|Native to||Armenian Highlands, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria|
|1.4 million (2001-2016)|
|Armenian alphabet (virtually always in the Classical Armenian orthography)|
Map of the Armenian dialects in early 20th century: -gë dialects, corresponding to Western Armenian, are in yellow.
|History of the Armenian language|
Romanization of Armenian
Western Armenian (Classical spelling: , arevmdahayer?n) is one of the two standardized forms of Modern Armenian, the other being Eastern Armenian. It is based mainly on the Istanbul Armenian dialect contrary to Eastern Armenian which is mainly based on the Yerevan Armenian dialect.
Until the early 20th century, various Western Armenian dialects were also spoken in the Ottoman Empire, especially in the eastern regions historically populated by Armenians known as Western Armenia. The spoken or dialectal varieties of Western Armenian currently in use include Homshetsi, spoken by the Hemshin peoples; the dialects of Armenians of Kessab, Latakia and Jisr al-Shughur of Syria, Anjar of Lebanon, and Istanbul and Vak?fl?, of Turkey (part of the "Sueidia" dialect). Sasun and Mush dialect is also spoken in modern day Armenia villages such as Bazmaberd and Sasnashen.
Forms of the Karin dialect of Western Armenian are spoken by several hundred thousand people in Northern Armenia, mostly in Gyumri, Artik, Akhuryan, and around 130 villages in the Shirak province, and by Armenians in Samtskhe-Javakheti province of Georgia (Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsikhe).
As mostly a diasporic language, and as a language that is not an official language of any state, Western Armenian faces extinction as its native speakers lose fluency in Western Armenian amid pressures to assimilate into their host countries. Estimates place the number of fluent speakers of Western Armenian outside Armenia and Georgia at less than one million.
Western Armenian is an Indo-European language and belongs to the Armenic branch of the family, along with Eastern and Classical Armenian. According to Glottolog Antioch, Artial, Asia Minor, Bolu, Hamshenic, Kilikien, Mush-Tigranakert, Stanoz, Vanic and Yozgat are the main dialects of Western Armenian.
Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian are, for the most part, mutually intelligible for educated or literate users of the other, while illiterate or semi literate users of lower registers of each one may have difficulty understanding the other variant. One phonological difference is that voiced stops in Eastern Armenian are voiceless in Western Armenian.
Western Armenian is spoken by Armenians of most of the Middle East except for Iran, and Rostov-on-Don in Russia. It is spoken by only a small percentage of Armenians in Turkey as a first language, with 18 percent among the community in general and 8 percent among younger people. Western Armenian used to be the dominant Armenian variety, but after the Armenian genocide, Western Armenia was wiped clean of Western Armenians. Those who fled to Eastern Armenia now speak either Eastern Armenian or have a diglossic situation between Western Armenian dialects in informal usage and an Eastern Armenian standard. The only Western Armenian dialect still spoken in Western Armenia is the Homshetsi dialect, the Hemshin peoples, who speak it, did not fall victim to the Armenian Genocide since they were Muslim converts.
On 21 February 2009, International Mother Language Day has been marked with the publication of a new edition of the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger by UNESCO in which the Western Armenian language in Turkey is defined as a definitely endangered language.
Western Armenian has eight monophthongs.
|Close||i ⟨?⟩||? ⟨⟩||u ⟨⟩|
|Mid||? ⟨?, ?⟩||oe ⟨⟩||? ⟨?⟩||o ⟨?, ?⟩|
|IPA||Example (IPA)||Example (written)||Meaning||Notes|
|?||[v]||?||"sun"||Similar to the English vowel in the word car.|
|?||[?t?]||??||"page"||Similar to the English vowel in the word bed.|
|i||[im]||??||"my"||Similar to the English vowel in the word eat.|
|o||[t?o?]||???||"dry"||Similar to the English vowel in bore.|
|u||[u?]||?||"where"||Similar to the English vowel in the word shoot.|
|?||[?s?l]||?||"to say"||Similar to the English vowel in the word about.|
|?||[h]||??||"guest"||Similar to French "u" or the German vowel in the word schützen.|
|oe||[oeni]||?||a female name||This vowel sound is rare in Armenian, and is used in foreign words.|
Western Armenian has ten environments in which two vowels in the orthography appear next to each other, called diphthongs. By definition, they appear in the same syllable. For those unfamiliar with IPA symbols, /j/ represents the English "y" sound. The Armenian letter "?" is often used in combinations such as /ja/ (ya) and /jo/ (yo). If used at the beginning of a word, "?" alone is sufficient to represent /j?/ (as in yes). The Armenian letter "?" is used for the glide after vowels. The IPA /?j/ (like English long i) and /uj/ diphthongs are common, while /ej/ (English long a), /ij,i?/ (a stretched-out long e), and /oj/ (oy) are rare. The following examples are sometimes across syllable and morpheme boundaries, and gliding is then expected:
|IPA||Example (IPA)||Example (written)||Meaning||Notes|
|j?||s?nj||?||"room"||Similar to English yard.|
|j?||jz||?||"dream"||Similar to English yell.|
|ji||m?jis||?||"May"||Similar to English year.|
|jo||jot?||"seven"||Similar to English yogurt.|
|ju||jun||?||"firm"||Similar to English you.|
|aj||maj?||??||"mother"||Similar to English my or mine.|
|ej||tej||?||"tea"||Similar to English day.|
|i?||i?n?l||"to fall"||Similar to English near, in non-rhotic dialects.|
|oj||?oj||?||"ram"||Similar to English toy.|
|uj||kujr||??||"sister"||Similar to English buoy, in some American dialects.|
This is the Western Armenian Consonantal System using letters from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), followed by the corresponding Armenian letter in brackets.
|Nasal||m ⟨?⟩||n ⟨?⟩|
|Stop||aspirated||p? ⟨?, ?⟩||t? ⟨?, ?⟩||k? ⟨?, ?⟩|
|voiced||b ⟨?⟩||d ⟨?⟩||? ⟨?⟩|
|Affricate||aspirated||ts? ⟨?, ?⟩||t ⟨?, ?⟩|
|voiced||dz ⟨?⟩||d? ⟨?⟩|
|Fricative||unvoiced||f ⟨?⟩||s ⟨?⟩||? ⟨?⟩||? ⟨?⟩||h ⟨?, ?⟩|
|voiced||v ⟨?, ?, , ?⟩||z ⟨?⟩||? ⟨?⟩||? ⟨?⟩|
|Approximant||l ⟨?⟩||j ⟨?, ?, ?⟩|
|Flap||? ⟨?, ?⟩|
The /f/ in Armenian is rare; the letter "?" was added to the alphabet much later. The /w/ glide is not used except for foreign proper nouns, like Washington (by utilizing the "u" vowel, Armenian "").
Firstly, while Classical Armenian has a three-way distinction of stops and affricates (one voiced and two voiceless: one plain and one aspirated, Western Armenian has kept only a two-way distinction (one voiced and one aspirated). For example, Classical Armenian has three bilabial stops (/b/ ⟨?⟩, /p/ ⟨?⟩, and /p?/ ⟨?⟩), but Western Armenian has only two bilabial stops (/b/ ⟨?⟩ and /p?/ ⟨?⟩/⟨?⟩).
Secondly, Western Armenian has both changed the Classical Armenian voiced stops and voiced affricates to aspirated stops and aspirated affricates and replaced the plain stops and affricates with voiced consonants.
Specifically, here are the shifts from Classical Armenian to Western Armenian:
As a result, a word like [d?u?] 'water' (spelled ⟨?⟩ in Classical Armenian) is cognate with Western Armenian [tu?] (also spelled ⟨?⟩). However, [t?o?] 'grandson' and [k?a?] 'stone' are pronounced similarly in both Classical and Western Armenian.
Western Armenian uses Classical Armenian orthography, also commonly known as traditional Mashtotsian orthography. The Armenian orthography reform introduced in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and still used by most Eastern Armenian speakers from modern Armenia and commonly known as the Abeghian orthography has not been adopted by Eastern Armenian speakers of Iran and their diaspora, and by Western Armenian, with the exception of periodical publications published in Romania and Bulgaria while under Communist regimes.
Western Armenian nouns have four grammatical cases: nominative-accusative (subject / direct object), genitive-dative (possession / indirect object), ablative (origin) and instrumental (means). Of the six cases, the nominative and accusative are the same, except for personal pronouns, and the genitive and dative are the same, meaning that nouns have four distinct forms for case. Nouns in Armenian also decline for number (singular and plural), but do not decline for gender (i.e. masculine or feminine).
Declension in Armenian is based on how the genitive is formed. There are several declensions, but one is dominant (the genitive in i) while a half-dozen other forms are in gradual decline and are being replaced by the i-form, which has virtually attained the status of a regular form:
|? / ta?d (field)||/ gov (cow)|
|Nom-Acc (-)||? / ta?d||/ ta?der||/ gov||/ gover|
|Gen-Dat (?-)||?? / ta?di||/ ta?deru||/ govu||/ goveru|
|Abl ()||?? / ta?de||? / ta?dere||? / gove||? / govere|
|Instr ()||? / ta?dov||/ ta?derov||/ govov||/ goverov|
|/ karun (Spring)||/ or (day)||? / kuyr (sister)|
|? / mayr (mother)||? / Asdvadz (God)||/ kidutiun (science)|
Like English and some other languages, Armenian has definite and indefinite articles. The indefinite article in Western Armenian is /m?/, which follows the noun:
ator m? ('a chair', Nom.sg), atori m? ('of a chair', Gen.sg)
The definite article is a suffix attached to the noun, and is one of two forms, either -n (when the final sound is a vowel) or -? (when the final sound is a consonant). When the word is followed by al ( = also, too), the conjunction u (), or the present or imperfect conjugated forms of the verb em (to be); however, it will always take -n:
The indefinite article becomes m?n when it is followed by al ( = also, too) or the Present or imperfect conjugated forms of the verb em (to be):
Adjectives in Armenian do not decline for case or number, and precede the noun:
Verbs in Armenian are based on two basic series of forms, a "present" form and an "imperfect" form. From this, all other tenses and moods are formed with various particles and constructions. There is a third form, the preterite, which in Armenian is a tense in its own right, and takes no other particles or constructions.
The "present" tense in Western Armenian is based on three conjugations (a, e, i):
The present tense (as we know it in English) is made by adding the particle g? before the "present" form, except the defective verbs em (I am), gam (I exist, I'm there), unim (I have), kidem (I know) and g?rnam (I can), while the future is made by adding bidi:
For the exceptions: bidi ?llam, unenam, kidnam, garenam (I shall be, have, know, be able). In vernacular language, the particle "gor" is added after the verb to indicate present progressive tense. The distinction is not made in literary Armenian.
The verb without any particles constitutes the subjunctive mood, such as "if I eat, should I eat, that I eat, I wish I eat":
(if I eat etc)
(if we eat)
(if you eat)
(if you all eat)
(if it eats)
(if they eat)
Thus, even today the Erzerum dialect is widely spoken in the northernmost districts of the Armenian republic as well as in the Akhalkalak (Javakheti; Javakhk) and Akhaltskha (Akhaltsikh) districts of southern Georgia
Western Armenian Online Dictionaries