|Era||developed into Middle Armenian|
|Writing system||Armenian alphabet|
|History of the Armenian language|
|See also: Armenian alphabet|
Classical Armenian (Armenian: գրաբար pronounced grabar or in Western Armenian as krapar, meaning "literary"; also Old Armenian or Liturgical Armenian) is the oldest attested form of the Armenian language. It was first written down at the beginning of the 5th century, and all Armenian literature from then through the 18th century is in the Grabar Armenian language. Many ancient Greek, Persian, Hebrew, Syriac, and Latin manuscripts survive only in their Armenian translation. Classical Armenian continues to be the liturgical language of the Armenian Apostolic Church and is often learned by Biblical, Intertestamental, and Patristic scholars dedicated to textual studies. Classical Armenian is also important for the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language, since it preserves many archaic features.
Classical Armenian has seven monophthong vowels:
- /a/ (ա), /i/ (ի), /ə/ or schwa (ը), /ɛ/ or open e (ե), /e/ or closed e (է), /o/ (ո), and /u/ (ու)(transcribed as a, i, ə, e, ē, o, and u respectively). The vowel transcribed u is spelled using the Armenian letters for ow (ու), but is not actually a diphthong.
There are also traditionally six diphthongs:
- ay (այ), aw (աւ, later օ), ea (եա), ew (եւ), iw (իւ), oy (ոյ).
In the following table there is listed the Classical Armenian consonantal system. The occlusives and affricates have in addition to the more common voiced and unvoiced series also a separate aspirated series (transcribed with a spiritus asper after the letter): p῾, t῾, c῾, č῾, k῾. For each phoneme there are three symbols in the table. The leftmost indicates the pronunciation in International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA); in the middle there is the corresponding symbol in the Armenian alphabet; and the rightmost is its transliteration in Latin alphabet (following ISO 9985).
|Nasals||m մ m||n ն n|
|Plosives||voiced||b բ b||d դ d||ɡ գ g|
|unvoiced||p պ p||t տ t||k կ k|
|aspirated||pʰ փ p’||tʰ թ t’||kʰ ք k’|
|Affricates||voiced||dz ձ j||dʒ ջ ǰ|
|unvoiced||ts ծ ç||tʃ ճ č̣|
|aspirated||tsʰ ց c’||tʃʰ չ č|
|Fricatives||voiced||v վ v||z զ z||ʒ ժ ž||ʁ ղ ġ|
|unvoiced||f ֆ f||s ս s||ʃ շ š||χ խ x||h հ h|
|Approximants||lateral||l լ l|
|central||ɹ ր r||j յ y|
|Trill||r ռ ṙ|
The letter f (or ֆ) was introduced in the Medieval Period to represent the foreign sound /f/, or the voiceless labiodental fricative, and was not originally a letter in the Armenian Alphabet.
Classical Armenian uses traditional Armenian orthography.
- Acharian, Hrachia. (1971-9) Etymological Root Dictionary of the Armenian Language. Vol. I – IV. Yerevan: Yerevan Sate University.
- Meillet, Antoine. (1903) Esquisse d’une grammaire comparée de l’arménien classique.
- Thomson, Robert W. (1989) An Introduction to Classical Armenian. Caravan Books. (ISBN 0-88206-072-4)
- Robert Godel. "An Introduction to the Study of Classical Armenian". Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1975
|For a list of words relating to Old Armenian language, see the Old Armenian language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Classical Armenian Online (The University of Texas at Austin)
- New Dictionary of the Armenian Language (Nor Bargirk Haekazian Lezvi, Նոր Բառգիրք Հայկազեան Լեզուի), Venice 1836-1837. The seminal dictionary of Classical Armenian. Includes Armenian to Latin, and Armenian to Greek.
- Pocket Dictionary of the Armenian Language (Arrdzern Barraran Haekazian Lezvi, Առձեռն Բառարան Հայկազնեան Լեզուի), Venice 1865 (second edition).
- Classical Armenian to English Dictionary. Venice 1879
- A grammar, Armenian and English by Paschal Aucher and Lord Byron. Venice 1873