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Armenian alphabet
Հայկական Այբուբեն
Armenian alphabet.svg
Type Alphabet
Spoken languages Armenian
Created by Saint Mesrob, Vramshapuh the king of Armenia at that time (405 or 406), Sahak Partev the Patriarch of Armenia
Time period 405 to the present
Parent systems
modeled on Greek
  • possible Pahlavi and Syriac influences
    • Armenian alphabet
      Հայկական Այբուբեն
Sister systems Latin
Cyrillic
Coptic
Unicode range U+0530 to U+058F,
U+FB13 to U+FB17
ISO 15924 Armn
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.

The Armenian alphabet is an alphabet that has been used to write the Armenian language since the year 405 or 406. It was devised by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian monk, and contained 36 letters. Two more letters, օ and ֆ, were added in the Middle Ages. Until the 19th century, Classical Armenian was the literary language; since then, the Armenian alphabet has been used to write the two modern dialects of Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian. The Armenian word for "alphabet" is այբուբեն aybuben (Armenian pronunciation: [ɑɪbubɛn]), named after the first two letters of the Armenian alphabet Ա այբ ayb and Բ բեն ben. Its directionality is horizontal left-to-right, like the Latin alphabet.[1]

Letters: Ա Բ Գ Դ Ե Զ Է Ը Թ Ժ Ի Լ Խ Ծ Կ Հ Ձ Ղ Ճ Մ Յ Ն Շ Ո Չ Պ Ջ Ռ Ս Վ Տ Ր Ց Ւ Փ Ք Օ Ֆ  : Ու [2] և[2]
Value (Eastern Arm.): ɑ b g d (j)ɛ z ɛ ə ʒ i l χ ts k h dz ʁ m j n ʃ (v)o tʃʰ p r s v t ɾ tsʰ v o f  : u (j)ɛv
Value (Western Arm.): ɑ (j)ɛ z ɛ ə ʒ i l χ dz g h tsʰ ʁ m j n ʃ (v)o tʃʰ b tʃʰ r/ɾ s v d ɾ tsʰ v o f  : u (j)ɛv

Listen to the pronunciation of the letters in About this sound Eastern Armenian or in About this sound Western Armenian .

Contents


The alphabet

Letter Name Pronunciation Transliteration Numerical value
Traditional Reformed Pronunciation Classical Eastern Western Classical ISO 9985
Classical Eastern Western
Ա ա այբ [aɪb] [aɪpʰ] [ɑ] a 1
Բ բ բեն [bɛn] [pʰɛn] [b] [pʰ] b 2
Գ գ գիմ [ɡim] [kʰim] [ɡ] [kʰ] g 3
Դ դ դա [dɑ] [tʰɑ] [d] [tʰ] d 4
Ե ե եչ [jɛtʃʰ] [ɛ], word initially [jɛ]1 e 5
Զ զ զա [zɑ] [z] z 6
Է է է [ɛː] [ɛ] [ɛː] [ɛ] ē 7
Ը ը ըթ [ətʰ] [ə] ə ë 8
Թ թ թօ[3] թո [tʰo] [tʰ] tʿ t’ 9
Ժ ժ ժէ ժե [ʒɛː] [ʒɛ] [ʒ] ž 10
Ի ի ինի [ini] [i] i 20
Լ լ լիւն լյուն [lʏn] [ljun] [lʏn] [l] l 30
Խ խ խէ խե [χɛː] [χɛ] [χ] x 40
Ծ ծ ծա [tsɑ] [dzɑ] [ts] [dz] c ç 50
Կ կ կեն [kɛn] [ɡɛn] [k] [ɡ] k 60
Հ հ հօ[3] հո [ho] [h] h 70
Ձ ձ ձա [dzɑ] [tsʰɑ] [dz] [tsʰ] j 80
Ղ ղ ղատ [ɫɑt] [ʁɑt] [ʁɑd] [ɫ] [ʁ] ł ġ 90
Ճ ճ ճէ ճե [tʃɛː] [tʃɛ] [dʒɛ] [tʃ] [dʒ] č č̣ 100
Մ մ մեն [mɛn] [m] m 200
Յ յ յի հի [ji] [hi] [j] [h]2, [j] y 300
Ն ն նու [nu] [n] n 400
Շ շ շա [ʃɑ] [ʃ] š 500
Ո ո ո [o] [vo] [o], word initially [vo]3 o 600
Չ չ չա [tʃʰɑ] [tʃʰ] čʿ č 700
Պ պ պէ պե [pɛː] [pɛ] [bɛ] [p] [b] p 800
Ջ ջ ջէ ջե [dʒɛː] [dʒɛ] [tʃʰɛ] [dʒ] [tʃʰ] ǰ 900
Ռ ռ ռա [rɑ] [ɾɑ] [r] [ɾ] 1000
Ս ս սէ սե [sɛː] [sɛ] [s] s 2000
Վ վ վեւ վեվ [vɛv] [v] v 3000
Տ տ տիւն տյուն [tʏn] [tjun] [dʏn] [t] [d] t 4000
Ր ր րէ րե [ɹɛː] [ɾɛ]4 [ɹ] [ɾ]4 r 5000
Ց ց ցօ[3] ցո [tsʰo] [tsʰ] cʿ c’ 6000
Ւ ւ հիւն N/A5 [hʏn] [w] [v]6 w 7000
Փ փ փիւր փյուր [pʰʏɹ] [pʰjuɾ] [pʰʏɾ] [pʰ] pʿ p’ 8000
Ք ք քէ քե [kʰɛː] [kʰɛ] [kʰ] kʿ k’ 9000
Added during the thirteenth century
Օ օ օ [o] [o] ō ò N/A
Ֆ ֆ ֆէ ֆե [fɛː] [fɛ] [f] f N/A
Letter Traditional Reformed Classical Eastern Western Classical Eastern Western Classical ISO 9985 Numerical value
Pronunciation
Name Pronunciation Transliteration

Notes

In the table above, the superscript "h" ([ʰ]) is the diacritic for aspiration in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

  1. As initial sound ye /jɛ/, in other respects e /ɛ/.
  2. Only in Traditional orthography when at the beginning of a word and for stems within a word.
  3. As initial sound vo /vo/, in other respects o /o/.
  4. Armenian Iranians (a subbranch of Eastern Armenians) pronounce this letter as [ɹ], like in Classical Armenian.
  5. In reformed orthography, this letter has been replaced with the monophthong <ու> which represents [u].
  6. Usually it represents /v/ but there are some exceptions. In Classical Armenian աւ at the beginning of a word (if followed by a consonant) represents /au/ (like in down), e.g. աւր (awr, /auɹ/, day). (Due to a sound shift in the Middle Ages this pronunciation has changed to /oɹ/ and since the 13th century written as օր (ōr); the original monophthong ու (representing /ov/ or /ou/) became /u/; the monophthong իւ (iw) represents /ju/ (the spelling reform in Soviet Armenia replaced ի (i) with յ (y) and ւ (w) with ու (ow), forming the diphthong յու).

Ligatures

Ancient Armenian manuscripts used many ligatures to save space. Some of the commonly used ligatures are: ﬓ (մ+ն), ﬔ (մ+ե), ﬕ (մ+ի), ﬖ (վ+ն), ﬗ (մ+խ), և (ե+ւ), etc. After the invention of printing Armenian typefaces made a wide use of ligatures as well. It is important to note that in new orthography the և character is not a typographical ligature anymore, and must never be treated as such. It is a distinct letter and has its place in the new alphabetic sequence, before "o".

Punctuation marks

In Armenian ( , ) is a comma and ( : ) is the ordinary period. The question mark ( ՞ ) is placed after the last vowel of the question word (usually the one stressed). The short stop ( ՝ ) is placed in the same manner as the colon, but indicating a pause that is longer than that of a comma, but shorter than that of a colon. There is also ( . ), which is used like the ordinary semicolon, mainly to separate two closely related, but still independent clauses, or when a long list of items follows. The interjection sign ( ՛ ) is usually placed over the last vowel of the interjection word. ( « » ) are used for quotation marks. ( ՜ ) is used as the exclamation mark.

Transliteration

ISO 9985 (1996) transliterates the Armenian alphabet for modern Armenian as follows:

ա բ գ դ ե զ է ը թ ժ ի լ խ ծ կ հ ձ ղ ճ մ յ ն շ ո չ պ ջ ռ ս վ տ ր ց ւ փ ք օ ֆ ու և
a b g d e z ē ë t’ ž i l x ç k h j ġ č̣ m y n š o č p ǰ s v t r c’ w p’ k’ ò f ow ew

In linguistic literature on Classical Armenian, slightly different systems are in use (in particular note that č has a different meaning). Hübschmann-Meillet (1913) have

ա բ գ դ ե զ է ը թ ժ ի լ խ ծ կ հ ձ ղ ճ մ յ ն շ ո չ պ ջ ռ ս վ տ ր ց ւ փ ք օ ֆ ու և
a b g d e z ê ə t ž i l x c k h j ł č m y n š o č p ǰ r̄ s v t r c῾ w p῾ k῾ ô f u ev

History and development

The Armenian alphabet was created by Saint Mesrop Mashtots and Isaac of Armenia (Sahak Partev) in AD 405 primarily for a Bible translation in the Armenian language. Medieval Armenian sources also claim that Mashtots invented the Georgian and Caucasian Albanian alphabets around the same time. Traditionally, the following phrase translated from Solomon’s Book of Proverbs is said to be the first sentence to be written down in Armenian by Mashtots:

Ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ:
Čanačʿel zimastutʿiwn ew zxrat, imanal zbans hančaroy.
To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding.

Book of Proverbs, 1:2.

Various scripts have been credited with being the prototype for the Armenian alphabet. Pahlavi was the priestly script in Armenia before the introduction of Christianity, and Syriac, along with Greek, was one of the alphabets of Christian scripture. It has also been suggested that Ge'ez script had an influence on certain letters of the alphabet.[4] Armenian shows some similarities to all of these. However, the general consensus is that Armenian is modeled after the Greek alphabet, supplemented with letters from a different source or sources for Armenian sounds not found in Greek. The evidence for this is the Greek order of the Armenian alphabet; the ow ligature for the vowel /u/, as in Greek; and the shapes of some letters which "seem derived from a variety of cursive Greek."[5]

There are four forms of the script. The erkatagir "ironclad letters", seen as Mesrop's original, were used in manuscripts from the 5th to 13th century and are still preferred for epigraphic inscriptions. Bolorgir "cursive" was invented in the 10th century and became popular in the 13th. It has been the standard printed form since the 16th. Notrgir "minuscule" was invented for speed, was extensively used in the Armenian diaspora in the 16th to 18th centuries, and later became popular in printing. Sheghagir "slanted writing" is now the most common form.

Although the two dialects of modern Armenian—Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian—use the same alphabet, due to the Western Armenian sound shift some letters are pronounced in a different way. This matters for the following letters (further information in the chart below):

  • Stop consonants
    • բ ([b] to [pʰ]) and պ ([p] to [b])
    • դ ([d] to [tʰ]) and տ ([t] to [d])
    • գ ([ɡ] to [kʰ]) and կ ([k] to [ɡ])
  • Affricate consonants
    • ջ ([d͡ʒ] to [t͡ʃʰ]) and ճ ([t͡ʃ] to [d͡ʒ])
    • ձ ([d͡z] to [t͡sʰ]) and ծ ([t͡s] to [d͡z])
Saint Mesrop Mashtots and a scholar, at the stone one can see the original letters (i.e. only uppercase) in their original shapes

The number and order of the letters have changed over time. In the Middle Ages two new letters (օ [o], ֆ [f]) were introduced in order to better represent foreign sounds; this increased the number of letters from 36 to 38. Furthermore, the diphthong աւ followed by a consonant used to be pronounced [au] (as in down) in Classical Armenian, f.e. աւր (awr, [auɹ], day). Due to a sound shift it became pronounced [oɹ], and since the 13th century it is written as օր (ōr). In Classical Armenian, աւ followed by a consonant represented the diphthong au; e.g. hawr (father's), arawr (plough), now written hôr, arôr; one word has kept aw, now pronounced av: աղաւնի pigeon; there are also a few proper names still having aw before a consonant: Տաւրռս Taurusn, Փաւստոս Faustus, etc. For this reason, today there are native Armenian words beginning with the letter օ (ō) although this letter was taken from the Greek alphabet to express the pronunciation of foreign words beginning with o [o].

From 1922 to 1924, Soviet Armenia adopted a Reformed spelling of the Armenian language. This generally did not change the pronunciation of individual letters, with some exceptions. The Armenian Diaspora (including Armenians in Lebanon and Iran) have rejected the Reformed spelling and continue to use the classical Mashtotsian spelling. They criticize some aspects (see the footnotes of the chart) and allege political motives behind the reform.

Use of the Armenian alphabet for other languages

As Bedross Der Matossian from Columbia University informs, for about 250 years, from the early 18th century until around 1950, more than 2000 books were printed in the Turkish language using letters of the Armenian alphabet. Not only Armenians read Armeno-Turkish, but also the non-Armenian (including the Ottoman Turkish) elite. The Armenian alphabet was also used alongside the Arabic alphabet on official documents of the Ottoman Empire, but was written in Ottoman Turkish. For instance, the first novel to be written in the Ottoman Empire was 1851's Akabi Hikayesi, written in the Armenian script by Hovsep Vartan. Also, when the Armenian Duzoglu family managed the Ottoman mint during the reign of Abdülmecid I, they kept records in the Armenian script, but in the Turkish language.

The Armenian alphabet, along with the Georgian alphabet, was used by poet Sayat-Nova in the poems written in Azeri.[6]

The Kipchak-speaking Armenian Orthodox Christians of Podolia and Galicia used the Armenian alphabet to produce extensive amount of literature between 1524 and 1669.[7]

The Armenian alphabet was an official script for the Kurdish alphabet in 1921–28 in Soviet Armenia.[8]

Character encodings

Unicode

The Armenian alphabet is one of the five modern European alphabetic scripts identified in the Unicode standard version 4.0. (The other modern European alphabets are Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, and Georgian.) [9] It is assigned the range U+0530–058F. Five Armenian ligatures are encoded in the "Alphabetic presentation forms" block (code point range U+FB13–FB17).

Armenian
Unicode.org chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+053x   Ա Բ Գ Դ Ե Զ Է Ը Թ Ժ Ի Լ Խ Ծ Կ
U+054x Հ Ձ Ղ Ճ Մ Յ Ն Շ Ո Չ Պ Ջ Ռ Ս Վ Տ
U+055x Ր Ց Ւ Փ Ք Օ Ֆ     ՙ ՚ ՛ ՜ ՝ ՞ ՟
U+056x   ա բ գ դ ե զ է ը թ ժ ի լ խ ծ կ
U+057x հ ձ ղ ճ մ յ ն շ ո չ պ ջ ռ ս վ տ
U+058x ր ց ւ փ ք օ ֆ և   ։ ֊          
Alphabetic presentation forms (ligatures)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+FB1x

Obsolete

ArmSCII-8

ArmSCII-8 is the 8-bit encoding of the Armenian Standard Code for Information Interchange, developed between 1991 and 1999.[10] It uses part of the upper 128 codes in an 8-bit encoding to represent the Armenian alphabet, leaving the lower 128 codes for another alphabetic script (often Latin or Cyrillic). This allows a single font to represent two alphabetic scripts. For example, the Latin characters could occupy part of the first 128 codes (e.g. ASCII) while the Armenian characters would occupy part of the upper 128 codes.

ArmSCII-8 was popular on the Windows 95 and Windows 98 operating systems. To be able to read in Armenian, users had to download a font that implements the ArmSCII-8 encoding. To be able to write in Armenian, users first had to download and install a freeware program that ran in the taskbar. There were two popular programs, one named KD Win, and the other called "Armenian National Language Support."[11] With these programs, a user would be able to type in both Armenian and another alphabetic script without having to change fonts, switching between writing scripts and keyboard layouts by invoking a keyboard shortcut (often Alt + Shift).

With the development of the more advanced Unicode standard and its availability on the Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems, the ArmSCII-8 encoding has been rendered obsolete. Nevertheless, ArmSCII-8 can still be found in use on some websites, which have not yet made the transition to Unicode.

Arasan-compatible

Arasan-compatible fonts are based on the encoding of the original Arasan font, which simply replaces the Latin characters (amongst others) of the ASCII encoding with Armenian ones. For example, the ASCII code for the Latin character <A> (65) represents the Armenian character <Ա>.

An advantage of Arasan-compatible fonts over ArmSCII-8 fonts is that writing does not require the installation of a separate program; once the font is installed and selected for use, one can use their QWERTY keyboard to type in Armenian. A disadvantage over ArmSCII-8 is that an Arasan-compatible font can only be used for one alphabetic script; therefore, the user must change the Font family when creating a multi-script document (e.g. both Armenian and English). Another disadvantage is that Arasan-compatible fonts only come in one keyboard layout: Western Armenian phonetic.

While Arasan-compatible fonts were popular among many users on Windows 95 and 98, it has been rendered obsolete by the Unicode standard. However, a few websites continue to use it.

The Arasan font's legacy is the phonetic Armenian keyboard layouts that ship with Windows 2000/XP/2003, which are almost identical to the Arasan keyboard layout.

Computer fonts

The Armenian alphabet is available for use on personal computers in a variety of operating systems as installable fonts. The following fonts implement the Unicode Armenian character set and come installed by default on the noted operating system:

Note that since they are portable, fonts from one operating system (e.g. Windows) may be installed on another (e.g. Linux).

Keyboard layouts

An operating system can be configured to use a variety of keyboard layouts to suit the user's needs. For example, both English and Western Armenian keyboard layouts may be configured, with the user being able to switch between the two using a keyboard shortcut (often alt + shift).

Windows 2000/XP/2003

Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows 2003 ship with two Armenian language keyboard layouts: Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian.[12] They are both based on the keyboard layout of a popular Armenian font for Windows 95 named Arasan. These keyboard layouts are generally phonetic. However, since some letters in the Armenian alphabet do not have an obvious corresponding character in the Latin alphabet, they are often approximated (for example, Խ maps to Q). Also, since there are more letters in the Armenian alphabet (38) than in Latin (26), some Armenian characters appear on non-alphabetic keys on a conventional English language keyboard (for example, շ maps to ,).

Western Armenian keyboard layout of Windows 2000/XP/2003
Eastern Armenian keyboard layout of Windows 2000/XP/2003

Armenian keyboard layouts for Windows 2000/XP/2003 created by third parties include the Armenian Phonetic Eastern and the Armenian Typewriter Eastern.[13]

Use of Armenian keyboard layouts on Windows 2000/XP/2003 systems require explicit configuration by the user.[14]

Linux

Each Linux distribution may come pre-configured with a unique set of keyboard layouts. To provide some consistency amongst themselves, Linux distributions often pull their layouts from the XKeyboard Configuration component of Freedesktop.org. As of November, 2006, Freedesktop.org contains 5 Armenian keyboard layouts, including 2 layouts identical to the ones from Windows XP.[15] As of version 10.1, SUSE Linux supports 2 Armenian keyboard layouts; it does not include the Windows XP layouts, but it is possible to manually install these.[16]

Use of Armenian keyboard layouts on Linux usually requires explicit configuration by the user. Users of the GNOME desktop may do so by using the GNOME Keyboard Indicator applet.[17]

See also

References

  1. ^ Simon Ager (2010). "Armenian alphabet". Omniglot: writing systems & languages of the world. http://www.omniglot.com/writing/armenian.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  2. ^ a b “[T]he followers of Classical orthography, CO, recognize 36 letters of the Mesropian alphabet, plus օ and ֆ. These 38 letters constitute the fixed number of the Armenian alphabet taught in Diaspora schools. The followers of the RO [Reformed Orthography], accepted in 1922 in Soviet Armenia […], recognize thirty nine (39) letters leaving out ւ and adding the letters օ, ֆ, ու, և.” Gayané Hagopian. Armenian for Everyone. Western and Eastern Armenian in Parallel Lessons. Yerevan Printing, Los Angeles 2007 ISBN 978-1-60402-825-6; p. 1
  3. ^ a b c Melkonian, Zareh (1990) (in Armenian). Գործնական Քերականութիւն — Արդի Հայերէն Լեզուի (Միջին եւ Բարձրագոյն Դասընթացք) (Fourth ed.). Los Angeles. p. 6. 
  4. ^ Richard Pankurst. 1998. The Ethiopians: A History. p25
  5. ^ Avedis Sanjian, "The Armenian Alphabet". In Daniels & Bright, The Word's Writing Systems, 1996:356–357
  6. ^ Charles Dowsett, E. Peters. Sayat'-Nova. An 18th-century Troubadour: a Biographical and Literary Study. Peeters Publishers, 1997 ISBN 9068317954; p. xv
  7. ^ (Russian) Qypchaq languages. Unesco.kz
  8. ^ (Russian) Курдский язык (Kurdish language), Кругосвет (Krugosvet)
  9. ^ Unicode Code Charts and Unicode Standard, Chapter 7
  10. ^ Melikyan, Hovik. "ARMENIAN STANDARD CODE FOR INFORMATION INTERCHANGE -- ArmSCII". http://www.freenet.am/armscii/. Retrieved 2006-11-30. 
  11. ^ Melikyan, Hovik. "Armenian National Language Support Version 2.0". http://www.freenet.am/armnls/. Retrieved 2006-11-30. 
  12. ^ Windows Keyboard Layouts
  13. ^ Armenian Keyboard Layouts for Windows 2000/XP/2003 at ArmUnicode.org
  14. ^ Installing Unicode Armenian Language Support on Microsoft Windows
  15. ^ XKeyboard Config CVS - the am file corresponds to the Armenian keyboard layout
  16. ^ Installing the new Armenian Keyboard layouts for GNU/Linux
  17. ^ GNU/Linux: Typing in Armenian using GNOME

External links

Armenian Phonetic Keyboard Layout

Armenian Transliteration

Unicode Support for Armenian

Armenian Online Dictionaries


Simple English

Armenian alphabet
File:Armenian
Type Alphabet
Spoken languages Armenian
Time period 405 to the present
Parent systems
Proto-Canaanite alphabet
Sister systems Latin
Cyrillic
Coptic
Unicode range U+0530 to U+058F,
U+FB13 to U+FB17
ISO 15924 Armn
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.

The Armenian alphabet is an alphabet that has been used to write the Armenian language since the 5th century.

The Armenian word for "alphabet" is այբուբեն (CA, EA: [aɪbubɛn], or WA: [aɪpʰupʰɛn]), named after the first two letters of the Armenian alphabet.

Other pages

Other websites

Unicode Support for Armenian








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