Skip to main content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Resources for the study of the Azerbaijani language

Language History

 "The national language is Azerbaijani or Azeri, which belongs to the southwestern or Oghuz group of Turkic languages and has been written in a modified Latin alphabet since 1992." Music Online: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music; Azerbaijan

 

Source: Claus Schönig, "Azerbaijanian"(pp. 248-260), IN: The Turkic Languages / Edited by Lars Johanson and Eva Agnes Csato.  Series: Routledge Language Family Descriptions.  London: Routledge, 1998. 

     Also in this chapter by Claus Schönig, you can find information on the phonotactics and morphophonology of Azerbaijanian, its morphology, phonetics and phonology, syntax, sentence structure, lexicon - the various linguistic influencing factors acting on Azerbaijanian, and a brief paragraph on the dialects of Azerbaijanian, as well as a few additional recommended reading materials.

Azeri Alphabet

A Language of Many Scripts

The Persian-Arabic alphabet was used amongst all Azerbaijani speakers until 1922, when the Latin alphabet was adopted (slightly different from the current one in use). In 1939, Stalin sought to cut ties between Azerbaijanis (a Turkic peoples) and Turkey and use of the Latin alphabet was forbidden thereafter under Soviet rule replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet. In Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani language has been written in the Latin alphabet since 1991 and Cyrillic has fallen out of use.

from the Wikitravel Azerbaijani Phrasebook, which also includes a pronunciation guide

Omniglot.com is a good source - it is an online encyclopedia of the writing systems and languages of the world. The Azeri writing page has a brief history of the Azeri script, including the Arabic, Latin, and Cyrillic alphabets which have been used for the language, and sample texts using each script.

Alphabet Change

In1923, with the reforms brought on by Atatürk after centuries of writing in Arabic script, the Azerbaijani alphabet made the transformation to Latin script. Not long after that, however, in 1939 Stalin decreed that the whole USSR (including Turkic nations) adopt Cyrillic as their standard alphabet - one reason being that "Stalin was concerned that the Latin alphabet could become a unifying force for the Muslim Turkic nations."

Certain Azerbaijani writers of the time, however were concerned for the integrity of the language itself being able to survive intact despite the extreme changes in script.  Here you can read more about the plight of those writers.

Subject Guide

Slavic Reference Service's picture
Slavic Reference Service
Contact:
International & Area Studies Library
319a Main Library
University of Illinois
1408 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, Illinois 61801
217-333-1349
Website