Armenian script for English Առմինիըն սկռիպտ ֆոռ Իղգլիշ

Latin, Greek and Cyrillic are not the only alphabets in town. Far less known are the 2 unique alphabets of the Caucasus region which are used widely today: Armenian and Georgian. It’s a shame that they are far less known than the Big 3, because these alphabets have turned out to be remarkably suitable for adapting into English with only minor modifications. For instance, both Armenian and Georgian have dedicated letters for /ə/ and /oː/, and other spare letters can be easily used for writing /æ/.

Similarly to the more well-known alphabets, Armenian comes in uppercase and lowercase forms. In lowercase, Armenian has a highly uniform, Latin-like aesthetic with its own twist, most of which are very similar to their corresponding uppercase forms.

Adaptation process

Armenian has 2 written standards: Western and Eastern. I used the Eastern Armenian standard as the basis for this adaptation as it is a more faithful representation of the original pronunciations.

Overall, it’s not too hard to adapt Armenian for the English language, since most letters have straightforward English equivalents: պ = /p/, մ = /m/, ճ = /tʃ/, շ = /ʃ/, etc.

The main difference, of course, is that Armenian has aspirated consonants (e.g. /tʰ/, /kʰ/), fricatives (e.g. /ʁ/) and affricates (e.g. /dz/) which don’t exist as distinct phonemes in English, while English has /f/, /ŋ/, /θ/, /ð/, /ə/ and /æ/ instead. Which letters should be picked for these phonemes, you may ask? For this, I ended up employing a bit of artistic license, using letters for some of these Armenian phonemes which don’t exist as phonemes in English:

  • թ /tʰ/ -> /θ/ (both are unvoiced alveolar/dental sounds)
  • ձ /dz/ -> /ð/ (both are voiced alveolar/dental sounds)
  • ռ /r/ -> /ɹ/ (ռ is a more unique letter than the other option, ր /ɾ/)
  • ղ /ʁ/ -> /ŋ/ (/ʁ/ corresponds to /ɣ/ in many languages, both /ɣ/ and /ŋ/ are velar sounds)

Also, /u/ is traditionally written as ‘ու’ (literally ‘o’ + ‘w’) in the modern Armenian orthography. But since ւ is a compact letter on its own, I felt that it is best to also use it as a vowel. Hence, ւ is both /w/ and /ʊ/ depending on context. ‘ու’ is not completely abandoned though – it can be reused to represent /uː/.

Last but not least, I co-opted some Greek letters to use as de-facto numerals, as they blend in well with the script and symbolises Armenia’s cultural ties with Greece – the Armenian letter order is closely based on the Greek letter order, for instance.

Digits 1 to 8 are the 1st-8th Greek letters:

  • α = 1
  • β = 2
  • γ = 3
  • δ = 4
  • ε = 5
  • ζ = 6
  • η = 7
  • θ = 8

For the 9th digit, the 9th Greek letter (iota, ι) has to be skipped since it looks too similar to the Armenian letter for /w/ (ւ), so 9 shall be the 10th Greek letter (kappa, κ) instead. For 0, I’ll settle on the omega (ω), the last letter of the Greek alphabet.

  • κ = 9
  • ω = 0

And without further ado, here’s a recap of all the letters.

Letters

Consonants Կոնսոնընտս

/p/ Պ պ (port)/b/ Բ բ (best)/f/ Ֆ ֆ (fun)/v/ Վ վ (van)/m/ Մ մ (moon)
/t/ Տ տ (test)/d/ Դ դ (done)/θ/ Թ թ (thank)/ð/ Ձ ձ (the)/n/ Ն ն (new)
/k/ Կ կ (call)/g/ Գ գ (get)/x/ Խ խ (loch)./ŋ/ Ղ ղ (sing)
/s/ Ս ս (soon)/z/ Զ զ (zoo)/ʃ/ Շ շ (share)/ʒ/ Ժ ժ (closure).
/tʃ/ Ճ ճ (change)/dʒ/ Ջ ջ (just)...
/w/ Ւ ւ (way)/ɹ/ Ռ ռ (run)/l/ Լ լ (laugh)/j/ Յ յ (yell)/h/ Հ հ (house)

Vowels Վաւըլս

/a/~/ʌ/ Ա ա (sun)/æ/ Է է (can)
/ɛ/ Ե ե (head)/ə/~/ɜ/ Ը ը (sure)
/ɪ/ Ի ի (bid)/iː/ Յ յ (bead)
/ɔ/ Ո ո (pot)/ɔː/ ՈՈ ոո (bought)
/ʊ/ Ւ ւ (pull)/uː/ ՈՒ ու (pool)

Diphthongs Դիֆթողս

/aɪ/ ԱԻ աի (high)/aʊ/ ԱՒ աւ (now)
/ɔɪ/ ՈԻ ոի (toy)/oʊ/ Օ օ (dough)
/eɪ/ ԵԻ եի (say)/ɪə/ ԻԸ իը (ear)
/ʊə/ ՒԸ ւը (tour)/juː/ ՅՒ յւ (use)

Triphthongs Տռիֆթողս

/aɪə/ ԱԻԸ աիը (higher)/aʊə/ ԱՒԸ աւը (tower)
/jʊə/ ՅՒԸ յւը (cure).

Numerals Նյւմըռըլս

1 α2 β3 γ4 δ5 ε
6 ζ7 η8 θ9 κ0 ω

Special cases Սպեշըլ կեիսըս

In some fonts, the upper right stroke of lowercase /m/ (մ) connects with the upper left stroke of lowercase /n/ (ն), /ɛ/ (ե) and /ɪ/ (ի) when placed side-by-side.

/mn/ մն/mɛ/ մե/mɪ/ մի

Syllable structure

Armenian is a linear alphabet that works just like Latin does.

E.g. /stɹakt/ = ստռակտ

Sample texts

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Յւնիվըռսըլ Դեկլըռեիշըն ոֆ Հյւմըն Ռաիտս

Ոլ հյւմըն բյղս առ բոռն ֆռյ էնդ իկւըլ ին դիգնիտի էնդ ռաիտս. Ձեի առ ենդաւդ ւիթ ռյզըն էնդ կոնշընս էնդ շւդ էկտ տուըռդս ւան ընաձըռ ին ը սպիռիտ ոֆ բռաձըռհւդ.

(Առտիկըլ α ոֆ ձի Յւնիվըռսըլ Դեկլըռեիշըն ոֆ Հյւմըն Ռաիտս)

Excerpt from a short story I wrote a while ago

For comparison, you can view the original one here.

Աի հէդ ը ստռեինջ դռյմ ձէտ նաիտ.

Ին ձէտ դռյմ, Աի ֆաւնդ մաիսելֆ ըւեիկընիղ, լաիիղ ոն սոֆտ գռյն գռաս, ին ը ֆէնտըսի θ-բիտ ւըռլդ սըռաւնդըդ բաի կոմպյւտըռս. Ձը լւմինընս ոֆ բլիղկիղ մօդեմս էնդ ւոռմ, ճիըռֆւլ ճիպտյւն մյւզիկ ֆիլդ ձի եռ. Ոլձօ եվռիթիղ լւկդ բլոկի էնդ սկւեռ, իտ բռոոտ մի բէկ տւ ձօզ դեիս. Ոֆ ոլ ձը կոմպյւտըռս Աի սոո, α ոֆ ձեմ ւըս պլեիիղ մաի ֆեիվռըտ սող! Աի ջամպ էնդ լյպ ին ջոի օվըռ ձը սաիտ. Աի ձեն սոո մաի հաւս, էնդ Աի սեդ “Հաի” տւ մաի բեստ մեիտս, հւ ւըռ ւեիտիղ աւտսաիդ. Ւի ւոոկդ տւգեձըռ, հէվիղ ը ճիըռի ճէտ ըբաւտ ձը կոմպյւտըռ գեիմ Աի ւըս ւըռկիղ ոն ըռլիըռ.

“Սօ ւատս ձէտ կւլ գեիմ գոնա բի ըբաւտ, եի?” ւան ոֆ ձեմ ասկդ.
“Իֆ յւ լըվդ Մառիօ, յւլ լըվ ձիս!” Աի սեդ.
“Ոոսըմ!!! Կէնտ ւեիտ տւ սի իտ!” Ինսաիդ մի ձը ֆաիըռ տւ կյպ մի գօիղ բիկեիմ ստռողգըռ.

Ւի ւոոկդ ինտւ ը վիվիդ սանսետ. Աի ռեմինիսդ ձը մեմոռիս ոֆ պաստ սամըռս, պլեիիղ ռետռօ վիդիօ գեիմս ին ձը կւլ շեիդ, իվըն ձօ ձը սան աւտսաիդ պյկդ էտ δβ դիգռյս էնդ մելտըդ եվռիթիղ ելս.

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