Armenian (Հայերեն) is the language spoken by Armenian people in Armenia as well as Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora. The Armenian language has about 6.4 million speakers at home. Armenian is written using the Armenian alphabet. 39 letters are used in modern-day Armenia, 31 of which are consonants and 8 of which are vowels. Ligatures are relatively common in Armenian writing, combining different letters into one symbol. Like the Latin alphabet, Armenian has distinct upper and lower case forms, but unlike Latin, it has its own set of punctuation marks, which often resemble Latin symbols but may serve different purposes.
The Armenian alphabet was invented in the 5th century CE by the linguist Mesrop Mashtots. The Armenian alphabet is probably based on the Greek system, and shares its alphabetical order, but the Pahlavi and Syriac scripts are also cited as possible influences. There were originally 36 letters, but changes in pronunciation were eventually reflected in the addition of two new letters in the Middle Ages, and a spelling reformation in the 1920s made further changes resulting in a new total of 39 letters. Armenian speakers outside of the former Soviet Union, including those in Turkey, Iran and the international diaspora, generally continue to use traditional spelling rules. The Western dialect is always written using classical orthography.
The Armenian alphabet is currently only used for the Armenian language, but during the time of the Ottoman Empire, there was a flourishing publishing industry that used the Armenian alphabet to write Turkish. Turkish continued to be written with the Armenian alphabet alongside other systems, mainly Greek, until the development of the current system, based on the Latin alphabet.
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