Armenian language is one of the ancient written languages in the word, which has its unique and distinctive features including Armenian grammar as well as letters that make the language even more special.
The Armenian language is an excellent choice to begin to learn if you have any kind of interest in languages. It has some very interesting peculiarities within the language itself and is justly considered unique.
Armenian language has a rich vocabulary and centuries-long history.
Today, about six million people speak Armenian. It’s no secret that those people who speak Armenian can learn other languages and easily adjust to any kind of accent and pronunciation.
The reason is very unique and “almighty” phonetic structure of Armenian language, which make the speakers become more flexible.
So, if you want to learn more about this beautiful language and its special characteristics, just keep on reading.
Features of Armenian Language #1: Special Position in Indo-European Languages
The first distinctive feature that makes Armenian language unique and special is the position that it occupies in the Indo-European language family. Eventually, Indo-European languages were split into two main branches.
There were Western branches that include such languages as Germanic, Celtic, Slavic, Latin, Greek and many others, and Eastern branches, like Persian and some other Indian and Iranian languages.
What makes Armenian language special form this aspect is that it has a unique characteristic. Armenian has formed its own independent branch of the Indo-European languages. It lies on the fact that Armenian language is connected with both Eastern and Western branches, as it has some related features from both branches.
This dual legacy makes Armenian language a special type of a bridge between these two branches of the Indo-European languages family.
Features of Armenian Language #2: Dialect Queen
The Armenian language has about 50 dialects. Many of them are so different from each other that they almost sound like different languages.
Some of the most beloved and famous dialect are the Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s dialect, the dialect of Gyumri, the dialect of Lori, the dialect of Goris and many others.
Imitating different Armenian dialects at some point became so popular in Armenia that the most famous Armenian candy company “Grand Candy” featured most famous dialects in one of their commercials. Kids from different regions were telling how much they love “Grand Candy” chocolates in their own accents and dialects.
Even though it’s almost 10 year that commercial is not broadcasted on TV, people still love it and remember it sometimes
Features of Armenian Language #3: Gender “Equality”
Interestingly, there is no category of gender in Armenian grammar. There is only a feminine suffix -ուհի “-uhi” that indicates the gender. For instance, ուսուցիչ (teacher), teacher ուսուցչուհի (usuts’chuhi) that means female teacher. Neither nouns, nor even pronouns have grammatical gender that will distinguish between masculine and feminine.
Some peculiarities of the Armenian grammar cause some difficulties, when translating from Armenian. For example, in English third person pronouns have genders distinctions. Whereas, in Armenian he/she has only one variant of translation “Na” that doesn’t’ define the gender of the pronoun.
Features of Armenian Language #4: Unique Armenian Alphabet
Though Armenian language and alphabet are generally thought to be related to Greek, the result is quite different. It has an alphabetical writing system, which has no analogs and parallels to any other European alphabets.
The alphabet was created by the missionary Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD. He was an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader who is also credited with creating the Caucasian Albanian and Georgian alphabets.
Initially, it consisted of 36 letters with six vowels and thirty consonants. But, over the years three more letters were added. Overall, the Armenian language is one of the oldest and most important languages in the world.
The beautiful design of the individual Armenian letters and the unique features of this alphabet make the language a truly unique, special and original innovation that the Armenians are so prideful.
Features of Armenian Language #5: Soft Voiceless Consonant Letters
The Armenian grammar has an exclusive feature that only few languages in the world have. Namely, it is the division of consonant letters in three categories rather than two. As you may know, most of the languages have “voiced” and “voiceless” consonant letters, while the Armenian language also has a third category.
It is referred to as “soft voiceless” consonants. You wonder what this means? These consonant letters are pronounced softly, without any aspiration. To demonstrate this, we will bring an example. The Armenian language has a soft “T’ that is pronounced similar as the letter “D”, however it sounds a bit deferent than a normal “D”.
Features of Armenian Language #6: Special letters
Another distinctive linguistic characteristic of the Armenian language is, the so called, simple representation of combined letters and sounds.
For instance, unlike the English language, there is only one letter for “sh” (շ) and, again, one for “tch” (չ). The same applies for other characters that sound like “ts” (ց), “dj” (ջ),“dz” (ձ) “gh” (ղ) that other languages produce by mixing and combining 2 or 3 letters.
Features of Armenian Language #7: Two Standard Dialects of the Armenian language
Armenian language has two standard forms and each of them has different dialects. They are the Eastern and Western Armenian. Eastern Armenian is the official language of the Armenian Republic and is mainly prevalent in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Iran.
Western Armenian is used by Armenians who live in Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and in some other countries where Armenians have migrated to. The standard Armenian grammar differs from the grammar of the other dialect. These two dialects also have orthographical, pronunciation and phonological divergences.
Features of Armenian Language #8: Ejective Consonants
Armenian grammar is pretty compound and interesting one, but there is also some phenomenon which makes the Armenian language even more interesting. There are some sounds that no other Indo-European language has, which are called ejective consonants.
Here the vocal chords are used to push the air out. This means that the letters are pronounced with a glottal airstream. Ejectives can be found in only 20% of the world’s languages. The Armenian language has some sounds and letters that have no counterparts with English language. These are the “pʰ, tʰ, kʰ, tsʰ, tʃʰ” ejective consonants.
Features of Armenian Language #9: Flexible Word order
The part of the Armenian grammar that deals with the word order, arrangement, and the interactions of words in a sentence (called syntax) is quite interesting to examine. As you may know, English has quite strict and rather inflexible word order.
Unlike Russian language, the nouns of the English language do not have any case endings. So, English relies mostly on word order to show the interaction between words in a sentence. The most common word order pattern in English is subject + verb + object (SVO).
While, the word order of the Armenian language is relatively free and “non-rigid”. Armenian is considered as mostly Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) type of a language. However, compared to the English language Armenian grammar word order is quite flexible.
As you can see, unlike the English pattern, Armenian grammar gives us several choices to express the same sentence.
Features of Armenian Language #10: Word Stress
Unlike some languages in which word stress falls on the first syllable, in Armenian the word stress usually falls on the last syllable.
But there is an exception if the last syllable contains [ə]. In this case the word stress falls on the second-last syllable of the word.
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