09 January 2016, 17:13
1522 |

Eternal Alphabet: M (men) - Մ (մեն)

In medieval Armenian manuscripts, letter Մ, with different signs of abbreviation, used to denote such words as մայր ([mayr] – mother), մ իտք ([mitq] –thought), մարմ ին ([marmin] – body), the name Մարկոս ([Markos] – Marcos), etc.

The majority of scientists are of the opinion that the Armenian letter Մ originated in the Greek letter M (mew). But not the classical V-shapes (М), with which Մ has nothing in common, but the U-shaped, which was one of the most widely-used variants of mew in IV–V centuries; approximately in this shape it was retained in the Coptic alphabet. This variant is considered to bethe prototype of the Armenian letter. Small letter (մ) differs from the capital letter (Մ) not only in size, but also with its shortened left “column”.

 Despite the Greek origin of the graphic formof the letter, its name “men” according to linguist Hrachya Acharyan “cannot be derived from the Greek mu: it is closer to the Semitic “mem”, only the last element of which is changed.” “Mem”, in its turn, is translated from the Semitic languages as "water" and probably originates in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph – the symbol of water, from which – through the Phoenician letter – the Greek M was derived. In medieval Armenian manuscripts, letter Մ, with different signs of abbreviation, used to denote such words as մայր ([mayr] – mother), մ իտք ([mitq] –thought), մարմ ին ([marmin] – body), the name Մարկոս ([Markos] – Marcos), etc.

Nowadays, letter M is often associated with the subway (metro). By the way, unlike many countries, where the entrance to the subway is marked by the Latin M, the subway in Yerevan is denoted by stylized Armenian Մ, therefore, those who intend to visit Armenia, will need to remember the way this letter looks.

 

 

See more at Aram Khachaturians "Armenian Alphabet. History and Symbolism" book

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