About Learning Armenian with Berlitz
Armenian is the native language of Armenia, the landlocked country in Transcaucasia bordering Turkey and Iran. It is spoken by virtually the entire population, or close to 3 1/2 million people. There are also about 400,000 speakers in neighboring Georgia and sizable communities in Azerbaijan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and the United States.
Armenian constitutes a separate and independent branch of the Indo-European family. The Armenians are an ancient people whose history dates back about 2,500 years. The alphabet was invented by Mesrop Mashtots, a missionary, about the year 400 AD. Originally it consisted of 36 letters (30 consonants and six vowels) to which two were added in the 12th century. There is only one sound for each letter, and one letter for each sound. Most Armenian surnames end in -yan (-ian), as in Mikoyan and Khachaturian.
The Armenians call their country Hayastan and their language Hayaren. During many centuries of Persian domination so many Iranian words entered the language that even in the 19th century many linguists thought it a dialect of Persian. It was not until 1875 that it was established as an independent language. Much of the Armenian vocabulary is not to be found in any other Indo-European language. Undoubtedly many words were derived from languages that are now extinct.