Azerbaijani language

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Azərbaycan dili, آذربایجان دیلی, Азәрбајҹан дили [note 1]
Azerbaijani in Perso-Arabic Nastaliq (Iran), Latin (Azerbaijan), and Cyrillic (Russia).
Pronunciation [ɑːzæɾbɑjˈdʒɑndiˈli]
Native to
  • Azerbaijan
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • Iraq [lower-alpha 1]
  • Georgia
Region Iranian Azerbaijan, South Caucasus
Ethnicity Azerbaijanis
Native speakers
24 million (2022) [2]
Early forms
Standard forms
  • Shirvani (For North Azerbaijani variety in Republic of Azerbaijan)
  • Tabrizi (For South Azerbaijani variety in Iranian Azerbaijan)
Official status
Official language in
Dagestan (Russia)
Organization of Turkic States
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-1 az
ISO 639-2 aze
ISO 639-3 aze – inclusive code
Individual codes:
azj   North Azerbaijani
azb   South Azerbaijani
Glottolog azer1255   Central Oghuz
Linguasphere part of 44-AAB-a
Map of the Azerbaijani language.svg
Areas that speak Azerbaijani
  The majority speak Azerbaijani
  A sizable minority speaks Azerbaijani
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Azerbaijani ( /ˌæzərbˈæni,-ɑːni/ AZ-ər-by-JAN-ee) or Azeri ( /æˈzɛəri,ɑː-,ə-/ az-AIR-ee, ah-, ə-), also referred to as Azeri Turkic or Azeri Turkish, is a Turkic language from the Oghuz sub-branch. It is spoken primarily by the Azerbaijani people, who live mainly in the Republic of Azerbaijan, where the North Azerbaijani variety is spoken, while Iranian Azerbaijanis in the Azerbaijan region of Iran, speak the South Azerbaijani variety. Azerbaijani has official status in the Republic of Azerbaijan and Dagestan (a federal subject of Russia), but it does not have official status in Iran, where the majority of Iranian Azerbaijani people live. Azerbaijani is also spoken to lesser varying degrees in Azerbaijani communities of Georgia and Turkey and by diaspora communities, primarily in Europe and North America.


Although there is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between both forms of Azerbaijani, there are significant differences in phonology, lexicon, morphology, syntax, and sources of loanwords. The standardized form of North Azerbaijani (spoken in the Republic of Azerbaijan and Russia) is based on the Shirvani dialect, while South Azerbaijani uses variety of regional dialects. Since the Republic of Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Northern Azerbaijani has used the Latin script. On the other hand, South Azerbaijani has always used and continues to use the Perso-Arabic script.

Azerbaijani is closely related to Turkmen, Turkish, Gagauz, and Qashqai, being mutually intelligible with each of these languages to varying degrees.

Etymology and background

Historically, the language was referred to by its native speakers as türk dili or türkcə, [6] meaning either "Turkish" or "Turkic". In the early years following the establishment of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, the language was still referred to as "Turkish" in official documents. However, in the 1930s, its name was officially changed to "Azerbaijani". [7] [8] The language is often still referred to as Turki or Torki in Iranian Azerbaijan. [9] The term "Azeri", generally interchangeable with "Azerbaijani", is from Turkish Azeri [10] which is used for the people (azerice being used for the language in Turkish), itself from Persian آذری, Āzarī. The term is also used for Old Azeri, the ancient Iranian language spoken in the region until the 17th century.

History and evolution

Azerbaijani evolved from the Eastern branch of Oghuz Turkic ("Western Turkic") [11] which spread to the Caucasus, in Eastern Europe, [12] [13] and northern Iran, in Western Asia, during the medieval Turkic migrations. [14] Persian and Arabic influenced the language, but Arabic words were mainly transmitted through the intermediary of literary Persian. [15] Azerbaijani is, perhaps after Uzbek, the Turkic language upon which Persian and other Iranian languages have exerted the strongest impact—mainly in phonology, syntax, and vocabulary, less in morphology. [14]

The Turkic language of Azerbaijan gradually supplanted the Iranian languages in what is now northwestern Iran, and a variety of languages of the Caucasus and Iranian languages spoken in the Caucasus, particularly Udi and Old Azeri. By the beginning of the 16th century, it had become the dominant language of the region. It was one of the spoken languages in the court of the Safavids, Afsharids and Qajars.

The historical development of Azerbaijani can be divided into two major periods: early (c.14th to 18th century) and modern (18th century to present). Early Azerbaijani differs from its descendant in that it contained a much larger number of Persian and Arabic loanwords, phrases and syntactic elements. Early writings in Azerbaijani also demonstrate linguistic 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, stilted Iranisms and Ottomanisms, and other words, expressions, and rules that failed to gain popularity among the Azerbaijani masses.

The Russian annexation of Iran's territories in the Caucasus through the Russo-Iranian wars of 1804–1813 and 1826–1828 split the language community across two states. Afterwards, the Tsarist administration encouraged the spread of Azerbaijani in eastern Transcaucasia as a replacement for Persian spoken by the upper classes, and as a measure against Persian influence in the region. [16] [17]

Between c.1900 and 1930, there were several competing approaches to the unification of the national language in what is now the Azerbaijan Republic, popularized by scholars such as Hasan bey Zardabi and Mammad agha Shahtakhtinski. Despite major differences, they all aimed primarily at making it easy for semi-literate masses to read and understand literature. They all criticized the overuse of Persian, Arabic, and European elements in both colloquial and literary language and called for a simpler and more popular style.

The Soviet Union promoted the development of the language but set it back considerably with two successive script changes [18] – from the Persian to Latin and then to the Cyrillic script – while Iranian Azerbaijanis continued to use the Persian script as they always had. Despite the wide use of Azerbaijani in the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, it became the official language of Azerbaijan only in 1956. [19] After independence, the Republic of Azerbaijan decided to switch back to a modified Latin script.

Azerbaijani literature

Mohammad-Hossein Shahriar, Iranian Azerbaijani poet, who wrote in Azerbaijani and Persian. Shahriar.jpg
Mohammad-Hossein Shahriar, Iranian Azerbaijani poet, who wrote in Azerbaijani and Persian.

The development of Azerbaijani literature is closely associated with Anatolian Turkish, written in Perso-Arabic script. Examples of its detachment date to the 14th century or earlier. [20] [21] Kadi Burhan al-Din, Hasanoghlu, and Imadaddin Nasimi helped to establish Azerbaiijani as a literary language in the 14th century through poetry and other works. [21] One ruler of the Qara Qoyunlu state, Jahanshah, wrote poems in Azerbaijani language with the nickname "Haqiqi". [22] [23] Sultan Yaqub, a ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu state, wrote poems in the Azerbaijani language. [24] The ruler and poet Ismail I wrote under the pen name Khatā'ī (which means "sinner" in Persian) during the fifteenth century. [25] [26] During the 16th century, the poet, writer and thinker Fuzûlî wrote mainly in Azerbaijani but also translated his poems into Arabic and Persian. [25]

Starting in the 1830s, several newspapers were published in Iran during the reign of the Azerbaijani speaking Qajar dynasty, but it is unknown whether any of these newspapers were written in Azerbaijani. In 1875, Akinchi (Əkinçi / اکينچی) ("The Ploughman") became the first Azerbaijani newspaper to be published in the Russian Empire. It was started by Hasan bey Zardabi, a journalist and education advocate. [21]

Mohammad-Hossein Shahriar is an important figure in Azerbaijani poetry. His most important work is Heydar Babaya Salam and it is considered to be a pinnacle of Azerbaijani literature and gained popularity in the Turkic-speaking world. It was translated into more than 30 languages. [27]

In the mid-19th century, Azerbaijani literature was taught at schools in Baku, Ganja, Shaki, Tbilisi, and Yerevan. Since 1845, it has also been taught in the Saint Petersburg State University in Russia. In 2018, Azerbaijani language and literature programs are offered in the United States at several universities, including Indiana University, UCLA, and University of Texas at Austin. [21] The vast majority, if not all Azerbaijani language courses teach North Azerbaijani written in the Latin script and not South Azerbaijani written in the Perso-Arabic script.

Modern literature in the Republic of Azerbaijan is primarily based on the Shirvani dialect, while in the Iranian Azerbaijan region (historic Azerbaijan) it is based on the Tabrizi one.

Lingua franca

An Azerbaijani koine served as a lingua franca throughout most parts of Transcaucasia except the Black Sea coast, in southern Dagestan, [28] [29] [30] the Eastern Anatolia Region and all over Iran [31] from the 16th to the early 20th centuries, [32] [33] alongside cultural, administrative, court literature, and most importantly official language (along with Azerbaijani) of all these regions, namely Persian. [34] From the early 16th century up to the course of the 19th century, these regions and territories were all ruled by the Safavids, Afsharids, and Qajars until the cession of Transcaucasia proper and Dagestan by Qajar Iran to the Russian Empire per the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan and the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay. Per the 1829 Caucasus School Statute, Azerbaijani was to be taught in all district schools of Ganja, Shusha, Nukha (present-day Shaki), Shamakhi, Quba, Baku, Derbent, Yerevan, Nakhchivan, Akhaltsikhe, and Lankaran. Beginning in 1834, it was introduced as a language of study in Kutaisi instead of Armenian. In 1853, Azerbaijani became a compulsory language for students of all backgrounds in all of Transcaucasia with the exception of the Tiflis Governorate. [35]

Dialects of Azerbaijani

Reza Shah and Kemal Ataturk during the Shah's official visit to Turkey in 1934. Reza Shah spoke in South Azerbaijani while Ataturk spoke in Turkish, and the two leaders managed to communicate with each other quite effectively. Reza Shah and Ataturk.jpg
Reza Shah and Kemal Atatürk during the Shah's official visit to Turkey in 1934. Reza Shah spoke in South Azerbaijani while Atatürk spoke in Turkish, and the two leaders managed to communicate with each other quite effectively.

Azerbaijani is one of the Oghuz languages within the Turkic language family. Ethnologue lists North Azerbaijani (spoken mainly in the Republic of Azerbaijan and Russia) and South Azerbaijani (spoken in Iran, Iraq, and Syria) as two groups within the Azerbaijani macrolanguage with "significant differences in phonology, lexicon, morphology, syntax, and loanwords" between the two. [3] The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) considers Northern and Southern Azerbaijani to be distinct languages. [36] Linguists Mohammad Salehi and Aydin Neysani write that "there is a high degree of mutual intelligibility" between North and South Azerbaijani. [36]

Svante Cornell wrote in his 2001 book Small Nations and Great Powers that "it is certain that Russian and Iranian words (sic), respectively, have entered the vocabulary on either side of the Araxes river, but this has not occurred to an extent that it could pose difficulties for communication". [37] There are numerous dialects, with 21 North Azerbaijani dialects and 11 South Azerbaijani dialects identified by Ethnologue. [3] [4]

Three varieties have been accorded ISO 639-3 language codes: North Azerbaijani, South Azerbaijani and Qashqai. The Glottolog 4.1 database classifies North Azerbaijani, with 20 dialects, and South Azerbaijani, with 13 dialects, under the Modern Azeric family, a branch of Central Oghuz. [38]

In the northern dialects of the Azerbaijani language, linguists find traces of the influence of the Khazar language. [39]

According to Encyclopedia Iranica: [25]

We may distinguish the following Azeri dialects: (1) eastern group: Derbent (Darband), Kuba, Shemakha (Šamāḵī), Baku, Salyani (Salyānī), and Lenkoran (Lankarān), (2) western group: Kazakh (not to be confounded with the Kipchak-Turkic language of the same name), the dialect of the Ayrïm (Āyrom) tribe (which, however, resembles Turkish), and the dialect spoken in the region of the Borchala river; (3) northern group: Zakataly, Nukha, and Kutkashen; (4) southern group: Yerevan (Īravān), Nakhichevan (Naḵjavān), and Ordubad (Ordūbād); (5) central group: Ganja (Kirovabad) and Shusha; (6) North Iraqi dialects; (7) Northwest Iranian dialects: Tabrīz, Reżāʾīya (Urmia), etc., extended east to about Qazvīn; (8) Southeast Caspian dialect (Galūgāh). Optionally, we may adjoin as Azeri (or "Azeroid") dialects: (9) East Anatolian, (10) Qašqāʾī, (11) Aynallū, (12) Sonqorī, (13) dialects south of Qom, (14) Kabul Afšārī.

North Azerbaijani

Azerbaijani-language road sign. E60 Alat.jpg
Azerbaijani-language road sign.

North Azerbaijani, [3] or Northern Azerbaijani, is the official language of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is closely related to modern-day Istanbul Turkish, the official language of Turkey. It is also spoken in southern Dagestan, along the Caspian coast in the southern Caucasus Mountains and in scattered regions throughout Central Asia. As of 2011, there are some 9.23 million speakers of North Azerbaijani including 4 million monolingual speakers (many North Azerbaijani speakers also speak Russian, as is common throughout former USSR countries). [3]

The Shirvan dialect as spoken in Baku is the basis of standard Azerbaijani. Since 1992, it has been officially written with a Latin script in the Republic of Azerbaijan, but the older Cyrillic script was still widely used in the late 1990s. [40]

Ethnologue lists 21 North Azerbaijani dialects: "Quba, Derbend, Baku, Shamakhi, Salyan, Lenkaran, Qazakh, Airym, Borcala, Terekeme, Qyzylbash, Nukha, Zaqatala (Mugaly), Qabala, Nakhchivan, Ordubad, Ganja, Shusha (Karabakh), Karapapak, Kutkashen, Kuba". [3]

South Azerbaijani

South Azerbaijani, [4] or Iranian Azerbaijani, [lower-alpha 2] is widely spoken in Iranian Azerbaijan and, to a lesser extent, in neighboring regions of Turkey and Iraq, with smaller communities in Syria. In Iran, the Persian word for Azerbaijani is borrowed as Torki "Turkic". [4] In Iran, it is spoken mainly in East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Ardabil and Zanjan. It is also spoken in Tehran and across the Tehran Province, as Azerbaijanis form by far the largest minority in the city and the wider province, [42] comprising about 16 [43] [44] of its total population. The CIA World Factbook reports that in 2010, the percentage of Iranian Azerbaijani speakers was at around 16 percent of the Iranian population, or approximately 13 million people worldwide, [45] and ethnic Azeris form by far the second largest ethnic group of Iran, thus making the language also the second most spoken language in the nation. Ethnologue reports 10.9 million Iranian Azerbaijani in Iran in 2016 and 13,823,350 worldwide. [4] Dialects of South Azerbaijani include: "Aynallu (often considered a separate language [46] [47] [48] ), Karapapakh (often considered a separate language. [49] The second edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam mentions that it is close to both "Āzerī and the Turkish of Turkey". [50] The historian George Bournoutian only mentions that it is close to present-day Azeri-Türki. [51] ), Afshari (often considered a separate language [52] [53] ), Shahsavani (sometimes considered its own dialect, distinct from other Turkic languages of northwestern Iran [54] ), Baharlu (Kamesh), Moqaddam, Nafar, Qaragozlu, Pishagchi, Bayat, Qajar, Tabriz". [4]

Comparison with other Turkic languages

Russian comparatist Oleg Mudrak  [ ru ] calls the Turkmen language the closest relative of Azerbaijani. [55]

Azerbaijani and Turkish

Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Turkmen are Oghuz languages Oghuz Turkic Languages distribution map.png
Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Turkmen are Oghuz languages

Speakers of Turkish and Azerbaijani can, to an extent, communicate with each other as both languages have substantial variation and are to a degree mutually intelligible, though it is easier for a speaker of Azerbaijani to understand Turkish than the other way around. [56] Turkish soap operas are very popular with Azeris in both Iran and Azerbaijan. Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran (who spoke South Azerbaijani) met with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk of Turkey (who spoke Turkish) in 1934; the two were filmed speaking their respective language to each other and communicated effectively. [57] [58]

In a 2011 study, 30 Turkish participants were tested to determine how well they understood written and spoken Azerbaijani. It was found that even though Turkish and Azerbaijani are typologically similar languages, on the part of Turkish speakers the intelligibility is not as high as is estimated. [59] In a 2017 study, Iranian Azerbaijanis scored in average 56% of receptive intelligibility in spoken language of Turkish. [60]

Azerbaijani exhibits a similar stress pattern to Turkish but simpler in some respects. Azerbaijani is a strongly stressed and partially stress-timed language, unlike Turkish which is weakly stressed and syllable-timed.[ citation needed ]

Below are some cognates with different spelling in Azerbaijani and Turkish:

ayaqqabı ayakkabı shoes
ayaq ayak foot
kitab kitap book [61]
qan kan blood
qaz kaz goose
qaş kaş eyebrow
qar kar snow
daş taş stone

Azerbaijani and Turkmen

The 1st person personal pronoun is mən in Azerbaijani just as men in Turkmen, whereas it is ben in Turkish. The same is true for demonstrative pronouns bu, where sound b is replaced with sound m. For example: bunun>munun/mının, muna/mına, munu/munı, munda/mında, mundan/mından. [62] This is observed in the Turkmen literary language as well, where the demonstrative pronoun bu undergoes some changes just as in: munuñ, munı, muña, munda, mundan, munça. [63] b>m replacement is encountered in many dialects of the Turkmen language and may be observed in such words as: boyun>moyın in Yomut – Gunbatar dialect, büdüremek>müdüremek in Ersari and Stavropol Turkmens' dialects, bol>mol in Karakalpak Turkmens' dialects, buzav>mizov in Kirac dialects. [64]

Here are some words from the Swadesh list to compare Azerbaijani with Turkmen: [65]

mən menI, me
sən senyou
haçan haçanwhen
başqa başgaother
it , köpək it, köpekdog
dəri deriskin, leather
yumurta ýumurtgaegg
ürək ýürekheart
eşitmək eşitmekto hear


Azerbaijani dialects share paradigms of verbs in some tenses with the Chuvash language, [39] on which linguists also rely in the study and reconstruction of the Khazar language. [39]



Azerbaijani phonotactics is similar to that of other Oghuz Turkic languages, except:


Consonant phonemes of Standard Azerbaijani
  Labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal   m     n      ( ŋ )  
Stop/Affricate p b t d    t͡ʃ   d͡ʒ c ɟ ( k ) ɡ  
Fricative f v s z    ʃ ʒ x ɣ h  
Approximant       l    j    
Flap       ɾ       
  1. The sound [k] is used only in loanwords; the historical unpalatalized [k] became voiced to [ɡ]. In Iran the sound [K] is kept, and [k] did not shift to [g].
  2. /t͡ʃ/ and /d͡ʒ/ are realised as [t͡s] and [d͡z] 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 Cəbrayil and some Caspian coastal dialects;. [67]
  3. Sounds /t͡s/ and /d͡z/ may also be recognized as separate phonemic sounds in the Tabrizi and southern dialects. [68]
  4. In most dialects of Azerbaijani, /c/ is realized as [ ç ] when it is found in the syllabic coda or is preceded by a voiceless consonant (as in çörək[t͡ʃœˈɾæç] – "bread"; səksən[sæçˈsæn] – "eighty").
  5. /w/ exists in the Kirkuk dialect as an allophoneof /v/ in Arabic loanwords.
  6. In colloquial speech, /x/ (but not intramorpheme [x] transformed from /g/) is usually pronounced as [χ]

Dialectal consonants

Works on Azerbaijani dialectology use the following notations for dialectal consonants: [69] [70] [71]

  • Ⱪ ⱪ—[k]
  • X` x`—[ç]
  • Ŋ ŋ—[ŋ]
  • Ц ц—[t͡s]
  • Dz dz—[d͡z]
  • Ž ž—[ð]
  • W w—[w,ɥ]


  • [k]—ⱪış [kɯʃ]
  • [ç]—üzüx` [ʔyzyç]
  • [ŋ]—ataŋın [ʔɑt̪ɑŋɯn̪]
  • [t͡s]—цay [t͡sɑj]
  • [d͡z]—dzan [d͡zɑn̪]
  • [ð]—əžəli [ʔæðæl̪ɪ]
  • [w]—dowşan [d̪ɔːwʃɑn̪]
  • [ɥ]—töwlə [t̪œːɥl̪æ]


The vowels of the Azerbaijani are, in alphabetical order, [72] a/ɑ/, e/e/, ə/æ/, ı/ɯ/, i/i/, o/o/, ö/œ/, u/u/, ü/y/. [73] [74] [75]

South Azerbaijani vowel chart, from Mokari & Werner (2016:509) Azeri vowel chart.svg
South Azerbaijani vowel chart, from Mokari & Werner (2016 :509)
Vowels of Standard Azerbaijani
Front Back
Unrounded Rounded UnroundedRounded
Close i y ɯ u
Mid e œ o
Open æ ɑ

The typical phonetic quality of South Azerbaijani vowels is as follows:


The modern Azerbaijani Latin alphabet contains the digraphs ov and öv to represent diphthongs present in the language, and the pronunciation of diphthongs is today accepted as the norm in the orthophony of Azerbaijani. [78] Despite this, the number and even the existence of diphthongs in Azerbaijani has been disputed, with some linguists, such as Abdulazal Damirchizade  [ az ], arguing that they are non-phonemic. Damirchizade's view was challenged by others, such as Aghamusa Akhundov  [ az ], who argued that Damirchizade was taking orthography as the basis of his judgement, rather than its phonetic value. According to Akhundov, Azerbaijani contains two diphthongs, /ou̯/ and /œy̯/, [80] represented by ov and öv in the alphabet, both of which are phonemic due to their contrast with /o/ and /œ/, represented by o and ö. [81] In some cases, a non-syllabic /v/ can also be pronounced after the aforementioned diphthongs, to form /ou̯v/ and /œy̯v/, the rules of which are as follows: [82]

  • If the letter o precedes v and then u, forming ovu, it should be pronounced as /ou̯/, e.g. sovurmaq, pronounced [sou̯rˈmɑx] .
  • If the letter o precedes v and then any consonant, it should be pronounced as /ou̯(v)/, with the pronunciation of the v being optional, e.g. dovşan, pronounced [dou̯(v)ˈʃɑn] .
  • If the letter ö precedes v and then any unvoiced consonant, it should be pronounced as /œy̯/, e.g. cövhər, pronounced [d͡ʒœy̯ˈhær] .
  • If the letter ö precedes v and then any voiced consonant, it should be pronounced as /œy̯(v)/, with the pronunciation of the v being optional, e.g. tövbə, pronounced [tœy̯(v)ˈbæ] .

Modern linguists who have examined Azerbaijani's vowel system almost unanimously have recognised that diphthongs are phonetically produced in speech. [83]

Writing systems

Before 1929, Azerbaijani was written only in the Perso-Arabic alphabet, an impure abjad that does not represent all vowels (without diacritical marks). In Iran, the process of standardization of orthography started with the publication of Azerbaijani magazines and newspapers such as Varlıq (وارلیقExistence) from 1979. Azerbaijani-speaking scholars and literarians showed great interest in involvement in such ventures and in working towards the development of a standard writing system. These effort culminated in language seminars being held in Tehran, chaired by the founder of Varlıq, Javad Heyat, in 2001 where a document outlining the standard orthography and writing conventions were published for the public. [5] This standard of writing is today canonized by a Persian–Azeri Turkish dictionary in Iran titled Loghatnāme-ye Torki-ye Āzarbāyjāni. [84]

In 1929–1938 a Latin alphabet was in use for North Azerbaijani (although it was different from the one used now), from 1938 to 1991 the Cyrillic script was used, and in 1991 the current Latin alphabet was introduced, although the transition to it has been rather slow. [85] For instance, until an Aliyev decree on the matter in 2001, [86] newspapers would routinely write headlines in the Latin script, leaving the stories in Cyrillic. [87] The transition has also resulted in some misrendering of İ as Ì. [88] [89] In Dagestan, Azerbaijani is still written in Cyrillic script.

The Azerbaijani Latin alphabet is based on the Turkish Latin alphabet, which in turn was based on former Azerbaijani Latin alphabet because of their linguistic connections and mutual intelligibility. The letters Әə, Xx, and Qq are available only in Azerbaijani for sounds which do not exist as separate phonemes in Turkish.

Old Latin
(1929–1938 version;
no longer in use;
replaced by 1991 version)
Official Latin
since 1991)
(1958 version,
still official
in Dagestan)
until 1929)
A aА аآ / ـا/ɑ/
B вB bБ бب/b/
Ç çC cҸ ҹج/dʒ/
C cÇ çЧ чچ/tʃ/
D dД дد/d/
E eЕ еئ/e/
Ə əӘ әا / َ / ە/æ/
F fФ фف/f/
G gҜ ҝگ/ɟ/
Ƣ ƣĞ ğҒ ғغ/ɣ/
H hҺ һح / ه/h/
X xХ хخ/x/
Ь ьI ıЫ ыؽ/ɯ/
I iİ iИ иی/i/
Ƶ ƶJ jЖ жژ/ʒ/
K kК кک/k/, /c/
Q qГ гق/ɡ/
L lЛ лل/l/
M mМ мم/m/
N nН нن/n/
Ꞑ ꞑ [lower-alpha 3] ݣ / نگ/ŋ/
O oО оوْ/o/
Ɵ ɵÖ öӨ өؤ/œ/
P pП пپ/p/
R rР рر/r/
S sС сث / س / ص/s/
Ş şШ шش/ʃ/
T tТ тت / ط/t/
U uУ уۇ/u/
Y yÜ üҮ үۆ/y/
V vВ вو/v/
J jY yЈ јی/j/
Z zЗ зذ / ز / ض / ظ/z/

Northern Azerbaijani, unlike Turkish, respells foreign names to conform with Latin Azerbaijani spelling, e.g. Bush is spelled Buş and Schröder becomes Şröder. Hyphenation across lines directly corresponds to spoken syllables, except for geminated consonants which are hyphenated as two separate consonants as morphonology considers them two separate consonants back to back but enunciated in the onset of the latter syllable as a single long consonant, as in other Turkic languages.[ citation needed ]



Some samples include:


Invoking deity:

Formal and informal

Azerbaijani has informal and formal ways of saying things. This is because there is a strong tu-vous distinction in Turkic languages like Azerbaijani and Turkish (as well as in many other languages). The informal "you" is used when talking to close friends, relatives, animals or children. The formal "you" is used when talking to someone who is older than the speaker or to show respect (to a professor, for example).

As in many Turkic languages, personal pronouns can be omitted, and they are only added for emphasis.

Since 1992 North Azerbaijani has used a phonetic writing system, so pronunciation is easy: most words are pronounced exactly as they are spelled. However, the combination qq in words is pronounced [] , as the first voiced velar stop is devoiced when it is geminated, such as in çaqqal, pronounced [t͡ʃɑkɡɑl] . [90] [91]

CategoryEnglishNorth Azerbaijani (in Latin script)
Basic expressionsyes/hæ/ (informal), bəli (formal)
noyox/jox/ (informal), xeyr (formal)
goodbyesağ ol/ˈsɑɣol/
sağ olun/ˈsɑɣolun/ (formal)
good morningsabahınız xeyir/sɑbɑhɯ(nɯ)zxejiɾ/
good afternoongünortanız xeyir/ɟynoɾt(ɑn)ɯzxejiɾ/
good eveningaxşamın xeyir/ɑxʃɑmɯnxejiɾ/
axşamınız xeyir/ɑxʃɑmɯ(nɯ)zxejiɾ/
brownqəhvəyi / qonur







The numbers 11–19 are constructed as on bir and on iki, literally meaning "ten-one, ten-two" and so on up to on doqquz ("ten-nine").

20iyirmi/ijiɾmi/ [lower-alpha 4]

Greater numbers are constructed by combining in tens and thousands larger to smaller in the same way, without using a conjunction in between.


    • The written language of the Iraqi Turkmen is based on Istanbul Turkish using the modern Turkish alphabet.
    • Professor Christiane Bulut has argued that publications from Azerbaijan often use expressions such as "Azerbaijani (dialects) of Iraq" or "South Azerbaijani" to describe Iraqi Turkmen dialects "with political implications"; however, in Turcological literature, closely related dialects in Turkey and Iraq are generally referred to as "eastern Anatolian" or "Iraq-Turkic/-Turkman" dialects, respectively. [1]
  1. Since Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, northern Azerbaijani uses the Latin alphabet. Iranian Azerbaijani, on the other hand, has always used and continues to use Arabic script. [41]
  2. Excluded from the alphabet in 1938
  3. /iɾmi/ is also found in standard speech.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Persian language</span> Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi or Parsi, is a Western Iranian language belonging to the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian subdivision of the Indo-European languages. Persian is a pluricentric language predominantly spoken and used officially within Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan in three mutually intelligible standard varieties, respectively Iranian Persian, Dari Persian, and Tajiki Persian. It is also spoken natively in the Tajik variety by a significant population within Uzbekistan, as well as within other regions with a Persianate history in the cultural sphere of Greater Iran. It is written officially within Iran and Afghanistan in the Persian alphabet, a derivative of the Arabic script, and within Tajikistan in the Tajik alphabet, a derivative of the Cyrillic script.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turkish language</span> Turkic language of the Turkish people

Turkish is the most widely spoken of the Turkic languages, with around 90 to 100 million speakers. It is the national language of Turkey and Northern Cyprus. Significant smaller groups of Turkish speakers also exist in Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Greece, Cyprus, other parts of Europe, the South Caucasus, and some parts of Central Asia, Iraq, and Syria. Turkish is the 18th most spoken language in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dari</span> Variety of the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan

Dari, also known as Dari Persian, is the variety of the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan. Dari is the Afghan government's official term for the Persian language; it is known as Afghan Persian or Eastern Persian in many Western sources. The decision to rename the local variety of Persian in 1964 was more political than linguistic to support an Afghan state narrative. Apart from a few basics of vocabulary, there is little difference between formal written Persian of Afghanistan and Iran; the languages are mutually intelligible. Dari is the official language for 35 million Afghans in Afghanistan and it serves as the lingua franca for interethnic communications in Afghanistan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kazakh language</span> Turkic language mostly spoken in Kazakhstan

Kazakh or Qazaq is a Turkic language of the Kipchak branch spoken in Central Asia by Kazakhs. It is closely related to Nogai, Kyrgyz and Karakalpak. It is the official language of Kazakhstan and a significant minority language in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang, north-western China, and in the Bayan-Ölgii Province of western Mongolia. The language is also spoken by many ethnic Kazakhs throughout the former Soviet Union, Germany, and Turkey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Uzbek language</span> Turkic language of the Karluk sub-branch

Uzbek, formerly known as Turki, is a Karluk Turkic language spoken by Uzbeks. It is the official and national language of Uzbekistan and formally succeeded Chagatai, an earlier Karluk language also known as "Turki", as the literary language of Uzbekistan in the 1920s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kyrgyz language</span> Kipchak Turkic language of Central Asia

Kyrgyz is a Turkic language of the Kipchak branch spoken in Central Asia. Kyrgyz is the official language of Kyrgyzstan and a significant minority language in the Kizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang, China and in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan. There is a very high level of mutual intelligibility between Kyrgyz, Kazakh, and Altay. A dialect of Kyrgyz known as Pamiri Kyrgyz is spoken in north-eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. Kyrgyz is also spoken by many ethnic Kyrgyz through the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Turkey, parts of northern Pakistan, and Russia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tatar language</span> Turkic language spoken by Tatars

Tatar is a Turkic language spoken by the Volga Tatars mainly located in modern Tatarstan, as well as Siberia and Crimea.

The Turkish alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet used for writing the Turkish language, consisting of 29 letters, seven of which have been modified from their Latin originals for the phonetic requirements of the language. This alphabet represents modern Turkish pronunciation with a high degree of accuracy and specificity. Mandated in 1928 as part of Atatürk's Reforms, it is the current official alphabet and the latest in a series of distinct alphabets used in different eras.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chagatai language</span> Extinct Karluk Turkic language of Central Asia

Chagatai, also known as Turki, Eastern Turkic, or Chagatai Turkic, is an extinct Turkic language that was once widely spoken across Central Asia. It remained the shared literary language in the region until the early 20th century. It was used across a wide geographic area including western or Russian Turkestan, eastern or Chinese Turkestan, the Crimea, the Volga region, etc. Literary Chagatai is the predecessor of the modern Karluk branch of Turkic languages, which includes Uzbek and Uyghur. Turkmen, which is not within the Karluk branch but in the Oghuz branch of Turkic languages, was nonetheless heavily influenced by Chagatai for centuries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turkmen language</span> Turkic language of the Oghuz sub-branch

Turkmen, sometimes referred to as Turkmen Turkic, among Turkish authors Turkmen Turkish, is a Turkic language of the Oghuz branch spoken by the Turkmens of Central Asia. It has an estimated 4.3 million native speakers in Turkmenistan, and a further 719,000 speakers in northeastern Iran and 1.5 million people in northwestern Afghanistan, where it has no official status. Turkmen is also spoken to lesser varying degrees in Turkmen communities of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and by diaspora communities, primarily in Turkey and Russia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tajik language</span> Variety of Persian spoken in Central Asia

Tajik, also called Tajiki Persian or Tajiki, is the variety of Persian spoken in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan by Tajiks. It is closely related to neighbouring Dari of Afghanistan with which it forms a continuum of mutually intelligible varieties of the Persian language. Several scholars consider Tajik as a dialectal variety of Persian rather than a language on its own. The popularity of this conception of Tajik as a variety of Persian was such that, during the period in which Tajik intellectuals were trying to establish Tajik as a language separate from Persian, prominent intellectual Sadriddin Ayni counterargued that Tajik was not a "bastardised dialect" of Persian. The issue of whether Tajik and Persian are to be considered two dialects of a single language or two discrete languages has political sides to it.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bashkir language</span> Turkic language of the Kipchak sub-branch

Bashkir or Bashkort is a Turkic language belonging to the Kipchak branch. It is co-official with Russian in Bashkortostan. It is spoken by 1.09 million native speakers in Russia, as well as in Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Estonia and other neighboring post-Soviet states, and among the Bashkir diaspora. It has three dialect groups: Southern, Eastern and Northwestern.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Qashqai language</span> Oghuz Turkic language of southwestern Iran

Qashqai is an Oghuz Turkic language spoken by the Qashqai people, an ethnic group living mainly in the Fars Province of Southern Iran. Encyclopædia Iranica regards Qashqai as an independent third group of dialects within the Southwestern Turkic language group. It is known to speakers as Turki. Estimates of the number of Qashqai speakers vary. Ethnologue gave a figure of 1.0 million in 2021.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turkmen alphabet</span> Scripts used to write the Turkmen language

The Turkmen alphabet refers to variants of the Latin alphabet, Cyrillic alphabet, or Arabic alphabet used for writing of the Turkmen language.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Khalaj language</span> Turkic language spoken in western Iran

Khalaj is a Turkic language spoken in Iran. Although it contains many old Turkic elements, it has become widely Persianized. Khalaj has about 150 words of uncertain origin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Talysh language</span> Iranic language spoken in Northwestern Iran and Southeastern Azerbaijan

Talysh is a Northwestern Iranian language spoken in the northern regions of the Iranian provinces of Gilan and Ardabil and the southern regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan by around 500,000-800,000 people. Talysh language is closely related to the Tati language. It includes many dialects usually divided into three main clusters: Northern, Central (Iran) and Southern (Iran). Talysh is partially, but not fully, intelligible with Persian. Talysh is classified as "vulnerable" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.

The Ottoman Turkish alphabet is a version of the Perso-Arabic script used to write Ottoman Turkish until 1928, when it was replaced by the Latin-based modern Turkish alphabet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Khorasani Turkic</span> Oghuz Turkic language spoken in Iran

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The Azerbaijani people are a Turkic ethnic group of mixed ethnic origins, primarily the indigenous peoples of eastern Transcaucasia, the Medians, an ancient Iranian people, and the Oghuz Turkic tribes that began migrating to Azerbaijan in the 11th century CE. Modern Azerbaijanis are the second most numerous ethnic group among the Turkic peoples after Anatolian Turks and speak North Azerbaijani and/or South Azerbaijani. Both languages also have dialects, with 21 North Azerbaijani dialects and 11 South Azerbaijani dialects.


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    The 15th century saw the beginning of a more important period in the history of the Azeri Turkish literature. The position of the literary language was reinforced under the Qarāqoyunlu (r. 1400–68), who had their capital in Tabriz. Jahānšāh (r. 1438–68) himself wrote lyrical poems in Turkish using the pen name of "Ḥaqiqi."
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    He wrote a maṯnawī entitled Yūsof wa Zoleyḵā, and dedicated it to the Āq Qoyunlū Sultan Yaʿqūb (r. 883-96/1478-90), who himself wrote poetry in Azeri.
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  80. They are /oʋ/ and /œw/ in the dialect of Tabriz. [79]
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Further reading