Literature & Language

Classified as an independent branch of the Indo-European language family, the Armenian language has been historically spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands and is still widely spoken today. The language has its own unique text — the Armenian alphabet — which contains 39 letters and was invented in 405 CE by Mesrop Mashtots.

Armenian is the only official language in Armenia, though there now exist two dialects of the language spoken among the Diaspora: Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian. These dialects evolved primarily through the disbursement of Armenians throughout the region due to the 1915 Armenian Genocide and general turmoil in the region.

Those Armenians near Arabic- and Turkish-speaking communities were influenced by their neighbors and adapted their language into Western Armenian. Those Armenians close to Russia and Armenia itself speak Eastern Armenian.

Armenians have historically utilized their unique language and text to create wonderful literature. Armenian architecture and related arts virtually disappeared from 1500 to 1750. The limited number of Armenian monasteries, churches and schools that were built were outside of Armenia. The traditional art of manuscript illumination gave way to printing in the year 1512, when the new method of making and copying text was first introduced in Armenia.

Notable Armenian writers, from the 19th and 20th centuries, include Siamanto, Hagop Baronian, Vahan Tekeyan, Levon Shant and many others.