Classical Armenian
Old Armenian
RegionArmenian Highlands
Eradeveloped into Middle Armenian
  • Classical Armenian
Early form
Armenian alphabet (Classical Armenian orthography)
Language codes
ISO 639-3xcl
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Classical Armenian (Armenian: գրաբար, romanizedgrabar, Eastern Armenian pronunciation [ɡəɾɑˈpʰɑɾ], Western Armenian pronunciation [kʰəɾɑˈpʰɑɾ]; meaning "literary [language]"; also Old Armenian or Liturgical Armenian) is the oldest attested form of the Armenian language. It was first written down at the beginning of the 5th century, and all Armenian literature from then through the 18th century is in Classical Armenian. Many ancient manuscripts originally written in Ancient Greek, Hebrew, Syriac and Latin survive only in Armenian translation.[1]

Classical Armenian continues to be the liturgical language of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church and is often learned by Biblical, Intertestamental, and Patristic scholars dedicated to textual studies. Classical Armenian is also important for the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language.


Epitaph in Classical Armenian for Jakub and Marianna Minasowicz at St. Hyacinth's Church in Warsaw


There are seven monophthongs:

There are also traditionally six diphthongs:


In the following table is the Classical Armenian consonantal system. The stops and affricate consonants have, in addition to the more common voiced and unvoiced series, also a separate aspirated series, transcribed with the notation used for Ancient Greek rough breathing after the letter: p῾, t῾, c῾, č῾, k῾. Each phoneme has two symbols in the table. The left indicates the pronunciation in International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA); the right one is the corresponding symbol in the Armenian alphabet.

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar /
plain velar.
Nasals /m/   մ   /n/   ն          
Stops voiced /b/   բ   /d/   դ       /ɡ/   գ    
unvoiced /p/   պ   /t/   տ       /k/   կ    
aspirated /pʰ/   փ   /tʰ/   թ       /kʰ/   ք    
Affricates voiced   /dz/   ձ     /dʒ/   ջ      
unvoiced   /ts/   ծ     /tʃ/   ճ      
aspirated   /tsʰ/   ց     /tʃʰ/   չ      
Fricatives voiced /v/   վ   /z/   զ     /ʒ/   ժ      
unvoiced /f/   ֆ  [a] /s/   ս     /ʃ/   շ   /χ/   խ   /h/   հ  
Approximants lateral   /l/   լ   /ɫ/   ղ        
central   /ɹ/   ր     /j/   յ      
Trill   /r/   ռ        
  1. ^ The letter f (or ֆ) was introduced in the Medieval Period to represent the foreign sound /f/, the voiceless labiodental fricative; it was not originally a letter in the alphabet.[2]

See also



  1. ^ "Armenian Language Program | Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  2. ^ Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009). Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 18. ISBN 9789027238146. Retrieved 19 May 2021.