Armenian language

հայերէն/հայերեն hayeren
Native toArmenia
Native speakers
6.7 million[1][2]
Early forms
Standard forms
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Official (de jure) status:

Semi-official or unofficial (de facto) status:

Regulated byInstitute of Language (Armenian National Academy of Sciences)[23]
Language codes
hye (T)
ISO 639-3Variously:
hye – Eastern Armenian
hyw – Western Armenian
xcl – Classical Armenian
axm – Middle Armenian
  Official language spoken by the majority
  Recognized minority language
  Significant number of speakers
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The Armenian language (classical: հայերէն; reformed: հայերեն [hɑjɛˈɾɛn] hayeren) is an Indo-European language spoken primarily by Armenians. It is the official language of Armenia. 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 Mesrop Mashtots.

Classification and origins

Armenian manuscripts.jpg
Armenian language
Armenian alphabet
Romanization of Armenian

Armenian is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages.[25] It is of interest to linguists for its distinctive phonological developments within that family. Armenian exhibits more satemization than centumization, although it is not classified as belonging to either of these subgroups. Some linguists tentatively conclude that Armenian, Greek (Phrygian) and Indo-Iranian were dialectally close to each other;[26][27][28][29] within this hypothetical dialect group, Proto-Armenian was situated between Proto-Greek (centum subgroup) and Proto-Indo-Iranian (satem subgroup).[30]

Armenia was a monolingual country by the 2nd century BC at the latest.[31] 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, 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.[32][33][34][35]

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),[36] the oldest surviving Armenian-language text is the 5th century AD Bible translation of Mesrop Mashtots, who created the Armenian alphabet in 405, at which time it had 36 letters. He is also credited by some with the creation of the Caucasian Albanian alphabet. In The Anabasis, Xenophon describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality in around 401 BC. He relates that the Armenian people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians.[37]

Early contacts

W. M. Austin (1942) concluded[38] that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine gender and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not considered conclusive evidence of a period of common isolated development.

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.[39] Noting that Hurro-Urartian-speaking peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium BC, Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms such as ałaxin "slave girl" ( ← Hurr. al(l)a(e)ḫḫenne), cov "sea" ( ← Urart. ṣûǝ "(inland) sea"), ułt "camel" ( ← Hurr. uḷtu), and xnjor "apple(tree)" ( ← Hurr. ḫinzuri). Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings do not undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.

Loan words from Iranian languages, along with the other ancient accounts such as that of Xenophon above, initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. Scholars such as Paul de Lagarde and F. Müller believed that the similarities between the two languages meant that Iranian and Armenian were the same language.[40] The distinctness of Armenian was recognized when philologist Heinrich Hübschmann (1875)[40][41] 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 Esquisse (1936). Georg Renatus Solta (1960) does not go as far as postulating a Proto-Graeco-Armenian stage, but he concludes that considering both the lexicon and morphology, Greek is clearly the dialect most closely related to Armenian. Eric P. Hamp (1976, 91) supports the Graeco-Armenian thesis, anticipating even a time "when we should speak of Helleno-Armenian" (meaning the postulate of a Graeco-Armenian proto-language). Armenian shares the augment, and a negator derived from the set phrase Proto-Indo-European language *ne h₂oyu kʷid ("never anything" or "always nothing"), and the representation of word-initial laryngeals by prothetic vowels, and other phonological and morphological peculiarities with Greek. Nevertheless, as Fortson (2004) comments, "by the time we reach our earliest Armenian records in the 5th century AD, the evidence of any such early kinship has been reduced to a few tantalizing pieces".

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Armeens
አማርኛ: አርሜንኛ
العربية: لغة أرمنية
aragonés: Idioma armenio
asturianu: Idioma armeniu
Avañe'ẽ: Armeniañe'ẽ
azərbaycanca: Erməni dili
تۆرکجه: ارمنی دیلی
Bân-lâm-gú: Armenia-gí
башҡортса: Әрмән теле
беларуская: Армянская мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Армянская мова
български: Арменски език
brezhoneg: Armenieg
català: Armeni
Чӑвашла: Эрмен чĕлхи
čeština: Arménština
Cymraeg: Armeneg
davvisámegiella: Armeenalaš gielat
dolnoserbski: Armeńšćina
español: Idioma armenio
Esperanto: Armena lingvo
euskara: Armeniera
Fiji Hindi: Armenian bhasa
français: Arménien
Frysk: Armeensk
Gaeilge: An Airméinis
Gaelg: Armeainish
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Armenia-ngî
հայերեն: Հայերեն
hornjoserbsce: Armenšćina
hrvatski: Armenski jezik
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Armenia
interlingua: Lingua armenie
íslenska: Armenska
italiano: Lingua armena
עברית: ארמנית
Basa Jawa: Basa Armèni
Kapampangan: Amanung Armenyu
ქართული: სომხური ენა
kaszëbsczi: Armeńsczi jãzëk
қазақша: Армян тілі
Kinyarwanda: Icyarumeniya
Kiswahili: Kiarmenia
Кыргызча: Армян тили
latviešu: Armēņu valoda
lietuvių: Armėnų kalba
Limburgs: Armeens
Lingua Franca Nova: Haieren (lingua)
lumbaart: Lengua armena
македонски: Ерменски јазик
მარგალური: სომეხური ნინა
مصرى: ارمنلى
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Armenia
Baso Minangkabau: Bahaso Armenia
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Armenia-ngṳ̄
Nederlands: Armeens
नेपाल भाषा: आर्मेनियन भाषा
Nordfriisk: Armeensk spriak
Norfuk / Pitkern: Aarmanyan
norsk: Armensk
norsk nynorsk: Armensk
occitan: Armèni
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Arman tili
پنجابی: آرمینیائی
Piemontèis: Lenga armen-a
Plattdüütsch: Armeensche Sprake
português: Língua arménia
română: Limba armeană
Runa Simi: Arminya simi
саха тыла: Эрмээн тыла
sicilianu: Lingua armena
Simple English: Armenian language
slovenčina: Arménčina
slovenščina: Armenščina
српски / srpski: Јерменски језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Jermenski jezik
Basa Sunda: Basa Arménia
svenska: Armeniska
татарча/tatarça: Әрмән теле
Türkçe: Ermenice
Türkmençe: Ermeni dili
удмурт: Армян кыл
українська: Вірменська мова
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: ئەرمەن تىلى
vepsän kel’: Armenijan kel'
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Armenia
Winaray: Armenyo
ייִדיש: ארמעניש
Zazaki: Ermenki