Armenian

Updated 31 October, 2021

This page brings together basic information about the Armenian script and its use for the Armenian language. It aims to provide a brief, descriptive summary of the modern, printed orthography and typographic features, and to advise how to write Armenian using Unicode.

Phonetic transcriptions on this page should be treated as an approximate guide, only. Many are more phonemic than phonetic, and there may be variations depending on the source of the transcription. The transcriptions reflect Eastern Armenian usage, unless otherwise noted.

More about using this page
Related pages.
Other script summaries.

Sample (Armenian)

Select part of this sample text to show a list of characters, with links to more details.
Change size:   28px

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

The Armenian script is used widely by Armenians to write the Armenian language. Over time, some differences of pronunciation have developed for some letters in the Eastern and Western Armenian communities.

Հայոց գրեր ḥayɔʦʰ grer (Hayoc' grer) Armenian letters Հայոց այբուբեն ḥayɔʦʰ aybɔwben haˈjotsʰ ajbuˈbɛn Armenian alphabet

The Armenian alphabet was created around 405AD by Mesrop Mashtots. Transcription of the Bible and missionary activity was a key driver to the invention. A large body of early Armenian literature exists.

Soviet reforms in the early 20th century led to two distinct orthographic conventions. Broadly speaking, Mesropian (Western) orthography is used throughout the Armenian diaspora (which makes up the majority of Armenian speakers), and the Reformed (Eastern) orthography is used within Armenia.

Sources: Scriptsource, Wikipedia.

Basic 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 for the modern Armenian language.

Here we focus on the pronunciation and orthography of the Eastern variant of Armenian, which is used in Armenia, even though the majority of Armenian speakers use the Western orthography of the diaspora.

Armenian text runs left-to-right in horizontal lines.

Words are separated by spaces.

The script is bicameral. The shapes of the upper and lowercase forms can differ significantly.

Հհ Տտ Աա Ցց

Examples of divergent upper and lowercase shapes.

Modern Armenian has 31 consonant letters. Pronunciations of many of the consonants vary between eastern and western variants of Armenian.

There are 7 bicameral vowel letters and one more that is only lower case.

Some letters, both vowels and consonants, create ligatures when they appear together.

Letters were traditionally used to represent numbers, but modern texts usually use ASCII digits.

Character index

Letters

Show

Basic consonants

բ␣գ␣դ␣զ␣թ␣ժ␣լ␣խ␣ծ␣կ␣հ␣ձ␣ղ␣ճ␣մ␣յ␣ն␣շ␣չ␣պ␣ջ␣ռ␣ս␣վ␣տ␣ր␣ց␣ւ␣փ␣ք␣ֆ
Բ␣Գ␣Դ␣Զ␣Թ␣Ժ␣Լ␣Խ␣Ծ␣Կ␣Հ␣Ձ␣Ղ␣Ճ␣Մ␣Յ␣Ն␣Շ␣Չ␣Պ␣Ջ␣Ռ␣Ս␣Վ␣Տ␣Ր␣Ց␣Ւ␣Փ␣Ք␣Ֆ

Vowels

ա␣ե␣է␣ը␣ի␣ո␣օ␣և
Ա␣Ե␣Է␣Ը␣Ի␣Ո␣Օ
ու␣ՈՒ

Not used for modern Armenian

ﬓ␣ﬔ␣ﬕ␣ﬖ␣ﬗ␣ՙ

Punctuation

Show
«␣»␣՛␣՜␣՝␣՞␣։␣֊␣‐␣’␣․

ASCII

(␣)␣,␣-␣.

Not used for modern Armenian

՟
՚

Symbols

Show
֍␣֎␣֏
Character lists show:

Phonology

These are sound of the Eastern variant of Armenian.

Click on the sounds to reveal locations in this document where they are mentioned.

Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones. Source Wikipedia.

Vowel sounds

i u o ə ə ɛ ɔ ɑ ɑ

Consonant sounds

labial dental alveolar post-
alveolar
palatal velar uvular glottal
stop p b
t d
      k ɡ
   
affricate   t͡s d͡z
t͡sʰ
  t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
t͡ʃʰ
       
fricative f v   s z ʃ ʒ     χ ʁ h
nasal m   n     ŋ  
approximant     l   j    
trill/flap     r ɾ    

A notable feature of the Eastern phonology is the 3-way split of the plosive sounds: unvoiced, voiced, and aspirated.j The Western phonology generally maps letters to just voiced and aspirated sounds. For example, the following (simplified) mappings for the bilabial plosives show the pattern for all plosive and affricate letters:

Eastern: պ p բ b փ
Western: պ b բ փ

Alphabet

Click on the characters to find where they are mentioned in this page.

The Armenian alphabet has 31 consonants and 8 vowels (one of which is a digraph). Each has upper and lowercase forms; shown above and below, respectively.

ա␣բ␣գ␣դ␣ե␣զ␣է␣ը␣թ␣ժ␣ի␣լ␣խ␣ծ␣կ␣հ␣ձ␣ղ␣ճ␣մ␣յ␣ն␣շ␣ո␣չ␣պ␣ջ␣ռ␣ս␣վ␣տ␣ր␣ց␣ւ␣փ␣ք␣օ␣ֆ␣ու
Ա␣Բ␣Գ␣Դ␣Ե␣Զ␣Է␣Ը␣Թ␣Ժ␣Ի␣Լ␣Խ␣Ծ␣Կ␣Հ␣Ձ␣Ղ␣Ճ␣Մ␣Յ␣Ն␣Շ␣Ո␣Չ␣Պ␣Ջ␣Ռ␣Ս␣Վ␣Տ␣Ր␣Ց␣Ւ␣Փ␣Ք␣Օ␣Ֆ␣ՈՒ

Vowels

Click on the characters in the lists for detailed information. For a mapping of sounds to graphemes see vowel_mappings.

Vowel letters

Armenian has 7 simple vowel letters with an upper and lower case form each, but see also ech_yiwn and digraph_u. Where two pronunciations are given click on the character for more information.

ի␣օ␣ը␣ե␣է␣ո␣ա
Ի␣Օ␣Ը␣Ե␣Է␣Ո␣Ա

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

Ech yiwn

և

և [U+0587 ARMENIAN SMALL LIGATURE ECH YIWN] is a ligature that has no single-character uppercase form. It wasn't used prior to the Soviet reform, and is treated differently in the western and eastern orthographies.

Outside Armenia it is not used as frequently, and the lowercase form may often be represented instead by the 2 distinct letters եւ [U+0565 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER ECH + U+0582 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER YIWN].

In the eastern orthography (Armenia and those Armenians from the former Soviet Union) it capitalises as Եվ [U+0535 ARMENIAN CAPITAL LETTER ECH + U+057E ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER VEW],a eg. Եվրոպա

In the western orthography (and eastern Armenian speakers in Iran), it capitalises as Եւ [U+0535 ARMENIAN CAPITAL LETTER ECH + U+0582 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER YIWN],a eg. Եւրոպա

Digraph U

ՈՒ␣ու

The sound u is written using the two letters ու [U+0578 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER VO + U+0582 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER YIWN]. In the classical orthography, this was considered a digraph, but in the modern orthography it is a letter of the alphabet.

Vowel sounds mapped to characters

The following tables show how the above vowel sounds commonly map to characters or sequences of characters in the Armenian orthography. Click on the Unicode names to see examples. Graphemes are grouped by lowercase ( l ) or uppercase ( u ).

Plain vowels

e
l

part of և [U+0587 ARMENIAN SMALL LIGATURE ECH YIWN] ev, pronounced jev when word-initial or standalone.

 
u

Եվ [U+0535 ARMENIAN CAPITAL LETTER ECH + U+057E ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER VEW] titlecase in Eastern orthography.

Եւ [U+0535 ARMENIAN CAPITAL LETTER ECH + U+0582 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER YIWN] titlecase in Western orthography 

o
l

օ [U+0585 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER OH] in classical orthography, word-initially and in some compound words.

ɛ
l

ե [U+0565 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER ECH], pronounced word-initially or as a standalone.

է [U+0567 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER EH]

ɔ
l

ո [U+0578 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER VO], pronounced ʋɔ word-initially or as a standalone.

Consonants

Click on the characters in the lists for detailed information. For a mapping of sounds to graphemes see consonant_mappings.

Consonant letters

The Armenian block has 31 consonant letters, each of which has an upper- and lowercase form.

Stops

պ␣բ␣փ␣տ␣դ␣թ␣կ␣գ␣ք
Պ␣Բ␣Փ␣Տ␣Դ␣Թ␣Կ␣Գ␣Ք

Affricates

ծ␣ձ␣ց␣ճ␣ջ␣չ
Ծ␣Ձ␣Ց␣Ճ␣Ջ␣Չ

Fricatives

ֆ␣վ␣ւ␣ս␣զ␣շ␣ժ␣խ␣ղ␣հ
Ֆ␣Վ␣Ւ␣Ս␣Զ␣Շ␣Ժ␣Խ␣Ղ␣Հ

Nasals

մ␣ն
Մ␣Ն

Other

ռ␣ր␣լ␣յ
Ռ␣Ր␣Լ␣Յ

Pronunciations of many of the consonants vary between eastern and western variants of Armenian.

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

Ligated forms

A number of letter pairs can create ligated forms. They include the following, of which the first is the most common.

մն␣մե␣մի␣վն␣մխ

These forms can also be written using code points in the Alphabetic Presentation Forms block, with compatibility decompositions to the relevant consonant pairs. As a general rule, however, code points in the Armenian block should be used rather than those in the Presentation Forms blocks. The font should still produce the ligations when the relevant letters appear side by side.

ﬓ␣ﬔ␣ﬕ␣ﬖ␣ﬗ

Consonant sounds to characters

The following maps consonant sounds to common graphemes in the Armenian orthography. Click on the Unicode names to see examples. Graphemes are grouped by lowercase ( l ) or uppercase ( u ).

Initials

l

փ [U+0583 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER PIWR]

պ [U+057A ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER PEH] sometimes after a silibant

բ [U+0562 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER BEN] in certain circumstances, such as medial/final letters following a rhotic, a nasal, a vowel, etc.

l

թ [U+0569 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER TO]

դ [U+0564 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER DA] in certain circumstances, such as medial/final letters following a rhotic, a nasal, a vowel, etc.

l

ք [U+0584 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER KEH]

գ [U+0563 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER GIM] in western Armenian as the default, and in eastern Armenian, in certain circumstances, such as medial/final letters following a rhotic, a nasal, a vowel, etc.

ɡ
l

գ [U+0563 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER GIM] in eastern Armenian.

t͡sʰ
l

ց [U+0581 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER CO] in eastern Armenian.

ձ [U+0571 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER JA] as the default in western Armenian, and in certain circumstances in eastern Armenian, such as medial/final letters following a rhotic, a nasal, a vowel, etc.

t͡ʃʰ
l

չ [U+0579 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER CHA] in eastern Armenian.

ջ [U+057B ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER JHEH] by default in western Armenian, and in certain circumstances in eastern Armenian, such as medial/final letters following a rhotic, a nasal, a vowel, etc.

j
l

յ [U+0575 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER YI]

part of ե [U+0565 ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER ECH] vowel pronounced when used word-initially or as a standalone.

part of և [U+0587 ARMENIAN SMALL LIGATURE ECH YIWN] vowel pronounced jev when word-initial or standalone.

Symbols

֍␣֎

֍ [U+058D RIGHT-FACING ARMENIAN ETERNITY SIGN] and ֎ [U+058E LEFT-FACING ARMENIAN ETERNITY SIGN] are widespread architectural motifs, 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

Numbers, dates, currency, etc.

Modern Armenian uses European numeral digits. In the past, however, letters were assigned numeric values. This numbering system still persists in counter styles (see lists).

Dates

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

Currency

֏

֏ [U+058F ARMENIAN DRAM SIGN] was introduced in 1995 for the new, post-independence currency.wd

Text direction

Armenian text runs left to right in horizontal lines.

Show default bidi_class properties for characters in the Armenian language.

Glyph shaping & positioning

This section brings together information about the following topics: writing styles; cursive text; context-based shaping; context-based positioning; baselines, line height, etc.; font styles; case & other character transforms.

You can experiment with examples using the Armenian character app.

Armenian text is not cursive (ie. joined up like Arabic), and the script has little contextual variation.

It has no special requirements for baseline alignment between mixed scripts or in general.

Context-based shaping

As mentioned in ligatures, when text occurs in manuscripts fonts may commonly cause the following pairs of letters to ligate.

մն մե մի վն մխ
Ligatures. (Click to see the components.)

Context-based 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, however font rules can be used to achieve the overlapping effect in digital applications.

ա՛ ա՜ ա՞

Tonal punctuation marks.

Font styles

tbd

Case & other character transforms

Armenian is bicameral, and applications may need to enable transforms to allow the user to switch between cases.

Punctuation & inline features

Grapheme boundaries

tbd

Word boundaries

Words are separated by spaces.

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

Phrase & section boundaries

,␣․␣՝␣։␣.
phrase

, [U+002C COMMA]

[U+2024 ONE DOT LEADER]

՝ [U+055D ARMENIAN COMMA]

sentence

։ [U+0589 ARMENIAN FULL STOP]

. [U+002E FULL STOP]

՝ [U+055D ARMENIAN COMMA] is used more like the English colon, and [U+2024 ONE DOT LEADER] functions like a semi-colon.

Արտահայտության սխալ չճանաչված բառ՝ «etal»։

A sentence containing the Armenian equivalents of both the semi-colon, colon, and full stop (in that order).

Tonal punctuation marks

՞␣՜

Armenian indicates questions, exclamations and emphasis by associating a modifier with a vowel in a sentence, rather than by using sentence-final punctuation.

՞ [U+055E ARMENIAN QUESTION MARK] is used for question, and is placed above and slightly to the right of the last vowel of the question word (usually the stressed vowel), rather than at the end of the sentence

Հնարավո՞ր է արդյոք համատեղել ընտանիքն ու քաղաքականությունը…

Armenian question mark.

՜ [U+055C ARMENIAN EXCLAMATION MARK] is used rather than an exclamation mark.

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.

Parentheses & brackets

(␣)
  start end
standard

( [U+0028 LEFT PARENTHESIS]

) [U+0029 RIGHT PARENTHESIS]

էժեն Անրի Պոլ Գոգենը (հունիսի 7, 1848 — մայիսի 8, 1903) աշխարհահռչակ ֆրանսիացի իմպրեսիոնիստ նկարիչ է:

An example of parentheses in Armenian.

Quotations

«␣»
  start end
initial

« [U+00AB LEFT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK]

» [U+00BB RIGHT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK]

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

Պետական մակարդակով արված հայտարարության մեջ նշվում է. «Մեր մարշալի առողջության՝ ծանր վիճակում լինելու մասին լուրերը եւս սխալ են եւ մեր երկրի համար վնասատու»:

Example of quotation marks.

Emphasis

՛

Armenian indicates emphasis by associating the modifier ՛ [U+055B ARMENIAN EMPHASIS MARK] with a vowel in the emphasised word – usually the last vowel.

Իտալիան եղել է և՛ Անտանտի, և՛ Կենտրոնական ուժերի կազմում:

An example of the Armenian emphasis mark (used twice) in a sentence.

The modifier mark 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.

Abbreviation, ellipsis & repetition

tbd

Inline notes & annotations

tbd

Other inline ranges

tbd

Other punctuation

Deprecated/archaic punctuation marks

՟

 ՟ [U+055F ARMENIAN ABBREVIATION MARK] is one of 4 abbreviation marks found in manuscripts to abbreviate words such as God, Jesus, Christos, etc. It is placed above the abbreviated word and spans all of its letters. Difficulty of implementation in modern systems led to it becoming an archaic usage.

՚␣ՙ

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

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

Line & paragraph layout

Line breaking & hyphenation

Lines are mostly broken at inter-word spaces. As in almost all writing systems, certain punctuation characters should not appear at the end or the start of a line.

Show default line-breaking properties for characters in the Armenian language.

Hyphenation/word-breaking

At the end of a line, when a word is split, ֊ [U+058A ARMENIAN HYPHEN] can be used. Note that this is different from the hyphen which is used to bind compound words together, and it is only used where a word is broken across a line ending.

Text alignment & justification

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

Letter spacing

tbd

Counters, lists, etc.

You can experiment with counter styles using the Counter styles converter. Patterns for using these styles in CSS can be found in Ready-made Counter Styles, and we use the names of those patterns here to refer to the various styles.

The Armenian language uses 2 additive styles (one uppercase, the other lowercase).

Additive

The upper-armenian additive style uses the letters shown below. It is specified for a range between 1 and 9,999.

Ք␣Փ␣Ւ␣Ց␣Ր␣Տ␣Վ␣Ս␣Ռ␣Ջ␣Պ␣Չ␣Ո␣Շ␣Ն␣Յ␣Մ␣Ճ␣Ղ␣Ձ␣Հ␣Կ␣Ծ␣Խ␣Լ␣Ի␣Ժ␣Թ␣Ը␣Է␣Զ␣Ե␣Դ␣Գ␣Բ␣Ա

Examples:

Ա␣Բ␣Գ␣Դ␣ԺԱ␣ԻԲ␣ԼԳ␣ԽԴ␣ՃԺԱ␣ՄԻԲ␣ՅԼԳ␣ՆԽԴ

The lower-armenian additive style uses the letters shown below. It is also specified for a range between 1 and 9,999.

ք␣փ␣ւ␣ց␣ր␣տ␣վ␣ս␣ռ␣ջ␣պ␣չ␣ո␣շ␣ն␣յ␣մ␣ճ␣ղ␣ձ␣հ␣կ␣ծ␣խ␣լ␣ի␣ժ␣թ␣ը␣է␣զ␣ե␣դ␣գ␣բ␣ա

Examples:

ա␣բ␣գ␣դ␣ժա␣իբ␣լգ␣խդ␣ճժա␣միբ␣յլգ␣նխդ

Prefixes and suffixes

Full stops + space are commonly used.

ա. բ. գ. դ. ե.
Separator for Armenian list counters: full stop + space.

Styling initials

tbd

Page & book layout

This section is for any features that are specific to Armenian and that relate to the following topics: general page layout & progression; grids & tables; notes, footnotes, etc; forms & user interaction; page numbering, running headers, etc.

Languages using the Armenian script

According to ScriptSource, the Armenian script is used for the following languages:

Online resources

  1. Առավոտ (online news)
  2. The Armenian Times (online news)
  3. Հայաստանի Հանրապետություն (online news)
  4. List of newspapers in Armenia (online news)

References