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[ɑːzæɾbɑjˈdʒɑn diˈli]
Native to
  • Azerbaijan
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • Iraq[a]
  • Georgia
RegionIranian Azerbaijan, South Caucasus
Native speakers
24 million (2022)[2]
Early form
Standard forms
  • Shirvani (In Republic of Azerbaijan)
  • Tabrizi (In Iranian Azerbaijan)
Official status
Official language in
Dagestan (Russia)
Organization of Turkic States
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-1az
ISO 639-2aze
ISO 639-3aze – inclusive code
Individual codes:
azj – North Azerbaijani
azb – South Azerbaijani
Glottologazer1255  Central Oghuz
Linguaspherepart of 44-AAB-a
Areas that speak Azerbaijani
  The majority speak Azerbaijani
  The 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 spoken primarily by the Azerbaijani people, who live mainly in the Republic of Azerbaijan where the North Azerbaijani variety is spoken, and in the Azerbaijan region of Iran, where the South Azerbaijani variety is spoken. Although there is a very high degree of mutual intelligibility between both forms of Azerbaijani, there are significant differences in phonology, lexicon, morphology, syntax, and sources of loanwords.

North Azerbaijani has official status in the Republic of Azerbaijan and Dagestan (a federal subject of Russia), but South Azerbaijani does not have official status in Iran, where the majority of Azerbaijani people live. It is also spoken to lesser varying degrees in Azerbaijani communities of Georgia and Turkey and by diaspora communities, primarily in Europe and North America.

Both Azerbaijani varieties are members of the Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages. The standardized form of North Azerbaijani (spoken in the Republic of Azerbaijan and Russia) is based on the Shirvani dialect, while South Azerbaijani uses the Tabrizi dialect as its prestige variety. Since the Republic of Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Northern Azerbaijani uses the Latin script. South Azerbaijani, on the other hand, has always used and continues to use the Perso-Arabic script. Azerbaijani language is closely related to Gagauz, Qashqai, Crimean Tatar, Turkish, and Turkmen, sharing varying degrees of mutual intelligibility with each of those languages.

Etymology and background[edit]

Historically the language was referred 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, during the 1930s, its name was changed to "Azerbaijani".[7][8] The language is still referred to as Turki or Torki in Iranian Azerbaijan.[9]

History and evolution[edit]

Azerbaijani evolved from the Eastern branch of Oghuz Turkic ("Western Turkic")[10] which spread to the Caucasus, in Eastern Europe,[11][12] and northern Iran, in Western Asia, during the medieval Turkic migrations.[13] Persian and Arabic influenced the language, but Arabic words were mainly transmitted through the intermediary of literary Persian.[14] 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.[13]

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 a spoken language 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.[15][16]

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[17] – 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.[18] After independence, the Republic of Azerbaijan decided to switch back to a modified Latin script.

Azerbaijani literature[edit]

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.[19][20] 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.[20] The ruler of the Qara Qoyunlu state, Jahanshah, wrote poems in Azerbaijani language with the nickname "Haqiqi".[21][22] Sultan Yaqub, the ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu state, wrote poems in the Azerbaijani language.[23] The ruler and poet Ismail I wrote under the pen name Khatā'ī (which means "sinner" in Persian) during the fifteenth century.[24][25] During the 16th century, the poet, writer and thinker Fuzûlî wrote mainly in Azerbaijani but also translated his poems into Arabic and Persian.[24]

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.[20] Following the rule of the Qajar dynasty, Iran was ruled by Reza Shah who banned the publication of texts in Azerbaijani.[citation needed] Modern literature in the Republic of Azerbaijan is based on the Shirvani dialect mainly, while in Iranian Azerbaijan, it is based on the Tabrizi dialect.

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.[26]

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.[20] 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[edit]

Azerbaijani served as a lingua franca throughout most parts of Transcaucasia except the Black Sea coast, in southern Dagestan,[27][28][29] the Eastern Anatolia Region and all over Iran [30] from the 16th to the early 20th centuries,[31][32] alongside cultural, administrative, court literature, and most importantly official language (along with Azerbaijani) of all these regions, namely Persian.[33] 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.[34]

Dialects of Azerbaijani[edit]

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.[35] Linguists Mohammad Salehi and Aydin Neysani write that "there is a high degree of mutual intelligibility" between North and South Azerbaijani.[35]

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".[36] 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.[37]

In the northern dialects of the Azerbaijani language, linguists find traces of the influence of the Khazar language.[38]

According to Encyclopedia Iranica:[24]

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[edit]

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.[39]

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[edit]

South Azerbaijani,[4] or Iranian Azerbaijani,[b] 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 widely spoken in Tehran and across Tehran Province, as Azerbaijanis form by far the largest minority in the city and the wider province,[41] comprising about 16[42][43] 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,[44] 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 (Inallu, Inanlu), Karapapakh, Tabriz, Afshari (Afsar, Afshar), Shahsavani (Shahseven), Moqaddam, Baharlu (Kamesh), Nafar, Qaragozlu, Pishagchi, Bayat, Qajar".[4]

Comparison with other Turkic languages[edit]

Azerbaijani and Turkish[edit]

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.[45] 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.[46][47]

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.[48] In a 2017 study, Iranian Azerbaijanis scored in average 56% of receptive intelligibility in spoken language of Turkish.[49]

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.

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

Azerbaijani Turkish English
ayaqqabı/başmaq ayakkabı shoes
ayaq ayak foot
kitab kitap book[50]
qan kan blood
qaz kaz goose
qaş kaş eyebrow
qar kar snow
daş taş stone

Azerbaijani and Turkmen[edit]

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.[51] 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.[52] 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.[53]

Here are some words from the Swadesh list to compare Azerbaijani with Turkmen:[54]

Azerbaijani Turkmen English
mən men I, me
sən sen you
haçan haçan when
başqa başga other
it, köpək it, köpek dog
dəri deri skin, leather
yumurta ýumurtga egg
ürək ýürek heart
eşitmək eşitmek to hear


Azerbaijani dialects share paradigms of verbs in some tenses with the Chuvash language,[38] on which linguists also rely in the study and reconstruction of the Khazar language.[38]



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

  • Trimoraic syllables with long vowels are permissible.
  • There is an ongoing metathesis of neighboring consonants in a word.[55] Speakers tend to reorder consonants in the order of decreasing sonority and back-to-front (for example, iləri becomes irəli, köprü becomes körpü, topraq becomes torpaq). Some of the metatheses are so common in the educated speech that they are reflected in orthography (all the above examples are like that). This phenomenon is more common in rural dialects but observed even in educated young urban speakers, but noticeably absent from some Southern dialects.
  • Intramorpheme q /g/ becomes /x/.


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].
  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;.[56]
  3. Sounds /t͡s/ and /d͡z/ may also be recognized as separate phonemic sounds in the Tabrizi and southern dialects.[57]
  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 allophone of /v/ in Arabic loanwords.
  6. In colloquial speech, /x/ (but not intramorpheme [x] transformed from /g/) is usually pronounced as [χ]

Dialectal consonants[edit]

  • Dz dz—[d͡z]
  • Ć ć—[t͡s]
  • Ŋ ŋ—[ŋ]
  • Q̇ q̇—[ɢ]
  • Ð ð—[ð][citation needed]
  • W w—[w, ɥ]


  • [d͡z]—dzan [d͡zɑn̪]
  • [t͡s]—ćay [t͡sɑj]
  • [ŋ]—ataŋın [ʔɑt̪ɑŋən̪]
  • [ɢ]—q̇ar [ɢɑɾ]
  • [ð]—əðəli [ʔæðæl̪ɪ]
  • [w]—dowşan [d̪ɔːwʃɑn̪]
  • [ɥ]—töwlə [t̪œːɥl̪æ]


The vowels of the Azerbaijani are, in alphabetical order,[58] a /ɑ/, e /e/, ə /æ/, ı /ɯ/, i /i/, o /o/, ö /œ/, u /u/, ü /y/.[59][60][61]

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

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

  • /i, u, æ/ are close to cardinal [i, u, a].[62]
  • The F1 and F2 formant frequencies overlap for /œ/ and /ɯ/. Their acoustic quality is more or less close-mid central [ɵ, ɘ]. The main role in the distinction of two vowels is played by the different F3 frequencies in audition,[63] and rounding in articulation. Phonologically, however, they are more distinct: /œ/ is phonologically a mid front rounded vowel, the front counterpart of /o/ and the rounded counterpart of /e/. /ɯ/ is phonologically a close back unrounded vowel, the back counterpart of /i/ and the unrounded counterpart of /u/.
  • The other mid vowels /e, o/ are closer to close-mid [e, o] than open-mid [ɛ, ɔ].[62]
  • /ɑ/ is phonetically near-open back [ɑ̝].[62]


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.[64] 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/,[66] 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.[67] Optionally, a non-syllabic /v/ can also be pronounced after the aforementioned diphthongs, to form /ou̯v/ and /œy̯v/.[68] Modern linguists who have examined Azerbaijani's vowel system almost unanimously have recognised that diphthongs are phonetically produced in speech.[69]

Writing systems[edit]

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 (وارلیق) 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.[70]

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.[71] For instance, until an Aliyev decree on the matter in 2001,[72] newspapers would routinely write headlines in the Latin script, leaving the stories in Cyrillic.[73] The transition has also resulted in some misrendering of İ as Ì.[74][75] 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 a А а آ / ـا /ɑ/
B в B b Б б ب /b/
Ç ç C c Ҹ ҹ ج /dʒ/
C c Ç ç Ч ч چ /tʃ/
D d Д д د /d/
E e Е е ئ /e/
Ə ə Ә ә ا / َ / ە /æ/
F f Ф ф ف /f/
G g Ҝ ҝ گ /ɟ/
Ƣ ƣ Ğ ğ Ғ ғ غ /ɣ/
H h Һ һ ح / ه /h/
X x Х х خ /x/
Ь ь I ı Ы ы ؽ /ɯ/
I i İ i И и ی /i/
Ƶ ƶ J j Ж ж ژ /ʒ/
K k К к ک /k/, /c/
Q q Г г ق /ɡ/
L l Л л ل /l/
M m М м م /m/
N n Н н ن /n/
Ꞑ ꞑ[c] ݣ / نگ /ŋ/
O o О о وْ /o/
Ɵ ɵ Ö ö Ө ө ؤ /œ/
P p П п پ /p/
R r Р р ر /r/
S s С с ث / س / ص /s/
Ş ş Ш ш ش /ʃ/
T t Т т ت / ط /t/
U u У у ۇ /u/
Y y Ü ü Ү ү ۆ /y/
V v В в و /v/
J j Y y Ј ј ی /j/
Z z З з ذ / ز / ض / ظ /z/
ʼ ع /ʔ/

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:


  • Of ("Ugh!")
  • Tez Ol ("Be quick!")
  • Tez olun qızlar mədrəsəyə ("Be quick girls, to school!", a slogan for an education campaign in Azerbaijan)

Invoking deity:

  • implicitly:
    • Aman ("Mercy")
    • Çox şükür ("Much thanks")
  • explicitly:
    • Allah Allah (pronounced as Allahallah) ("Goodness gracious")
    • Hay Allah; Vallah "By God [I swear it]".
    • Çox şükür allahım ("Much thanks my god")

Formal and informal[edit]

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.

Category English North Azerbaijani (in Latin script)
Basic expressions yes /hæ/ (informal), bəli (formal)
no yox /jox/ (informal), xeyr (formal)
hello salam /sɑlɑm/
goodbye sağ ol /ˈsɑɣ ol/
sağ olun /ˈsɑɣ olun/ (formal)
good morning sabahınız xeyir /sɑbɑhɯ(nɯ)z xejiɾ/
good afternoon günortanız xeyir /ɟynoɾt(ɑn)ɯz xejiɾ/
good evening axşamın xeyir /ɑxʃɑmɯn xejiɾ/
axşamınız xeyir /ɑxʃɑmɯ(nɯ)z xejiɾ/
Colours black qara /ɡɑɾɑ/
blue göy /ɟœj/
brown qəhvəyi / qonur
grey boz /boz/
green yaşıl /jaʃɯl/
orange narıncı /nɑɾɯnd͡ʒɯ/
pink çəhrayı


purple bənövşəyi


red qırmızı /ɡɯɾmɯzɯ/
white /ɑɣ/
yellow sarı /sɑɾɯ/


Number Word
0 sıfır /ˈsɯfɯɾ/
1 bir /biɾ/
2 iki /ici/
3 üç /yt͡ʃ/
4 dörd /dœɾd/
5 beş /beʃ/
6 altı /ɑltɯ/
7 yeddi /jed:i/
8 səkkiz /sæc:iz/
9 doqquz /doɡ:uz/
10 on /on/

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").

Number Word
20 iyirmi /ijiɾmi/[d]
30 otuz /otuz/
40 qırx /ɡɯɾx/
50 əlli /ælli/

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


  1. ^ Former Cyrillic spelling used in the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.
  1. ^
    • 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]
  2. ^ 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.[40]
  3. ^ Excluded from the alphabet in 1938
  4. ^ /iɾmi/ is also found in standard speech.


  1. ^ Bulut, Christiane (2018b), "The Turkic varieties of Iran", in Haig, Geoffrey; Khan, Geoffrey (eds.), The Languages and Linguistics of Western Asia: An Areal Perspective, Walter de Gruyter, p. 398, ISBN 978-3-11-042168-2
  2. ^ Azerbaijani language at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) closed access
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Azerbaijani, North". Ethnologue. Archived from the original on 5 June 2019. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Azerbaijani, South". Ethnologue. Archived from the original on 5 June 2019. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  5. ^ a b Azeri Arabic Turk standard of writing; authored by Javad Heyat; 2001
  6. ^ "Türk dili, yoxsa azərbaycan dili? (Turkish language or Azerbaijani language?)". BBC (in Azerbaijani). 9 August 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  7. ^ Goyushov, Altay (26 September 2018). "The Language of Azerbaijan: Turkish or Azerbaijani?". Baku Research Institute. Retrieved 23 August 2023. However, in 1936–1937, the situation changed fundamentally. Even though there was no explicit mention of an enactment of state language in local Azerbaijani laws, the term "Turkish" was substituted by "Azerbaijani" in state and court documents. Later in 1956, "Azerbaijani" was given the status of the official state language of Soviet Azerbaijan. This was also mentioned in Soviet Azerbaijan's last Constitution adopted in 1978.
  8. ^ Yarshater, Ehsan, ed. (1987). "AZERBAIJAN". Encyclopædia Iranica, Online Edition. Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation. Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  9. ^ Rahmati, Nemat (1998). Aserbaidschanisch Lehrbuch : unter Berücksichtigung des Nord- und Südaserbaidschanischen. Korkut M. Buğday. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-03840-9. OCLC 40415729.
  10. ^ "The Turkic Languages", Osman Fikri Sertkaya (2005) in Turks – A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600, London ISBN 978-1-90397-356-1
  11. ^ Wright, Sue; Kelly, Helen (1998). Ethnicity in Eastern Europe: Questions of Migration, Language Rights and Education. Multilingual Matters Ltd. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-85359-243-0.
  12. ^ Bratt Paulston, Christina; Peckham, Donald (1 October 1998). Linguistic Minorities in Central and Eastern Europe. Multilingual Matters Ltd. pp. 98–115. ISBN 978-1-85359-416-8.
  13. ^ a b Johanson, Lars (1988). "AZERBAIJAN ix. Iranian Elements in Azeri Turkish". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica, Online Edition. Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation. Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  14. ^ John R. Perry, "Lexical Areas and Semantic Fields of Arabic" in Csató et al. (2005) Linguistic convergence and areal diffusion: case studies from Iranian, Semitic and Turkic, Routledge, p. 97: "It is generally understood that the bulk of the Arabic vocabulary in the central, contiguous Iranic, Turkic and Indic languages was originally borrowed into literary Persian between the ninth and thirteenth centuries CE..."
  15. ^ Tonoyan, Artyom (2019). "On the Caucasian Persian (Tat) Lexical Substratum in the Baku Dialect of Azerbaijani. Preliminary Notes". Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft. 169 (2): 368 (note 4). doi:10.13173/zeitdeutmorggese.169.2.0367. S2CID 211660063.
  16. ^ Karpat, K. (2001). The Politicization of Islam: Reconstructing Identity, State, Faith, and Community in the Late Ottoman State. Oxford University Press. p. 295.
  17. ^ "Alphabet Changes in Azerbaijan in the 20th Century". Azerbaijan International. Spring 2000. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  18. ^ Language Commission Suggested to Be Established in National Assembly. 25 January 2011.
  19. ^ Johanson, L. (6 April 2010). Brown, Keith; Ogilvie, Sarah (eds.). Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World. Elsevier. pp. 110–113. ISBN 978-0-08-087775-4 – via Google Books.
  20. ^ a b c d Öztopcu, Kurtulus. "Azeri / Azerbaijani". American Association of Teachers of Turkic Languages. Archived from the original on 8 March 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  21. ^ Javadi, Hasan; Burrill, Kathleen (1988). "AZERBAIJAN x. Azeri Turkish Literature". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica, Online Edition. Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation. Retrieved 14 February 2023.

    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."

  22. ^ V. Minorsky. Jihān-Shāh Qara-Qoyunlu and His Poetry (Turkmenica, 9). Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. — Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of School of Oriental and African Studies, 1954. — V.16, p . 272, 283: «It is somewhat astonishing that a sturdy Turkman like Jihan-shah should have been so restricted in his ways of expression. Altogether the language of the poems belongs to the group of the southern Turkman dialects which go by the name of Azarbayjan Turkish.»; «As yet nothing seems to have been published on the Br. Mus. manuscript Or. 9493, which contains the bilingual collection of poems of Haqiqi, i.e. of the Qara-qoyunlu sultan Jihan-shah (A.D. 1438—1467).»
  23. ^ Javadi, Hasan; Burrill, Kathleen (1988). "AZERBAIJAN x. Azeri Literature [1988]". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica, Online Edition. Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation. Retrieved 14 February 2023.

    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.

  24. ^ a b c Doerfer, Gerhard (1988). "AZERBAIJAN viii. Azeri Turkish". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica, Online Edition. Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation. Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  25. ^ Mark R.V. Southern. Mark R V Southern (2005) Contagious couplings: transmission of expressives in Yiddish echo phrases, Praeger, Westport, Conn. ISBN 978-0-31306-844-7
  26. ^ "Greetings to Heydar Baba". Archived from the original on 5 August 2018. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  27. ^ Pieter Muysken, "Introduction: Conceptual and methodological issues in areal linguistics", in Pieter Muysken (2008) From Linguistic Areas to Areal Linguistics, p. 30-31 ISBN 978-90-272-3100-0 [1]
  28. ^ Viacheslav A. Chirikba, "The problem of the Caucasian Sprachbund" in Muysken, p. 74
  29. ^ Lenore A. Grenoble (2003) Language Policy in the Soviet Union, p. 131 ISBN 978-1-4020-1298-3 [2]
  30. ^ Keith Brown, Sarah Ogilvie. Concise encyclopedia of languages of the world. – Elsevier, 2009. – С. 110–113. – ISBN 978-0-08-087774-7. An Azerbaijanian koine´ functioned for centuries as a lingua franca, serving trade and intergroup communication all over Persia, in the Caucasus region and in southeastern Dagestan. Its transregional validity continued at least until the 18th century.
  31. ^ [3] Nikolai Trubetzkoy (2000) Nasledie Chingiskhana, p. 478 Agraf, Moscow ISBN 978-5-77840-082-5 (Russian)
  32. ^ J. N. Postgate (2007) Languages of Iraq, p. 164, British School of Archaeology in Iraq ISBN 978-0-903472-21-0
  33. ^ Homa Katouzian (2003) Iranian history and politics, Routledge, pg 128: "Indeed, since the formation of the Ghaznavids state in the tenth century until the fall of Qajars at the beginning of the twentieth century, most parts of the Iranian cultural regions were ruled by Turkic-speaking dynasties most of the time. At the same time, the official language was Persian, the court literature was in Persian, and most of the chancellors, ministers, and mandarins were Persian speakers of the highest learning and ability"
  34. ^ "Date of the Official Instruction of Oriental Languages in Russia" by N.I.Veselovsky. 1880. in W.W. Grigorieff ed. (1880) Proceedings of the Third Session of the International Congress of Orientalists, Saint Petersburg (Russian)
  35. ^ a b Salehi, Mohammad; Neysani, Aydin (2017). "Receptive intelligibility of Turkish to Iranian-Azerbaijani speakers". Cogent Education. 4 (1): 3. doi:10.1080/2331186X.2017.1326653. S2CID 121180361. Northern and Southern Azerbaijani are considered distinct languages by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (...)
  36. ^ A study of Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, author Svante E.Cornell, 2001, page 22 (ISBN 978-0-203-98887-9)
  37. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin (2019). "Linguistics". In Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin (eds.). Modern Azeric. doi:10.5281/zenodo.3554959. Retrieved 5 February 2020 – via Glottolog 4.1.
  38. ^ a b c "Khazar language". Great Russian Encyclopedia (in Russian).
  39. ^ Schönig 1998, p. 248.
  40. ^ , Mokari & Werner 2017, p. 207.
  41. ^ "Azeris". World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous People. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  42. ^ "Iran-Azeris". Library of Congress Country Studies. December 1987. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  43. ^ Iran: Country Study Guide. International Business Publications. 2005. ISBN 978-0-7397-1476-8.
  44. ^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  45. ^ Azerbaijani (Azeri), UNESCO
  46. ^ Yelda, Rami (2012). A Persian Odyssey: Iran Revisited. AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-4772-0291-3., p. 33
  47. ^ Mafinezam, Alidad; Mehrabi, Aria (2008). Iran and Its Place Among Nations. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-275-99926-1., p. 57
  48. ^ Sağın-Şimşek Ç, König W. Receptive multilingualism and language understanding: Intelligibility of Azerbaijani to Turkish speakers. International Journal of Bilingualism. 2012;16(3):315–331. doi:10.1177/1367006911426449
  49. ^ Salehi, Mohammad; Neysani, Aydin (2017). "Receptive intelligibility of Turkish to Iranian-Azerbaijani speakers". Cogent Education. 4 (1): 10. doi:10.1080/2331186X.2017.1326653. S2CID 121180361.
  50. ^ borrowing from a Semitic K-T-B
  51. ^ Shiraliyev M. Fundamentals of Azerbaijan dialectology. Baku, 2008. p.76
  52. ^ Kara M. Turkmen Grammar. Ankara, 2005. p.231
  53. ^ Berdiev R.; S. Kurenov; K. Shamuradov; S. Arazkuliyev (1970). Essay on the Dialects of the Turkmen Language. Ashgabat. p. 116.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  54. ^ "Swadesh list, compare the Azerbaijani language and the Turkmen language". Lingiustics.
  55. ^ Kök 2016, pp. 406–30.
  56. ^ Persian Studies in North America by Mohammad Ali Jazayeri
  57. ^ Mokari & Werner (2017), p. 209.
  58. ^ Householder and Lotfi. Basic Course in Azerbaijani. 1965.
  59. ^ Zaslansky, Matthew (7 October 2019). "The overabundance of the perfect and the restriction of evidentiality in Standard Azerbaijani: A diachronic study of -(y)Ib and -mIş". Proceedings of the Workshop on Turkic and Languages in Contact with Turkic. 4: 104–118. doi:10.3765/ptu.v4i1.4582. ISSN 2641-3485 – via Linguistic Society of America. The [Standard Azerbaijani Latin] orthography tends to correspond to IPA equivalents in broad transcription, except j = /ʒ/, ş = /ʃ/, ç = /tʃ/, c = /dʒ/, k = /c~k/, g = /ɟ/, q = /g/ (often spirantized as [x] in codas), ğ = /ɣ/, y = /j/, ə = /æ/, ö = /œ/, ü = /y/, ı = /ɯ/.
  60. ^ Mokari & Werner 2017, pp. 208–210.
  61. ^ Campbell, George L.; King, Gareth (1991). "Azerbaijani". Compendium of the World's Languages (3rd ed.). Routledge. pp. 153–157. ISBN 978-1-136-25846-6 – via Google Books. There are nine vowels: i e æ y œ ɯ u o ɑ. (...) As in Turkish, c = /dʒ/, ç = /tʃ/, ş = /ʃ/, j = /ʒ/, ı = /ɯ/, ü = /y/, ö = /œ/; letters not used in Turkish are ə = /æ/, q = /ɡ/, x = /x/.
  62. ^ a b c Mokari & Werner (2016), p. 509.
  63. ^ Mokari & Werner 2016, p. 514.
  64. ^ Əlizadə 2020, pp. 10–12.
  65. ^ Səlimi 1976, pp. 49–51.
  66. ^ They are /oʋ/ and /œw/ in the dialect of Tabriz.[65]
  67. ^ Səlimi 1976, pp. 33–34, 44–51.
  68. ^ Əlizadə 2020, p. 12.
  69. ^ Səlimi 1976, pp. 89.
  70. ^ Ameli, Seyed Hassan (2021). لغت‌نامه ترکی آذربایجانی: حروف آ (جلد ۱ (in Persian and Azerbaijani). Mohaghegh Ardabili. ISBN 978-600-344-624-3.
  71. ^ Dooley, Ian (6 October 2017). "New Nation, New Alphabet: Azerbaijani Children's Books in the 1990s". Cotsen Children's Library (in English and Azerbaijani). Princeton University WordPress Service. Retrieved 13 December 2017. Through the 1990s and early 2000s Cyrillic script was still in use for newspapers, shops, and restaurants. Only in 2001 did then president Heydar Aliyev declare "a mandatory shift from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet" ... The transition has progressed slowly.
  72. ^ Peuch, Jean-Christophe (1 August 2001). "Azerbaijan: Cyrillic Alphabet Replaced By Latin One". Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  73. ^ Monakhov, Yola (31 July 2001). "Azerbaijan Changes Its Alphabet". Getty Images. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  74. ^ Khomeini, Ruhollah (15 March 1997). Translated by Dilənçi, Piruz. "Ayətulla Homeynì: "... Məscìd ìlə mədrəsədən zar oldum"". Müxalifət (in Azerbaijani and Persian). Baku. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  75. ^ Yahya, Harun. "Global Impact of the Works of Harun Yahya V2". Secret Beyond Matter. Retrieved 23 April 2020.


Further reading[edit]

  • Mustafayev, Shahin (2013). "Ethnolinguistic Processes in the Turkic Milieu of Anatolia and Azerbaijan (14th–15th Centuries)". In Lascu, Stoica; Fetisleam, Melek (eds.). Contemporary Research in Turkology and Eurasian Studies: A Festschrift in Honor of Professor Tasin Gemil on the Occasion of His 70th Birthday. Cluj-Napoca: Cluj University Press. pp. 333–346. ISBN 978-973-595-622-6.

External links[edit]