The Yerevan dialect (Armenian: Երևանի բարբառ Yerevani barbař) is an Eastern Armenian dialect spoken in and around Yerevan. Classical Armenian (Grabar) words compose significant part of the Yerevan dialect vocabulary. Throughout the history, the dialect was influenced by several languages, especially Russian and Persian and loan words have significant presence in it today. It is the most widespread Armenian dialect today.
Historically, it was known as Araratian dialect (Արարատյան բարբառ (Araratyan barbar)), referring to the Ararat plain where it is mainly spoken. In the 19th century efforts were made to create a modern literary Armenian language. In 1841, the prominent Armenian writer Khachatur Abovian completed his Wounds of Armenia novel that was written in Yerevan dialect. The importance of its dialect grew in 1918, when Yerevan became the capital of the First Republic of Armenia. During the Soviet period (1920-1991), the Eastern Armenian language and the Yerevan dialect were heavily influenced by the predominant Russian language and by the late 1980s the Russification was considered harmful to the future of Armenian.
Today, the Yerevan dialect, which is the basis of colloquial Armenian is spoken by at least 1 million people who live in Yerevan. In addition, virtually all dialectics in Armenia, Republic of Artsakh and Georgia's Samtskhe-Javakheti region are influenced by the Yerevan dialect through the educational system. Most of the recent Armenian immigrants, who have migrated to foreign countries since the late 1980s, speak the Yerevan dialect.
The first known written work in the Yerevan dialect dates back to the 13th century by Vardan Bardzaberdtsi: "Ամենու սիրտն հետ քեզ լաւ են, եւ քեզ աղօթք են առնում." The 17th century Armenian merchant from Nakhichevan, Zak'aria Aguletsi (c. 1630–1691), who kept a diary, also wrote in Yerevan dialect, though with some influence of his local dialects. One of the first written sources of the Araratian dialect are Արհեստ համարողության (Arhest hamaroghutyan, Art of Arithmetic), published in Marseille in 1675 and Պարզաբանություն (Parzabanut'yun, Simplification) published in Venice in 1687.
The historical dialect spoken in Yerevan was usually referred to as Araratian, because Yerevan is located in the Ararat plain. The Araratian dialect was widespread, with rich vocabulary and pronunciation similar to the Classical Armenian. These factors gave the dialect of the future Armenian capital a special status. It was used as a basis for the literary Eastern Armenian language. According to Prof. Gevorg Jahukyan, the Araratian dialect had received a dominant position due to geographic, historical, linguistic reasons and was used for inter-dialectal communication.
Khachatur Abovian who is considered the founder of the modern Eastern Armenian literary language, wrote in Araratian dialect as he was born in Kanaker, a village near Yerevan then and a district of Yerevan now. Abovian's famous 1841 novel Wounds of Armenia is the first recognized work in modern Eastern Armenian. The Araratian dialect was later contributed by Mesrop Taghiadian (1803–1858), and alumni of Lazaryan School, Nersisyan School, and several Shushi schools, including Gevorg Akhverdian (1818-1861), Kerovbe (1833-1889) and Raphael Patkanian (1830-1892), but it is widely acknowledged that the Araratian dialect was "made perfect" by Khachatur Abovian.
According to prominent Armenian linguist Hrachia Adjarian's Classification des dialectes arméniens, in early 20th century the Yerevan dialect was spoken chiefly in the towns of Yerevan, Nork, Kanaker, Ejmiatsin, Oshakan and Ashtarak. Adjarian points out the fact that the Yerevan dialect was also spoken in the Havlabar district of Tiflis and in the Iranian city of Tabriz.
According to Prof. Laribyan, the dialect was also spoken in the Vayots Dzor, Nor Bayazet, Lori and Spitak districts and formerly in Surmali and Kaghzvan. Prof. Haykanush Mesropyan of the Armenian State Institute of Linguistics claims that Lori is the largest region where the Araratian dialect is spoken. The Araratian dialect was not and is not homogeneous but has sub-dialects that can be distinguished locally within the dialect area. The Yerevan sub-dialect of the Araratian dialect was chiefly spoken in the neighborhoods and villages of Kanaker, Arinj, Jrvezh, Nork and Kond. Yerevan's Nork district, which was a separate village until the 1920s, was considered the cradle of the Yerevan dialect.
The Araratian dialect has been relatively stable throughout the history, although the dialect had some influence in Lori (from Karabakh and Tiflis) and Gavar (from Mush). Bayazet variant usually considered a sub-dialect, although some linguists argued it was a distinct dialect.
Today, the Yerevan dialect is the main component foundation of standard spoken Eastern Armenian. It is now more of a sociolect as it has lost the previous geographic limits and has been "fixed" by the standard Eastern Armenian. The Yerevan dialect now has some differences from the original Araratian dialect; in particular, it has been "cleaned" from other dialectal and foreign (Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Russian) loan words.
The almost 160-year Russian and Soviet rule of Eastern Armenia (1828-1917, 1920-1991) had left its influence on the colloquial Armenian language. In everyday life, many Russian, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and other loan words are used. During the Soviet era, the Moscow-based authorities encouraged the Soviet Armenian elite to "free Armenian from Arabic, Turkish and Persian influences." By the late Soviet period in Armenia, Russian was "widespread and derivatives were formed from Russian using native affixes", meanwhile Russian also served as a medium through which European terms entered into Armenian.
According to Razmik Markossian, in 1989, the Araratian dialect was spoken in 162 villages and 5 cities with the total of 275,000 speakers outside of Yerevan.
There is a tendency of increased significance of the Yerevan dialect within Armenia. Generally, Armenian television channels use the Yerevan dialect instead of the standard Armenian, especially in their entertaining shows, which causes them to be criticized by linguists.
In Yerevan, the local dialect is seen as superior compared to provincial dialects. Even if the provincial dialect words are much closer to standard Eastern Armenian, they are seen as "village language".
The chart below presents the pronunciation of the words "this way", "that way" and "other way" in standard Eastern Armenian, Yerevan dialect and Karin dialect as spoken in Armenia's second largest city Gyumri.
|Dialect||this way||that way||other way|
|Standard Eastern Armenian||այսպես ayspes||այդպես aydpes||այնպես aynpes|
|Yerevan dialect||ըսենց əsents||ըտենց ətents||ընենց ənents|
|Karin dialect (Gyumri)||ըսպես əspes||ըդպես ədpes||ընպես ənpes|
The Yerevan dialect pronunciation is similar to that of Classical Armenian. It has three degrees of consonants:
|բ [b]||—||պ [p]||—||փ [pʰ]|
|դ [d]||—||տ [t]||—||թ [tʰ]|
|գ [ɡ]||—||կ [k]||—||ք [kʰ]|
|ձ [dz]||—||ծ [ts]||—||ց [tsʰ]|
|ջ [dʒ]||—||ճ [tʃ]||—||չ [tʃʰ]|
Since 1828, when Yerevan was captured by the Russian forces, Eastern Armenian have seen great influx of Russian words into colloquial Armenian. Today, "some Armenian words are never heard in spoken Armenian, the Russian equivalent being used instead." Russian words are often pronounced as they are in Russian, but with stress on the last syllable as in Armenian.
Some of the most common ones are listed below.
For centuries, the current territory of the Republic of Armenia was part of the Persian empire. From the 18th century to 1828, the Erivan khanate occupied the city of Yerevan and its surrounding areas. As a result of long-time Persian control, today Persian words still have considerable presence in both literary and colloquial languages.
Other languages also have some influence on the spoken Armenian. Below are some foreign words commonly used in Yerevan.
|արաղ arağ||vodka||عرق ʿáraq||sweat, perspiration||Arabic||the word 'vodka' is also frequently used|
|բոզ boz||whore, slut||ბოზი bozi||whore||Georgian||see Armenian profanity|
|զիբիլ zibil||trash, rubbish||زبل zibl||dung, manure, waste||Arabic||also used in Persian and Azerbaijani|
|ղզիկ ğızik||feminine boy, coward||qız [ɡɯz]||girl||Azeri|
|մերսի mersi||thank you||merci [mɛʁ.si]||thank you||French||brought to Armenia by the repatriates in 1946-1948|
|միտինգ [mitinɡ]||demonstration||meeting||an assembly of persons||English||via Russian 'митинг'|
|չենջ [tʃʰɛndʒ]||exchange office||change||to transform||English||used since 1990s, when first exchange offices appeared in the city|
|ջեբ ĵeb||جيب jayb||Arabic||very common in the region, also used in Albanian, Azeri, Bulgarian, Georgian, Greek, Hungarian, Serbo-Croatian, Persian, Turkish|
|սաղ sağ||all, whole, living/alive||sağ||right (direction), living/alive||Turkish or Azeri|
|քեշ փող [kʰɛʃ pʰɔʁ]||cash money||cash||physical form of currency||English||used since the 2000s|
Notable people who spoke and/or wrote in Yerevan dialect:
In Armenia an effort was made to free Armenian from Arabic, Turkish and Persian influences. In the 1920s, Russian terms tended to be avoided, but gradually this changed so that by the 1970s most of the new terms were being borrowed from Russian. Russian was the intermediary for terms from English or French or German. Calquing from Russian was widespread and derivatives were formed from Russian using native affixes.
Ավելի ստույգ` հեռուստատեսությամբ մեզ մատուցվողը բարբառ է` Արարատյան բարբառը, որ վաղուց միտում է դառնալու նոր գրական լեզու: Վաղուց ակնհայտ է, որ հեռուստաեթերից (սերիալներ, ժամանցային ծրագրեր) հնչող հայերեն խոսքն օրեցօր հագենում է Արարատյան բարբառին, մասնավորապես Երեւանի խոսվածքին հատուկ բառերով, արտահայտություններով, քերականական իրողություններով: approximate translation: The language served to us from the television is a dialect—the Araratian dialect, which from long ago has a tendency of becoming the literary language. It's obvious that, the Armenian heard from the television (soap operas, entertaining shows) is including more and more words, phrases, grammatical rules from the Yerevan dialect.
Loan words and personal names from Russian are also often pronounced with "Russian-like reduced vowels" in a colloquial Armenian (but with "Armenian" stress on last syllable).
In Armenian the demonstrations were called "mitings" (meetings).