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Western Armenian

Western Armenian is one of the two modern dialects of Armenian, an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian Diaspora, mainly in North America and Europe, but also in limited pockets of western Turkey and northern Syria.

Table of contents
1 Phonology
2 Morphology
3 See also


The phonology of Western Armenian (WA), unlike Eastern Armenian (EA), features a two-way distinction in its stops and affricates (here given with corresponding fricatives):

Stop Affricate Fricative
Labial voiced b v
voiceless pʰ (p) f
nasal m
Dental voiced d dz z
voiceless tʰ (t) cʰ (c) s
nasal n
Palatal voiced ʤ (j) ʒ (zh)
voiceless ʧʰ (ch) ʃ (sh)
Velar voiced g ɣ (gh)
voiceless kʰ (k) x (kh)
Glottal voiceless h

[Editor's note: p, t, k corresponding to EA p', t', k' will be represented that way here for transliteration purposes, meaning that /pʰ/, for example, will look like either p or p'.]

Armenian also features a two-way distinction between its rhotic sounds, /r/ (r') and /ɹ/ (r). Armenian has one lateral approximant, /l/.

There are seven Armenian vowels:

  Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e (e, ) ə () o (o, )
Low   a

[Editor's note: the orthographic rules of WA distinguish e from , even though they are both pronounced /e/, and o from , even though they are both pronounced /o/. They will be represented thus, i.e. as distinct graphs.]


The change in Western Armenian, going from a three-way to a two-way distinction, involves the merging of EA /b/ and /pʰ/ as (WA) /pʰ/, etc.; and, the voicing of Eastern /pʻ/ to (WA) /b/, etc. As a result, a word like jur (EA, 'water') is pronounced (WA) chur, while EA chermak ('white') is WA jermag, and t'or ('grandson') and k'ar ('stone') are pronounced identically in Eastern and Western Armenian.

Another element of both varieties of Armenian is devoicing of final stops and affricates, so that a word like t'az ('crown') is pronounced t'as, and bed (head) as bet.



Western Armenian nouns have six casess: Nominative (subject), Accusative (direct object), Genitive (possession), Dative (indirect object), Ablative (origin) and Instrumental (means). Of the six cases, the nominative and accusative are the same, and the genitive and dative are the same, meaning that nouns have four distinct forms for case. Nouns in Armenian also decline for number (singular and plural), but do not decline for gender (i.e. masculine or feminine).

Declension in Armenian is based on how the genitive is formed. There are several declensions, but two are the most used (genitive in i, and genitive in u):

  tashd (field) kari (barley)


singular plural singular plural
Nom-Acc tashd tashder kari kariner
Gen-Dat tashdi tashderu karu karineru
Abl tashd tashder kar kariner
Instr tashdov tashderov karov karinerov


Like some other languages such as English, Armenian has definite and indefinite articles. The indefinite article in Western Armenian is m, which follows the noun:

mart m ('a man',, martu m ('of a man',

The definite article is a suffix attached to the noun, and is one of two forms, either - or -n, depending on whether the final sound is a vowel or a consonant, and whether a preceding word begins with a vowel or consonant:

mart ('the man',
karin ('the barley'
Sa martn ('This is the man')
Sa karin ('This is the barley')

The indefinite article becomes mn under the same circumstance as - becomes -n:

mart m ('a man',
Sa mart mn ('This is a man')


Adjectives in Armenian do not decline for case or number, and precede the noun:

lav mart ('the good man',
lav martun ('to the good man',


Verbs in Armenian are based on two basic series of forms, a "present" form and a "imperfect" form. From this, all other tenses and moods are formed with various particles and constructions. There is a third form, the preterite, which in Armenian is tense in its own right, and takes no other particles or constructions. (See also Armenian verbs for more detailed information.)

The "present" tense in Western Armenian is based on three conjugationss (a, e, i):

'to love'
'to speak'
'to read'

yes (I) sirem khsim gartam

tun ( sires khsis gartas

an (he/she/it) sir khsi gartay
[pron. 'garta']

menk' (we) sirenk' khsink' gartank'

tuk' ( sirk' khsik' gartak'

anonk' (they) siren khsin gartan

The present tense (as we know it in English) is made by adding the particle g before the "present" form, while the future is made by adding bidi:

Yes g gartam kirk' (I am reading the book, Pres)
Yes bidi gartam kirk' (I will read the book, Fut)

See also

External links