-ն)* հանրապետությունները(-ն)*
Genitive (serakan) հանրապետության հանրապետությունների
Dative (trakan) հանրապետությանը(-ն)* հանրապետություններին
Ablative (bacarakan) հանրապետությունից հանրապետություններից
Instrumental (gorciakan) հանրապետությամբ հանրապետություններով
Locative (nergoyakan) հանրապետությունում հանրապետություններում

Հանրապետություն (Republic)

Animated nouns do not decline for locative case.

Case (holov) Singular Plural
Nominative (uxxakan) մայր(ը-ն)* mayr(ë-n)* մայրեր(ը-ն)* mayr-er(ë-n)*
Accusative (haycakan) մայրը(-ն)* mayrë(-n)* մայրերը(-ն)* mayr-erë(-n)*
Genitive (serakan) մոր mor մայրերի mayr-eri
Dative (trakan) մորը(-ն)* morë(-n)* մայրերին mayr-erin
Ablative (bacarakan) մորից moric̕ մայրերից mayr-eric̕
Instrumental (gorciakan) մորով morov մայրերով mayr-erov
Locative (nergoyakan)

Մայր Mayr (Mother)

Case (holov) Singular Plural
Nominative (uxxakan) հեռախոս(ը-ն)* heṙaxos(ë-n)* հեռախոսներ(ը-ն)* heṙaxos-ner(ë-n)*
Accusative (haycakan) հեռախոսը(-ն)* heṙaxosë(-n)* հեռախոսները(-ն)* heṙaxos-nerë(-n)*
Genitive (serakan) հեռախոսի heṙaxosi հեռախոսների heṙaxos-neri
Dative (trakan) հեռախոսին heṙaxosin հեռախոսներին heṙaxos-nerin
Ablative (bacarakan) հեռախոսից heṙaxosic̕ հեռախոսներից heṙaxos-neric̕
Instrumental (gorciakan) հեռախոսով heṙaxosov հեռախոսներով heṙaxos-nerov
Locative (nergoyakan) հեռախոսում heṙaxosowm հեռախոսներում heṙaxos-nerowm

Հեռախոս Heṙaxos (Telephone):

Examples of nouns' declension

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, accusative, locative, genitive, dative, ablative, or instrumental.


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 agglutinative, one of only two Indo-European languages with this characteristic, the other one being Persian.[54] Armenian is rich in combinations of consonants. Both classical Armenian and the modern spoken and literary dialects have a complicated system of declining nouns, 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"). 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. With time the Armenian language made a transition from a synthetic language (Old Armenian or Grabar) to a typical analytic language (Modern Armenian) with Middle Armenian as a midpoint in this transition.


The consonants transcribed are breathy voiced.

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

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:[53]

  1. Sources differ on the place of articulation of these consonants.
Eastern Armenian consonant phonemes[52]
Labials Dental/
Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal /m/ մ – m /n/ ն – n
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
Tap /ɾ/ ր – r

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 (IPA), after that appears the corresponding letter of the Armenian alphabet, and the last symbol is its Latin transliteration according to ISO 9985.


Armenian vowel phonemes[51]
Front Central Back
Close i
Mid ɛ
ե, է
e, ē
ո, օ
o, ò
Open     ɑ

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).

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In Armenian the stress falls on the last syllable unless the last syllable contains [ə], 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.).


Proto-Indo-European voiceless occlusives are aspirated in Proto-Armenian, 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.[50]


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.

Armenian language road sign.

Modern changes

After the First World War, 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 Genocide of 1915 preserved the Western Armenian dialect.

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 minor morphological, phonetic, and grammatical differences, the largely common vocabulary and identical rules of grammatical fundamentals allows users of one variant to understand the other easily.[49]

  • Western variant: 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 variant: The dialect of the Ararat plateau provided the primary elements of Eastern Armenian, centered in Tiflis (Tbilisi, Georgia). Similar to the Western Armenian variant, the Modern Eastern was in many ways more practical and accessible to the masses than Grabar.

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 developed 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 variants emerged:


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