Armenian language

What Language is Spoken in Armenia?

Anyone who has even once heard about Armenia and thought about visiting this country, has wondered “What language is spoken in Armenia”. So in this article we will give you an answer to this question and provide you with an interesting information about Armenian language and a way more.

The language that is spoken in Armenia is Armenian or Hayeren, also spelled Haieren. It is a language that forms a separate branch of the Indo-European language family. The ancient Armenian scripts that were used for writing before the invention of Armenian alphabet were called “mehenagir”. The examples of such kind of a script weren’t found anywhere else in the world. It was composed of 300 signs and people wrote them from right to left and upside down.

Several distinct varieties of the Armenian language can be distinguished: Old Armenian (Grabar), Middle Armenian (Mijin hayeren), and Modern Armenian, or Ashkharabar. Modern Armenian embraces two written varieties—Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian. Besides this language varieties there are also many dialects spoken in the territory of Armenia. About 50 dialects were known before the 20th century.

The modern Armenian language is divided into two standardized forms: Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian, which emerged in the 19th century.

Armenian language

Armenian Alphabet / Photo from armeniancaligraphy.com

In the beginning of the 21st century the Armenian language was spoken nearly by 6.7 million individuals. The majority (about 3.4 million) live in Armenia, and the remainders are scattered over different countries.

Though Armenian is the main language that is spoken in Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh most of the people in Armenia can communicate either in Russian or in English. Russian is not only spoken as a second language in Armenia, but it also serves as the mother tongue of the Russian minority.

About 40% of the population of Armenia have basic knowledge of English. But only 3.6% of them use it as a second language.

But as there are many ethnic minorities in Armenia, so the minority languages are also very widely spread – such as Yazidi, Ukranian, Greek, Assyrian.

So now that we know the answer to the question “What language is spoken in Armenia?”, let’s talk about Armenian alphabet and its characteristics.

Armenian Alphabet

The invention of Armenian alphabet dates back to 405 AD. At that time the monk St. Mesrop Mashtots created Armenian alphabet consisting of 36 signs. Though Armenians used to talk in their native language, they didn’t have an Armenian script to write or read in, so they had to use other languages for that. The creation of Armenian alphabet was a historical event for Armenian culture and Armenians, as the demand of  having their own script was high at that period of time.

This new alphabet was first used to translate the Herbew Bible and the Christian New Testament.

If you have a look at Armenian alphabet you’ll definitely notice that it’s not like other alphabets. The reason is that Mesrop Mashtots delicately worked on the creation of the alphabet and has created Armenian alphabet as a completely unique masterpiece.

There is also some interesting facts about Armenian alphabet, for example, if we put an Armenian alphabet into equilateral triangle we will see the following image: the letter of each angle stands for God, Christ and Holy Spirit in Armenian language.

Another thing is that each Armenian letter has a corresponding number. So, very often you can see Armenian letters instead of numbers in ancient calculations. The most capturing things are Armenian calendars made of Armenian letters.

Armenian Letter art / Calligraphy

Armenian letter art constitutes the centuries old art of Armenian letters. Armenian letter art and its cultural expressions have been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2019. Armenian letter art has inroaded in almost every layer of the society, particularly folk art. Armenians have a long and exceptionally rich writing traditions. The proof of it is Armenian calligraphy, which has started to develop widely nowadays.

Famous Armenian calligrapher Ruben Malayan says that sometimes in ancient handwriting we meet manuscripts and confuse it with calligraphy. But we should distinguish manuscripts from calligraphy. Manual scripting is used to decorate already written letters giving them the shapes of birds, animals or sometimes human beings, while calligraphy is an art of working with letters. The root of calligraphy is handwriting.

Calligraphy is a minimalist art, but at the same time it is the peak of perfectionism. From the first sight it’s very simple – black lines painted on the white sheet. But it’s a really difficult art, as for example music. If you have written anything you can’t correct it anymore. Every little dot should be perfect. So for visualizing what is Armenian calligraphy you can watch Ruben Malayan’s beautiful video about Armenian calligraphy combined with the song of Komitas.

Though Armenia is a very small country and you can barely notice it on the map, it has its own and unique language and handwriting traditions. For Armenians language is not just a language that they speak everyday. It is a way of thinking and some kind of a lifestyle for the people of Armenia.  So now you are acquainted with Armenian language, its beautiful handwriting art and if someone will ask you the question of “What language is spoken in Armenia” you can just share your recent knowledge about the Armenian language with others.

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