Armenian script summary

Updated 3 February, 2018 • tags scriptnotes, armenian

This page provides basic information about the Armenian script. It is not authoritative, peer-reviewed information – these are just notes I have gathered or copied from various places as i learned. For character-specific details follow the links to the Armenian character notes.

For similar information related to other scripts, see the Script comparison table.

Clicking on red text examples, or highlighting part of the sample text shows a list of characters, with links to more details. Click on the vertical blue bar (bottom right) to change font settings for the sample text.

Sample (Armenian)

Հոդված 1 Բոլոր մարդիկ ծնվում են ազատ ու հավասար իրենց արժանապատվությամբ ու իրավունքներով։ Նրանք ունեն բանականություն ու խիղճ և միմյանց պետք է եղբայրաբար վերաբերվեն։

Հոդված 2 Ամեն ոք ունի այս Հռչակագրում բերված բոլոր իրավունքներն ու ազատությունները առանց որևէ խտրության՝ հիմնված ցեղային, մաշկի գույնի, սեռի, լեզվի, կրոնի, քաղաքական կամ այլ համոզմունքների, ազգային կամ սոցիալական ծագման, ունեցվածքի, դասային պատկանելության կամ որևէ այլ կարգավիճակի վրա։ Ավելին, ոչ մի խտրականություն չպետք է լինի հիմնված երկրի կամ տարածքի, քաղաքական, իրավական, կամ միջազգային կարգավիճակի վրա, լինի դա անկախ, խնամարկյալ, ոչինքնակառավարվող կամ ինքնիշխանության որևէ այլ սահմանափակումով պետական կազմավորում, որին պատկանում է մարդը։

Usage & history

From Scriptsource:

The Armenian alphabet was created around 405AD by Mesrop Mashtots. He reportedly studied a number of scripts, including Greek and Syriac, before having a dream in which he saw elements of these scripts integrated into one system. The Ge'ez script has also been suggested as a possible influence. Armenia adopted Christianity in the early fourth century, but later began reverting to paganism. Mashtots believed that if the Bible could be written in Armenian the country would have the means to maintain a Christian faith and culture at a time when the Persian empire was attempting to assimilate the country. It also enabled Armenian educational institutions to be established, as well as a large body of early Armenian literature. The alphabet has been used in the country since its inception, with some modifications.

From Wikipedia:

The Armenian alphabet (Armenian: Հայոց գրեր Hayoc' grer or Հայոց այբուբեն Hayoc' aybowben; Eastern Armenian: [haˈjotsʰ ajbuˈbɛn]; Western Armenian: [haˈjotsʰ ajpʰuˈpʰɛn]) is an alphabetical writing system used to write Armenian. It was developed around 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader.

Key features

Armenian is an alphabet. This means that it is phonetic in nature, where each letter represents a basic sound. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features, taken from the Script Comparison Table.

Armenian has uppercase and lowercase pairs. The shapes of the upper and lowercase forms can differ significantly.

Հհ Տտ Աա Ցց

Examples of divergent upper and lowercase shapes.

Words are separated by spaces.

Armenian script is written left-to-right, horizontally.

Character lists

The Armenian script characters in Unicode 10.0 mostly in a single block, however there are a handful of ligatures in another:

The following links give information about characters used for languages associated with this script. The numbers in parentheses are for non-ASCII characters.

For character-specific details see Armenian character notes.

Consonants

The Armenian block has 32 consonants, each of which has an upper- and lowercase form.

list all
Բբbb,pʰ
Գգgg,kʰ
Դդdd,tʰ
Զզzz
Թթt’
Ժժžʒ
Լլll
Խխxχ
Ծծçts,dz
Կկkk,ɡ
Հհhh
Ձձjdz,tsʰ
Ղղġʁ
Ճճč̣tʃ,dʒ
Մմmm
Յյyh,j
Ննnn,ŋ
Շշšʃ
Չչčtʃʰ
Պպpp,b
Ջջǰdʒ,tʃʰ
Ռռr,ɾ
Սսss
Վվvv
Տտtt,d
Րրrɾ
Ցցc’tsʰ
Ււwv
Փփp’
Քքk’
Ֆֆff

Pronunciations of many of the consonants vary between eastern and western variants of Armenian. In the list above, where two pronunciations are given the first is eastern and the second western Armenian.

Sometimes adjacent glyphs form ligatures (see below).

ց [U+0581 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER CO] and its uppercase form are only used in classical orthography, word-initially and in some compound words.d

In reformed orthography, the letter ւ [U+0582 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER YIWN] appears only as a component of ու.d

Vowels

There are 7 vowel characters, each with an upper and lower case form, and one more that is only lower case. This is և [U+0587 ARMENIAN SMALL LIGATURE ECH YIWN], formerly a ligature but now considered a separate letter of the alphabet.

list all
Աաaɑ
Եեeɛ
ևewev,jev
Էէɛɛ
Ըըëə
Իիii
Ոոoo,vo
Օօòo

The letter ը [U+0568 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER ET] is generally used only at the start or end of a word, and so the sound ə is unwritten between consonants.d

օ [U+0585 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER OH] and its uppercase form are only used in classical orthography, word-initially and in some compound words.d

Context-based rendering

Ligatures

Five ligated forms are used in manuscripts, of which the first in the list below is the most common.

ﬓ ﬔ ﬕ ﬖ ﬗ

Ligatures.

Dedicated code points are available for these characters in the Alphabetic Presentation Forms block, with compatibility decompositions to the relevant consonant pairs.

Glyph positioning

The tonal punctuation marks described below are not combining characters, but should be positioned above the vowel they are associated with. Due to print capabilities, it has become common to see those over a gap to the side of the letter, or as a half-spacing letter instead.

ա՛ ա՜ ա՞

Tonal punctuation marks.

Numbers

Armenian uses European numeral digits.

Dates. The ASCII hyphen appears to be used for ordinal numbers in dates, eg. նոյեմբերի 20-ին: On November 20.

Currency. The Armenian block has a symbol for the Armenian dram, ֏ [U+058F ARMENIAN DRAM SIGN].

Symbols

The Unicode Armenian block contains two symbols: ֍ [U+058D RIGHT-FACING ARMENIAN ETERNITY SIGN] and ֎ [U+058E LEFT-FACING ARMENIAN ETERNITY SIGN]. These are widespread architectural motif, and an ancient national symbol of Armenia.The actual representation of the symbol can vary, but it generally has the same swirling effect, and typically 8 segments.→ e

Text layout

Text direction

Armenian is written horizontally, left to right.

Text delimiters

Words are separated by spaces.

For separators at the sentence level and below, the following are used in Armenian text, where the right column indicates approximate equivalences to Latin script.

comma , [U+002C COMMA]
semi-colon [U+2024 ONE DOT LEADER]
colon ՝ [U+055D ARMENIAN COMMA]
sentence

։ [U+0589 ARMENIAN FULL STOP]

See also the tonal marks for indicating questions, emphasis, and exclamations described below.

Hyphenation

As a word-joining hyphen (miowt‛jan gic) Armenian uses - [U+002D HYPHEN-MINUS] or [U+2010 HYPHEN].

At the end of a line, when a word is split, ֊ [U+058A ARMENIAN HYPHEN] can be used.

Quotations

Armenian uses « [U+00AB LEFT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK] and » [U+00BB RIGHT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK] for quote mark. ASCII quotation marks are sometimes used, but as they resemble other Armenian characters, their use is discouraged.w

Արտահայտության սխալ չճանաչված բառ՝ «etal»

Various punctuation marks.

Tonal punctuation marks

Armenian indicates questions, exclamations and emphasis by associating a modifier with a vowel being modified, rather than by using punctuation at the end of a sentence.

The modifier marks should appear above and slightly to the right of the vowel being modified, however, due to mechanical difficulties in printing, fonts often put the modifier alongside the vowel instead.

Հնարավո՞ր

Armenian question mark.

The following modifiers are commonly used:

question ՞ [U+055E ARMENIAN QUESTION MARK] 
exclamation ՜ [U+055C ARMENIAN EXCLAMATION MARK] 
emphasis ՛ [U+055B ARMENIAN EMPHASIS MARK] 

Deprecated punctuation marks

Usage tips

ՙ [U+0559 ARMENIAN MODIFIER LETTER LEFT HALF RING] was encoded by mistake, and is not used in Armenian.

The Unicode Standard recommends not to use ՚ [U+055A ARMENIAN APOSTROPHE], but to use [U+2019 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK] instead.

Counter styles

Ready-made Counter Styles has a template for an additive Armenian counter style (in both upper and lower case).

1 Ա   2 Բ   3 Գ
11 ԺԱ   22 ԻԲ   33 ԼԳ
111 ՃԺԱ   222 ՄԻԲ   333 ՅԼԳ

Various counter style values in the additive Armenian system.

Justification

The most common approach to justification relies on adjustment of spaces.d

Use the control below to see how your browser justifies the text sample here.

Բոլորը հավասար են օրենքի առջև և, առանց որևէ խտրականության, ունեն օրենքով հավասար պաշտպանվելու իրավունք։ Բոլորը ունեն հավասար պաշտպանության իրավունք՝ ընդդեմ ցանկացած խտրականության, որով խախտվում է այս Հռչակագիրը, և ընդդեմ նման խտրականության մղող ցանկացած սադրանքի։

References

  1. [D] Peter T. Daniels and William Bright, The World's Writing Systems, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-507993-0
  2. [U] The Unicode Standard v9.0, Armenian.
  3. [W] Wikipedia, Armenian alphabet
  4. [E] Michael Everson, Proposal to encode two symbols for Armenian in the UCS
Last changed 2018-02-03 18:46 GMT.  •  Make a comment.  •  Licence CC-By © r12a.