The ARMENIAN LANGUAGE — հայերէն — Hayeren

Armenian is an early branch off the tree of Indo-European languages.  You might not think so right away when you hear it as it sounds quite different from some that we hear more often, like English or French or Spanish or Greek.

If you listen closely though, it is easy to find words that are very similar.  There are many examples — here are a few.

shoon means chien — which means dog in French

toor means door.  German is even closer:  tor

anoon means onoma — which is Greek for name.

ootuh means ocho — Spanish for eight.

The Armenian Alphabet

The Armenian alphabet was invented around 400 CE by Mesrop Mashtots, a priest.  The alphabet originally had 36 letters and two more were added later. There are two main dialects today, eastern (spoken in Armenia, Iran and the former Soviet Union) and western (spoken around the Middle East and by Armenians originally from those places.  Classical Armenian, called Grabar, is used in the liturgy of the church everywhere.

Some letters have slightly different pronunciations in eastern and western Armenian.  These differences are shown by a slash between the two versions.  The first sound is for Classical and eastern Armenian and the second sound is for western Armenian.

Scribes and artists created beautiful manuscripts, some of which can still be seen today.  The artists also made special letters out of fantastic birds to begin chapters.  These are called trchnakir (trchoon means bird, kir means letter).

On the Activity page, you will find some fun things to try out in Armenian.