Western Armenian language

Western Armenian
Արեւմտահայերէն Arevmdahayeren
Spoken in  United States
 United Kingdom
 Iraq [1]
Total speakers 879,612[2], other estimates 4,000,000 (The Armenian diaspora estimated at 8,000,000 mainly speaks Western Armenian)
Language family Indo-European
Writing system Armenian alphabet
Official status
Official language in
Minority language:
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-1 hy
ISO 639-2 arm (B)  hye (T)
ISO 639-3 variously:
hye – Modern Armenian
xcl – Classical Armenian
axm – Middle Armenian

Western Armenian (Armenian: Արեւմտահայերէն, Արեւմտեան աշխարհաբար, sometimes—most often during the first half of the 20th century—referred to also as Թրքահայերէն, "Turkish-Armenian")[3] is one of the two standardized forms of modern Armenian, the other being Eastern Armenian. The two standard forms form a pluricentric language. Due to historical reasons explained below, generally speaking, Western Armenian is used outside the Republic of Armenia, while Eastern Armenian is used both inside and outside the Republic of Armenia. While the Republic of Armenia does not legally distinguish between the two forms of Armenian in declaring its official language to be Armenian, the de facto official language of the Republic of Armenia is Eastern Armenian, as all spheres of life in the country (including government, education, and the media) use Eastern Armenian almost exclusively.

Western Armenian was developed and cultivated by the Armenians indigenous to Anatolia (today in Turkey). Following the Armenian Genocide in the early 20th century, and the expulsion of almost all the Armenians from Anatolia, Western Armenian was deprived of the land on which it was indigenously spoken. For the last 100 years, Western Armenian has been relegated to a language spoken only in diaspora—namely, by the Armenians who managed to survive the Armenian Genocide and migrated to various countries in the Middle East, Europe, North America, South America, and Oceania. As a diasporic language, and as a language that is not an official language of any state, Western Armenian faces extinction as its native speakers lose fluency in Western Armenian amid pressures to assimilate into their host countries. Recent estimates place the number of fluent speakers of Western Armenian at less than one million. Many Armenians view this result—the possible extinction of the Western Armenian dialect—as the last stage of the Armenian Genocide.

Distinguishing the two forms of Armenian

Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian are easily mutually intelligible. They share the same ISO 639-1 code hy. The ISO 639-3 code for both is hye. The Armenian wikipedia is coded hy and is largely Eastern Armenian. Some commercial translation agencies advise that translation from English should normally be into Eastern Armenian.[4]


Western Armenian is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian diaspora, mainly in North America and South America, Europe and most of the Middle East except for Iran. It is spoken by only a small percentage of Armenians in Turkey, with 18 percent among the community in general and 8 percent among younger people.[5] It was developed in the early part of the 19th century, and is based on the Armenian dialect of Istanbul.

On February 21, 2009 International Mother Language Day has been marked with the publication of a new edition of the "Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger" by UNESCO where the Western Armenian language in Turkey is defined as a definitely endangered language.[6][7]


Western Armenian has eight monophthong vowel sounds.

! colspan=2| Front Central Back
|| Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded
Close   (ի)   (իւ)       (ու)
Mid class="nounderlines" section below for details.   (էօ)   (ը)   class="nounderlines"/>
Open         (ա)