09 January 2016, 19:02
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Eternal Alphabet: V (vew) - Վ (վեւ)

The name of the letter – “vev” – apparently originates in the name of its analog in the Semitic alphabets – “vav”. As to the graphic form of the letter, Hrachya Acharyan is of the opinion that it is derived from its Iranian prototype, while according to German orientalist Joseph Markwart, it was formed by joining two letters Ւ. It must be mentioned that the second version is quite probable, especially considering the old inscription of the letter.

Besides, Վ and Ւ used to denote different but phonetically similar sounds: Ւ denoted a sound like the English [w], and Վ – [v]. Over time, this difference effaced, and both letters denoted the sound [v], although traditionally their inscription was preserved, differing mainly in the position in the word. In some cases, Armenian words could be written both with vev and with vyun. For example, in the words beginning with ու [u], where later this letter was pronounced as [v], it could be replaced both with Վ and Ւ.

 

Thus, the word Աստված ([Astvats] – God) in the early texts was written as Աստուած, and later you could meet both variants – Աստված, and Աստւած. In the XIX century the Armenian intellectuals debated as to which of the two letters should be written in such cases. One group of scholars was for Վ, and this trend got the name “vevagrutyun” (vev writing). The other group, adhered to Ւ, and was named “vyunagrutyun” (vyun writing). In 1922, letter Ւ was excluded from the alphabet, and instead of it they began to write Վ: vev was the winner.

 

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

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