Language in Azerbaijan

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Azeri is spoken not only in Azerbaijan, but also in Iran. Azerbaijan is the first language of about 6 million people and in Iran is spoken by about 40 million, mainly in the northwest part of the country, (also known as Azerbaijan, usually mentioned as "Southern Azerbaijan") is also spoken in Shiraz, Isfahan, Lorestan, Torkmansahra, Gotgan, parts of Kurdistan and some other cities. Smaller numbers of Azeri speakers are also to be found in Dagestan, Georgia, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. Azeri is a Turkic language, belonging to the southern branch of the Altaic language family (therefore non Indo-European). The Azeri language is part of the Oghuz, or Western Turkic, group of Turkic languages, together with Anatolian Turkish (spoken in Turkey) and Turkmen (spoken in Turkmenistan). The Oghuz tribes of Central Asia spoke this precursor language between the seventh and eleventh centuries. The three descendent languages share common linguistic features. Dialectical differences between Azeri and Anatolian Turkish have been attributed to Mongolian and Turkic influences. Despite these differences, Anatolian Turkish speakers and Azeris can often understand one another if they speak carefully. Spoken Azeri includes several dialects. Since the nineteenth century, Russian loanwords (particularly technical terms) and grammatical and lexical structures have entered the Azeri language in Russian-controlled Azerbaijan, as have Persian words in Iranian Azerbaijan. The resulting variants remain mutually intelligible, however. Despite these influences the Azeri language maintains several archaic characteristics that are absent from modern Turkish or Turkmen. In the immediate pre-Soviet period, literature in Azerbaijan was written in Arabic in several literary forms that by 1900 were giving way to a more vernacular Azeri Turkish form. In 1924 Soviet officials pressured the Azeri government into approving the gradual introduction of a modified Roman alphabet. Scholars have speculated that this decision was aimed at isolating the Muslim peoples from their Islamic culture, thus reducing the threat of nationalist movements. In the late 1930s, however, Soviet authorities reversed their policy and dictated use of the Cyrillic alphabet, which became official in 1940.

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January 13, 2006 change by giorgio

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