3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
introductory grammar and vocabulary, December 27, 2003
This is the Hippocrene edition of the book that was originally
published in 1966 by the Armenian General Benevolent Union.
Armenians call themselves Hai, and their language Hayeren. It used to
be thought a language isolate like Ainu on the island of Hokkaido in
Japan or Burushaski, a substratal language spoken by about 50,000 people
in the mountain valleys of Pakistan, but it's now known to be a member
of the large Indo-European family. It has a unique alphabet of 38
letters, which only have one sound, making it very phonetic.
This makes for a good beginning grammar book and will help you
acquire your first working vocabulary of Armenian, as it contains about
1500 words, and many useful phrases and expressions, but I suspect the
average person might find the book a little too difficult as a beginning
That having been said, I enjoyed this little book, and there are few
resources out there for someone interested in actually learning the
language. My interest is in comparative and structural linguistics, so
the greater focus on the grammar was just fine for me. I can recommend
Modern Western Armenian, by Thomas Samuelian, in two volumes, for those
looking for a more complete beginner's course.
I did learn a lot from this book about the grammar. There is no
gender in Armenian, which is a godsend for an Indo-European language.
Nouns have six cases similar to those that exist in and are well-known
from Russian and Latin, and the older, root language has some archaic
ones that aren't used much anymore, but the author does discuss those in
Verbs have indicative, imperative, and subjunctive moods, and
present, imperfect (continuous past), past (habitual past), conditional,
and future tenses. The negative of a verb is formed by placing a single
letter at the beginning of the verb, and there is no special form for
the interrogative in Armenian, being denoted only by a change in the
voice. This is different from English, which requires an auxiliary verb,
or in French, which uses inverted sentence structure. Armenian has
causative verbs and a compound past tense, using the auxiliary verb
"have" to form it, as in "I have read," exactly the same as in English.
There mostly postpositions in Armenian and only a few prepositions as
we know them in English. When they do occur prepositions often govern
certain noun cases and declensions. For example, the "words," "as,"
"until," and without and require the use of the dative and accusative
case, and the word "except" governs the ablative case.
Adverbs and adjectives are used much as they are in English, with the
exception that adjectives, like nouns, are declined. And some
adjectives, as with prepostions, require certain cases, such as the
instrumental and dative. The author illustrates and lists several of
these in the same section as the prepositions.
The book is 208 pages long is divided up into 15 chapters, in the
large trade paperback size. It contains a dictionary of 1500 words, many
useful phrases and idioms, an alphabet and pronunciation guide, many
paragraphs of conversation for translation, and a good capsule grammar.
I found this to be an excellent book to get a good grasp of the
comparative aspects of Armenian morphology and grammar, and the price is
also reasonable considering there are few other resources out there on
Armenian. For me the book was fine, although as I said, if you're
interested in a better beginner's course you might check out the
Samuelian books. Finally, both the Pimsleur and Penton's language series
have audio-based courses in Western Armenian that have been favorably
reviewed here too.