The Armenian language has become a written language in the early V century, exactly in the year 405, thanks to the creation of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots. The V century may be regarded as the golden age of Armenia because the diffusion of this alphabet has contributed to the development of Armenian written culture. Mesrop Mashtots, born in 362, knew Greek and Syriac. He was a conscript at the Royal Court and then became a fervent preacher of Christianity. The Armenian people not understanding the Bible, Mashtots decided to create an alphabet appropriate to the Armenian language. After extensive studies and research, he created this alphabet in 405, and many schools are created to spread this new alphabet. Mashtots became the first teacher of the Armenian written language. The first text translated into Armenian was naturally the Bible, since it was the goal that Mashtots had set himself by creating this alphabet.
This translation of the Bible into Armenian classical language ("grabar") is called "royal translation" because it is almost perfect. The Armenian alphabet has similarities with Greek and Persian languages, which had been in use in Armenia at the time. Except for two letters which have been added later, bringing the alphabet to 38 letters (32 consonants and 6 vowels), it has been unchanged since its creation.
The Armenian language has four types or variants, which are the consequences of the natural evolution of language, on the one hand, and of the history of the Armenian people, on the other:
Classical Armenian or grabar, the "language of books" – scholarly language in the Middle Ages - with borrowings from the Iranian languages and which is still used by the Armenian Church.
Middle Armenian or ashkharhabar, spoken language, "language of the country"; it gradually replaces the written form and becomes in the XIX century a literary language.
Eastern Armenian is spoken in Armenia, with borrowings from Russian and after a spelling reform.
Western Armenian is spoken by the diaspora after the genocide of 1915, has not experienced the transformations of Eastern Armenian.
Armenian is an ancient language which remained living language, spoken by seven million people worldwide, including nearly four million in Armenia itself and in neighboring countries. It is part of the Indo-European languages all of which represents more than two hundred languages classified into Latin, Germanic, Celtic, Baltic and Iranian branches. As the Greek or Albanian, Armenian is an isolated language. Some linguists relate it to the former Phrygian, which is now disappeared, but whose origins would be found in the Balkans.
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