|Native to||(see Armenians per country)|
|unknown (undated figure of 880,000)|
|Linguasphere||57-AAA-aca to 57-AAA-act|
Map of the Armenian dialects in early 20th century: -gë dialects are in yellow.
See Historical dialects of Armenian for more.
|History of the Armenian language|
Romanization of Armenian
Western Armenian (Armenian: արեւմտահայերէն, formerly referred to as թրքահայերէն, "Turkish-Armenian") is one of the two standardized forms of modern Armenian, the other being Eastern Armenian. The two standard forms form a pluricentric language. For historical reasons explained below, generally speaking, Western Armenian is used outside the Republic of Armenia, while Eastern Armenian is used both inside and outside of it. While the Republic of Armenia does not legally distinguish between the two forms in declaring "Armenian" to be its official language, its de facto official language is Eastern Armenian, as all spheres of life in the country (including government, education, and the media) use that form almost exclusively.
Western Armenian was developed and cultivated by the Armenians indigenous to Anatolia (today in Turkey). During the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century, and the expulsion of almost all the Armenians from Anatolia, Western Armenian was deprived of the land on which it was indigenously spoken. For the last 100 years, Western Armenian has been relegated to a language spoken only in diaspora—namely, by the Armenians who forcibly migrated to various countries in the Middle East, Europe, North America, South America, and Oceania. As a diasporic language, and as a language that is not an official language of any state, Western Armenian faces extinction as its native speakers lose fluency in Western Armenian amid pressures to assimilate into their host countries. Recent estimates place the number of fluent speakers of Western Armenian at less than one million.
- 1 Distinguishing the two forms of Armenian
- 2 Speakers
- 3 Phonology
- 4 Orthography
- 5 Morphology
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 External links
Distinguishing the two forms of Armenian
Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian are easily mutually intelligible. They share the same ISO 639-1 code hy. The ISO 639-3 code for both is hye. The Armenian Wikipedia is coded hy and is largely Eastern Armenian. Some commercial translation agencies advise that translation from English should normally be into Eastern Armenian.
Western Armenian is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian diaspora, mainly in North America and South America, Europe, Australia, and most of the Middle East except for Iran. It is spoken by only a small percentage of Armenians in Turkey as a first language, with 18 percent among the community in general and 8 percent among younger people. Western Armenian was at one point the dominant Armenian dialect. After the genocide, Western Armenia was wiped clean of Western Armenians. Those who fled to Eastern Armenia, today speak Eastern Armenian.
On 21 February 2009 International Mother Language Day has been marked with the publication of a new edition of the "Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger" by UNESCO where the Western Armenian language in Turkey is defined as a definitely endangered language.
Western Armenian has eight monophthong vowel sounds.
|Close||i ⟨ի⟩||ʏ ⟨իւ⟩||u ⟨ու⟩|
|Mid||ɛ ⟨է, ե⟩ ||œ ⟨էօ⟩||ə ⟨ը⟩||o ⟨ո, օ⟩|
|IPA||Example (IPA)||Example (Written)||Meaning||Notes|
|ɑ||[ɑɾɛv]||արեւ||"sun"||Similar to the English vowel in the word car.|
|ɛ||[ɛtʃ]||էջ||"page"||Similar to the English vowel in the word bed.|
|i||[im]||իմ||"my"||Similar to the English vowel in the word eat.|
|o||[tʃoɾ]||չոր||"dry"||Similar to the English vowel in bore.|
|u||[uɾ]||ուր||"where"||Similar to the English vowel in the word shoot.|
|ə||[əsɛl]||ըսել||"to say"||Similar to the English vowel in the word the.|
|ʏ||[hʏɾ]||հիւր||"guest"||Similar to the German vowel in the word schützen.|
|œ||[œʒɛni]||Էօժենի||a female name||This vowel sound is rare in Armenian, and is used in foreign words.|
The Western Armenian language has nine diphthong sounds.
|IPA||Example (IPA)||Example (Written)||Meaning||Notes|
|jɑ||sɛnjɑɡ||սենեակ||"room"||Similar to English yard.|
|jɛ||jɛɾɑz||երազ||"dream"||Similar to English yell.|
|ji||mɑjis||Մայիս||"May"||Similar to English year.|
|jo||jotə||եօթը||"seven"||Similar to English your.|
|ju||ɡɑjun||կայուն||"firm"||Similar to English you.|
|aj||majɾ||մայր||"mother"||Similar to English my.|
|ej||tej||թէյ||"tea"||Similar to English day.|
|iə||iənɑl||իյնալ||"to fall"||Similar to English near.|
|uj||kujr||քոյր||"sister"||Similar to French grenouille (frog)|
This is the Western Armenian Consonantal System using letters from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), followed by the corresponding Armenian letter in brackets.
|Nasal||m ⟨մ⟩||n ⟨ն⟩|
|Plosive||voiceless||pʰ ⟨բ, փ⟩||tʰ ⟨դ, թ⟩||kʰ ⟨գ, ք⟩|
|voiced||b ⟨պ⟩||d ⟨տ⟩||ɡ ⟨կ⟩|
|Affricate||voiceless||tsʰ ⟨ձ, ց⟩||tʃʰ ⟨չ, ջ⟩|
|voiced||dz ⟨ծ⟩||dʒ ⟨ճ⟩|
|Fricative||voiceless||f ⟨ֆ⟩||s ⟨ս⟩||ʃ ⟨շ⟩||χ ⟨խ⟩||h ⟨հ, յ⟩|
|voiced||v ⟨վ, ւ, ու, ո⟩||z ⟨զ⟩||ʒ ⟨ժ⟩||ʁ ⟨ղ⟩|
|Approximant||l ⟨լ⟩||j ⟨յ, ե, ի, է⟩|
|Flap||ɾ ⟨ռ, ր⟩ |
Differences in phonology from Classical Armenian
First, while Classical Armenian has a three-way distinction of stops and affricates: one voiced and two voiceless — a plain version and an aspirated one — Western Armenian has kept only a two-way distinction — one voiced and one aspirated. For example, Classical has three bilabial stops: /b/ ⟨բ⟩, /p/ ⟨պ⟩, and /pʰ/ ⟨փ⟩; Western Armenian, two bilabial stops: /b/ ⟨պ⟩ and /pʰ/ ⟨բ⟩/⟨փ⟩.
Second, Western Armenian has shifted the Classical Armenian voiced stops and voiced affricates into aspirated stops and aspirated affricates, and replaced the plain stops and plain affricates with voiced ones.
Specifically, the following are the changes from Classical Armenian to Western Armenian:
- Bilabial stops:
- merging of Classical Armenian /b/ ⟨բ⟩ and /pʰ/ ⟨փ⟩ as /pʰ/
- voicing of Classical /p/ ⟨պ⟩ to /b/
- Alveolar stops:
- merging of Classical Armenian /d/ ⟨դ⟩ and /tʰ/ ⟨թ⟩ as /tʰ/
- voicing of Classical /t/ ⟨տ⟩ to /d/
- Velar stops:
- merging of Classical Armenian /ɡ/ ⟨գ⟩ and /kʰ/ ⟨ք⟩ as /kʰ/
- voicing of Classical /k/ ⟨կ⟩ to /ɡ/
- Alveolar affricates:
- merging of Classical Armenian /dz/ ⟨ձ⟩ and /tsʰ/ ⟨ց⟩ as /tsʰ/
- voicing of Classical /ts/ ⟨ծ⟩ to /dz/
- Post-alveolar affricates:
- merging of Classical Armenian /dʒ/ ⟨ջ⟩ and /tʃʰ/ ⟨չ⟩ as /tʃʰ/
- voicing of Classical /tʃ/ ⟨ճ⟩ to /dʒ/
As a result, a word like [dʒuɹ] 'water' (spelled ⟨ջուր⟩ in Classical Armenian) is cognate with Western Armenian [tʃʰuɹ] (also spelled ⟨ջուր⟩). However, [tʰoɹ] 'grandson' and [kʰaɹ] 'stone' are pronounced similarly in Classical and Western Armenian.
Western Armenian uses traditional Armenian orthography, also known as classical orthography or Mashdotsian orthography. Reformed Armenian orthography (introduced in Soviet Armenia and still used by most Eastern Armenian speakers from the Republic of Armenia) has not been adopted in Western Armenian.
Western Armenian nouns have six cases: Nominative (subject), Accusative (direct object), Genitive (possession), Dative (indirect object), Ablative (origin) and Instrumental (means). Of the six cases, the nominative and accusative are the same, except for personal pronouns, and the genitive and dative are the same, meaning that nouns have four distinct forms for case. Nouns in Armenian also decline for number (singular and plural), but do not decline for gender (i.e. masculine or feminine).
Declension in Armenian is based on how the genitive is formed. There are several declensions, but one is dominant (genitive in i), while half a dozen other forms are in gradual decline, and are being replaced by the i, which has virtually attained the status of a regular form:
|դաշտ / tashd (field)||կով / gov (cow)|
|Nom-Acc (Ուղղական-Հայցական)||դաշտ / tashd||դաշտեր / tashder||կով / gov||կովեր / gover|
|Gen-Dat (Սեռական-Տրական)||դաշտի / tashdi||դաշտերու / tashderu||կովու / govu||կովերու / goveru|
|Abl (Բացառական)||դաշտէ / tashde||դաշտերէ / tashdere||կովէ / gove||կովերէ / govere|
|Instr (Գործիական)||դաշտով / tashdov||դաշտերով / tashderov||կովով / govov||կովերով / goverov|
|գարուն / karun (Spring)||օր / or (day)||Քոյր / kuyr (sister)|
|հայր / hayr (father)||Աստուած / Asdvadz (God)|
Like English and some other languages, Armenian has definite and indefinite articles. The indefinite article in Western Armenian is /mə/, which follows the noun:
mart mə ('a man', Nom.sg), martu mə ('of a man', Gen.sg)
The definite article is a suffix attached to the noun, and is one of two forms, either -ə or -n, depending on whether the final sound is a vowel or a consonant, and whether a preceding word begins with a vowel or consonant:
martə ('the man', Nom.sg)
karin ('the barley' Nom.sg)
Sa martn e ('This is the man')
Sa karin e ('This is the barley')
The indefinite article becomes mən under the same circumstance as -ə becomes -n:
mart mə ('a man', Nom.sg)
Sa mart mən e ('This is a man')
Adjectives in Armenian do not decline for case or number, and precede the noun:
agheg martə ('the good man', Nom.sg)
agheg martun ('to the good man', Gen.sg)
Verbs in Armenian are based on two basic series of forms, a "present" form and a "imperfect" form. From this, all other tenses and moods are formed with various particles and constructions. There is a third form, the preterite, which in Armenian is tense in its own right, and takes no other particles or constructions. (See also Armenian verbs for more detailed information.)
The "present" tense in Western Armenian is based on three conjugations (a, e, i):
The present tense (as we know it in English) is made by adding the particle gə before the "present" form, except yem (I am), unim (I have), kidem (I know) and gərnam (I can), while the future is made by adding bidi:
Yes kirk'ə gə gartam (I am reading the book or I read the book, Pres)
Yes kirk'ə bidi gartam (I will read the book, Fut). For the exceptions: bidi əllam, unenam, kidnam, garenam (I shall be, have, know, be able). In vernacular language, the particle "gor" is added after the verb to indicate present progressive tense, apparently borrowed from Turkish -yor-: cf. seviyorum: gə sirem gor (I love). The distinction is not made in literary Armenian.
" Yes kirk'ə gə gartam gor (I am reading the book) 
The verb without any particles constitutes the subjunctive mood:
Udem (if I eat, should I eat, that I eat, I wish I eat)
Udes (if you eat, etc.)
Udê (if it eats)
Udenk' (if we eat)
Udêk' (if you all eat)
Uden (if they eat)
- Armenian verbs
- Traditional Armenian orthography
- Eastern Armenian
- Language families and languages
- IETF language tag: hy-arevmda
- Armenian reference at Ethnologue (14th ed., 2000)
- Melkonian, Zareh (1990). Գործնական Քերականութիւն - Արդի Հայերէն Լեզուի (Միջին եւ Բարձրագոյն Դասընթացք) (in Armenian) (Fourth ed.). Los Angeles. p. 137.
- "If you need a translation into Armenian this information will help you better understand what you can expect."
- “Review of Istanbul’s Armenian community history”
- UNESCO Culture Sector, UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, 2009
- UNESCO: 15 Languages Endangered in Turkey, by T. Korkut, 2009
- The choice of Armenian symbol depends on the vowel's context in the word. See the Orthography section below for details.
- These letters represent the same consonant due to a sound shift in Western Armenian from Classical Armenian. See the Differences in Phonology from Classical and Eastern Armenian section below for details.
- This letter has undergone a sound shift from Classical Armenian to Western Armenian. See the Differences in Phonology from Classical and Eastern Armenian section below for details.
- Although Western Armenians are taught to pronounce two different rhotics (written ⟨ր⟩ and ⟨ռ⟩), the two have merged in many dialects into a flap.
- In vernacular language, the particle "gor" is added after the verb to indicate present progressive tense. The distinction is not made in literary Armenian.
- Melkonian, Zareh (1990). Գործնական Քերականութիւն - Արդի Հայերէն Լեզուի (Միջին եւ Բարձրագոյն Դասընթացք) [Practical Grammar - For Modern Armenian (Intermediate and Advanced Course)] (in Armenian) (Fourth ed.). Los Angeles.
- Sakayan, Dora (2000). Modern Western Armenian For the English-speaking World: A Contrastive Approach. Montreal: Arod Books. ISBN 0-9699879-2-7.
- Samuelian, Thomas J. (1989). A Course in Modern Western Armenian: Dictionary and Linguistic Notes. New York City, New York: Armenian National Education Committee. ISBN 0-9617933-2-5.
- Arak29 Eastern Armenian
- Arak29 Western Armenian
- Arak29 A Course in Modern Western Armenia
- Arak29 On-Line Dictionaries
- Arak29 Etymology
- Videos of people speaking Armenian
Western Armenian Online Dictionaries
- Nayiri.com (Library of Armenian dictionaries):
- Բառգիրք հայերէն լեզուի by Rev. Antranig Granian (about 18,000 terms; published in 1998 in Beirut). Great dictionary for students.
- ՀԱՅՈՑ ԼԵԶՈՒԻ ՆՈՐ ԲԱՌԱՐԱՆ published in two volumes in Beirut in 1992 (about 56,000 headwords). Arguably the best Western Armenian dictionary currently available.
- ՀԱՅԵՐԷՆ ԲԱՑԱՏՐԱԿԱՆ ԲԱՌԱՐԱՆ by Stepan Malkhasiants (about 130,000 entries). One of the definitive Armenian dictionaries. (Definitions are in Eastern Armenian, but include Western Armenian meanings of headwords.)
- ՀԱՅԵՐԷՆ ԱՐՄԱՏԱԿԱՆ ԲԱՌԱՐԱՆ by Hrachia Acharian (5,062 word roots). The definitive study of the history and origins of word roots in Armenian. Also includes explanations of each word root as it is used today. (Explanations are in Eastern Armenian, but root words span the entire Armenian language, including Western Armenian.)
- Armenian-English dictionary (about 70,000 entries).
- English-Armenian dictionary (about 96,000 entries).
- Armenian-French dictionary (about 18,000 entries).
- French-Armenian dictionary (about 20,000 entries).