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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Azərbaycan dili (Latin script)
Азәрбајҹан дили (Cyrillic script)
آذربایجان دیلی (Perso-Arabic script)
Pronunciation /azærbajdʒan dili/
Spoken in  Iran,
Total speakers 20-30 million [2][3][4][5][6]


Ranking 34th (native speakers)
Language family Altaic[8] (controversial)
Writing system Latin alphabet for North Azeri in Azerbaijan, Perso-Arabic script for South Azerbaijani in Iran.
Official status
Official language in  Azerbaijan (North Azeri)
 Iran (South Azeri language) - constitutional status as a regional language
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 az
ISO 639-2 aze
ISO 639-3 variously:
aze – Azerbaijani (generic)
azj – North Azerbaijani
azb – South Azerbaijani

Map showing locations of Azerbaijan (until 1991)

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Azerbaijan Portal

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[9] which spread to Southwestern Asia during medieval Turkic migrations, and was heavily influenced by Persian.[10] Arabic also influenced the language, but Arabic words were mainly transmitted through the intermediary of literary New Persian.[11]

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.


Classical literature in Azerbaijani was formed in 14th century based on the various dialect Early Middle Ages dialects of Tabriz and Shirvan (these dialects were used by classical Azerbaijani writers Nasimi, Fuzuli, and Khatai). Modern literature in Azerbaijan is based on the Shirvani dialect mainly, 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 the schools of Baku, Ganja, Shaki, Tbilisi, and Yerevan. Since 1845, it has also been taught in the University of St. Petersburg in Russia.

Notable folklore and literary works in Azerbaijani are the Book of Dada Gorgud, Asli and Kerem, the Epic of Köroğlu, and others. Important poets and writers of Azerbaijani include

Lingua franca

Azerbaijani served as a lingua franca throughout most parts of Transcaucasia (except the Black Sea coast), in Southern Dagestan[12][13][14], Eastern Turkey, and Iranian Azerbaijan from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century.[15][16]

Varieties and dialects

Azeri, formally Azerbaijani[17][18], is divided into two varieties, North Azerbaijani[19] and South Azerbaijani,[20] and a large number of dialects. Turkic Khalaj[21], Qashqa'i[22], and Salchuq[23] are considered by some[17] to be separate languages in the Azerbaijani language group.

South Azeri Turks uses the Arabic script.[24](Mirza Mahammad Taghi "QUMRİ" 1819-1891[25])
The monument for the Native (Azerbaijani) language in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan

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 (Ardabil and western Gilan, 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 (Hamadan, Iran)
  • Karabakh dialect (central Azerbaijan)
  • Karadagh dialect (East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, Iran)
  • Kars dialect (eastern Turkey and northwestern Armenia)
  • Lankaran dialect (southeast Azerbaijan)
  • Maragheh dialect (East Azerbaijan, 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 Azerbaijan, Iran)
  • Yerevan dialect (central Armenia)
  • Zagatala-Gakh dialect (northern Azerbaijan)
  • Zanjan dialect (Zanjan, Iran)

Distribution of speakers

North Azeri variety

North Azeri [26] 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

South Azeri[27] is spoken in Iran. Iranian Azeris often call it[citation needed] 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.[28] South Azeri is also spoken in parts of Azerbaijan, Iraq, Syria, and Asian Turkey.



Consonant phonemes of Standard Azerbaijani
Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m
Stop p b c ɟ k ɡ
Fricative f v ʃ ʒ ç x ɣ h
Approximant l j
Tap ɾ
  1. /tʃ/ and /dʒ/ are realised as [ts] and [dz] respectively in the areas around Tabriz and to the west, south and southwest of Tabriz (including Kirkuk in Iraq); in the Nakhchivan and Ayrum dialects, in Jabrayil and some Caspian coastal dialects;[29]
  2. In many dialects of Azerbaijani, /c/ is realized as [ç] when it is found in the coda position or is preceded by a voiceless consonant (as in çörək [tʃœˈɾæç] - "bread"; səksən [sæçˈsæn] - "eighty").
  3. /k/ appears only in words borrowed from Russian or French (spelled, as with /c/, with a k).
  4. /w/ exists in the Kirkuk dialect as an allophone of /v/ in Arabic loanwords.
  5. In the Baku dialect, /ov/ may be realised as [oʷ], and /ev/ and /œv/ as [œw], e.g. /ɡovurˈmɑ/[ɡowurˈmɑ], /sevˈdɑ/[sœwˈdɑ], /dœvˈrɑn/[dœwˈrɑn][citation needed]


Vowel phonemes of Standard Azerbaijani
Azeri vowel chart.png


Azerbaijan Latin alphabets

In 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):

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, 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[citation needed].


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'.


Category English Azerbaijani
Basic expressions yes bəli
no yox
hello salam
goodbye sağol
sağolun (formal)
good morning sabahınız xeyir
good afternoon günortanız xeyir
good evening axşamın xeyir
axşamınız xeyir
Colours black qara
blue göy
cyan mavi
brown qəhvəyi
grey boz
green yaşıl
orange narincı
pink çəhrayı
purple bənövşəyi
red qırmızı
yellow sarı


Number Word
0 sıfır
1 bir
2 iki
3 üç
4 dörd
5 beş
6 altı
7 yeddi
8 səkkiz
9 doqquz
10 on

For numbers 11-19, the numbers literally mean 'ten one, ten two' and so on.

Number Word
20 iyirmi
30 otuz
40 qırx
50 əlli

See also


  1. ^ Ethnologue
  2. ^ "Peoples of Iran" in Looklex Encyclopedia of the Orient. Retrieved on 22 January 2009.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Iran: People", CIA: The World Factbook: 24% of Iran's total population. Retrieved on 22 January 2009.
  5. ^ G. Riaux, "The Formative Years of Azerbaijan Nationalism in Post-Revolutionary Iran", Central Asian Survey, 27(1): 45-58, March 2008: 25% of Iran's total population (p. 46). Retrieved on 22 January 2009.
  6. ^ "Iran", Amnesty International report on Iran and Azerbaijan people . Retrieved 30 July 2006.
  7. ^ Ethnologue total for South Azerbaijani plus Ethnologue total for North Azerbaijani
  8. ^ "[1] Ethnologue"
  9. ^ "The Turkic Languages" Osman Fikri Sertkaya, in "Turks - A Journey of a Thousand Years", London, 2005.
  10. ^ L. Johanson, "Azerbaijan: Iranian Elements in Azerbaijan language" in Encycoopedia Iranica [2]
  11. ^ 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"
  12. ^ 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 [3]
  13. ^ Viacheslav A. Chirikba, "The problem of the Caucasian Sprachbund" in Muysken, p. 74
  14. ^ Lenore A. Grenoble, Language Policy in the Soviet Union, 2003 ISBN 1402012985,p. 131 [4]
  15. ^ Nasledie Chingiskhana by Nikolai Trubetzkoy. Agraf, 1999; p. 478
  16. ^ J. N. Postgate. Languages of Iraq. British School of Archaeology in Iraq, 2007; ISBN 090347221X; p. 164
  17. ^ a b "Language Family Trees: Altaic, Turkic, Southern, Azerbaijani" Ethnologue
  18. ^ ISO 639-3 aze "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: aze" SIL International
  19. ^ ISO 639-3 azj "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: azj" SIL International
  20. ^ ISO 639-3 azb "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: azb" SIL International
  21. ^ ISO 639-3 klj "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: klj" SIL International
  22. ^ ISO 639-3 qxq "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: qxq" SIL International
  23. ^ ISO 639-3 slq "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: slq" SIL International
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Azerbaijani, North - A language of Azerbaijan" Ethnologue, accessed 8 December 2008
  27. ^ "Azerbaijani, South - A language of Iran" Ethnologue, accessed 8 December 2008
  28. ^ N. Ghanea-Hercock, Ethnic and religious groups in the Islamic Republic of Iran. London: University of London, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, 2003, p. 6
  29. ^ Persian Studies in North America by Mohammad Ali Jazayeri

External links

Azerbaijani language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Simple English

Azərbaycan dili
Азәрбајҹан дили
آذربایجان دیلی
Pronunciation /azærbajʤan dili/
Spoken in  Iran,
also in parts of neighboring countries such as:
 Iraq[needs proof],
Total speakers 25 million [1]
Ranking 34th (native speakers)
Language family Altaic[2] (controversial)
Writing system Latin alphabet for North Azerbaijani in Azerbaijan, Perso-Arabic script for South Azerbaijani in Iran, and, formerly, Cyrillic alphabet for North Azerbaijani (Azerbaijani variants)
Official status
Official language in  Azerbaijan (North Azerbaijani),
Iraq (South Azerbaijani; official in areas where Iraqi Turkmen form a majority)[needs proof]
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 az
ISO 639-2 aze
ISO 639-3

The Azerbaijani language, also called Azeri, Azari, Azeri Turkic, or Azerbaijani Turkic, is a Turkic language that is spoken in Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran. North Azerbaijani is the official language of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This type is also spoken in Russia's Republic of Dagestan, south-eastern and eastern Georgia, north eastern Turkey and in some parts of Ukraine. South Azerbaijani is the type of Azerbaijani spoken in northwestern Iran.


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