Armenian Background

Armenian language, Armenian Hayeren, also spelled Haieren, language that forms a separate branch of the Indo-European language family; it was once erroneously considered a dialect of Iranian. In the early 21st century the Armenian language is spoken by some 6.7 million individuals. The majority (about 3.4 million) of these live in Armenia, and most of the remainder live in Georgia and Russia. More than 100,000 Armenian speakers live in Iran. Until the early 20th century, an Armenian population had lived in Turkey in the area around Lake Van since ancient times; a small minority of Armenians lives in Turkey today. Armenians also live in Lebanon, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Iraq, France, Bulgaria, the United States, and elsewhere. Several distinct varieties of the Armenian language can be distinguished: Old Armenian (Grabar), Middle Armenian (Miǰin hayerên), and Modern Armenian, or Ašxarhabar (Ashkharhabar). Modern Armenian embraces two written varieties—Western Armenian (Arewmtahayerên) and Eastern Armenian (Arewelahayerên)—and many dialects are spoken. About 50 dialects were known before 1915, when the Armenian population of Turkey was drastically reduced by means of massacre and forced exodus; some of these dialects were mutually unintelligible.