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Language and script

Armenian as an independent language has existed since the VI century BC., belongs to the Indo-European family of languages, among which it stands out as a separate group. It is one of the oldest written languages. It has the greatest affinity with the Greek language, together with a number of extinct languages - Phrygian, Thracian, Dacian and Peonian. It is a part of Paleo Balkan language family. Even before the Christian era, as we know from the author of I century Strabo, the entire population of Armenia spoke one language - Armenian.

Since 406 the original Armenian alphabet was used, which had existed almost unchanged for over 1600 years. Ancient Armenian literary language got processed, mainly due to the Armenian clergy. Even in the Middle Ages, the national language was an important and conscious element of Armenian identity. There have been reports of VII century on the role of language in the preservation of the Armenian identity, even outside of its historical homeland. In the Middle Ages, Middle Armenian was the official language of Cilicia Armenian kingdom. To date, there are two main literary variants of the pluri centric Armenian language: the western (mainly used in the diaspora) and east one. Armenian is the official language of Armenia and Artsakh.

Writing period in the history of the Armenian language is divided into three main stages.

1. Ancient Armenian (Grabar) - V-XI century

2. Middle-aged Armenian - XI-XVII century

3. New Armenian (ashkharabar) - since the XVII century

Since the end of the V century the scientific study of the Armenian language originates, when the first independent linguistic works by Armenians appeared. In the V-IX centuries grammatical works were written by Mambre Vertsanoh, Eznik of Kolb, David Grammarian, Stepanos Syunetsi, Grigor-Hamam and others. Sincethe end of VII century there were the first dictionaries with the alphabetical arrangement of words, and already since the end of the X century Armenian lexicography was undergoing rapid flowering . At the beginning of XI century rigor Magistros wrote grammatical work, including thecompilation of all previous Armenian grammarians` ideas. An important event was the first spelling reform. In the second half of the XII century Aristakes Grich wrote a spelling dictionary of the Armenian language. Among the largest researchers of the Armenian language of XIII-XIV centuries there wasGevorg Skevratsi, the author of several works, whose recommendations, with minor changes, have been in use till now. At the same time outstanding Armenian grammarians like Hovhannes Erznkatsi, Esai Nchetsi and Hovhannes Krnetsi lived. In the XVII centurythe grammatical works and dictionaries by Francesco de Rivoli, Clement Galanus, Dzhugaetsi Simeon, Hovhannes tin Voskan Yerevantsi, Jeremiah Megrez and others were dedicated tothe Armenian language. Already at the turn of XVII-XVIII centuries the Armenian thinkers worked on approaches to comparative-historical linguistics. In the XVIII century Paghtasar Dpir, Johann Schröder, Mkhitar Sebastatsi and others continued operating in that field.

The oldest sample of the Armenian lapidary writing - an inscription, carved on a temple in Tekor in 490. The earliest fragmentary manuscripts on parchment belong to V-VI centuries. The earliest extant and precisely dated manuscript in Armenian - a "Gospel by Queen Mlke", written in the year 862. The oldest Armenian manuscript on paper refers to the year 981.

Over 30 000 medieval Armenian manuscripts, constituting a significant cultural heritage on a global comparison, were preserved. Typography appeared in Armenian in 1512.