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Azerbaijani (also Azeri, Azari, Azeri Turkic, Azerbaijani Turkic) is a language belonging to the Turkic language family, spoken in southwestern Asia, primarily in Azerbaijanmarker and northwestern Iran. Azeri is member of the Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages and is related to Turkish, Afshar, Qashqai and Turkmen language.

History and evolution

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


The Azeri 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 and Arabic words mainly through the intermediary of literary new Persian.

It gradually supplanted the previous Iranian languages—Tat, Azari, and Middle Persian in northern Iran, and a variety of Caucasian languages in the Caucasus, particularly Udi, and had become the dominant language before the time of the Safavid dynasty; however, some of minorities in both the Republic of Azerbaijan and Iran continue to speak the earlier Iranian languages to this day, and Middle- and New Persian loanwords are numerous in Azeri .

The historical development of Azeri 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 Azeri-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 Unionmarker 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 Azeri during the Soviet era, it became the official language of Azerbaijan only in 1978 (along with Georgian in Georgiamarker and Armenian in Armeniamarker). After independence, the Republic of Azerbaijan decided to switch to the Latin script, following the Turkish model.

Literature

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

In mid-19th century it was taught in the schools of Bakumarker, Ganjamarker, Shakimarker, Tbilisimarker, and Yerevanmarker. Since 1845, it has also been taught in the University of St. Petersburg in Russiamarker.

Famous folklore and literary works in Azeri are the Book of Dada Gorgud, Asli and Kerem, the Epic of Köroğlu, and others. Important poets and writers of the Azeri language include Imadaddin Nasimi, Muhammed Fuzuli, Khatai, Molla Panah Vagif, Khurshidbanu Natavan, Mirza Fatali Akhundov, Jalil Mammadguluzadeh, Mirza Alakbar Sabir, Huseyn Javid, Jafar Jabbarly, Samad Vurghun, Mikayil Mushfig, Mammed Said Ordubadi and Mohammad Hossein Shahriar.

Azeri as a lingua franca

Azeri served as a lingua franca throughout most parts of Transcaucasia (except the Black Seamarker coast), in Southern Dagestanmarker, Eastern Turkeymarker, and Iranian Azerbaijan from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century.

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 Salchuq are considered by some to be separate languages in the Azerbaijani language class.
Despite 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.

The following list reflects only one of several perspectives on the dialectology of Azeri. Some dialects may be varieties of others.
  • Ardabil dialect (Ardabilmarker and western Gilanmarker, Iran)
  • Ayrum dialect (northwestern Azerbaijan; northeastern Armenia )
  • Baku dialect (eastern Azerbaijan)
  • Borchali dialect (southern Georgia; 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 (Hamadanmarker, Iran)
  • Karabakh dialect (central Azerbaijan)
  • Karadagh dialect (East Azerbaijanmarker and West Azerbaijanmarker, Iran)
  • Kars dialect (eastern Turkey and northwestern Armenia )
  • Lankaran dialect (southeast Azerbaijan)
  • Maragheh dialect (East Azerbaijanmarker, Iran)
  • Mughan (Salyan) dialect (central Azerbaijan)
  • Nakhichevan dialect (southwestern Azerbaijan)
  • Ordubad dialect (southwestern Azerbaijan; southern Armenia )
  • Shaki (Nukha) dialect (northern Azerbaijan)
  • Shirvan (Shamakhy) dialect (eastern Azerbaijan)
  • Tabriz dialect (East Azerbaijanmarker, Iran)
  • Yerevan dialect (central Armenia )
  • Zagatala-Gakh dialect (northern Azerbaijan)
  • Zanjan dialect (Zanjanmarker, Iran)

The denoted dialects were traditionally spoken in the given area until recent times. As a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict virtually all Azeris fled Armenia by 1991, which is why Azeri is no longer spoken there.

Distribution of speakers

North Azeri variety

North Azeri is the official language of the Republic of Azerbaijanmarker. It is spoken in:Azerbaijanmarker, and southern Dagestanmarker, along the Caspianmarker coast in the southern Caucasus Mountains. Also spoken in Armeniamarker, Estoniamarker, Georgiamarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Russiamarker (Asia), Turkmenistanmarker, Uzbekistanmarker.

South Azeri variety

South Azeri is spoken in Iran. Iranian Azeris often call it Türki , Türki Azari or Azari. Specifically it is spoken in East Azerbaijanmarker and West Azerbaijanmarker, Ardabilmarker, Zanjanmarker,and parts of Kordestanmarker, Hamedanmarker, Qazvinmarker, Markazi and Gilanmarker provinces. It is spoken in many districts of Tehranmarker city and across Tehran Provincemarker. Some Azeri-speaking groups are in Fars Provincemarker 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 Azerbaijanmarker, Iraqmarker, Syriamarker, and Asian Turkeymarker.

Phonology

Consonants

Consonant phonemesof Standard Azeri
Labial Dental/

Alveolar
Post-
alveolar
Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop
Fricative
Nasal
Approximant
Tap
  1. and are realised as and respectively in the areas around Tabriz and to the west, south and southwest of Tabrizmarker (including Kirkukmarker in Iraq); in the Nakhchivan and Ayrum dialects, in Jabrayilmarker and some Caspian coastal dialects;
  2. In many dialects of Azeri, is realized as when it is found in the coda position or is preceded by a voiceless consonant (as in çörək - "bread"; səksən - "eighty").
  3. appears only in words borrowed from Russian or French (spelled, as with , with a k).
  4. exists in the Kirkuk dialect as an allophone of in Arabic loanwords.
  5. In the Baku dialect, may be realised as , and and as , e.g. → , → , →
  6. In Azeri there is a transformation of sounds q and k to , in the end of the word.For example içmək


Vowels




Alphabets

Azerbaijan Latin alphabets


In the Republic of Azerbaijanmarker, 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):

Aa Аа آ ا
Əə Әә ا ه
Bb Бб ب
Cc Ҹҹ ج
Çç Чч چ
Dd Дд د
Ee Ее ئ
Ff Фф ف
Gg Ҝҝ گ
Ğğ Ғғ غ
Hh Һһ ه ح
Xx Хх خ
Ыы ی
İi Ии ی
Jj Жж ژ
Kk Кк ک
Qq Гг ق
Ll Лл ل
Mm Мм م
Nn Нн ن
Oo Оо و
Öö Өө ؤ
Pp Пп پ
Rr Рр ر
Ss Сс س ص ث
Şş Шш ش
Tt Тт ت ط
Uu Уу و
Üü Үү و
Vv Вв و
Yy Јј ی
Zz Зз ز ذ ظ ض


Before 1929, Azeri 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 .

Nomenclature

In 1992–1993, when Azerbaijan Popular Front Party was in power in Azerbaijanmarker, the official language of Azerbaijan was renamed by the parliament to Türk dili ("Turkic"). However, since 1994 the Sovietmarker 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 Iranmarker, 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 Turkeymarker. Some people also consider Azeri to be a dialect of a greater Turkish language and call it Azərbaycan Türkcəsi ("Azerbaijani 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'.

Vocabulary

Numbers

0.sıfır1.bir2.iki3.üç4.dörd5.beş6.altı7.yeddi8.səkkiz9.doqquz10.on.For numbers 11-19, the numbers literally mean 'ten one, ten two' and so on.20.iyirmi30.otuz40.qırx50.əlli

Basic expressions

yes - bəli | no - yox | hello - salam | goodbye - sağol or sağolun (formal) | good morning - sabahınız xeyir | good afternoon - günortanız xeyir | good evening - axşamın xeyir or axşamınız xeyir

Colours

black - qara | blue - göy | cyan - mavi | brown - qəhvəyi | grey - boz | green - yaşıl | orange - narincı | pink - çəhrayı | purple - bənövşəyi | red - qırmızı | white - ağ | yellow - sarı

See also



References

  1. "The Turkic Languages" Osman Fikri Sertkaya, in "Turks - A Journey of a Thousand Years", London, 2005.
  2. L. Johanson, "Azerbaijan: Iranian Elements in Azeri Turkish" in Encycoopedia Iranica [1]
  3. John R. Perry, "Lexical Areas and Semantic Fields of Arabic" in Éva Ágnes Csató, Eva Agnes Csato, Bo Isaksson, Carina Jahani,"Linguistic convergence and areal diffusion: case studies from Iranian, Semitic and Turkic",Routledge, 2005. pg 97: "It is generally understood that the bulk of the Arabic vocabulary in the central, contingous Iranic, Turkic and Indic languages was originally borrowed into literary Persian between the ninth and thirteenth century"
  4. Pieter Muysken, "Introduction: Conceptual and methodological issues in areal linguistics", in Pieter Muysken, From Linguistic Areas to Areal Linguistics, 2008 ISBN 9027231001, p. 30-31 [2]
  5. Viacheslav A. Chirikba, "The problem of the Caucasian Sprachbund" in Muysken, p. 74
  6. Lenore A. Grenoble, Language Policy in the Soviet Union, 2003 ISBN 1402012985,p. 131 [3]
  7. Nasledie Chingiskhana by Nikolai Trubetzkoy. Agraf, 1999; p. 478
  8. J. N. Postgate. Languages of Iraq. British School of Archaeology in Iraq, 2007; ISBN 090347221X; p. 164
  9. "Language Family Trees: Altaic, Turkic, Southern, Azerbaijani" Ethnologue
  10. ISO 639-3 aze "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: aze" SIL International
  11. ISO 639-3 azj "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: azj" SIL International
  12. ISO 639-3 azb "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: azb" SIL International
  13. ISO 639-3 klj "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: klj" SIL International
  14. ISO 639-3 qxq "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: qxq" SIL International
  15. ISO 639-3 slq "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: slq" SIL International
  16. http://www.anl.az/sh002e3.php
  17. http://www.anl.az/el/k/k002/mmt001.htm
  18. "Azerbaijani, North - A language of Azerbaijan" Ethnologue, accessed 8 December 2008
  19. "Azerbaijani, South - A language of Iran" Ethnologue, accessed 8 December 2008
  20. N. Ghanea-Hercock, Ethnic and religious groups in the Islamic Republic of Iran. London: University of London, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, 2003, p. 6
  21. Persian Studies in North America by Mohammad Ali Jazayeri


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