09 January 2016, 18:08
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Eternal Alphabet: Vo [Vo] - Ո (վո)

In Grabar, Ո denoted sound [o]. In modern Armenian, at the beginning and in the middle of words, after a vowel, it is pronounced as [vo] (exceptions: ով ([ov] – who), ովքեր ([ovqher] – who) in the plural, Ովսաննա – Ovsanna, where Ո preserves the ancient pronunciation), in all other words, in this position – [o].

The prototype of the graphic form of Ո is considered to be the Greek О (o micron). Unlike many of other letters of the alphabet, letter Ո remained practically unchanged: its simple, but perfect form was comprehensible in all ages. Perhaps, the best way to describe the graphic form of letter Ո are the words of writer Andrey Bitov. Although they refer to all letters of the Armenian alphabet, it can be assumed that these words are most appropriate just for Ո: “These letters can be used for shoeing living horses. <...> Besides, an Armenian letter, with its upper curve, is similar to the shoulder of an ancient Armenian church or its vault; this line can also be seen in the contours of Armenian mountains, which, in their turn, remind of a woman's breast...”

The Armenian Ո has a "double" in the Georgian alphabet, although the Georgian Ո denotes a completely different sound – [gkh]. Some Georgian authors see a kind of connection between the inscription of letter Ո, which has the shape of an arch at the entrance to a Georgian church, and the fact that it is the first letter of the Georgian word ([Gkhmerti] – God). Coincidence? 

Perhaps. But surprisingly, in the Armenian language too, letter Ո is the first letter of the word Որդի ([Vordi] – Son) i.e. Jesus Christ, and the form of portals of the Armenian churches is also Ո-shaped. This circumstance is all the more remarkable because, according to Koryun and in the opinion of several scientists, the ancient Georgian alphabet was created by Mesrop Mashtots, or at least with his participation.  But, whoever the author of the Georgian alphabet was, being created in the same age, in countries with similar culture, both alphabets could well contain similar symbols and the case of Ո is not the only example of such resemblance.

 

 

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

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