BBC: How a 1,600-year-old alphabet shaped Armenian identity

BBC: How a 1,600-year-old alphabet shaped Armenian identity

PanARMENIAN.Net - The BBC has published a fresh article about the 1,600-year-old Armenian alphabet which has shaped the identity of Armenians throughout centuries.

“The Armenian alphabet is not just a writing system: it's also a numerical system used for mathematical calculations and recording calendar dates, as well as a national point of pride,” the article says, recounting the author’s first encounter with a monument to the alphabet.

“The statues, carved out of faded pink, pastel yellow and light black stone, were etched with flowers and symbols. Some of them were in clusters, others were in solitary stances.”

The article ten explains that the great Armenian linguist Mesrop Mashtots created the alphabet in a phonetic style so it was easy for the Armenians to adapt to the written form of a language they were already speaking. And then “their language gave a new identity to the Armenians.”

“Over the next 1,500 years, the alphabet would remain a national point of pride at the core of Armenian cultural identity, an emblem of solidarity for the war-torn land that was almost continually ruled and colonised by foreign forces – the Romans, the Byzantines, the Persians and the Ottoman Turks. This almost-continuous and unrelenting saga of oppression and subjugation would finally end in 1991, when the 69-year-old Soviet regime collapsed and Armenia became an independent republic,” the article adds.

“As well as being part of the alphabet, all the original 36 letters also have an assigned numerical value based on their order in the alphabet. When arranged in four columns and nine rows, the letters in each column respectively represent digits in singles, tens, hundreds and thousands. They can even be used to determine dates according to the Armenian calendar.”

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