5 interesting facts about the Armenian language

The Armenian language doesn’t have any close relations to any other languages. It is a part of Indo-European languages but it has its own branch within the group. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia and overall there are 5-7 million people speaking Armenian in the Republic of Armenia and throughout the Armenian diaspora. Here are some interesting facts about the language.

1. Armenian has its own writing system

The alphabet was created by the priest Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD. It has 39 letters (31 consonants and 7 vowels). As most of the scripts known to us, the Armenian is written from left to right. The Armenian word for “alphabet” is այբուբեն (aybuben) which is the composition of the first two names of the letters that begin the alphabet “ayb” and “ben” and the conjunction “u” (means “and”). The main reason for inventing an alphabet was translating the Bible and making it accessible for locals. 

2. The first sentence written in Armenian is from Proverbs of Solomon

The first sentence written in Armenian by Mesrop Mashtots is the famous phrase from Proverbs of Solomon 1.2-3: 

“To know wisdom and instruction, and to perceive words of understanding”.

Ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ:

Čanač‘el zimastut‘iwn ew zxrat, imanal zbans hančaroy.

3. Armenian has different punctuation

Armenian punctuation is completely different from the punctuation used in Western languages. 

[«»] – quotation marks, are placed just above the baseline

[ , ] – comma is used as in English

[ ՝ ] – used as a shortstop, similar to a semicolon in English

[ ․ ] – used as a colon in English to separate two closely related clauses, or when a long list of items follows

[ ՞ ] – question mark, it is not put at the end of the sentence, but above the last vowel of the word of question

[ ՜ ] – exclamation mark, like a question mark it is put above the last vowel of the exclamation word

[ ՛ ] – emphasis mark, like question mark it is put above the last vowel of the emphasized word

[ : ] – full stop put at the end of a sentence

4. The Armenian alphabet is used as a decorative piece

The Armenian script is considered a cultural treasure. You can find many homes with framed pictures of the alphabet hanging from the walls. The alphabet is also used in designs of clothing and jewelry.  

5. The alphabet has its monument 

You can find the monument dedicated to the Armenian alphabet in Artashavan, 40km from Yerevan. The monument has 39 giant stone-carved letters. It was created to celebrate the 1,600th birthday of the alphabet in 2005.

-Syuzanna

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