Armenian is spoken by approximately six million people. About 3.5 million speakers live in the Republic of Armenia. The rest of the speakers is scattered all over the world. Exiled communities of remarkable size can be found in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and the USA.
The speakers call their language Haieren or Ashkari.
Armenian constitutes a separate branch of the Indo-European language family. Due to the large amount of ancient Iranian loan words it was once considered to be an Iranian language.
There is a major split between Western Armenian dialects and Eastern Armenian dialects. Western Armenian is mainly spoken by the communities in the diaspora. Eastern Armenian is spoken in the Republic of Armenia and in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The first Armenian inscriptions date back to the 5th century AD. They were written with Greek letters. The Armenian script was developed in the 5th century CE by the monk and scholar Mesrop Mashtots. He used the Greek alphabet as a model. Initially the Armenian alphabet had 36 characters. Two letters were added later.
In the 5th century CE Armenian culture was flowering and a rich literature was emerging. The language of that era, the Grabar - also called Old Amerian or Classical Armenian - was in use as a literary language until the middle of the 19th century. The spoken language developed independently from the Grabar. New Armenian came into being in the 17th century. It replaced the Grabar as written language in the 19th century. After some time two written languages developed: The New East Armenian language, which is used in Armenia and Iran, and New West Armenian, which is used in the diaspora.
The genocide during World War I in the Ottoman Empire is the cause why many of the Armenians live in diaspora. At least several 100.000 Armenians were killed in these events.
In comparison with the Proto Indo-European sound system particularly the Armenian stops have been remodelled in a way that resembles Grimm's Law in Germanic.
Armenian has ejective sounds due to the influence of the neighbouring Caucasian languages.
The position of stress is usually on the last syllable of the word.
The noun has seven cases in Old and in New Armenian (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, locative, ablative, and instrumental). There is no grammatical gender. The numbers are singular and plural.The New Armenian noun is more agglutinative than the Old Armenian noun.
The main tense distinction in the Armenian verb inflection is between present, aorist and periphrastic perfect tenses. In New Armenian the Old Armenian synthetic present and imperfect are replaced by analytic constructions.
The word order in Armenian is SVO.