Difference between revisions of "Armenian Alphabet"

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Line 15: Line 15:
 
| Ա
 
| Ա
 
| ա
 
| ա
| a
 
| a
 
| այբ
 
| 1
 
| Ճ
 
| ճ
 
| ch
 
| j
 
| ճե
 
| 100
 
|-
 
| Բ
 
| բ
 
| b
 
| p
 
| բեն
 
| 2
 
| Մ
 
| մ
 
| m
 
| m
 
| մեն
 
| 200
 
|-
 
| Գ
 
| գ
 
| g
 
| k
 
| գիմ
 
| 3
 
| Յ
 
| յ
 
| y
 
| h
 
| հի
 
| 300
 
|-
 
| Դ
 
| դ
 
| d
 
| t
 
| դա
 
| 4
 
| Ն
 
| ն
 
| n
 
| n
 
| նու
 
| 400
 
|-
 
| Ե
 
| ե
 
| e, ye
 
| e, ye
 
| եչ
 
| 5
 
| Շ
 
| շ
 
| sh
 
| sh
 
| շա
 
| 500
 
|-
 
| Զ
 
| զ
 
| z
 
| z
 
| զա
 
| 6
 
| Ո
 
| ո
 
| o, vo
 
| o, vo
 
| վո
 
| 600
 
|-
 
| Է
 
| է
 
| e
 
| e
 
| է
 
| 7
 
| Չ
 
| չ
 
| ch'
 
| ch'
 
| չա
 
| 700
 
|-
 
| Ը
 
| ը
 
| ə
 
| ə
 
| ըթ
 
| 8
 
| Պ
 
| պ
 
| p
 
| b
 
| պե
 
| 800
 
|-
 
| Թ
 
| թ
 
| t'
 
| t'
 
| թո
 
| 9
 
| Ջ
 
| ջ
 
| j
 
| ch
 
| ջե
 
| 900
 
|-
 
| Ժ
 
| ժ
 
| jh
 
| jh
 
| ժե
 
| 10
 
| Ռ
 
| ռ
 
| rr
 
| rr
 
| ռա
 
| 1000
 
|-
 
| Ի
 
| ի
 
| i
 
| i
 
| ինի
 
| 20
 
| Ս
 
| ս
 
| s
 
| s
 
| սե
 
| 2000
 
|-
 
| Լ
 
| լ
 
| l
 
| l
 
| լյուն
 
| 30
 
| Վ
 
| վ
 
| v
 
| v
 
| վեվ
 
| 3000
 
|-
 
| Խ
 
| խ
 
| kh
 
| kh
 
| խե
 
| 40
 
| Տ
 
| տ
 
| t
 
| d
 
| տյուն
 
| 4000
 
|-
 
| Ծ
 
| ծ
 
| ts
 
| dz
 
| ծա
 
| 50
 
| Ր
 
| ր
 
| r
 
| r
 
| րե
 
| 5000
 
|-
 
| Կ
 
| կ
 
| k
 
| g
 
| կեն
 
| 60
 
| Ց
 
| ց
 
| ts'
 
| ts'
 
| ցո
 
| 6000
 
|-
 
| Հ
 
| հ
 
| h
 
| h
 
| հո
 
| 70
 
| Ւ
 
| ւ
 
| u
 
| v
 
| ու
 
| 7000
 
|-
 
| Ձ
 
| ձ
 
| dz
 
| ts
 
| ձա
 
| 80
 
| Փ
 
| փ
 
| p'
 
| p'
 
| փյուր
 
| 8000
 
|-
 
| Ղ
 
| ղ
 
| gh
 
| gh
 
| ղատ
 
| 90
 
| Ք
 
| ք
 
| k'
 
| k'
 
| քե
 
| 9000
 
|-
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
| և
 
| ևվ
 
| yev, ev
 
| yev, ev
 
|
 
|
 
|-
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
| Օ
 
| օ
 
| o
 
| o
 
| օ
 
|
 
|-
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
|
 
| Ֆ
 
| ֆ
 
| f
 
| f
 
| ֆե
 
|
 
|}
 
 
=== History ===
 
[[Image:Armenian_alphabet_oshakan_CIMG1157.JPG|right|thumb|200px|Armenian Alphabet Monument at outskirts of [[Oshakan Village]].]]
 
Invented in 405 by [[Mesrop Mashtots]] in order to translate the Bible into Armenian.
 
 
It is said that some letters of the Armenian alphabet were based on the Greek ones. However, more than a visual similarity, the Armenian and Greek alphabets are rather very close in the letter/sound order. Actually a Greek colleague allegedly helped Mashtots with creating the Armenian alphabet.
 
 
Furthermore, the alphabet is composed as a prayer, beginning with A as Astvats (=God) and ending with K' as K'ristos (=Christ). The original alphabet had only 36 letters. Later, three more characters were added:
 
 
- և (yev) : actually a conjunction meaning "and". It is used only in minuscule. Therefore when using capitals, it must be written like two letters- ԵՎ. On the beginning pronounced “yev”, in the middle of the word “ev”.
 
 
- Օ : it is being used in the eastern Armenian on the beginning of the words when it is needed to be pronounced as “o”, instead of “Ո”, which is pronounced “vo” on the beginning of the words. In western Armenian, it is commonly used in the middle of the words.
 
 
- ֆ (F)
 
 
[[Image:Alphabets.png|thumb|Comparison of Armenian and Greek alphabets]]
 
 
=== Transliteration ===
 
 
The transliteration system I use is very simple, based on the Latin character equivalents assigned to each letter in the alphabet above.  Each letter has an English equivalent letter, or combination of letters. 
 
 
For example, the Armenian word for Jacob, "Հակոբ" would be pronounced "Hakob" in Eastern Armenian, or "Hagop" in Western Armenian.
 
 
It is important to remember that the eastern and western dialects differ in transliteration, because some Armenian characters are pronounced differently.  For example, in Armenian, the equivalent of the English name Peter, is Petros in Eastern Armenian, and Bedros in Western.  As you can see the P and the T are pronounced differently in Western Armenian.  This name would be Pedro in Spanish, where only the letter T has changed.  This is because the Armenian alphabet contains a few "middle sounds" which English has for the most part lost.  For example, the P and B sounds have a sound somewhere in between those two sounds that English speakers (and often Western Armenians) will have a very difficult time perceiving.  If you say the English word "sports", you may notice that you are actually pronouncing this middle sound without even noticing it.  Most people are not pronouncing a clean P, but something that sounds more like a B, but not quite...  this is the sound that Eastern Armenian uses for the second letter of the Armenian alphabet.  Western Armenians do not use this difference as much, pronouncing more of a clean B.  Western Armenian also differs in vocabulary and conjugation from Eastern Armenian, which is used in the Republic of Armenia today.  A brief guide/dictionary of differences between the two dialects can be found [http://www.cilicia.com/armo21.html here].
 
 
=== Dating Armenian Monuments ===
 
 
Knowledge of the Armenian alphabet is useful but not essential for appreciation of Armenia's cultural patrimony.  However, one sure way to impress on-lookers, including local worthies, is by deciphering the date on medieval inscriptions.  Dates are generally marked by the letters ԹՎ or the like, often with a line over, indicating "t'vin" ("in the year") followed by one to four letters, each of which stands for a number based on its order in the alphabet.  In the Middle Ages, Armenians used a calendar that started in AD 552 as the beginning of the Armenian era.  To translate into standard years, simply add 551 to the number.  Thus, should you see an inscription reading <B>ԹՎ ՈՀԳ</B>, simply check the alphabet table below and see that this equals 600+70+3+551= the year of Our Lord 1224.
 
 
==ARMENIA'S REMARKABLE ALPHABET==
 
By Ken Gewertz
 
 
Harvard University Gazette, MA
 
Nov 3 2005
 
 
Saint's sturdy Armenian alphabet focus of meetings
 
Harvard News Office
 
 
In Yerevan, capital of Armenia, the manuscript library known as the
 
Matenadaran possesses an almost sacred status. Situated on a hill,
 
it is approached by a long cascade of white marble steps flanked
 
by statues of the great figures of Armenian literature. Chief among
 
these is St. Mesrops Mashtots, who gave Armenia its alphabet.
 
 
According to James Russell, the Mashtots Professor of Armenian
 
Studies at Harvard, the fifth-century saint gave Armenia much more
 
than an efficient system for rendering its language into written
 
form. By means of his invention, Mashtots gave Armenians a cultural
 
and religious identity as well as the means to survive as a people
 
despite the efforts of larger and more powerful neighbors to subsume
 
or destroy them.
 
 
Armenians pride themselves on being the first nation to adopt
 
Christianity, an event that is supposed to have occurred in the
 
early fourth century when St. Gregory the Illuminator succeeded in
 
converting Trdat, the king of Armenia. But according to Russell,
 
there is much evidence that after Trdat's death, the country was in
 
the process of reverting to paganism.
 
 
"Mashtots' principal purpose in inventing the alphabet was to
 
change Armenia's cultural orientation from the Iranian East to the
 
Mediterranean West," Russell said. "He gave Armenia the means and
 
the incentive to remain Christian."
 
 
Having an alphabet allowed Armenians not only to translate the Bible
 
into their own language but works of Christian theology, saints' lives,
 
history, and works of classical literature as well. It also allowed
 
them to develop scholarly institutions and a literature of their own.
 
 
"Within a century, Armenians had a library of classical and Christian
 
learning and were able to build their own literary tradition. As a
 
result, they became independent and almost self-sufficient, and they
 
became impervious to attempts by Rome to Hellenize them or attempts
 
by the Sassanian empire to re-impose Persian culture on them."
 
 
On Oct. 28 and 29, Harvard hosted an international conference to
 
consider the achievement of Mashtots, its historical background, and
 
its wider influence. Organized by Russell, the conference was sponsored
 
by the Armenian Prelacy of New York, the Davis Center for Russian
 
and Eurasian Studies, and the Department of Near Eastern Languages
 
and Civilizations at Harvard. It was held under the patronage of His
 
Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.
 
 
Fortunately for scholars, Mashtots is known in the historical record.
 
 
One of his disciples, named Koriun, wrote a biography of his mentor,
 
which records many details of his life as well as the process by which
 
he formulated his alphabet. The biography tells us that Mashtots came
 
from an aristocratic family, that he served in the royal court, and
 
that he was ordained a priest and founded several monasteries. With
 
the support of King Vramshapuh, and with the aid of a Greek scribe
 
named Ruphanos, he embarked on a project to develop an Armenian
 
writing system.
 
 
Mashtots studied various scripts as models, including Greek and
 
Syriac. He might also have given careful consideration to a version of
 
Aramaic script developed by the Parthian prophet Mani, promulgator of
 
the gnostic doctrine of Manichaeism. According to Koriun, Mashtots'
 
synthesis of all these elements came to him in a dream, resulting
 
in a 36-character alphabet. Two more characters were added during
 
the Middle Ages, bringing the number of letters in the present-day
 
Armenian alphabet to 38.
 
 
According to Russell, this synthesis reflects a deliberate effort on
 
Mashtots' part to borrow elements from Eastern scripts but reorient
 
them to give them a more Western character. All known alphabets are
 
derived ultimately from the letterforms of the Phoenicians, but Eastern
 
writing tends more toward the horizontal while Western alphabets
 
emphasize the vertical. Mashtots' preference for vertical elements
 
reflects his effort to reorient Armenia toward the Christian West.
 
 
More information about Mashtots' alphabet has been gleaned through
 
careful study of manuscripts. In recent years, computer analysis has
 
helped scholars to focus with greater precision on the formation and
 
evolution of letter shapes. One of the pioneers in this field, Michael
 
Stone, professor of Armenian at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was
 
the keynote speaker at the conference. Stone is the chief author of
 
the recently published "Album of Armenian Paleography," which uses
 
computer techniques to analyze the development of letters over time
 
and is a great help in accurately dating manuscripts.
 
 
Besides studying the letter shapes, scholars have also tried to
 
understand Mashtots' reasons for ordering the letters as he did.
 
 
Russell, who has studied this problem and delivered a paper on
 
the subject, believes that the order of the letters reflects his
 
familiarity with number symbolism of the sort found in a Hebrew text
 
called the "Sepher Yetsira," or "Book of Creation," thought to be an
 
early work in the kabbalistic tradition.
 
 
One measure of the alphabet's success is the fact that there have
 
been few changes in the letters or in the spelling of words since
 
Mashtots created it in the fifth century.
 
 
"This is a very striking circumstance," Russell said, "especially
 
when you compare it with English where spelling has changed a great
 
deal in just the last 500 years. It shows that the Armenian alphabet
 
was already so perfect that there was little reason for it to change."
 
 
Perhaps an even more convincing argument for the importance of
 
Mashtots' achievement is the survival of the Armenian people through
 
a long and often trying history.
 
 
"Mashtots' real achievement was to create a culture that became
 
a repository for both Eastern and Western traditions, that was
 
cosmopolitan, but had a strong anchor of its own. He made Armenia
 
a culture of the book, a 'bibliocracy,' and that has been their key
 
to survival, because you can carry a book into exile, but you can't
 
carry mountains and trees."
 
 
Photo: James Russell organized a conference to discuss the fifth
 
century Armenian alphabet invented by St. Mesrops Mashtots. Said
 
Russell, 'Mashtots' principal purpose in inventing the alphabet was
 
to change Armenia's cultural orientation from the Iranian East to
 
the Mediterranean West.' (Staff photo Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard News
 
Office) http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2005/11.03/09-mashtots.html
 
  
 
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Revision as of 13:47, 14 October 2006

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Ա ա


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