Armenians Celebrate Their Letters
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN (New York Times
Published: December 13, 2005
IT'S not every day you are invited to a 1,600th birthday party, let alone one for an alphabet.
But last week, that's exactly what brought more than 200 people to a parking lot in New Milford, N.J., across the street from a CVS and a karate studio, where they huddled together in a shivering herd, clapping their mittens and whispering prayers in frosty breath to the Armenian alphabet, created in the fifth century.
The Hovnanian School, a private day school that teaches the Armenian language, held the party and celebrated the occasion by unveiling an alphabet mural. ...
Linguists say the Armenian alphabet is one of the oldest in the world that is still in use. It has proved remarkably durable, surviving a carousel of empires, vast migrations and even genocide. Armenia is a small country with a big diaspora, and its language is valued as the glue that has held the community together. Today's 38 letters vary little from the original 36, which were first brushed by an Armenian monk around A.D. 405 in order to translate the Bible.
Harvard University held a conference in honor of the anniversary in October.