|Time period||405 to present|
|Child systems||Caucasian Albanian|
|ISO 15924||Armn, 230|
The Armenian script (Armenian: Հայոց գրեր Hayots grer or Հայոց այբուբեն Hayots aybuben) is a graphically unique alphabetical writing system that has been used to write the Armenian language since the year 405 or 406. It was introduced by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader, and originally contained 36 letters. Armenian literature with pre-Mashtotsian letters was burned during the introduction of Christianity. Two more letters, օ and ֆ, were added in the Middle Ages, and Soviet reforms of the alphabet in 1922-1924 created two new letters (the letter Ւ ւ was discarded but reintroduced as part of a new letter ՈՒ ու (which was a diagraph before), also a new letter և (capital ԵՎ) was added (which was a ligature before ե+ւ)). Until the 19th century, Classical Armenian was the literary language; since then, the Armenian alphabet has been used to write the two official literary dialects of Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian. The Armenian word for "alphabet" is այբուբեն aybuben (Armenian pronunciation: [ɑjbubɛn]), named after the first two letters of the Armenian alphabet Ա այբ ayb and Բ բեն ben. Its directionality is horizontal left-to-right, like the Latin and Greek alphabets. Both Eastern and Western Armenian Alphabets include 39 letters and 36 sounds.
|Ա ա||այբ ayb||/ajb/||/ajpʰ/||/ɑ/||a||1|
|Բ բ||բեն ben||/bɛn/||/pʰɛn/||/b/||/pʰ/||b||2|
|Գ գ||գիմ gim||/ɡim/||/kʰim/||/ɡ/||/kʰ/||g||3|
|Դ դ||դա da||/dɑ/||/tʰɑ/||/d/||/tʰ/||d||4|
|Ե ե||եչ yeč||/jɛtʃʰ/||/ɛ/, word-initially /jɛ/||e||5|
|Զ զ||զա za||/zɑ/||/z/||z||6|
|Է է||է ē||/ɛː/||/ɛ/||/ɛː/||/ɛ/||ē||7|
|Ը ը||ըթ ët'||/ətʰ/||/ə/||ə||ë||8|
|Թ թ||թօ t'ò||թո t'o||/tʰo/||/tʰ/||tʿ||t’||9|
|Ժ ժ||ժէ žē||ժե že||/ʒɛː/||/ʒɛ/||/ʒ/||ž||10|
|Ի ի||ինի ini||/ini/||/i/||i||20|
|Լ լ||լիւն liwn||լյուն lyown||/lʏn/||/ljun/||/lʏn/||/l/||l||30|
|Խ խ||խէ xē||խե xe||/χɛː/||/χɛ/||/χ/||x||40|
|Ծ ծ||ծա ça||/tsɑ/||/dzɑ/||/ts/||/dz/||c||ç||50|
|Կ կ||կեն ken||/kɛn/||/ɡɛn/||/k/||/ɡ/||k||60|
|Հ հ||հօ hò||հո ho||/ho/||/h/||h||70|
|Ձ ձ||ձա tsa||/dzɑ/||/tsʰɑ/||/dz/||/tsʰ/||j||80|
|Ղ ղ||ղատ ġat||/ɫɑt/||/ʁɑt/||/ʁɑd/||/ɫ/||/ʁ/||ł||ġ||90|
|Ճ ճ||ճէ č̣ē||ճե č̣e||/tʃɛː/||/tʃɛ/||/dʒɛ/||/tʃ/||/dʒ/||č||č̣||100|
|Մ մ||մեն men||/mɛn/||/m/||m||200|
|Յ յ||յի yi||հի hi||/ji/||/hi/||/j/||/h/1, /j/||y||300|
|Ն ն||նու now||/nu/||/n/||n||400|
|Շ շ||շա ša||/ʃɑ/||/ʃ/||š||500|
|Ո ո||ո vo||/o/||/vo/||/o/, word-initially /vo/2||o||600|
|Չ չ||չա ča||/tʃʰɑ/||/tʃʰ/||čʿ||č||700|
|Պ պ||պէ pē||պե pe||/pɛː/||/pɛ/||/bɛ/||/p/||/b/||p||800|
|Ջ ջ||ջէ ǰē||ջե ǰe||/dʒɛː/||/dʒɛ/||/tʃʰɛ/||/dʒ/||/tʃʰ/||ǰ||900|
|Ռ ռ||ռա ṙa||/rɑ/||/ɾɑ/||/r/||/ɾ/||ṙ||1000|
|Ս ս||սէ sē||սե se||/sɛː/||/sɛ/||/s/||s||2000|
|Վ վ||վեւ vew||վեվ vev||/vɛv/||/v/||v||3000|
|Տ տ||տիւն tiwn||տյուն tyown||/tʏn/||/tjun/||/dʏn/||/t/||/d/||t||4000|
|Ր ր||րէ rē||րե re||/ɹɛː/||/ɾɛ/3||/ɹ/||/ɾ/3||r||5000|
|Ց ց||ցօ c'ò||ցո c'o||/tsʰo/||/tsʰ/||cʿ||c’||6000|
|ՈՒ Ու ու||N/A4||ու ow||/u/||/u/||u||ow||N/A|
|(Ւ ւ)5||հիւն hiwn||N/A5||/hʏn/||/w/||/v/5||w||7000|
|Փ փ||փիւր p'iwr||փյուր p'yowr||/pʰʏɹ/||/pʰjuɾ/||/pʰʏɾ/||/pʰ/||pʿ||p’||8000|
|Ք ք||քէ k'ē||քե k'e||/kʰɛː/||/kʰɛ/||/kʰ/||kʿ||k’||9000|
|և||և4 jew||N/A||/jev/||N/A||/ev/, word-initially /jev/||ew||N/A|
|Օ օ||օ ò||N/A||/o/||N/A||/o/||ō||ò||N/A|
|Ֆ ֆ||ֆէ fē||ֆե fe||N/A||/fɛ/||N/A||/f/||f||N/A|
- Listen to the pronunciation of the letters in Eastern Armenian (help·info) or in Western Armenian (help·info).
- 1.^ Only in traditional orthography word-initially and in compound words.
- 2.^ Except in ով /ov/ "who" and ովքեր /ovkʰer/ "those (people)".
- 3.^ Iranian Armenians (a subbranch of Eastern Armenians) pronounce this letter as [ɹ], like in Classical Armenian.
- 4.^ In traditional orthography ու and և are respectively considered a digraph and a ligature. In reformed orthography they are separate letters of the alphabet.
- 5.^ In reformed orthography, the letter ւ appears only as a component of ու. In traditional orthography, the letter usually represents /v/, except in the digraph իւ /ju/. The spelling reform in Soviet Armenia replaced իւ with the trigraph յու.
Ancient Armenian manuscripts used many ligatures to save space. Some of the commonly used ligatures are: ﬓ (մ+ն), ﬔ (մ+ե), ﬕ (մ+ի), ﬖ (վ+ն), ﬗ (մ+խ), և (ե+ւ), etc. After the invention of printing Armenian typefaces made a wide use of ligatures as well. In the new orthography the character և is no longer a typographical ligature, but a distinct letter with a place in the new alphabetic sequence, before "o".
Armenian punctuation is often placed above and slightly to the right of the vowel whose tone is modified, in order to reflect intonation. Armenian punctuation marks include:
- ( , ) (called storaket), a comma, placed as in English.
- ( ։ ) is verjaket or the ordinary full stop, placed at the end of the sentence.
- The question mark (hartzakan nshan) ( ՞ ), placed after the last vowel of the question word (usually the stressed vowel).
- The bowt' or short stop ( ՝ ) is placed in the same manner as the semicolon. It indicates a pause that is longer than that of a comma, but shorter than that of a colon.
- ( ․ ), mijaket, is used like an ordinary colon. It is used mainly to separate two closely related (but still independent) clauses, or when a long list of items follows.
- The shesht or emphasis mark ( ՛ ) is usually placed over the last vowel of the interjection word, and indicates stress.
- ( « » ) are used for čakertner or quotation marks.
- ( ՜ ) is used as the yerkaratzman nshan or exclamation mark.
- The Armenian abbreviation mark ( ՟ ) was placed on top of an abbreviated word to indicate that it was abbreviated, and was called pativ in Armenian. It is now obsolete.
- ( ֊ ), an Armenian hyphen (yent'amna) is used like an ordinary hyphen
- The apostrophe, apat'arj, is used only in Western Armenian. It indicates elision of a vowel, usually /ə/.
ISO 9985 (1996) transliterates the Armenian alphabet for modern Armenian as follows:
ա բ գ դ ե զ է ը թ ժ ի լ խ ծ կ հ ձ ղ ճ մ յ ն շ ո չ պ ջ ռ ս վ տ ր ց ւ փ ք օ ֆ ու եւ a b g d e z ē ë t’ ž i l x ç k h j ġ č̣ m y n š o č p ǰ ṙ s v t r c’ w p’ k’ ò f ow ew
In linguistic literature on Classical Armenian, slightly different systems are in use (in particular note that č has a different meaning). Hübschmann-Meillet (1913) have
ա բ գ դ ե զ է ը թ ժ ի լ խ ծ կ հ ձ ղ ճ մ յ ն շ ո չ պ ջ ռ ս վ տ ր ց ւ փ ք օ ֆ ու եւ a b g d e z ê ə t῾ ž i l x c k h j ł č m y n š o č῾ p ǰ r̄ s v t r c῾ w p῾ k῾ ô f u ev
History and development
|History of the Armenian language|
|See also: Armenian alphabet|
The Armenian alphabet was introduced by Saint Mesrop Mashtots and Isaac of Armenia (Sahak Partev) in AD 405. Medieval Armenian sources also claim that Mashtots invented the Georgian and Caucasian Albanian alphabets around the same time. Traditionally, the following phrase translated from Solomon's Book of Proverbs is said to be the first sentence to be written down in Armenian by Mashtots:
Ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ:
Čanačʿel zimastutʿiun yev zxrat, imanal zbans hančaroy.
To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding.—Book of Proverbs, 1:2.
Various scripts have been credited with being the prototype for the Armenian alphabet. Pahlavi was the priestly script in Armenia before the introduction of Christianity, and Syriac, along with Greek, was one of the alphabets of Christian scripture. Armenian shows some similarities to both. However, the general consensus is that Armenian is modeled after the Greek alphabet, supplemented with letters from a different source or sources for Armenian sounds not found in Greek. The evidence for this is the Greek order of the Armenian alphabet; the ow ligature for the vowel /u/, as in Greek; and the shapes of some letters which "seem derived from a variety of cursive Greek." It has been speculated by some scholars in African studies, following Dimitri Olderogge, that the Ge'ez script had an influence on certain letter shapes, but this has not been supported by any experts in Armenian studies.
There are four principal calligraphic hands of the script. Erkatagir, or "ironclad letters", seen as Mesrop's original, was used in manuscripts from the 5th to 13th century and is still preferred for epigraphic inscriptions. Bolorgir, or "cursive", was invented in the 10th century and became popular in the 13th. It has been the standard printed form since the 16th century. Notrgir, or "minuscule", was invented for speed, was extensively used in the Armenian diaspora in the 16th to 18th centuries, and later became popular in printing. Sheghagir, or "slanted writing", is now the most common form.
Certain shifts in the language were at first not reflected in the orthography. The digraph աւ (au) followed by a consonant used to be pronounced [au] (as in luau) in Classical Armenian, but due to a sound shift it came to be pronounced [o], and has since the 13th century been written օ (ō). For example, classical աւր (awr, [auɹ], "day") became pronounced [oɹ], and is now written օր (ōr). (One word has kept aw, now pronounced /av/: աղաւնի "pigeon", and there are a few proper names still having aw before a consonant: Տաւրոս Taurus, Փաւստոս Faustus, etc.) For this reason, today there are native Armenian words beginning with the letter օ (ō) although this letter was taken from the Greek alphabet to write foreign words beginning with o [o].
The number and order of the letters have changed over time. In the Middle Ages two new letters (օ [o], ֆ [f]) were introduced in order to better represent foreign sounds; this increased the number of letters from 36 to 38. From 1922 to 1924, Soviet Armenia adopted a reformed spelling of the Armenian language. The reform changed the digraph ու and the ligature և into two new letters, but it generally did not change the pronunciation of individual letters. The Armenian Diaspora (including all Western Armenians as well as Eastern Armenians in Iran) have rejected the reformed spellings, and continue to use the classical Mashtotsian spelling. They criticize some aspects of the reforms (see the footnotes of the chart) and allege political motives behind them.
Use for other languages
For about 250 years, from the early 18th century until around 1950, more than 2000 books in the Turkish language were printed using the Armenian script. Not only did Armenians read Armeno-Turkish, but so did the non-Armenian (including the Ottoman Turkish) elite. The Armenian script was also used alongside the Arabic script on official documents of the Ottoman Empire written in Ottoman Turkish. For instance, the first novel to be written in Turkish in the Ottoman Empire was Vartan Pasha's 1851 Akabi Hikayesi, written in the Armenian script. Also, when the Armenian Duzoglu family managed the Ottoman mint during the reign of Abdülmecid I, they kept records in Armenian script, but in the Turkish language. From the end of the 19th-century, the Armenian alphabet was also used for books written in the Kurdish language in the Ottoman Empire.
The Armenian alphabet was added to the Unicode Standard in version 1.0, in October 1991. It is assigned the range U+0530–058F. Five Armenian ligatures are encoded in the "Alphabetic presentation forms" block (code point range U+FB13–FB17).
On 15 June 2011, the Unicode Technical Committee (UTC) accepted the Armenian dram sign for inclusion in the future versions of the Unicode Standard and assigned a code for the sign - U+058F (֏). In 2012 the sign was finally adopted in the Armenian block of ISO and Unicode international standards.
Unicode.org chart (PDF)
|Alphabetic Presentation Forms (partial)
Unicode.org chart (PDF)
ArmSCII-8 is the 8-bit encoding of the Armenian Standard Code for Information Interchange, developed between 1991 and 1999. It uses part of the upper 128 codes in an 8-bit encoding to represent the Armenian alphabet, leaving the lower 128 codes for another alphabetic script (often Latin or Cyrillic). This allows a single font to represent two alphabetic scripts. For example, the Latin characters could occupy part of the first 128 codes (e.g. ASCII) while the Armenian characters would occupy part of the upper 128 codes.
ArmSCII-8 was popular on the Windows 95 and Windows 98 operating systems. With the development of the more advanced Unicode standard and its availability on the Windows 2000-XP-2003-Vista-7-8, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems, the ArmSCII-8 encoding has been rendered obsolete.
Arasan-compatible fonts are based on the encoding of the original Arasan font by Hrant Papazian (an encoding in use since 1986), which simply replaces the Latin characters (amongst others) of the ASCII encoding with Armenian ones. For example, the ASCII code for the Latin character 〈A〉 (65) represents the Armenian character 〈Ա〉.
An advantage of Arasan-compatible fonts over ArmSCII-8 fonts is that writing does not require the installation of a separate program; once the font is installed and selected for use, one can use their QWERTY keyboard to type in Armenian. A disadvantage over ArmSCII-8 is that an Arasan-compatible font can only be used for one alphabetic script; therefore, the user must change the Font family when creating a multi-script document (e.g. both Armenian and English). Another disadvantage is that Arasan-compatible fonts only come in one native keyboard layout: Western Armenian phonetic. However it is possible to have alternative keyboard layouts via the use of keyboard driver utilities.
While Arasan-compatible fonts were popular among many users on Windows 95 and 98, it has been rendered obsolete by the Unicode standard. However, a few websites continue to use it.
The Arasan font's legacy is the phonetic Armenian keyboard layouts that ship with Windows 2000-XP-2003, which are almost identical to the Arasan keyboard layout.
The standard Eastern and Western Armenian keyboards are based on the layout of the font Arasan. These keyboard layouts are mostly phonetic, and allow direct access to every character in the alphabet. Because there are more characters in the Armenian alphabet (39) than in Latin (26), some Armenian characters appear on non-alphabetic keys on a conventional QWERTY keyboard (for example, շ maps to ,).
- Armenian numerals
- Traditional Armenian orthography
- Reformed Armenian orthography
- Armenian braille
- Armenian calendar
- Romanization of Armenian (includes ISO 9985)
- ArmSCII (single-byte encodings of the Armenian alphabet, also discusses ISO 10585 and the mapping to Unicode)
- Avedis Sanjian, "The Armenian Alphabet". In Daniels & Bright, The Word's Writing Systems, 1996:356–357
- True History and the Religion of India: A Concise Encyclopedia of Authentic Hinduism, Prakashanand Saraswali, Motilal Banarsidass (2002), ISBN 978-8120817890
- Simon Ager (2010). "Armenian alphabet". Omniglot: writing systems & languages of the world. Archived from the original on 2 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
- Melkonian, Zareh (1990). Գործնական Քերականութիւն — Արդի Հայերէն Լեզուի (Միջին եւ Բարձրագոյն Դասընթացք) (in Armenian) (Fourth ed.). Los Angeles. p. 6.
- Richard Pankhurst. 1998. The Ethiopians: A History. p25
- (Russian) Qypchaq languages. Unesco.kz
- Charles Dowsett, E. Peters. Sayat'-Nova. An 18th-century Troubadour: a Biographical and Literary Study. Peeters Publishers, 1997 ISBN 90-6831-795-4; p. xv
- (Russian) Курдский язык (Kurdish language), Кругосвет (Krugosvet)
- 36 Immortals – film about the Armenian alphabet.
- Armenotype - site about Armenian typeface design and typography.
- Armenian Apostolic (Orthodox) Church Library Online (in English, Armenian, and Russian)
Information on Armenian character set encoding.
Armenian Phonetic Keyboard Layout
- Latin-Armenian Transliteration Converts Latin letters into Armenian and vice versa. Supports multiple transliteration tables and spell checking.
- Transliteration schemes for the Armenian alphabet (transliteration.eki.ee)
Unicode Support for Armenian
- ArmUni.exe Freeware ArmSCII to Unicode converter (Windows only).
- Unicode Character Code Chart for Armenian
Armenian Orthography converters
- Nayiri.com (integrated orthography converter: reformed to traditional)