09 January 2016, 19:00
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Eternal Alphabet: J (ǰē) - Ջ (ջէ)

Ջ  denotes the sound pronounced as a solidcombination of [d] and [zh] – [j]. In Middle Armenian – the state language of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia – this letter was pronounced as Ճ [tsh], while in Western Armenian and a number of words of Eastern Armenian – as Չ [ch], for example, վերջ ([verch] – end), արջ ([arch] – bear), առաջ ([arach] – forward), etc.   

 The graphic form of Ջ, according to one version, was derived from the Avestan [j], according to another version – from the Armenian Զ [z]. In the opinion of linguist Hrachya Acharyan, the shape of Ջ is the most complex one in the Armenian alphabet.   The early examples of the letter do have a complex structure: , , , while later on the outlines acquired roundness. Unfortunately, this solution resulted in a new problem: such Ջ is very easily confused with Զ [z], especially in proper names not familiar to the reader. 

 

 Talking about the issue of similar letters, in particular Ջ and Զ, scholar Ruben Taroumyan wrote: “We must make sure that letters with a similar shape (Ջ and Զ, շ and չ, etc.) are sufficiently different from each other.   Yet often the difference between them is limited to availability of minor elements. This is unacceptable, especially in case of small letters of the original, which, in the process of printing or other mode of replication, may lose even this slight difference, making the original unreadable”.        

 

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

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