Armenian: an Independent Branch of the Indo-European Language Family

When the studying of Armenian began in the 19th century, it was believed that Armenian descended from Iranian, an error produced by the vast number of loans from that language. Yet subsequent studies proved that, indeed, Armenian is an independent branch of the Indo-European family.

According to the historian Herodotus, Armenian was a variety of Phrygian, though the scant amount of knowledge concerning this language makes it impossible to make any asseverations to that effect.

Armenian is spoken by some 5 million people in Armenia, Georgia, other parts of the ex-Soviet Union and some countries of the Middle East, such as Lebanon and Turkey. As in each region a different variety of Armenian is spoken, there are two denominations, “western” and “eastern,” though they are mutually intelligible.

The dialectic base of eastern Armenian is the Ararat dialect, while that of the western variety is the Polis dialect (Constantinople). Within the eastern variety there are numerous and complex dialects, surpassing fifty in all, some of which are not mutually intelligible. The western variety is still spoken by some small communities in Turkey and emigrant communities throughout the world. The eastern variety is spoken in the Republic of Armenia itself (it is the official language) and a small linguistic enclave in the northwest of Iran.

Armenian continues to be written using the Armenian alphabet, invented by Mesrop Mashtots around 400 AD, with only two new letters having been added during the 20th century.

From a grammatical point of view, the ancient forms of Armenian shared a lot in common with those of the Greek language, though with the passage of time and the geographical proximity, modern Armenian has been more significantly influenced by Turkish (for example, the existence of postpositions instead of prepositions).

There is no grammatical gender and there are seven cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, ablative, instrumental and locative.
There are four verb tenses: indicative, optative, conditional-subjunctive, and imperative.

While ancient Armenian was similar to ancient Greek, modern Armenian is typologically closer to Turkish due to the use of agglutinating declensions, possessive suffixes, passive and causative verb forms, and postpositions rather than prepositions.