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Kuwait: The Miracle of the Armenian Alphabet

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 PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 11:11 am    Post subject: Kuwait: The Miracle of the Armenian Alphabet Reply with quote Back to top

By Garo Kuyumjian

Kuwait Times www.kuwaittimes.net
Monday, November 21, 2005

The world has begun to acknowledge not only Armenia's fine culture but
also the Armenian celebration of the 1600th anniversary of the creation
of the Armenian alphabet. Accordingly, it was announced by the Armenian
President Robert Kocharian that the year 2005 must be dedicated to this
great occasion. UNESCO has also recognized and adapted this occasion
on its agenda. In fact, a citation can be found in the UNESCO program,
which says, "Armenia was the first official Christian Kingdom and,
because of its very strong cultural and spiritual identity, was
able to keep its culture while being strongly influenced by the
Byzantine and Persian cultures, particularly in regards to arts and
architecture. These celebrations involve also the Armenian Diaspora
spread throughout the world."

Many events have already been launched, particularly those relating to
cultural and educational fields, the latest of which was a conference
at Harvard University on November 9, 2005.

"To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of
understanding," those were the first words inscribed in the Armenian
alphabet once it was completed 1600 years ago, and this is what was
wanted to be anchored in the character of the Armenians as a goal.

The highly respected forefathers Mesrob Mashdost and Sahak Bartev,
spent their lives on a mission to find a unique alphabet for
their people, so that they can write, read and translate from
various religious and literature sources. Most of the literary and
religious sources abundant at that time in society and ruling circles,
particularly the Holy Bible, were read in old Syrian or Greek and
conveyed to the Armenian audience through interpreters.

Those who knew old Syrian or Greek were but a few, mainly priests and
members of high-class society. As for commoners, they were unable to
read the Holy Bible or understand the meanings of the religious texts,
prayers, poetry and literature in their mother tongue.

It took 25 years for Mesrob and his collaborators to create an Armenian
alphabet by exerting great efforts in linguistics and studying leading
alphabets of the time. They compared sounds and speech in the spoken
Armenian language, in order to note all the required letters and
achieve a correct and integrated transfer of the Armenian language
on paper. Information available in Armenia was not enough at the
time. Therefore, Mesrob was asked to travel abroad to search and
study other cultures and languages outside the region. He roamed
remote countries and reached India, Egypt and Ethiopia and brought
with him a few additional letters besides what was already prepared.

Legend says that while he was asleep, God appeared to him in his dream
and wrote on the wall of his room 36 luminous characters and instructed
him to utilize them as Armenian alphabet. He copied them and endorsed
them to his disciples, who after setting the grammar, began translating
the Bible, then literature and scientific theories as well as Greek,
Roman, Persian and Indian master books. They also translated history
books available in Armenia at that time. They excelled in creating
fine literature, considered among the greats in world literature. The
treasures of our language where once desribed by a poet to have the
"flavour of the sun". Regretfully, the foreign reader knows very
little about these books, due to the lack of sufficient translations,
or distributions in the cultural arenas.

In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that the phonetics of the
36 Armenian alphabets contains almost all the sounds in the spoken
languages of the world, enabling the user to reproduce every word
with its original pronunciation, as the number of the characters in
the Armenian alphabet is more than most other languages, that usually
range from 26-32 letters. This is considered a source of linguistic
enrichment of which we are proud and this is what makes the Armenians
speak with ease all the languages of the world.

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