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About Azerbaijani (Latin) Language

Azerbaijani is a language belonging to the Turkic language family, spoken in southwestern Asia, primarily in Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran. Azerbaijani is member of the Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages and is related to Turkish, Qashqai and Turkmen.

History and evolution

The Azerbaijani language of today evolved from the Eastern Oghuz dialect of Western (Oghuz) Turkic, which spread to Southwestern Asia during medieval Turkic migrations, and was heavily influenced by Persian. Arabic also influenced the language, but Arabic words were mainly transmitted through the intermediary of literary New Persian.

It gradually supplanted the previous Iranian languages in northern Iran (most notably the Tat, Azari, and Middle Persian dialects), and a variety of Caucasian languages in the Caucasus, particularly Udi. By the end of the 17th century, it had become the dominant language of the region, and was an official court language of the Safavid Empire. However, minorities in both Azerbaijan and Iran continue to speak the earlier Iranian languages to this day, and Middle- and New Persian loanwords are numerous in Azerbaijan language.

The historical development of Azerbaijani can be divided into two major periods: early (ca. 16th to 18th century) and modern (18th century to present). Old Azeri differs from its descendant in that it contained a much greater amount of Persian, and Arabic loanwords, phrases and syntactic elements. Early writings in Azeri also demonstrate lingustic interchangeability between Oghuz and Kypchak elements in many aspects (such as pronouns, case endings, participles, etc.). As Azeri gradually moved from being merely a language of epic and lyric poetry to being also a language of journalism and scientific research, its literary version has become more or less unified and simplified with the loss of many archaic Turkic elements, bulky Iranisms and Ottomanisms, and other words, expressions, and rules that failed to gain popularity among Azerbaijani-speaking masses.

Between ca. 1900 and 1930, there were several competing approaches to the unification of the national language in Azerbaijan popularized by the literati. Despite major differences, they all aimed primarily at making it easy for semiliterate masses to read and understand literature. They all criticized the overuse of Persian, Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, and European (mainly Russian) elements in both colloquial and literary language and called for a more simple and popular style.

The Russian conquest of the South Caucasus in the 19th century split the speech community across two states; the Soviet Union promoted development of the language, but set it back considerably with two successive script changes - from Perso-Arabic script to Latin and then to Cyrillic - while Iranian Azeris continued to use the Perso-Arabic script as they always had. Despite the wide use of Azerbaijani in the Azerbaijan region during the Soviet era, it became the official language of Azerbaijan only in 1978. After independence, Azerbaijan decided to switch to the Latin script.

Varieties and dialects

Azeri, formally Azerbaijani, is divided into two varieties, North Azerbaijani and South Azerbaijani, and a large number of dialects. Turkic Khalaj, Qashqa'i, and Salchuqm are considered by some to be separate languages in the Azerbaijani language group.

South Azeri Turks uses the Arabic script.(Mirza Mahammad Taghi "QUMRİ" 1819-1891[25]) The monument for the Native (Azerbaijani) language in Nakhchivan, AzerbaijanDespite their relatively large number, dialects of Azeri do not differ substantially. Speakers of various dialects normally do not have problems understanding each other. However minor problems may occur between Azeri-speakers from the Caucasus and Iran, as some of the words used by the latter that are of Persian or Arabic origin may be unknown to the former. For example, the word firqə ("political party") used by Iranian Azeris may not be understood in Azerbaijan, where the word partiya is used to describe the same object. Such phenomenon is explained by the fact that both words have been in wide use since after the split of the two speech communities in 1828.

Distribution of speakers

North Azeri variety is the official language of Azerbaijan. It is spoken in: Azerbaijan, and southern Dagestan, along the Caspian coast in the southern Caucasus Mountains. Also spoken in Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia (Asia), Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

South Azeri variety is spoken in Iran. Iranian Azeris often call it Türki , Türki Azari or Azari. Specifically it is spoken in East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, Ardabil, Zanjan,and parts of Kordestan, Hamedan, Qazvin, Markazi and Gilan provinces. It is spoken in many districts of Tehran city and across Tehran Province. Some Azeri-speaking groups are in Fars Province and other parts of Iran. Most of the sources have reported the percentage of Azerbaijani-Turkic-speakers at around 16-24 percent of the Iranian population. South Azeri is also spoken in parts of Azerbaijan, Iraq, Syria, and Asian Turkey.


Azerbaijan Latin alphabetsIn Azerbaijan, North Azeri now officially uses the Latin alphabet, but the Cyrillic alphabet is also in wide use, while in Iran, South Azeri uses the Perso-Arabic script. There is a one-to-one correspondence between the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets for North Azeri (although the Cyrillic alphabet has a different order)

Before 1929, Azerbaijani was only written in the Perso-Arabic script. In 1929–1938 a Latin alphabet was in use for North Azeri (although it was different from the one used now), from 1938 to 1991 the Cyrillic alphabet was used, and in 1991 the current Latin alphabet was introduced, although the transition to it has been rather slow. If written in the Latin alphabet, all foreign words are transliterated, for example, "Bush" becomes "Buş", and "Schröder" becomes "Şröder".

South Azeri speakers in Iran have always continued to use the Perso-Arabic script, although the spelling and orthography is not yet standardized.


In 1992–1993, when Azerbaijan Popular Front Party was in power in Azerbaijan, the official language of Azerbaijan was renamed by the parliament to Türk dili ("Turkic"). However, since 1994 the Soviet era name of the language, Azərbaycan dili ("Azerbaijani"), has been re-established and reflected in the Constitution. Varlıq, the most important literary Azeri magazine published in Iran, uses the term Türki ("Turkish" in English or "Torki" in Persian) to refer to the Azeri language. South Azeri speakers in Iran often refer to the language as Türki, distinguishing it from İstambuli Türki ("Anatolian Turkish"), the official language of Turkey. Some people also consider Azeri to be a dialect of a greater Turkish language and call it Azərbaycan Türkcəsi ("Azerbaijan Turkish"), and scholars such as Vladimir Minorsky used this definition in their works. ISO and the Unicode Consortium, call the macrolanguage "Azeri" and its two varieties "North Azeri" and "South Azeri". According to the Linguasphere Observatory, all Oghuz languages form part of a single 'outer language' of which "Azeri-N." and "Azeri-S." are 'inner languages'.


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