The story of Armenian language started a very long time ago and shows the strive of Armenian nation to be sovereign, distinctive and unique culture. Continuing the topic of an Armenian language, I would like to tell my readers more about its alphabet and what I find the most amazing about it.
Recognition of language uniqueness
The most distinctive thing is that it is a unique, completely separate, signature language, created by a monk Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD. The alphabet initially consisted of 36 signs (2 more were added at a later date). In fact, 11 years ago Armenian alphabet was celebrating its 1600th birthday. This big date was recognized by putting 39 huge Armenian letters, made of stone. This great sculpture also marks the place where its author – Mesrop Mashtots – rest in peace. When you visit Armenia, do not forget to pay a visit to this remarkable place and take a picture with those massive letters of the Armenian alphabet and its author at the Aragats Mountain.
Fun facts about Armenian alphabet
In order to show how different and unique the Armenian alphabet is, let’s look into few interesting facts about it.
- The structure of the alphabet is laid out around the religion. When Mashtots started working on the alphabet, he was under great pressure as it was meant to be used to create a bible for the newly Christian kingdom. What the monk ended up doing is he started his alphabet with the starting letter of the word God and ended it with the first letter of the name Christ.
- The Armenian word for “alphabet” consists of its first two letters.
- Armenian alphabet is very similar in style to the Ethiopian alphabet. However, the general consensus is that Armenian is designed similar to the Greek alphabet with certain letters, taken from unknown source to assign to the sounds, unique for the Armenian language. By the way, there is even a theory that connects the silhouette of some letters with swastika.
- The earliest surviving manuscripts, written in Armenian are dated from the 7th-8th century.
- For about 250 years more than couple thousand books were printed in Turkish language, but using Armenian letters.
- Armenian letters have numerical value. Well, majority of them. In fact, you can find the charts online.
The role of Armenian alphabet
Armenians pride themselves on being the first nation to adopt Christianity. At first, with invention of the alphabet, Armenians got a chance to translate Bible into their own language. Second, it helped them to be able to translate and study the works of Christian theology, learn about history and read the classic literature. Third, this has let them to establish and develop educational institutions and start creating their own literature. Finally, it brought even more character to the story and role of Armenia in the world.
In the conclusion I would like to say that as the interest to our roots and different cultures increases, there are already many people that wish to study Armenian language. The biggest challenge is learning the alphabet, though, according to the feedback of those who decided to approach it. But once you master that, they say, the language will reveal its beauty and versatility. How to learn Armenian language and which tools to use – we will be discussing in the next article.