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Azerbaijani language

Azerbaijani language

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Azərbaycan dili
Азәрбајҹан дили
آذربايجان ديلی 
Pronunciation: IPA: /azærbajʤan dili/
Spoken in: Republic of Azerbaijan & Iran, also in parts of neighboring countries such as Georgia, Iraq, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine
Total speakers: 23–30 million
Language family: Altaic<ref>"[1] Ethnologue"</ref> (controversial)
Writing system: Latin alphabet in Azerbaijan, Arabic alphabet in Iran, and, formerly, Cyrillic alphabet (Azerbaijani variants
Official status
Official language of: Republic of Azerbaijan (northern dialect), Iraq (southern dialect; official in areas where Iraqi Turkmen form a majority)
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: az
ISO 639-2: aze
ISO/FDIS 639-3: variously:
aze — Azerbaijani (generic)
azj — North Azerbaijani
azb — South Azerbaijani
qxq — Qashqa'i
slq — Salchuq 

Map showing locations of Azerbaijani</center>


The Azerbaijani language, also called Azeri, Azari, Azeri Turkish, or Azerbaijani Turkish, is the official language of Republic of Azerbaijan.

It is called Azərbaycan dili in Azerbaijani. Iranian Azerbaijanis often call it Türki.<ref>Interview with Dr. Eric Hooglund in Zaman newspaper</ref> Some dialects of the language are spoken in many parts of Iran (but most notably in the northwestern areas, known as Iranian Azerbaijan), where it is the most dominant language and lingua franca for minority languages to the area such as Kurdish, Armenian and Talyshi. Iran is home for the majority of Azeri speakers in the world. The language is also spoken in Russia's Republic of Dagestan, south-eastern Georgia, northern Iraq, and eastern Turkey.

There are approximately 23 to 30 million native Azerbaijani speakers (circa 16 to 23 million in Iran, 7 million in the Azerbaijan Republic, and 800,000 in other smaller communities according to Ethnologue). It is a Turkic language of the Oghuz branch, closely related to Turkish and also historically influenced by Persian and Arabic languages.

In addition, Azerbaijani is mutually intelligible with other Oghuz languages, which include the Turkish language as it is spoken in Turkey, the Caucasus, Cyprus, the Balkans, Iraq, Syria, and Western Europe, as well as the Turkmen language.


[edit] History and evolution

For the languages spoken in Azerbaijan before the Turks' arrival, see:

The Azerbaijani language of today is based on the Oghuz language (brought from Central Asia by Seljuk Turks) heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic.

It gradually supplanted the previous Iranian languages - Tat and Pahlavi in the south, and a variety of Caucasian languages, particularly Udi, further north - and had become the dominant language before the Safavid dynasty; however, minorities in both the Republic of Azerbaijan and Iran continue to speak the earlier Iranian languages to this day, and Pahlavi and Persian loanwords are numerous in Azerbaijani.

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 Azerbaijani differs from its descendant by a much greater amount of Persian, Arabic and Ottoman Turkish loanwords, phrases and syntactic elements. Early writings in Azerbaijani also demonstrate lingustic interchangeability between Oghuz and Kypchak elements in many aspects (such as pronouns, case endings, participles etc.). As Azerbaijani 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 Osmanisms, 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 critisized the overuse of Persian, Arabic, Ottoman Turkish and European (mainly Russian) elements in both colloquial and literary language and called upon to write in 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 Arabic alphabet to Latin to Cyrillic - while Iranian Azeris continued to use Arabic as they always had. Despite the wide use of Azerbaijani during the Soviet era, it became the official language of Azerbaijan only in 1978 (along with Georgian in Georgia and Armenian in Armenia). After independence, the Republic of Azerbaijan decided to switch again, to the Latin script, following the Turkish model.

[edit] Literature

Classical literature in Azerbaijani was formed in 14th century based on Tabrizi and Shirvani dialects (these dialects were used by classical Azerbaijani writers Nasimi, Fuzuli, and Khatai). Modern literature in the Republic of Azerbaijan is based on the Shirvani dialect only, while in Iran it is based on the Tabrizi one. The first newspaper in Azerbaijani, Əkinçi was published in 1875.

In mid-19th century it was taught in schools of Baku, Ganja, Sheki, Tbilisi, and Yerevan. Since 1845, it has also been taught in the University of St. Petersburg in Russia.

Famous literacy works in Azerbaijani are The book of Dede Qorqud (which UNESCO celebrated its 1300th anniversary in 1998, written in an early Oghuz Turkic dialect), Koroğlu, Leyli and Majnun, and Heydar Babaya Salam. Important poets and writers of the Azerbaijani language include Imadeddin Nasimi, Muhammed Fuzuli (the first poet to write extensively in Azerbaijani, but also in Persian), Hasanoglu Izeddin, Shah Ismail I (the Safavid shah), Khurshud Banu Natavan (female poet), Mirza Fatali Akhundov, Mirza Alakbar Sabir (satirist), Bakhtiyar Vahabzade, and Mohammad Hossein Shahriar (mostly wrote in Persian).

[edit] Distribution of native speakers

Since early last century, successive Iranian governments have avoided publishing any statistics on ethnic groups. This policy presents difficulty in providing any statistics on distribution and size of ethnicity in Iran. The population size of Turkic speaking ethnic groups, are estimated to be much higher in Iran than official publications.[citation needed]

Here is the population size of Azeri speakers in Azerbaijan and Iran, according to two major source. Their estimation differs from 23,4 to 30 million within two main countries. This total does not include the Azeri speakers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Georgia, Dagestan and other smaller pockets within the Middle East and Russia. Ethnologue adds 864,000 for the speakers out of Iran and Republics of Azerbaijan

(where given)
Total population% AzeriNumber of speakers
CIA Facts Book on Azerbaijan7,911,97490.6% 7,168,248
CIA Facts Book on Iran68,017,86024%16,324,286
23,492,534 total

Regions where Azerbaijani is spoken by significant group of people:

  • Azerbaijani (North Dialect)1

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.

  • Azerbaijani (South Dialect) 2

East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, Ardebil, Zanjan, and part of Markazi and Gilan provinces. Many in districts of Tehran. Some Azerbaijani-speaking groups are in Fars Province and other parts of Iran. Also spoken in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Turkey (Asia), USA.

[edit] Dialects

Despite their relatively large number, dialects of Azerbaijani do not differ substantially. Speakers of various dialects normally do not have problems understanding each other. However minor problems may occur between Azerbaijani-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. E.g., 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 use since after the split of the two speech communities in 1828.

The following list reflects only one of several perspectives on the dialectology of Azerbaijani. Some dialects may be varieties of others.

  • Ardabil dialect (Ardabil and western Gilan, Iran)
  • Ayrum dialect (northwestern Azerbaijan; formerly northeastern Armenia)
  • Baku dialect (eastern Azerbaijan)
  • Borchali dialect (southern Georgia; formerly northern Armenia)
  • Derbent dialect (southern Russia)
  • Gabala (Gutgashen) dialect (northern Azerbaijan)
  • Ganja dialect (western Azerbaijan)
  • Gazakh dialect (northwestern Azerbaijan)
  • Guba dialect (northeastern Azerbaijan)
  • Hamadan dialect (Hamadan, Iran)
  • Karabakh dialect (central Azerbaijan)
  • Karadagh dialect (East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, Iran)
  • Kars dialect (eastern Turkey; formerly northwestern Armenia)
  • Kirkuk dialect (northern Iraq)
  • Lankaran dialect (southeast Azerbaijan)
  • Maragheh dialect (East Azerbaijan, Iran)
  • Mughan (Salyan) dialect (central Azerbaijan)
  • Nakhichevan dialect (southwestern Azerbaijan)
  • Ordubad dialect (southwestern Azerbaijan; formerly southern Armenia)
  • Shaki (Nukha) dialect (northern Azerbaijan)
  • Shirvan (Shamakhy) dialect (eastern Azerbaijan)
  • Tabriz dialect (East Azerbaijan, Iran)
  • Urmia dialect (West Azerbaijan, Iran)
  • Yamji dialect (West Azerbaijan, Iran)
  • Yerevan dialect (formerly central Armenia)
  • Zagatala-Gakh dialect (northern Azerbaijan)
  • Zanjan dialect (Zanjan, Iran)

[edit] Phonology

[edit] Consonants

Consonant phonemes of Standard Azeri
Bilabial Labio-</br>dental Dental Alveolar Post-</br>alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosives p b t d c ɟ k g
Nasals m n
Fricatives f v s z ʃ ʒ x ɣ h
Affricates ʧ ʤ
Approximants j
Taps ɾ
Lateral</br>approximants l

Note: In the alphabet, /k/ and /c/ are both represented by the letter k, as the former phoneme is alien to Azeri and is used only in words borrowed from/through Russian or French.

Note: Non-standard phonemes, such as /ç/*, /ʦ/*, /ʣ/ and /w/, are found in dialects.

[edit] Vowels

Vowel phonemes of Standard Azeri
Image:Azeri vowel chart.png

[edit] Alphabets

Image:New Turkic alphabets.jpg
Azerbaijan Latin alphabets

Officially, Azerbaijani now uses Latin alphabet, but the "Soviet" Cyrillic alphabet is still in wide use: see Azerbaijani alphabet. There is a one-to-one correspondence between the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets for Azerbaijani (although the Cyrillic alphabet has a different order):

Aa Аа
Əə Әә
Bb Бб
Cc Ҹҹ
Çç Чч
Dd Дд
Ee Ее
Ff Фф
Gg Ҝҝ
Ğğ Ғғ
Hh Һһ
Xx Хх
İi Ии
Jj Жж
Kk Кк
Qq Гг
Ll Лл
Mm Мм
Nn Нн
Oo Оо
Öö Өө
Pp Пп
Rr Рр
Ss Сс
Şş Шш
Tt Тт
Uu Уу
Üü Үү
Vv Вв
Yy Јј
Zz Зз

Before 1929, Azerbaijani was only written in the Arabic alphabet. In 19291938 a Latin alphabet was in use (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. The Azerbaijani speakers in Iran have always continued to use the Arabic alphabet, although the spelling and orthography is not yet standardized[citation needed].

The Azerbaijani language, if written in Latin, transliterates all foreign words to its own spelling. For example, "Bush" becomes "Buş", and "Schröder" becomes "Şröder".

[edit] Nomenclature

During the initial period of the Republic of Azerbaijan's independence, the official language of Azerbaijan was called "Türk dili" ("Turkish"), but since 1994 the older name of the language, "Azərbaycan dili" ("Azerbaijani"), has been re-established. The most important literary magazine of the language published in Iran, Varliq, uses the English term "Turkish" and the Persian term "torki" for the language. Most Iranians casually call the language Torki, distinguishing it from the Turkey's official language, Turkish, by calling the latter a term which can be translated as Istanbuli Turkish. Some people also consider "Azerbaijani" a dialect of a greater "Turkish" language and call it "Azerbaijani-Turkish". ISO and the Unicode Consortium, call the language "Azerbaijani".

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] External links

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Turkic languages
West Turkic
Bolgar Bolgar* | Chuvash | Hunnic* | Khazar*
Chagatay Aini2| Chagatay* | Ili Turki | Lop | Uyghur | Uzbek
Kypchak Baraba | Bashkir | Crimean Tatar1 | Cuman* | Karachay-Balkar | Karaim | Karakalpak | Kazakh | Kipchak* | Krymchak | Kumyk | Nogay | Tatar | Urum1
Oghuz Afshar | Azerbaijani | Crimean Tatar1 | Gagauz | Khorasani Turkish | Ottoman Turkish* | Pecheneg* | Qashqai | Salar | Turkish | Turkmen | Urum1
East Turkic
Khalaj Khalaj
Kyrgyz-Kypchak Altay | Kyrgyz
Uyghur Chulym | Dolgan | Fuyü Gïrgïs | Khakas | Northern Altay | Shor | Tofa | Tuvan | Western Yugur | Sakha / Yakut
Old Turkic*
Notes: 1 Listed in more than one group, 2 Mixed language, * Extinct

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Azerbaijani language

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