Armenian language

Old English Armenian alphabet Proto-Indo-European language
հայերէն/հայերեն hayeren
Native toArmenia and Artsakh.
Native speakers
6.7 million[1]
  • Armenian
Early forms
Standard forms
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byInstitute of Language (Armenian National Academy of Sciences)[24]
Language codes
ISO 639-1hy
ISO 639-2arm (B)
hye (T)
ISO 639-3Variously:
hye – Eastern Armenian
hyw – Western Armenian
xcl – Classical Armenian
axm – Middle Armenian
Armenian Language distribution map.png
The current distribution of the Armenian language in the southern Caucasus
  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.

The Armenian language (classical: հայերէն; reformed: հայերեն [hɑjɛˈɾɛn] hayeren) is an Indo-European language that is the only language in the Armenian branch. It is the official language of Armenia as well as the de facto Republic of Artsakh. Historically being spoken throughout 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.


Classification and origins

Armenian manuscripts.jpg
History of the Armenian language
Armenian alphabet
Romanization of Armenian
Irina, a speaker of the Artsakh dialect of Armenian, recorded for Wikitongues

Armenian is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages.[26] 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;[27][28][29][30] within this hypothetical dialect group, Proto-Armenian was situated between Proto-Greek (centum subgroup) and Proto-Indo-Iranian (satem subgroup).[31] Ronald I. Kim has noted unique morphological developments connecting Armenian to Balto-Slavic languages.[32]

Armenia was a monolingual country by the 2nd century BC at the latest.[33] 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,[34] and to a lesser extent by Greek, Persian, and Syriac. There are two standardized modern literary forms, Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian, with which most contemporary dialects are mutually intelligible.[35][36][37][38]

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),[39] 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.[40]

Early contacts

W. M. Austin (1942) concluded[41] 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.[42]

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.[43] 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.[44] The distinctness of Armenian was recognized when philologist Heinrich Hübschmann (1875)[44][45] 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.

Graeco-Armenian hypothesis

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".

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-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".[46][47][48][49] Early and strong evidence was given by Euler's 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.[50]

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).[27][28]


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,[51] and contains smaller inventories of loanwords from Greek,[51] Syriac,[51] Arabic,[52] Mongol,[53] Persian,[54] 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.[55]

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,[56] 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.[57]

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.[58] 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.[59]

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:

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.[60]

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.[61]


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.[62]


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.


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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[63]
Front Central Back
Close /i/
Mid /ɛ/
ե, է
e, ē
ո, օ
o, ò
Open     /ɑ/


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[64]
Labials Dental/
Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
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 – pʻ /tʰ/ թ – tʻ /kʰ/ ք – kʻ
Affricate voiceless /t͡s/ ծ – ç /t͡ʃ/ ճ – č
voiced /d͡z/ ձ – j /d͡ʒ/ ջ – ǰ
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.

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:[65]

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


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.[66][67] 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.


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)*
Accusative հեռախոսը(-ն)*
Genitive հեռախոսի
Dative հեռախոսին
Ablative հեռախոսից
Instrumental հեռախոսով
Locative հեռախոսում
Մայր Mayr (mother)
Case Singular Plural
Nominative մայր(ը-ն)*
Accusative մայրը(-ն)*
Genitive մոր
Dative մորը(-ն)*
Ablative մորից
Instrumental մորով

Animate nouns do not decline for locative case.

Հանրապետություն Hanrapetut'yun (republic)
Case Singular Plural
Nominative հանրապետություն(ը-ն)*
Accusative հանրապետությունը(-ն)*
Genitive հանրապետության
Dative հանրապետությանը(-ն)*
Ablative հանրապետությունից
Instrumental հանրապետությամբ
Locative հանրապետությունում
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
Gen-Dat (Սեռական-Տրական) գարնան
Abl (Բացառական) գարունէ
Instr (Գործիական) գարունով
  հայր / hayr (father) Աստուած / Asdvadz (God) գիտութիւն / kidutiun (science)
singular plural singular plural singular plural
Nom-Acc (Ուղղական-Հայցական) հայր
Gen-Dat (Սեռական-Տրական) հոր
Abl (Բացառական) հորմէ
Instr (Գործիական) հորմով
գիտութեամբ /
kiduteamp /


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.


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.

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 peoples;[68] 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,[69] and by Armenians in Samtskhe–Javakheti province of Georgia (Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsikhe).[70]

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[71]

English Eastern Armenian Western Armenian
Yes Ayo (այո) Ayo (այո)
No Voč' (ոչ) Votch' (ոչ)
I see you Yes kez tesnum em (ես քեզ տեսնում եմ) Ge desnem 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՛) Yegour! (եկո՛ւր)
I will eat Utelu em (ուտելու եմ) Bidi oudem (պիտի ուտեմ)
I must do Petk e anem (պետք է անեմ) Bedk eh enem (պէտք է ընեմ)
I was going to eat Utelu ei (ուտելու էի) Bidi oudeyi (պիտի ուտէի)
Is this yours? Sa k'onn e? (սա քո՞նն է) Asiga kouget eh? (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 nayeh (ատոր նայէ)
Have you brought these? Du es berel srank'? (դո՞ւ ես բերել սրանք) Toun perir asonk? (դո՞ւն բերիր ասոնք)
How are you? I'm fine. Inchpes es/Vonc' es? Lav em (Ինչպե՞ս ես/Ո՞նց ես։ Լավ եմ։) Intchbes 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՛։) Toun esir? Esseh! (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 louys (բարի լույս) Pari louys (բարի լոյս)
Good evening Bari yereko (բարի երեկո) Pari irigoun (բարի իրիկուն)
Good night Bari gišer (բարի գիշեր) Kisher pari (գիշեր բարի)
You love me Sirum es indz (սիրում ես ինձ) Indzi ge 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)


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.

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. 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.[72])

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"


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


هفت 'haft "seven"

(< MPers. hp̄t /haft/)

επτά heptá "seven" सप्तन् saptán


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[73] "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' *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 ( ← 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[73] "work " work ( ← OE weorc) urgēre "push, drive" کار kɒr "work" ἔργον ergon "work" वर्चस् varcas "activity" *werǵ- "to work"
մեծ mec[73] "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[73] "stranger, unfamiliar" unknown[74] ( ← OE uncnawen) ignōtus[74] "unknown" ἄγνωτος agnōtos[74] "unknown" अज्ञात ajñāta[74] "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" *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


  1. ^ 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).[11] There were 144 state-funded schools in the region as of 2010 where Armenian is the main language of instruction.[12][13]
  2. ^ The Lebanese government recognizes Armenian as a minority language,[14] particularly for educational purposes.[15][16]
  3. ^ In education, according to the Treaty of Lausanne[17][18]
  4. ^ Various state government agencies in California provide Armenian translations of their documents, namely the California Department of Social Services,[19] California Department of Motor Vehicles,[20] California superior courts.[21] In the city of Glendale, there are street signs in Armenian.[22][23]


  1. ^ Eastern Armenian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Western Armenian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Classical Armenian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Middle Armenian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ "THE ARMENIAN LANGUAGE AS AN ENDANGERED LANGUAGE IN EUROPE: A contribution to the European Roadmap for Linguistic Diversity" (PDF). AGBU Europe. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 December 2019. Western Armenian has an official status as a minority language in several EU countries, including Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland.
  3. ^ "Western Armenian – Cypriot Arabic: new century, new speakers?". European Commission. 21 February 2017. Dedicated to the two officially recognized minority languages of Cyprus, the event will focus on the teaching aspect of Western Armenian and Cypriot Arabic as mother tongues.
  4. ^ Hadjilyra, Alexander - Michael. "The Armenians of Cyprus" (PDF). Press and Information Office, Republic of Cyprus. p. 15. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 December 2019. According to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages of the Council of Europe, Armenian was recognised as a minority language of Cyprus as of 1 December 2002.
  5. ^ Kenesei, István (2009). "Minority languages in Hungary" (PDF). European Federation of National Institutions for Language. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 December 2019. As far as indigenous (autochthonous) minority languages are concerned, Hungarian legislation acknowledges the languages in the following list [...]: Armenian, Boyash, Bulgarian, Croatian, German, Greek, Polish, Romani, Romanian, Ruthenian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Ukrainian, and Hungarian Sign Language (HSL).
  6. ^ "Iraqi Constitution: Article 4" (PDF). The Republic of Iraq Ministry of Interior General Directorate for Nationality. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 November 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 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.
  7. ^ Zych, Maciej. "New Polish legislation regarding national, ethnic and linguistic minorities" (PDF). Head Office of Geodesy and Cartography of Poland. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 December 2019. There are 9 national minorities: Belorussian, Czech, Lithuanian, German, Armenian, Russian, Slovak, Ukrainian and Jewish; and 4 ethnic minorities - Karait, Lemko, Roma and Tartar.
  8. ^ Pisarek, Walery (2009). "The relationship between official and minority languages in Poland" (PDF). European Federation of National Institutions for Language. p. 118. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 December 2019. In a Statement made by the Republic of Poland with relation to the ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Belarusian, Czech, Hebrew, Yiddish, Karaim, Kashubian, Lithuanian, Lemkian, German, Armenian, Romani, Russian, Slovak, Tatar and Ukrainian were recognized as minority languages.
  9. ^ Saramandu, Nicolae; Nevaci, Manuela (2009). "MULTILINGVISM ŞI LIMBI MINORITARE ÎN ROMÂNIA [MULTILINGUALISM AND MINORITY LANGUAGES IN ROMANIA]" (PDF) (in Romanian). Institute of Linguistics "Iorgu Iordan - Alexandru Rosetti", Romanian Academy. p. 25. În cazul României, 10 limbi beneficiază de protecţie generală (albaneză, armeană, greacă, italiană, idiş, macedoneană, poloneză, romani, ruteană, tătară) şi 10 limbi beneficiază de protecţie sporită (bulgară, cehă, croată, germană, maghiară, rusă, sârbă, slovacă, turcă, ucraineană).
  10. ^ "Law of Ukraine "On Principles of State Language Policy" (Current version – Revision from 01.02.2014)". Document 5029-17, Article 7: Regional or minority languages Ukraine, Paragraph 2 (in Ukrainian). 1 February 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014. Стаття 7. Регіональні мови або мови меншин України [...] 2. У контексті Європейської хартії регіональних мов або мов меншин до регіональних мов або мов меншин України, до яких застосовуються заходи, спрямовані на використання регіональних мов або мов меншин, що передбачені у цьому Законі, віднесені мови: російська, білоруська, болгарська, вірменська, гагаузька, ідиш, кримськотатарська, молдавська, німецька, новогрецька, польська, ромська, румунська, словацька, угорська, русинська, караїмська, кримчацька.
  11. ^ Hille, Charlotte (2010). State Building and Conflict Resolution in the Caucasus. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers. p. 241. ISBN 9789004179011.
  12. ^ "Javakhk Armenians Looks Ahead to Local Elections". Asbarez. 31 March 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2014. Javakheti for use in the region's 144 Armenian schools ...
  13. ^ Mezhdoyan, Slava (28 November 2012). "Challenges and problems of the Armenian community of Georgia" (PDF). Tbilisi: European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy. Retrieved 26 May 2014. Armenian schools in Georgia are fully funded by the government ...
  14. ^ "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
  15. ^ "Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention. Third periodic reports of states parties due in 2003: Lebanon" (PDF). Committee on the Rights of the Child. 25 October 2005. p. 108. Retrieved 26 May 2014. Right of minorities to learn their language. The Lebanese curriculum allows Armenian schools to teach the Armenian language as a basic language.
  16. ^ Sanjian, Ara. "Armenians and the 2000 Parliamentary Elections in Lebanon". Armenian News Network / Groong. University of Southern California. Archived from the original on 26 May 2014. 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.
  17. ^ Saib, Jilali (2001). "Languages in Turkey". In Extra, Guus; Gorter, Durk (eds.). The Other Languages of Europe: Demographic, Sociolinguistic and Educational Perspectives. Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters. p. 423. ISBN 9781853595097. No other language can be taught as a mother language other than Armenian, Greek and Hebrew, as agreed in the Lausanne Treaty ...
  18. ^ Okçabol, Rıfat (2008). "Secondary Education in Turkey". In Nohl, Arnd-Michael; Akkoyunlu-Wigley, Arzu; Wigley, Simon (eds.). Education in Turkey. Berlin: Waxmann Verlag. p. 65. ISBN 9783830970699. 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.
  19. ^ "Armenian Translations". California Department of Social Services. Archived from the original on 26 May 2014.
  20. ^ "Վարորդների ձեռնարկ [Driver's Manual]" (PDF). California Department of Motor Vehicles. 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  21. ^ "English/Armenian Legal Glossary" (PDF). Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento. 22 June 2005. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  22. ^ Rocha, Veronica (11 January 2011). "New Glendale traffic safety warnings in English, Armenian, Spanish". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  23. ^ Aghajanian, Liana (4 September 2012). "Intersections: Bad driving signals a need for reflection". Glendale News-Press. Retrieved 26 May 2014. ...trilingual street signs in English, Armenian, and Spanish at intersections...
  24. ^ "H. Acharian Institute of Language". Archived from the original on 5 October 2014. 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
  25. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Armenic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  26. ^ "Armenian language". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  27. ^ a b Handbook of Formal Languages (1997) p. 6.
  28. ^ a b Indo-European tree with Armeno-Aryan, exclusion of Greek
  29. ^ Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, Benjamin W. Fortson, John Wiley and Sons, 2009, p383.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ Hrach Martirosyan. The place of Armenian in the Indo-European language family: the relationship with Greek and Indo-Iranian. Journal of Language Relationship • Вопросы языкового родства • 10 (2013) • Pp. 85—137
  32. ^ Kim, Ronald (2018). "Greco-Armenian: The persistence of a myth". Indogermanische Forschungen. The University of British Columbia Library. doi:10.1515/if-2018-0009. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  33. ^ 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).
  34. ^ Livshits 2006, p. 79.
  35. ^ Adalian, Rouben Paul (2010). Historical Dictionary of Armenia. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 396. ISBN 978-0-8108-7450-3. Although mutually intelligible, eastern Armenian preserved classical phonology, whereas western Armenian demonstrated sound loss among closely related consonants.
  36. ^ Baliozian, Ara (1975). The Armenians: Their History and Culture. Kar Publishing House. p. 65. There are two main dialects: Eastern Armenian (Soviet Armenia, Persia), and Western Armenian (Middle East, Europe, and America) . They are mutually intelligible.
  37. ^ Campbell, George (2003). "Armenian, Modern Standard". Concise Compendium of the World's Languages. Routledge. p. 33. ISBN 9781134720279. 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.
  38. ^ Sanjian, Avedis K. (1996). "The Armenian Alphabet". In Daniels, Peter T.; Bight, William (eds.). The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press. p. 356. ISBN 9780195079937. ...Classical (Grabar), Middle, and Modern: two mutually intelligible literary dialects, East and West Armenian.
  39. ^ "Armenia as Xenophon Saw It", p. 47, A History of Armenia. Vahan Kurkjian, 2008
  40. ^ Kossian, Aram V. (1997), The Mushki Problem Reconsidered pp.262
  41. ^ Austin, William M. (January–March 1942). "Is Armenian an Anatolian Language?". Language. Linguistic Society of America. 18 (1): 22–25. doi:10.2307/409074. JSTOR 409074.
  42. ^ Martirosyan, Hrach (2015), "Notes on Anatolian loanwords in Armenian" (PDF), St. Petersburg, Institute for linguistic studies, Russian Academy of sciences, Russia
  43. ^ Diakonoff, I. M. (1985). "Hurro-Urartian Borrowings in Old Armenian". Journal of the American Oriental Society. New Haven. 105 (4): 597–603. doi:10.2307/602722. ISSN 0003-0279. JSTOR 602722. OCLC 6015257905.
  44. ^ a b "ARMENIA AND IRAN iv. Iranian influences in Armenian Language". Retrieved 26 October 2015.
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  73. ^ a b c d The letter ⟨c⟩ represents /ts/. In the Armenian words cunk, gorc, mec, and ancanotʿ, it corresponds to PIE *ǵ-.
  74. ^ a b c d 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-.