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Index / Languages / Indo-European /

Armenian by country
Figures in 1000
% of country population
40 <0.1%
170 0.3%
60 0.2%
16 0.3%
Lebanon 300 7.5%
320 1.6%
60 0.1%
965 0.2%

*) Of total population in MENA, 490 million.

Armenian alphabet

Armenian alphabet

Armenian newspaper
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Armenian handwriting

Language spoken by almost 1 million across the Middle East, all ethnic Armenians. In the world, a total of between 6.5 and 7 million have Armenian as daily language.
Most Armenians have arrived in the diverse Middle Eastern countries following the Armenian Genocide that lasted from the end of the 19th until the first decades of the 20th century.
The only country were they represent a major part of the population is Lebanon, being one of several large minorities. Still, there are slightly living in Syria, but they form but a minority here.
Armenian is written with its own alphabet, which was developed in the 5th century. It first had 36 letters, later 2 more letters were added.
There are two main forms of Armenian, both with independent traditions, Eastern and Western. Eastern Armenian is the variant used in the independent state of Armenia. Western Armenian has been influenced by Turkish and Arabic in its phonetic structures. In the MENA, Eastern Armenian is only spoken in Iran, in the rest of MENA, Western Armenian is used. There are some variants of Armenian that are not mutually intelligible.
Through the 20th century, scholars at all levels made a great effort to remove any influence from Turkish, a response to the Armenian genocide.
Among the most noteworthy characteristics in Armenian is the lack of the feminine form, yet there are 6 or 7 noun cases. There are no long vowels, but a rich system of consonant combinations.
Armenian is an independent, hence isolated, branch of the Indo-European language family. Some make it related to Greek and Indo-Iranian languages. It is suggested that Armenian emerge from Phrygian, which disappeared in the 6th century CE. Old Armenian emerge early in the 5th century.

By Tore Kjeilen