Proto-Armenian language

Proto-Armenian language

Ask a question about 'Proto-Armenian language'
Start a new discussion about 'Proto-Armenian language'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
The earliest testimony of the Armenian language
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

 dates to the 5th century AD (the Bible translation of Mesrob Mashtots). The earlier history of the language is unclear and the subject of much speculation.
It is clear that Armenian is an Indo-European language, but its development is opaque. In any case, Armenian has many layers of loanwords and shows traces of long language contact
Language contact
Language contact occurs when two or more languages or varieties interact. The study of language contact is called contact linguistics.Multilingualism has likely been common throughout much of human history, and today most people in the world are multilingual...

 with Hurro-Urartian, Greek and Indo-Iranian
Indo-Iranian languages
The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani...


The Proto-Armenian sound-laws are varied and eccentric (such as *dw- yielding erk-), and in many cases uncertain. For this reason, Armenian was not immediately recognized as an Indo-European branch in its own right, and was assumed to be simply a very eccentric member of the Iranian languages
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

 before H. Hübschmann established its independent character in an 1874 publication.

Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 voiceless stops are aspirated in Proto-Armenian, a circumstance that gave rise to the Glottalic theory
Glottalic theory
The glottalic theory holds that Proto-Indo-European had ejective stops, , but not the murmured ones, , of traditional Proto-Indo-European phonological reconstructions....

, which postulates that this aspiration may have been sub-phonematic already in PIE. In certain contexts, these aspirated stops are further reduced to w, h or zero in Armenian (PIE *pots, Armenian otn, Greek pous "foot"; PIE treis, Armenian erek’, Greek treis "three").

The reconstruction of Proto-Armenian being very uncertain, there is no general consensus on the date range when it might have been alive.
Greppin (1991) identifies 16 possible Old Armenian words with a Hurro-Urartian etymology:
agarak "field" from Hurrian awari "field";
astem "to reveal one's ancestry" ad Hurrian asti "woman, wife";
art "field" ad Hurrian arde "town";
xnjor "apple" from Hurrian hinz-ore "apple";
kut "grain" from Hurrian kade "barley" (rejected by Diakonoff);
maxr "pine" from Hurrian mahir "fir, juniper";
salor "plum" ad Akkadian salluru "plum", suspected of being of Hurrian origin;
tarma-jur "spring water" from Hurrian tarmani "source";
arciw "eagle" from Urartian Arsiba, a proper name with a presumed meaning of "eagle";
xarxaler "to destroy" from Urartian harhar-s- "to destroy";
sar "tree" from Urartian sare "garden";
cov "sea" from Urartian sue "sea";
ult "camel from Urartian ultu "camel";
pelem "dig, excavate" from Urartian pile "canal" (rejected by Diakonoff);
san "kettle" from Urartian sane "kettle, pot";
sur "sword", from Urartian sure "sword" (considered doubtful by Diakonoff).

See also

  • Armenian hypothesis
    Armenian hypothesis
    The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, based on the Glottalic theory suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highland or Aryan Highland. It is an Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in...

  • Armeno-Aryan
  • Armeno-Phrygian
    Armeno-Phrygian is a term for a hypothetical people who are thought to have migrated from the Balkans to Anatolia as a group and then have separated to form the Phrygians, the Mushki of Cappadocia, and the Armenians. It is also used for the language they are assumed to have spoken...

  • Classical Armenian
  • Glottalic theory
    Glottalic theory
    The glottalic theory holds that Proto-Indo-European had ejective stops, , but not the murmured ones, , of traditional Proto-Indo-European phonological reconstructions....

External links