Yerevan dialect

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The spread of the Yerevan dialect according to Hrachia Adjarian's Classification des dialectes arméniens, 1909

The Yerevan dialect (Armenian: Երևանի բարբառ Yerevani barbař) is an Eastern Armenian dialect spoken in and around Yerevan. Classical Armenian (Grabar) words compose significant part of the Yerevan dialect vocabulary.[1] Throughout the history, the dialect was influenced by several languages, especially Russian and Persian and loan words have significant presence in it today. It is the most widespread Armenian dialect today.[2]

Historically, it was known as Araratian dialect (Արարատյան բարբառ (Araratyan barbar)), referring to the Ararat plain where it is mainly spoken. In the 19th century efforts were made to create a modern literary Armenian language. In 1841, the prominent Armenian writer Khachatur Abovian completed his Wounds of Armenia novel that was written in Yerevan dialect. The importance of its dialect grew in 1918, when Yerevan became the capital of the First Republic of Armenia. During the Soviet period (1920–1991), the Eastern Armenian language and the Yerevan dialect were heavily influenced by the predominant Russian language and by the late 1980s the Russification was considered harmful to the future of Armenian.[3]

Today, the Yerevan dialect, which is the basis of colloquial Armenian[4][5] is spoken by at least 1 million people who live in Yerevan. In addition, virtually all dialectics in Armenia, Republic of Artsakh and Georgia's Samtskhe-Javakheti region are influenced by the Yerevan dialect through the educational system.[3] Most of the recent Armenian immigrants, who have migrated to foreign countries since the late 1980s, speak the Yerevan dialect.[6]


Khachatur Abovian is the founder of the modern Eastern Armenian literary language

The first known written work in the Yerevan dialect dates back to the 13th century by Vardan Bardzaberdtsi: "Ամենու սիրտն հետ քեզ լաւ են, եւ քեզ աղօթք են առնում." The 17th century Armenian merchant from Nakhichevan, Zak'aria Aguletsi (c. 1630–1691),[7] who kept a diary, also wrote in Yerevan dialect, though with some influence of his local dialects. One of the first written sources of the Araratian dialect are Արհեստ համարողության (Arhest hamaroghutyan, Art of Arithmetic), published in Marseille in 1675 and Պարզաբանություն (Parzabanut'yun, Simplification) published in Venice in 1687.[8]

The historical dialect spoken in Yerevan was usually referred to as Araratian, because Yerevan is located in the Ararat plain. The Araratian dialect was widespread, with rich vocabulary and pronunciation similar to the Classical Armenian. These factors gave the dialect of the future Armenian capital a special status. It was used as a basis for the literary Eastern Armenian language. According to Prof. Gevorg Jahukyan, the Araratian dialect had received a dominant position due to geographic, historical, linguistic reasons and was used for inter-dialectal communication.[9]

Khachatur Abovian who is considered the founder of the modern Eastern Armenian literary language, wrote in Araratian dialect as he was born in Kanaker, a village near Yerevan then and a district of Yerevan now.[10] Abovian's famous 1841 novel Wounds of Armenia is the first recognized work in modern Eastern Armenian.[11] The Araratian dialect was later contributed by Mesrop Taghiadian (1803–1858),[12] and alumni of Lazaryan School, Nersisyan School, and several Shushi schools, including Gevorg Akhverdian (1818-1861),[13] Kerovbe (1833–1889) and Raphael Patkanian (1830–1892),[14] but it is widely acknowledged that the Araratian dialect was "made perfect" by Khachatur Abovian.[8]

Area spoken[edit]

According to prominent Armenian linguist Hrachia Adjarian's Classification des dialectes arméniens, in early 20th century the Yerevan dialect was spoken chiefly in the towns of Yerevan, Nork, Kanaker, Ejmiatsin, Oshakan and Ashtarak.[15] Adjarian points out the fact that the Yerevan dialect was also spoken in the Havlabar district of Tiflis and in the Iranian city of Tabriz.[16]

According to Prof. Laribyan, the dialect was also spoken in the Vayots Dzor, Nor Bayazet, Lori and Spitak districts and formerly in Surmali and Kaghzvan.[17] Prof. Haykanush Mesropyan of the Armenian State Institute of Linguistics claims that Lori is the largest region where the Araratian dialect is spoken.[8] The Araratian dialect was not and is not homogeneous but has sub-dialects that can be distinguished locally within the dialect area.[8] The Yerevan sub-dialect of the Araratian dialect was chiefly spoken in the neighborhoods and villages of Kanaker, Arinj, Jrvezh, Nork and Kond.[8] Yerevan's Nork district, which was a separate village until the 1920s, was considered the cradle of the Yerevan dialect.[8]

The Araratian dialect has been relatively stable throughout the history, although the dialect had some influence in Lori (from Karabakh and Tiflis) and Gavar (from Mush).[18] Bayazet variant usually considered a sub-dialect, although some linguists argued it was a distinct dialect.[19]


Today, the Yerevan dialect is the main component foundation of standard spoken Eastern Armenian.[20] It is now more of a sociolect as it has lost the previous geographic limits and has been "fixed" by the standard Eastern Armenian. The Yerevan dialect now has some differences from the original Araratian dialect;[21] in particular, it has been "cleaned" from other dialectal and foreign (Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Russian) loan words.[8]

The almost 160-year Russian and Soviet rule of Eastern Armenia (1828–1917, 1920–1991) had left its influence on the colloquial Armenian language. In everyday life, many Russian, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and other loan words are used. During the Soviet era, the Moscow-based authorities encouraged the Soviet Armenian elite to "free Armenian from Arabic, Turkish and Persian influences." By the late Soviet period in Armenia, Russian was "widespread and derivatives were formed from Russian using native affixes", meanwhile Russian also served as a medium through which European terms entered into Armenian.[22]

According to Razmik Markossian, in 1989, the Araratian dialect was spoken in 162 villages and 5 cities with the total of 275,000 speakers outside of Yerevan.[1]

There is a tendency of increased significance of the Yerevan dialect within Armenia. Generally, Armenian television channels use the Yerevan dialect instead of the standard Armenian, especially in their entertaining shows, which causes them to be criticized by linguists.[23]

In Yerevan, the local dialect is seen as superior compared to provincial dialects. Even if the provincial dialect words are much closer to standard Eastern Armenian, they are seen as "village language".[23]

Dialectal features[edit]

The chart below presents the pronunciation of the words "this way", "that way" and "other way" in standard Eastern Armenian, Yerevan dialect and Karin dialect as spoken in Armenia's second largest city Gyumri.[23]

Dialect this way that way other way
Standard Eastern Armenian այսպես ayspes այդպես aydpes այնպես aynpes
Yerevan dialect ըսենց əsents ըտենց ətents ընենց ənents
Karin dialect (Gyumri) ըսպես əspes ըդպես ədpes ընպես ənpes

Conversion 'e' to 'a', 'che' to 'chi'[edit]


The Yerevan dialect pronunciation is similar to that of Classical Armenian.[24] It has three degrees of consonants:[25]

բ [b] պ [p] փ [pʰ]
դ [d] տ [t] թ [tʰ]
գ [ɡ] կ [k] ք [kʰ]
ձ [dz] ծ [ts] ց [tsʰ]
ջ [dʒ] ճ [tʃ] չ [tʃʰ]

Conversion of simultaneous converb ending from -is to -uts[edit]

Armenian grammar has a standard simultaneous converb (համակատար դերբայ) form for every verb, the formation of which is realised by adding -is to the end of an infinitive – for example, in standard Armenian, Parel(Պարել) becomes Parelis (Պարելիս). However, in the Yerevan dialect this form is very commonly altered to one which is identical (but not semantically) to the ablative form of the nominalized infinitive. Thus, "Don't eat whilst dancing" "Mi ker parelis" «Մի՜ կեր պարելիս» becomes "Mi ker pareluts'" «Մի՜ կեր պարելուց».


Foreign influence[edit]


Since 1828, when Yerevan was captured by the Russian forces, Eastern Armenian have seen great influx of Russian words into colloquial Armenian.[26] Today, "some Armenian words are never heard in spoken Armenian, the Russian equivalent being used instead."[27] Russian words are often pronounced as they are in Russian, but with stress on the last syllable as in Armenian.[28]

Some of the most common ones are listed below.

Yerevan Fortress siege in 1827 by the Russian forces marked the transition of Persian rule to Russian rule of Yerevan
  • chay (чай) for 'tea'
  • plan (план) for 'marijuana'
  • stalovi (столовая) for 'dining room'
  • vabshe (вообще, vo-obshche) for 'generally'
  • vilka (вилка) for 'fork', used along with Armenian patarak'agh (պատառաքաղ) and Persian čangāl (چنگال)

For centuries, the current territory of the Republic of Armenia was part of the Persian empire. From the 18th century to 1828, the Erivan khanate occupied the city of Yerevan and its surrounding areas. As a result of long-time Persian control, today Persian words still have considerable presence in both literary and colloquial languages.

  • բարակ barak (narrow, thin) from باریک barik'
  • խիյար khiyar (cucumber) from خیار khiar
  • շիշ šiš (bottle) from شیشه šišeh (glass)
  • չաղ čağ (fat) from چاق čağ
  • քյաչալ k'yačal (bald) from کچل k'ačal
  • հայաթ hayat' (yard) from حیاط hayat'
  • դորդջար dordjar (Four-wheel drive) from dhord jar (four-two in backgammon)[31]
  • քուչա k'ucha (yard) from كوچه kucheh (street)

Other languages also have some influence on the spoken Armenian. Below are some foreign words commonly used in Yerevan.

Word Meaning Original word Meaning Language
արաղ aragh vodka عرق ʿáraq sweat, perspiration Arabic the word 'vodka' is also frequently used
բոզ boz whore, slut ბოზი bozi whore Georgian see Armenian profanity
զիբիլ zibil trash, rubbish زبل zibl dung, manure, waste Arabic also used in Persian and Azerbaijani
ղզիկ ghzik feminine boy, coward qız [ɡɯz] girl Azeri
մերսի mersi thank you merci [mɛʁ.si][35] thank you French brought to Armenia by the repatriates in 1946–1948[36]
միտինգ miting demonstration[37] meeting an assembly of persons English via Russian 'митинг'
չենջ chenj exchange office[38] change to transform English used since 1990s, when first exchange offices appeared in the city
ջեբ jeb pocket جيب jayb pocket Arabic very common in the region, also used in Albanian, Azeri, Bulgarian, Georgian, Greek, Hungarian, Serbo-Croatian, Persian, Turkish
սաղ sagh all, whole, living/alive sağ right (direction), living/alive Turkish or Azeri
քեշ փող k'esh p'ogh cash money cash physical form of currency English used since the 2000s

Famous speakers[edit]

Notable people who spoke and/or wrote in Yerevan dialect:

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b Markossian, Razmik (1989). "Արարատյան բարբառ (Araratian dialect)" (in Armenian). Yerevan: Luys: 390. Retrieved 13 March 2013. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Baghdassarian-Tapaltsian, S. H. (1971). "OA Portal in Armenia" Արարատյան և Բայազետի բարբառների փոխհարաբերությունները [Relationship between Araratian and Bayazet dialects]. Patma-Banasirakan Handes (in Armenian). Yerevan: Armenian National Academy of Sciences (4): 217–234. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b Ammon, Ulrich; Dittmar, Norbert; Mattheier, Klaus J. (2006). Sociolinguistics: an international handbook of the science of language and society. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG. pp. 1900–1901. ISBN 978-3-11-018418-1.
  4. ^ Aldosari, Ali (2007). Middle East, western Asia, and northern Africa. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish. p. 769. ISBN 9780761475712.
  5. ^ Dana, Léo Paul (2011). World Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 199. ISBN 9781849808453.
  6. ^ Samkian, Artineh (2007). Constructing Identities, Perceiving Lives: Armenian High School Students' Perceptions of Identity and Education. Los Angeles: University of California. p. 126. ISBN 9780549482574.
  7. ^ Kevork B. Bardakjian (2000). A reference guide to modern Armenian literature, 1500–1920: with an introductory history. Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press. p. 573. ISBN 9780814327470.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Petrosyan, Haykanush. Երևանի բարբառի ընդհանուր բնութագիրը [General description of the Yerevan dialect] (in Armenian). Armenian State Institute of Linguistics. Archived from the original on 2 March 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  9. ^ Jahukyan, Gevorg (1969). Հայոց լեզվի զարգացումը և կառուցվածքը [Structure and Development of Armenian language] (in Armenian). Yerevan. p. 55.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ Nichanian, Marc (2002). Writers of Disaster: Arm. Literature in the Twentieth Century. Princeton, New Jersey: Gomidas Institute. p. 87. ISBN 9781903656099.
  11. ^ Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009). Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co. p. 3. ISBN 9789027238146.
  12. ^ Cardwell, Richard (2004). The reception of Byron in Europe. London: Thoemmes Continuum. p. 397. ISBN 9780826468444.
  13. ^ "Modern history abstracts, 1775-1914". Historical Abstracts. American Bibliographical Center. 40 (3–4): 892. 1989.
  14. ^ Hacikyan, Agop Jack (2005). The Heritage of Armenian Literature From The Eighteenth Century To Modern Times. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. 68. ISBN 9780814332214.
  15. ^ Adjarian, Hrachia (1945). Հայոց լեզվի պատմություն [History of Armenian language]. Yerevan. p. 329.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  16. ^ Adjarian 1909, p. 15: Le dialecte d'Erivan est parle principalement dans la ville d'Evian et les villages environnants. Il atteint au sud Tauris en Perse, a l'ouest la ville de Kagisman, au sud-ouest Bayazid en Turque. Les frontieres du nord et de l'est sont borders par les dialectes d'Erzeroum et du Karabagh. Deux petits ilots du dialecte d'Erivan se trouvent au nord dans le district de Borchalu (Shulaver, Shamshadin et ses environs) et a Havlabar (un des quartiers de Tiflis).
    Erivan dialect is mostly spoken in the town of Evian and the surrounding villages. It reaches south Tauris in Persia, west of the city Kagisman, southwest Bayazid in Turkey. The boundaries of the north and east borders are by the dialects of Erzurum and Karabagh. Two small islands dialect of Erivan are north in the district of Borchalu (Shulaver, Shamshadin and surroundings) and Havlabar (a district of Tiflis).
  17. ^ Gharibyan, Ararat [in Armenian] (1953). Հայ բարբառագիտություն [Armenian dialectology] (in Armenian). Yerevan. p. 219.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  18. ^ Markossian, Razmik (1981). "OA Portal in Armenia" Արարատյան բարբառի մի խումբ խոսվածքների հնչյունական համակարգը [The Phonetic System of the Araratian dialect]. Patma-Banasirakan Handes (in Armenian). Yerevan: Armenian National Academy of Sciences (2). ISSN 0135-0536. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  19. ^ Katvalyan, Victor (2009). "OA Portal in Armenia" Արարատյան և Բայազետի բարբառների փոխհարաբերությունները. Patma-Banasirakan Handes (in Armenian). Yerevan: Armenian National Academy of Sciences (2–3): 145–157. ISSN 0135-0536. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  20. ^ Sargsyan, Levon (19 December 2009). Անապահով տարածություն (in Armenian). Azg Daily. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  21. ^ Aghayan, Eduard (1984). Ընդհանուր և հայկական բառագիտություն [Armenian Dialectology] (in Armenian). Yerevan: Yerevan State University. pp. 110–111.
  22. ^ Spolsky, Bernard (2004). Language policy. Cambridge University Press. p. 37. ISBN 9780521011754. In Armenia an effort was made to free Armenian from Arabic, Turkish and Persian influences. In the 1920s, Russian terms tended to be avoided, but gradually this changed so that by the 1970s most of the new terms were being borrowed from Russian. Russian was the intermediary for terms from English or French or German. Calquing from Russian was widespread and derivatives were formed from Russian using native affixes.
  23. ^ a b c d e Sargsyan, Levon (14 September 2009). Բարբառային էքսպանսիա կամ գրական հայերենը մեռնում է [Dialect expansion and the death of the literary language] (in Armenian). Azg Daily. Retrieved 14 March 2013. Ավելի ստույգ` հեռուստատեսությամբ մեզ մատուցվողը բարբառ է` Արարատյան բարբառը, որ վաղուց միտում է դառնալու նոր գրական լեզու: Վաղուց ակնհայտ է, որ հեռուստաեթերից (սերիալներ, ժամանցային ծրագրեր) հնչող հայերեն խոսքն օրեցօր հագենում է Արարատյան բարբառին, մասնավորապես Երեւանի խոսվածքին հատուկ բառերով, արտահայտություններով, քերականական իրողություններով: approximate translation: The language served to us from the television is a dialect—the Araratian dialect, which from long ago has a tendency of becoming the literary language. It's obvious that, the Armenian heard from the television (soap operas, entertaining shows) is including more and more words, phrases, grammatical rules from the Yerevan dialect.
  24. ^ Adjarian 1909, pp. 15–16: Le dialecte d'Erivan est un des plus rapproches de l'ancien armenien, et dans la branche de -um, c'est le plus archaique de tous; c'est pourquoi on l'a choisi pour servir de base a la formation de la langue litteraire des Armeniens de Russie.
    Erivan dialect is closer to one of the old Armenian, and the -um branch, this is the most archaic of all, which is why it was chosen as the basis for the formation of literary language of the Armenians of Russia.
  25. ^ Adjarian 1909, p. 17: Les trois degres des consonnes de 'ancien armenien, si alterees dans les dialectes modernes, se presentent dans le dialecte d'Erivan sous la forme suivante
    The three degrees of consonants the old Armenian, if altered in modern dialects, present themselves in the dialect of Erivan in the following form.
  26. ^ a b Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. 2009. p. 70. ISBN 9780080877754.
  27. ^ Holding & Holding 2011, p. 283.
  28. ^ Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009). Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. p. 28. ISBN 9789027238146. Loan words and personal names from Russian are also often pronounced with "Russian-like reduced vowels" in a colloquial Armenian (but with "Armenian" stress on last syllable).
  29. ^ a b Petrosian & Underwood 2006, p. 230.
  30. ^ Petrosian & Underwood 2006, p. 231.
  31. ^ a b Holding & Holding 2011, p. 287.
  32. ^ Holding & Holding 2011, p. 288.
  33. ^ Petrosian & Underwood 2006, p. 229.
  34. ^ Petrosian & Underwood 2006, p. 232.
  35. ^ Holding & Holding 2011, p. 285.
  36. ^ Isahakyan, Avik (25 January 2011). Մեր "ախպարները" [Our 'brothers'] (in Armenian). Aravot. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  37. ^ Atabaki, Touraj; Mehendale, Sanjyot (2004). Central Asia and the Caucasus: Transnationalism and Diaspora. London: Routledge. p. 137. ISBN 9780203495827. In Armenian the demonstrations were called "mitings" (meetings).
  38. ^ Holding & Holding 2011, p. 290.