Azerbaijani is the primary & official language of Azerbaijan. It is also the primary language in northwestern Iran, and is also spoken to a small extent in southern Dagestan (Russia), the Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia, and eastern Turkey. It is a Turkic language and is mutually intelligible with modern Turkish although a fair amount of vocabulary has been added from Russian or Persian influence in Azerbaijan and Iran respectively.
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. In Iran, the Persian-Arabic alphabet, with a few letters created especially for Azerbaijani, has remained in use; however, there is no standard for written Azerbaijani in terms of spelling.
Azerbaijani is written in the Latin alphabet by its 8.8 million native speakers in Azerbaijan, the rest of southern Caucasus, and Turkey. Azerbaijani is written in Persian-Arabic alphabet by its estimated 24 million speakers in Iran, and Iraq. Be careful as many Latin letters are pronounced differently from the way they are in English and a few letters share the same sound in the Persian-Arabic script!
The following letters are in Latin (Azerbaijan since 1991) & Arabic (Iran; Azerbaijan until 1922).
- short as in 'along' or long as in 'army'.
- pronounced like 'b' in 'bell'.
- pronounced like 'J' in Japan.
- pronounced like 'ch' in chat..
- pronounced like 'd' in death; otherwise, like 'th' in 'the'.
- pronounced like soft 'e' in Embassy. This can be long as in 'bate'.
- pronounced like 'a' in fat. (This letter was represented by Ää from 1991-1992). This is long as in 'bate' or 'cape'.
- pronounced like 'f' in 'fold'.
- pronounced like 'g' in goal. More like g' , while Xx is English g.
- pronounced at the back of throat like the French 'r'
Hh ﺡ / ﻩ
- pronounced like 'h'.
- pronounced like 'c' (or 'kh') in cartoon. More like a soft kh, while Kk is a hard k.
- pronounced like 'u' in 'butter' or 'Sutton'.
- pronounced like 'i' in 'pit'. This can be 'ee' as in 'meet'.
- pronounced like 'j' (or 'zh') in déjà vu.
- pronounced like 'k' in 'kill'.
- pronounced like 'q' in 'Qatar'; usually a slide between 'g' in 'goal' and 'k' in 'kill'.
- pronounced like 'l' in 'Lauren'
- pronounced like 'm' in 'Maeve'.
- pronounced like 'n' in 'noon'. Before 'b', 'm', and/or 'p', like 'm' in 'man'. Before 'g', 'k', and/or 'q', this is the 'ng' sound of 'pink'.
- pronounced like 'o' in 'not'; otherwise, 'oh' as in 'note'.
- same as in German, like 'er' in 'her'.
- pronounced like 'p'.
- Roll you r's!
Ss ﺙ / ﺱ / ﺹ
- pronounced like 's' in sizzle.
- pronounced like 'sh' in shape.
Tt ﺕ / ﻁ
- pronounced like 't'.
- pronounced like 'u' in put.
- pronounced like 'u' (or 'yu') in mute.
- pronounced like 'v' in 'van'; otherwise, like 'w' in 'world'.
- pronounced like 'y' in year.
Zz ﺫ / ﺯ / ﺽ / ﻅ
- pronounced like 'z' in zebra, same as 's' in 'nose' or 'his'.