Romanization of Armenian

There are various systems of romanization of the Armenian alphabet.

Transliteration systems

Hübschmann-Meillet (1913)

In linguistic literature on Classical Armenian, the commonly used transliteration is that of Hübschmann-Meillet (1913). It uses a combining dot above mark U+0307 to express the aspirates, ṫ, cḣ, č̇, ṗ, k̇. Some documents were also published using a similar Latin dasia diacritic U+0314, a mirrored comma-apostrophe combining above the letter, which is easier to distinguish visually in t̔, ch̔, č̔, p̔, k̔.

However, the correct support of these combining diacritics has been poor for long in the past and was not very common on many usual applications and computer fonts or rendering systems., so some documents have been published using, as possible fallbacks, their spacing variants such as the modifier letter dot above ˙ U+02D9 written after the letter instead of above it, or the mirrored comma-apostrophe ‛ U+201B written after the letter instead of above it — or sometimes the spacing Greek spiritus asper ῾ U+1FFE (only in printed versions to make sure that it will be curly and not shown as a diagonal wedge or stroke similar to an accent, even though it will often been incorrectly positioned with Latin letters for rendering in simple text renderers on screen, even though the Armenian spiritus mark originates semantically from the Greek mark, but is positioned differently above the right side of Armenian letters, instead of above the left side of Greek letters), or the spacing grave accent ˋ U+02CB even if it is too flat, or even the ASCII backquote ` U+0060, or the ASCII apostrophe-quote ' U+0027 when there was no confusion possible).

But the preferred character today is the modifier letter left half-ring ʿ U+02BF (its combining variant above the letter is not used, see below), or the modifier letter ʽ U+02BD, which is the spacing variant of the dasia diacritic (it is also historically a correct adaptation to the Latin script of the Greek spiritus asper, see rough breathing) with the advantage of having excellent support in many Latin fonts because it is also a simple mirrored comma-apostophe, but encoded as U+02BD to enforce the curly shape of the apostrophe and prohibit its possible wedge shape: the modifier letter U+02BD is often mapped in fonts for fine typography with the same glyph as the U+201B mirrored comma-apostrophe, and will often be easier to read typographically than the very thin half-ring that is too frequently rendered as a superscript left parenthese or superscript small letter c, and U+02BD is used in many English documents prepared with enhanced typography as one of the two possible styles for the left single quotation mark U+201B used to replace the ambiguous ASCII apostrophe-quote). U+02BD can also be used within documents prepared for fine Armenian typography because the Armenian orthography should never use any Latin-style apostrophes for quoting Armenian texts.

Also, some ambiguities were not solved to work with modern vernacular Armenian, which has two dialects, both using two possible orthographies (besides, the modern orthography is used for Classical Armenian in modern publications).

BGN/PCGN (1981)

BGN/PCGN romanization (1981) uses a right single quotation mark to express aspirates, t’, ch’, ts’, p’, k’, diverging from the original rough breathing diacritic.

This romanization was taken up by ISO (1996) and is considered obsolete. This system is a loose transcription and is not reversible (without using dictionary lookup), notably for single Armenian letters romanized into digraphs (these non-reversible, or ambiguous romanizations are shown in a red cell in the table below).

Some Armenian letters have several romanizations, depending on their context:

  • the Armenian vowel letter Ե/ե should be romanized as ye initially or after the vowel characters Ե/ե, Է/է, Ը/ը, Ի/ի, Ո/ո, ՈՒ/ու and Օ/օ; in all other cases it should be romanized as e;
  • the Armenian vowel letter Ո/ո should be romanized as vo initially, except in the word եո where it should be romanized as ov; in all other cases it should be romanized as o;
  • the Armenian consonant letter Վ/վ should be romanized yev initially, in isolation or after the vowel characters Ե/ե, Է/է, Ը/ը, Ի/ի, Ո/ո, ՈՒ/ու and Օ/օ; in all other cases it should be romanized as ev.

ISO 9985 (1996)

ISO 9985 (1996) is the international standard for transliteration of the modern Armenian alphabet. Like with the BGN/PCGN romanization, the right single quotation mark is used to denote most of the aspirates.

This system is reversible because it avoids the use of digraphs and returns to the Hübschmann-Meillet (however some diacritics for vowels are also modified).

The aspirate series is not given fully consistent treatment in ISO 9985; while p’, t’, c’, k’ are romanized with a quotation mark, չ č is not, and instead its unaspirated counterpart ճ is notated č̣ with an underdot appearing nowhere else in the system. Note that in this scheme, č (signifying չ) collides with the Hübschmann-Meillet transliteration (where it signifies ճ).

This system is recommended for international bibliographic text interchange (it is also the base of simplified romanizations found to localize the Armenian toponomy of for transliterating human names), where it works very well with the common ISO/IEC 8859-2 Latin encoding used in Central Europe.

ALA-LC (1997)

ALA-LC romanization (1997) is largely compatible with BGN/PCGN, but returns to expressing aspirates with a left single quotation mark (in fact the modifier letter left half-ring ʿ U+02BF, US-MARC hexadecimal code B0, that is also used to denote ayin in Arabic, so some documents may contain either the preferred left half-ring, or sometimes the ASCII backquote ` U+0060).

This standard changes the transliteration scheme used between Classical/Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian for the Armenian consonants represented by swapping the pairs b vs. p, g vs. k, d vs. t, dz vs. ts and ch vs. j.

In all cases, and to make this romanization less ambiguous and reversible,

  • a soft sign (a prime, US-MARC hexadecimal code A7) is inserted between two separate letters that would otherwise be interpreted as a digraph (in red in the table below); no prime is present in the middle of romanized digraphs zh, kh, ts, dz, gh and ch representing a single Armenian letter;
  • with the Classical Armenian orthography only, the vowel represented by e will be represented by y instead, when it is at the initial position in a name and followed by another vowel; this difficulty has disappeared in modern Armenian with the reformed orthography that changed the original Armenian letter in such case;
  • with the Classical Armenian orthography only, the vowel represented by y will be represented by h instead, when it is at the initial position of a word or of a radical in a compound word; this difficulty has disappeared in modern Armenian with the reformed orthography that changed the original Armenian letter in such case.

ASCII-only input methods

On various Armenian websites, non-standard transliterators have appeared to allow inputting modern Western or Eastern Armenian text using ASCII only characters. It is not a proper transliterator but can be convenient for users that don't have Armenian keyboards.

Despite these input methods are commonly used, they are not obeying to any approved international or Armenian standard, so they are not recommended for the romanization of Armenian. Note that the input methods recognize the Latin digraphs zh, dz, gh, tw, sh, vo, ch, rr for Classic or Eastern Armenian, and zh, dz, tz, gh, vo, ch, rr for Western Armenian, but offer no way to disambiguate words where the digraphs should not be recognized.

Some Armenian letters are entered as Latin digraphs, and may also be followed by the input of an ASCII single quote (which acts as the only letter modifier recognized) but this quote does not always mean that the intended Armenian letter should be aspirated (this may be the reverse for the input ch'), it is also used as a vowel modifier. Due to ambiguities, texts must be corrected by entering an intermediate dummy character before entering the second Latin letter or quote, then removing the dummy character, so that the automatic input converter keeps the Armenian letters distinct.

Transliteration tables

Some Armenian letters have very different phonetic sounds between Classical or Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian, so that the usage of Armenian letters is different between the two sub-branches of the language.

This is made visible in the table below by coloring transliterations specific to Classical or Eastern Armenian on green background, and those for Western Armenian on blue background. Other letters are transliterated independently of the language branch. However, cells with red background contain transliterations that are context dependent (and may in some cases create ambiguities, only the ISO 9985 and Hübschmann-Meillet romanizations do not use any context-dependant ambiguous digraphs for transcribing simple Armenian letters that are not ligatures, but the former is inconsistent with its representation of aspirated consonnants and incompatible with all other systems for a pair of letters).

Armenian script capital Ա Բ Գ Դ Ե Զ Է Ը Թ Ժ Ի Լ Խ Ծ Կ Հ Ձ Ղ Ճ Մ
0531 0532 0533 0534 0535 0536 0537 0538 0539 053A 053B 053C 053D 053E 053F 0540 0541 0542 0543 0544
minuscule ա բ գ դ ե զ է ը թ ժ ի լ խ ծ կ հ ձ ղ ճ մ
0561 0562 0563 0564 0565 0566 0567 0568 0569 056A 057B 056C 056D 056E 057F 0570 0571 0572 0573 0574
Romanization of Classical or Eastern Armenian ASCII input a b g d e z e' y' t' zh i l x c' k h dz gh tw m
Hübschmann-Meillet ê ə t̔, ṫ ž c j ł č
ISO 9985 ē ë t’ ç ġ č̣
BGN/PCGN e, ye e y zh kh ts dz gh ch
ALA-LC e, y ē ě tʿ
Romanization of Western Armenian ALA-LC p k t dz g ts j
ASCII input e e' y t' x tz
Armenian script capital Յ Ն Շ Ո Չ Պ Ջ Ռ Ս Վ Տ Ր Ց Ւ Փ Ք Օ Ֆ ՈՒ  
0545 0546 0547 0548 0549 054A 054B 054C 054D 054E 054F 0550 0551 0552 0553 0554 0555 0556 0548
minuscule յ ն շ ո չ պ ջ ռ ս վ տ ր ց ւ փ ք օ ֆ ու և (եւ)
0575 0576 0577 0578 0579 057A 057B 057C 057D 057E 057F 0580 0581 0582 0583 0584 0585 0586 0578
Romanization of Classical or Eastern Armenian ASCII input y n sh vo ch p j rr s v t r c w p' k', q o f u ev
Hübschmann-Meillet š o č̔, č̇ ǰ c̔, ċ p̔, ṗ k̔, k̇ ô
ISO 9985 č c’ p’ k’ ò ow ew
BGN/PCGN sh o, vo ch’ j rr ts’ o u ev, yev
ALA-LC y, h o chʿ tsʿ pʿ kʿ ō ew, ev
Romanization of Western Armenian ALA-LC b ch d
ASCII input h' vo ch ch' rr c p' k', q o ev

Note that in the table above, the last two columns refer to digraphs, not isolated letters (however, they are considered letters in the Reformed orthography). However the last column displays the ligature that is used in the Classical orthography only as an isolated symbol for the short Armenian word ew (meaning and) and its derivations in a way similar to the ampersand (&) in the Latin script (in the Reformed orthography, it is also used at the middle and the end of words instead of եվ); the same transliteration to ew (classical Armenian) or ev (reformed orthography) will be used for the letters this ligature represents, when they are used as digraphs: it used to refer to the w consonant, now it refers to the v consonant.

Armenian script also uses some other digraphs that are often written as optional ligatures, in lowercase only (five of them are encoded in Unicode only for full roundtrip compatibility with some legacy encodings); when present, these ligatures (which are purely typographic and carry no semantic distinction in normal Armenian texts) must be romanized by decomposing their component letters.

Versatile[1] option for the Classical (Eastern-Armenian), including the most popular romanization systems to date: ASCII, Hübschmann-Meillet, ISO 9985, BGN / PCGN, ALA-LC.

Armenian script capital Ա Բ Գ Դ Ե Զ Է Ը Թ Ժ Ի Լ Խ Ծ Կ Հ Ձ Ղ Ճ Մ
minuscule ա բ գ դ ե զ է ը թ ժ ի լ խ ծ կ հ ձ ղ ճ մ
Romanization of Classical or Eastern Armenian ASCII input Hübschmann-Meillet BGN/PCGN ISO 9985 ALA-LC a b g d e z ē ȳ ž i l x c k h dz ġ ch m
Armenian script capital Յ Ն Շ Ո Չ Պ Ջ Ռ Ս Վ Տ Ր Ց Ւ Փ Ք Օ Ֆ ՈՒ
minuscule յ ն շ ո չ պ ջ ռ ս վ տ ր ց ւ փ ք օ ֆ ու և
Romanization of Classical or Eastern Armenian ASCII input Hübschmann-Meillet BGN/PCGN ISO 9985 ALA-LC y n š o č p j s v t r ć w q ō f u ew

See also


  1. ^ "Armenian.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  • Antoine Meillet and Heinrich Hübschmann, Altarmenisches Elementarbuch, Heidelberg, 1913 (2nd edition, 1980).

External links

  • Armenian Transliteration Converter Supports both Eastern and Western pronunciations of Armenian, includes a spell checker.
  • Transliteration of Armenian by Thomas T. Pedersen, in KNAB (Kohanimeandmebaas, Place Names Database) of Eesti Keele Instituut (Institute of the Estonian Language).
  • A ready macro for Visual Basic in Microsoft Word text editor, allowing to automatically replace the Armenian letters to Latin script, using the Versatile option above for the Eastern-Armenian language.
ALA-LC romanization

ALA-LC (American Library Association - Library of Congress) is a set of standards for romanization, the representation of text in other writing systems using the Latin script.


ArmSCII or ARMSCII is a set of obsolete single-byte character encodings for the Armenian alphabet defined by Armenian national standard 166-9. ArmSCII is an acronym for Armenian Standard Code for Information Interchange, similar to ASCII for the American standard. It has been superseded by the Unicode standard.

However, these encodings are not widely used because the standard was published one year after the publication of international standard ISO 10585 that defined another 7-bit encoding, from which the encoding and mapping to the UCS (Universal Coded Character Set (ISO/IEC 10646) and Unicode standards) were also derived a few years after, and there was a lack of support in the computer industry for adding ArmSCII.

Armenian alphabet

The Armenian alphabet (Armenian: Հայոց գրեր, Hayots' grer or Հայոց այբուբեն, Hayots' aybuben; Eastern Armenian: [haˈjotsʰ ajbuˈbɛn]; Western Armenian: [haˈjotsʰ ajpʰuˈpʰɛn]) is an alphabetic writing system used to write Armenian. It was developed around 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader. The system originally had 36 letters; eventually, three more were adopted.

The Armenian word for "alphabet" is այբուբեն (aybuben), named after the first two letters of the Armenian alphabet: ⟨Ա⟩ Armenian: այբ ayb and ⟨Բ⟩ Armenian: բեն ben. Armenian is written horizontally, left-to-right.

Armenian language

The Armenian language (classical: հայերէն; reformed: հայերեն [hɑjɛˈɾɛn] hayeren) is an Indo-European language spoken primarily by Armenians. It is the official language of Armenia. Historically being spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands, today, Armenian is widely spoken throughout the Armenian diaspora. Armenian is written in its own writing system, the Armenian alphabet, introduced in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots.

BGN/PCGN romanization

BGN/PCGN romanization refers to the systems for romanization (transliteration into the Latin script) and Roman-script spelling conventions adopted by the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) and the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use (PCGN).

The systems have been approved by the BGN and the PCGN for application to geographic names, but they have also been used for personal names and text in the US and the UK.

Details of all the jointly approved systems are outlined in the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency publication Romanization Systems and Policies (2012), which superseded the BGN 1994 publication Romanization Systems and Roman-Script Spelling Conventions. Romanization systems and spelling conventions for different languages have been gradually introduced over the course of several years. An incomplete list of BGN/PCGN systems and agreements covering the following languages is given below (the date of adoption is given in the parentheses).

Classical Armenian

Classical Armenian (Armenian: գրաբար, grabar, Western Armenian krapar, meaning "literary [language]"; also Old Armenian or Liturgical Armenian) is the oldest attested form of the Armenian language. It was first written down at the beginning of the 5th century, and all Armenian literature from then through the 18th century is in Classical Armenian. Many ancient manuscripts originally written in Ancient Greek, Persian, Hebrew, Syriac and Latin survive only in Armenian translation.

Classical Armenian continues to be the liturgical language of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church and is often learned by Biblical, Intertestamental, and Patristic scholars dedicated to textual studies. Classical Armenian is also important for the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language.

Eastern Armenian

Eastern Armenian (Armenian: արևելահայերեն arevelahayeren) is one of the two standardized forms of Modern Armenian, the other being Western Armenian. The two standards form a pluricentric language.

Eastern Armenian is spoken in Armenia, Artsakh as well as Georgia, and by the Armenian community in Iran. Although the Eastern Armenian spoken by Armenians in Armenia and Iranian-Armenians are similar, there are pronunciation differences with different inflections. Armenians from Iran also have some words that are unique to them. Due to migrations of speakers from Armenia and Iran to the Armenian Diaspora, the dialect is now very prominent in countries and regions where only Western Armenian was used. It was developed in the early 19th century and is based on the Yerevan dialect.

Middle Armenian

Cilician Armenian (Armenian: Կիլիկեան հայերէն or միջին հայերէն), also called Middle Armenian, but the former term may be confused for modern dialects, corresponds to the second period in written Armenian with which numerous books were published between the 12th and 18th centuries. It comes after Grabar (Classical Armenian) and before Ashkharhabar (Modern Armenian).Classical Armenian was predominantly an inflecting and synthetic language, but in Middle Armenian, during the period of Modern Armenian influence, agglutinative and analytical forms influenced the language. In this respect, Middle Armenian is a transition stage from Old Armenian to Modern Armenian or ashkharabar. Although Modern Armenian started to form under conditions of strong dialect differences, decline of old literature and manuscript traditions. Middle Armenian is a transition stage from Old Armenian to Modern Armenian. Middle Armenian is notable for being the first written form of Armenian to display Western-type voicing qualities and to have introduced the letters օ and ֆ, which were based on the Latin letters "o" and "f".

Proto-Armenian language

Proto-Armenian is the earlier, unattested stage of the Armenian language which has been reconstructed by linguists. As Armenian is the only known language of its branch of the Indo-European languages, the comparative method cannot be used to reconstruct its earlier stages. Instead, a combination of internal and external reconstruction, by reconstructions of Proto-Indo-European and other branches, has allowed linguists to piece together the earlier history of Armenian.

Romanisation of Sindhi

Sindhi romanisation or Latinization of Sindhi is a system for representing the Sindhi language using the Latin script.

In Sindh, Pakistan the Sindhi language is written in modified persio-Arabic script and in India it is written in Devanagari (Hindi) Script.

Sindhis living in Pakistan as well as Sindhis living in India are able to speak and understand each other, however, they cannot write to each other because of the two different scripts.

Indus Roman Sindhi Script gives ability to Sindhis and would allow Sindhis all over the world to communicate with each other through one common script.

Serzh Sargsyan

Serzh Sargsyan (Armenian: Սերժ Սարգսյան, pronounced [sɛɾʒ sɑɾkʰəsˈjɑn]; born 30 June 1954) is an Armenian politician who served twice as the Prime Minister of Armenia and was the third President of Armenia, from 2008 to 2018. He won the February 2008 presidential election with the backing of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, a party in which he serves as chairman, and took office in April 2008. On 18 February 2013, he was re-elected as president and served the entire term.

Despite pledging in 2014 not to become Prime Minister again while supporting an amendment of the constitution in 2015 that would allow it, Sargsyan was again elected Prime Minister of Armenia in April 2018, in what opposition figures described as a "power grab". Six days after taking office, Sargsyan resigned after large-scale protests. Sargsyan is currently the leader of the Republican Party, which from 1995 to 2018 held a majority in Armenia's National Assembly.

Western Armenian

Western Armenian (Classical spelling: արեւմտահայերէն, arevmdahayerên) is one of the two standardized forms of Modern Armenian, the other being Eastern Armenian. Until the early 20th century, various Western Armenian dialects were spoken in the Ottoman Empire, especially in the eastern regions historically populated by Armenians known as Western Armenia. Following the Armenian Genocide of 1915, Standard (literary) Western Armenian is now spoken, almost exclusively, in the Armenian diaspora communities around the world, while the spoken or dialectal varieties of Western Armenian currently in use include Homshetsi, spoken by the Hemshin peoples; the dialects of Armenians of Kessab (Քեսապի բարբառ), Latakia and Jisr al-Shughur (Syria), Anjar, Lebanon, and Vakıflı, Samandağ (Turkey), part of the "Sueidia" dialect (Սուէտիայի բարբառ).

Forms of the Karin dialect of Western Armenian are spoken by several hundred thousand people in Northern Armenia, mostly in Gyumri, Artik, Akhuryan, and around 130 villages in the Shirak province, and by Armenians in Samtskhe–Javakheti province of Georgia (Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsikhe).Nakhichevan-on-Don Armenians speak another Western Armenian variety based on the dialect of Armenians in Crimea, where they came from in order to establish the town and surrounding villages in 1779 (Նոր Նախիջեւանի բարբառ).

Western Armenian dialects are currently spoken also in Gavar (formerly Nor Bayazet and Kamo, on the west of Lake Sevan), Aparan, and Talin in Armenia (Mush dialect), and by the large Armenian population residing in Abkhazia, where they are considered to be the first or second ethnic minority, or even equal in number to the local Abkhaz population.As mostly 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. Estimates place the number of fluent speakers of Western Armenian outside Armenia and Georgia at less than one million.

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