We’d like to take a closer look at the Armenian language this month, and examine its history, origins and cultural influences. We are definitely seeing more requests for Armenian-English translation, and thought Armenian would be a perfect fit for our August Language Spotlight.

Present-day Armenia is a small republic nestled in the mountainous region bordered by Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan-Naxçivan, the Republic of Georgia, Iran, and Turkey. Approximately 3 million people live within the Armenian Republic, and another 3 million Armenians live in various countries of the ex-Soviet Union.  One and a half million Armenians live in the Americas, one million live in Europe, and a half million live in the Middle East and Africa.

Armenia’s history is tumultuous and tragic, marked by invasion, bloody wars during the Ottoman Empire, massacres at the hands of Turkish authorities during the early twentieth century, Soviet invasion and occupation, and finally, independence from Soviet rule in 1991.

Armenian is spoken by 6.7 million people worldwide, and according to 2009 U.S. Census figures, there are 300,000 Americans who speak Armenian at home. Speakers live throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America, with concentrated populations in New York City, Glendale, California, Los Angeles, California and Detroit, Michigan. The Armenian language’s history dates back to a fifth century Bible translation as its oldest surviving text, and the modern language shows influences of Greek, Latin, Persian, Arabic, Turkish and other languages. The Armenian alphabet has 36 characters, allowing for a complex and sophisticated spoken and written language. Today, Armenians speak either Western Armenian, based on the speech of Istanbul Armenians, or Eastern Armenian, based on the speech of Transcaucasian Armenians, and the two dialects are mutually intelligible. Eastern Armenian is the language of the present-day Republic of Armenia.

Armenia has a nearly 100% literacy rate, and education is greatly valued.  Agriculture, technology, mining, textiles, and brandy production are all components of Armenia’s economic picture. Armenia has a rich tradition of musical folk dance, art, costume and tapestry, passed down through the generations. Historically, Armenian art has been associated with architecture, stone engravings, rug weaving and illuminated manuscripts. Armenian people take great pride in their history, culture, religion, arts, and cuisine. Museums, centuries-old architecture, theaters, opera, restaurants, open cafes, clubs, and of course, the natural splendor of the surrounding mountains, lakes and forests make Armenia a unique and wonderful destination for those wishing to explore an exciting country rich in historical significance and  great beauty.

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