If you are an enthusiastic language learner looking for something new, something different and off the beaten track, then you can start exploring the Armenian language! In this article, you will find interesting and funny facts about Armenian which do not exist in other languages.
In case you haven't heard of Armenia, it is a small, unique, and ancient country situated between Europe and Asia. The country has kind and hospitable locals, and it is known for its high mountains. Armenia is also famous for its great and unique cuisine if you’re a food lover! Now about the language!
Armenian is one of the oldest languages in the world. In some studies, it is supposed to be the mother of Indo-European languages with Sanskrit. The language has developed since at least the time of the first Armenian dynasty (6th BC). Currently it has its own branch in the language family.
Here, I want to introduce several facts about this language including its peculiarities and general characteristics.
There Are Two Armenian Dialects: Eastern and Western
The Eastern dialect is the standard official dialect spoken in Armenia, while the Western dialect is spoken by the Armenian diaspora outside Armenia by people who lived in Western Armenia until the 20th century.
There are some grammatical differences between the two dialects and the pronunciation also differs. In Eastern Armenian, usually the “բ” is pronounced “b”, but in Western dialect, it is usually pronounced “p”. The vocabulary between the two dialects is mainly the same. The difference is only the word preferences used to express ideas by the speakers from both dialects.
Let’s take the word “hungry” for example, in both dialects, there are three words for it: քաղցած, սոված, անոթի. While speakers of the Eastern dialect prefer using the first or the second word, Western Armenian speakers prefer the third word. To sum up, native speakers of the two dialects usually can understand one another, but may still be susceptible to some misunderstandings, too.
The Armenian Alphabet
It was introduced in 405 A.D. by Mesrop Mashtots. The alphabet contains 39 letters and has many sounds which do not exist in other languages.
The Pronunciation In Armenian Is Very Simple
The words are pronounced just as they are written. The stress of words is rather fixed in Armenian. We always stress the last syllable of a word with only a few exceptions.
Word Order In Armenian Is Not Fixed
Word order is not fixed unlike in English. The preferable word orders are subject-predicate-object and subject-object-predicate, but due to the case system, changing their places does not influence the meaning of the sentence. In some cases, you will come across the inverted word order quite often. For example let us take this sentence:
We can change the word order and have something like this:
Even when forming the interrogative, you do not need to be careful with the position of auxiliary verbs unless it is a special question.
In the case of a special question, though, the auxiliary is put before the predicate.
There Is Neither Grammatical Nor Natural Gender
In Armenian, we only express gender differences in some nouns with the only feminine ending “-ուհի”. Even in these cases, the ending is sometimes ignored. Let us see these examples:
Անգլիացի – անգլուհի (an Englishman/woman).
Ուսանող – ուսանողուհի (a student).
Բժիշկ – բժշկուհի (a doctor).
Երգիչ - երգչուհի (a singer).
Պարող – պարուհի (a dancer).
Some Armenian Punctuation Marks Differ From English And Other Languages
The question mark is not put like this ( ? ) but like this ( ՞ ). The full stop is not expressed by this mark ( . ) but this one ( : ). For example:
Գալի՞ս ես: (Are you coming?)
Քանի՞ տարեկան ես: (How old are you?)
Ի՞նչ է քո անունը: (What is your name).
There is no exclamation mark ( ! ) in Armenian, instead, we can put a written stress on the stressed vowel.
Armenian Maintains Plenty Of Ancient Manuscripts
A lot of manuscripts are located in Matenadaran (in Yerevan, Armenia). As they are the cradle of our world, it is a blessing to understand them.
To sum up, I can say Armenian is a language that illuminates and opens the Armenian world to the one who learns it. The language is challenging to learn but, if you take on the task, will allow you to explore other opportunities in learning history and other cultures!