Alphabet and Language
“Who else should be called God or divine human, if not the one who invented writing”.
In the Armenian Middle Ages the writing was the innermost relic. It became holy from the first moment of its creation. Apart from that, its creators also became holy- Mashtots, Sahak Partev the Catholicos, King Vramshapuh.This translation from the Proverbs of Solomon was the first sentence to be written down in the Armenian alphabet.
Both centers vigorously pursued the promotion of Ashkharhabar. The proliferation of newspapers in both versions of Armenian language (Eastern and Western Armenian) and the development of a network of schools where modern Armenian was taught, dramatically increased the rate of literacy (in spite of the obstacles by the colonial administrators), even in remote rural areas. The emergence of literary works entirely written in the modern versions increasingly legitimized the existence of the language. By the turn of the 20th century both varieties of the modern Armenian language prevailed over Grabar and opened the path to a new and simplified grammatical structure of the language in the two different cultural spheres.
After the First World War the existence of the two modern versions of the same language was sanctioned even more clearly. The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (1920-1990) used Eastern Armenian as its official language, while the survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in the Diaspora used Western Armenian.
Armenian writing is composed on the principle "one letter per sound". During 16 centuries of its existence, our alphabet has undergone only minor changes. Modern Armenian alphabet has 39 letters. In the 12th century "o", "f" and in the 20th century the letter "yev" was added to the 36 letters of the original alphabet by Mashtots.
For comparison, the Cyrillic alphabet (created in the 9th century by Cyril and Methodius scientists) originally had 43 letters, being burdened with 12 extra characters. It has undergone major changes for several times. Mashtots alphabet was created in the 5th century and has not changed much since then.
Mashtots created an alphabet that fully displayed all features of the Armenian language, rather than its specific dialect. By its order and composition the Armenian alphabet is unique and does not copy any foreign system. Its uniqueness can also be seen in its digital equivalent. The letters are placed in four columns: units, tens, hundreds and thousands.
In the middle ages Armenian letters were painted and designed by artists, purchasing new mysterious and beautiful meaning, creating new handwritten fonts: erkatagir (iron writing), bolorgir (round writing), shghagir (pin writing), trchnagir (bird letters), etc.
The alphabet was an instrument for preservation of national identity not only in the 5th century. In the 19th century Khachatur Abovyan referred to the Armenian youth, urging them to study 10 languages, but never forget their native language: "language and faith, that's what keeps and unites our nation". According to the scientist Paul Ariste (who knew 40 languages) the native language is always the best.
Our language and writing are currently used in the Republic of Armenia, Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Javaghk, centers of the Armenian Diaspora and Armenian cultural centers of the world.
“First of all homeland is the language".