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Indo-European language of the Armenian people. It is spoken by some 6.7 million individuals worldwide. Its long history of contact with Iranian languages has resulted in the adoption of many Persian loanwords. According to tradition, the unique Armenian alphabet was created in AD 405 by the cleric Mesrop Mashtots, who based some letters on those in the Greek alphabet. Armenian of the 5th–7th centuries (Grabar, sometimes called Classical or Old Armenian) was employed as the literary language into modern times. A 19th-century cultural revival led to the formation of two new literary languages: Western Armenian, based on the speech of Istanbul Armenians, and Eastern Armenian, based on the speech of Transcaucasian Armenians. Because of a long tradition of emigration and the massacres and expulsions during the last decades of Ottoman rule, most speakers of Western Armenian live outside of Anatolia. Eastern Armenian is the language of the present-day Republic of Armenia.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Armenian language, visit Britannica.com.
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