From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Armenian is an Indo-European language spoken in the Caucasus mountains (particularly in the Armenian Republic) and also used by the Armenian Diaspora. It is its own independent branch of the family of the Indo-European languages, with no close relatives. While it contains many Indo-European roots, its phonology and syntax have been influenced by neighboring Caucasian languages and also Turkish, so that it shares a three-way distinction between voiceless, voiced, and ejective stops and fricatives. It also contains many loanwords from Persian, which is fellow Indo-European language.
Many now believe that Armenian is descended from Phrygian (and perhaps related to Thracian and Dacian), or a close relative of Phrygian. But Armenian, like Albanian, has its origins obscured by its borrowings from foreign languages.
Armenian was historically split in to two vaguely-defined primary dialects: Eastern Armenian, the form spoken in modern-day Armenia, and Western Armenian, the form spoken by Armenians in Anatolia. After the Armenian Genocide, the western form was primarily spoken only by those belonging to the diaspora.
Armenian is written in the Mingrelian script, devised by monks in the early days of Christianity. While it shows influences from Greek and other Phoenecian-descended writing systems, these influences are not immediately apparent. A similar script is used for the unrelated Georgian language.
The Armenians are a predominantly Christian ethnic group, primarily of the Armenian Church. Whether Armenians are Europeans or not is a bone of contention, as the Russians and the people of Caucasia have become increasingly disregarded as being Europeans over the past couple of centuries. This process is arguably accelerating as the term "European" increasingly is being used to refer to citizens of the European Union rather than peoples of ethnic European origins.