The Armenian Language

The Armenian Language

October 15, 2017

The Armenian language is the national language of the Armenians and the official language of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh (or Nagorno Karabakh). 

It is one of the oldest languages in the world, which originated in the Armenian Highland. The Armenian language belongs to the Indo-European language tree and occupies an independent branch.

The Creation of the Armenian Alphabet

After the adoption of Christianity ( 301 AD), the creation of the alphabet was of essential importance as at the time there was no written Armenian language. In 405 Mesrop Mashtots, an early medieval Armenian linguist, theologian, and statesman created the Armenian alphabet and translated the Bible into Armenian.

The Mesropean Armenian had 36 letters, later in the 12th century, three more letters were added.

 

Stages of the Armenian language development

Armenian language development history is divided into three stages:

  • Old Armenian- used until the 11th century
  • Middle Armenian- from the 11th century till the 16th century
  • New Armenian- from the 17th century till now

The Old Armenian or Grabar is the first stage of the written Armenian language. It was used in ancient manuscripts and during church ceremonies.

The first sentence written in Old Armenian by Mesrop Mashtots was “ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ” which means “to recognize wisdom and guidance, to know the words of the genius”.

Most of the ancient Armenian manuscripts (more than 17,000) were written in Old Armenian and now are being kept in Matenadaran (Yerevan). The famous historians Movses Khorenatsi, Koryun, Agatangeghos, Eghishe, and many other important historical figures, lived and worked during the old Armenian period.

The middle Armenian was used in the 11th -16th centuries. Armenian of this period lives in the works of Nahapet Quchak, Grigor Narekatsi, and Frik.

The Modern Armenian language has been used since the 17th century․ Khachatur Abovian, an Armenian writer, and educator is regarded as the father of the Modern Armenian.

The Armenian language has 2 branches: Western-Armenian, which is used by the Armenians of Diaspora and Eastern-Armenian - the state language of Armenia and Artsakh.

 

Armenian must-know phrases for tourists

Interested in the Armenian language? Here are some examples for you to learn when visiting Armenia.

Barev (Բարև) - [barev] - Hi / Hello

Shnorhakalutyun (Շնորհակալություն) - [shnorhakalutyun] - Thank you

Tstesutyun (Ցտեսություն) - [tsətesutiun] - Good Bye

Khndrum em (Խնդրում եմ) - [khəndroom em] - Please

Ayo(Այո) - [ayo] - Yes

Voch (Ոչ) - [voch] - No

Knereq (Կներեք) - [kənerek] - Sorry

Duq xosum eq angleren (Դուք խոսում ե՞ք անգլերեն) - [dook khosoom ek angleren] - Do you speak English

Inch arje (Ինչ արժե՞) - [eench arzhe ] - How much is it?

 

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