Armenian language

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
Save to active project

Armenian language

Armenian language, member of the Thraco-Phrygian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Indo-European). There is evidence that in ancient times a distinct subfamily of Indo-European languages existed that is now called Thraco-Phrygian. To it belonged Phrygian (an ancient and now extinct Indo-European language of Anatolia) and Thracian (a now dead Indo-European tongue of the Balkans in antiquity). Modern Armenian may well be a direct descendant of Phrygian. Today Armenian is the mother tongue of more than 5 million people, of whom over 3 million live in Armenia; 1 million live elsewhere in the republics of the former Soviet Union; and the rest are in the Middle East, the Balkans, and the United States. Armenian is an old, rich, and vital language. Although spoken in antiquity, it was not recorded in writing until the early 5th cent. AD At that time an alphabet of 36 letters was specially designed for Armenian by St. Mesrop, who used Greek and Iranian letters as a basis. Later, two more letters were added to the alphabet. In its early, or classical, form, Armenian is called Grabar or Krapar. This was the literary language until the 19th cent. and is still the liturgical language of the Armenian Church (see Armenian literature). It differed greatly from the spoken language. Grammatically, it has six cases for the noun and nine tenses for the verb, but it has lost gender. The modern form of Armenian, now used for literature as well as for speaking, dates from the 16th cent. and is known as Ashksarhik or Ashksarhabar. Its grammar is simpler than that of Classical Armenian. The history of the Armenian people is reflected in the sources of the words borrowed by their language. For example, Armenian has absorbed words from Persian, owing to Parthian domination in the centuries immediately before and after Jesus, from Greek and Syriac as a result of Christian influence, from French during the Crusades, and from Turkish in the course of several centuries of Turkish rule. For grammars see S. L. Kogian (1949) and K. H. Gulian (1954); John A. Greppin and A. A. Khachaturian, Handbook of Armenian Dialectology (1986).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Armenian language
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?