In Iran, the Perso-Arabic script is used to write the Azeri language. While there has been a few standardization efforts, the orthography and the set of letters to use differs widely among Iranian Azeri writers, with at least two major branches, the orthography used by Behzad Behzadi and the Azari magazine, and the orthography used by the Varliq magazine (both are quarterlies published in Tehran).
History and development
From the nineteenth century there were efforts by some intellectuals like Mirza Fatali Akhundov and Mammad agha Shahtakhtinski to replace the Arabic script and create a Latin alphabet for Azeri. In 1922, a Latin alphabet was created by Yeni türk əlifba komitəsi (New Turkish Alphabet Committee; Јени түрк əлифба комитəси) in Baku. In 1929, the Uniform Turkic Alphabet was introduced to replace the varieties of the Arabic script in use at the time. In 1939, because Joseph Stalin wished to sever the ties between the Republic of Turkey and the Turkic peoples living within the Soviet Union, he decreed that only the Cyrillic script be used. When the Soviet Union collapsed and Azerbaijan gained its independence, one of the first laws passed in the new Parliament was the adoption of the new Latin alphabet.
- From 1922 until 1939 (old alphabet defined using the Latin script):
- From 1939 until 1958 (first version of the alphabet defined using the Cyrillic script):
- From 1958 until 1991 (simplified version of the alphabet defined using the Cyrillic script and the letter Јј borrowed from Latin):
- Аа, Бб, Вв, Гг, Ғғ, Дд, Ee, Әә, Жж, Зз, Ии, Ыы, Јј, Кк, Ҝҝ, Лл, Мм, Нн, Оо, Өө, Пп, Рр, Сс, Тт, Уу, Үү, Фф, Хх, Һһ, Чч, Ҹҹ, Шш, ’ (apostrophe)
- From 1991 until 1992 (first version of the modern alphabet defined using the Latin script):
- Aa, Ää, Bb, Cc, Çç, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Ğğ, Hh, Xx, Iı, İi, Jj, Kk, Qq, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Öö, Pp, Rr, Ss, Şş, Tt, Uu, Üü, Vv, Yy, Zz
- Since 1992 (current version of the modern alphabet defined using the Latin script, replacing Ää by the historic Əə for better sorting):
- Aa, Bb, Cc, Çç, Dd, Ee, Əə, Ff, Gg, Ğğ, Hh, Xx, Iı, İi, Jj, Kk, Qq, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Öö, Pp, Rr, Ss, Şş, Tt, Uu, Üü, Vv, Yy, Zz
- The Azerbaijani alphabet is the same as the Turkish alphabet, except for Әə, Xx, and Qq, the sounds for which do not exist as separate phonemes in Turkish.
- When compared it to the historic Latin alphabet: Ğğ has replaced the historic Ƣƣ (which was represented in Cyrillic by the stroked Ғғ); the undotted Iı (also used in Turkish) has replaced the historic soft sign; the dotted İi (also used in Turkish) has replaced the historic soft-dotted Ii; Jj has replaced the historic Ƶƶ; Öö has replaced the historic Ɵɵ; Üü has replaced the historic Yy; and Yy has replaced the historic Jj.
An interesting fact about the alphabet is the existence of schwa (Ə ə). When the new Latin script was introduced on December 25, 1991, A-umlaut was selected to represent the sound /æ/. However, on May 16, 1992, it was replaced by the historic schwa. Although use of Ä ä (also used in Tatar, Turkmen, and Gagauz) seems to be a simpler alternative as the schwa is absent in most character sets, particularly Turkish encoding, it was reintroduced; the schwa had existed continuously from 1929 to 1991 to represent Azeri's most-common vowel, in both post-Arabic alphabets (Latin and Cyrillic) of Azerbaijan.
The Perso-Arabic, Latin, and Cyrillic alphabets each have a different sequence of letters. The table below is ordered according to the latest Latin alphabet:
|ﺍ||А а||A a||[ɑ]|
|ﺏ||Б б||B b||B в||B b||[b]|
|ﺝ||Ҹ ҹ||C c||Ç ç||C c||[dʒ]|
|چ||Ч ч||Ç ç||C c||Ç ç||[tʃ]|
|ﺩ||Д д||D d||[d]|
|ێ||Е е||E e||[e]|
|ع||Ә ә||Ə ə||Ä ä||Ə ə||[æ]|
|ﻑ||Ф ф||F f||[f]|
|گ||Ҝ ҝ||Ƣ ƣ||G g||[ɡʲ]|
|ﻍ||Ғ ғ||G g||Ƣ ƣ||Ğ ğ||[ɣ]|
|ﺡ, ﻩ||Һ һ||H h||[h]|
|ﺥ||Х х||X x||[x]|
|ی||Ы ы||I̡ ı̡||Ь ь||I ı||[ɯ]|
|ی||И и||I i||İ i||[ɪ]|
|ژ||Ж ж||Ƶ ƶ||J j||[ʒ]|
|ک||К к||Q q||K k||[c], [ç], [k]|
|ﻕ||Г г||K k||Q q||[ɡ]|
|ﻝ||Л л||L l||[l]|
|ﻡ||М м||M m||[m]|
|ﻥ||Н н||N n||[n]|
|ۆ||О о||O o||[ɔ]|
|ﻭ||Ө ө||Ɵ ɵ||Ö ö||[œ]|
|پ||П п||P p||[p]|
|ﺭ||Р р||R r||[r]|
|ﺙ, ﺱ, ﺹ||С с||S s||[s]|
|ﺵ||Ш ш||З з||Ş ş||[ʃ]|
|ﺕ, ﻁ||Т т||T t||[t]|
|ﻭ||У у||Y y||U u||[u]|
|ﻭ||Ү ү||U u||Y y||Ü ü||[y]|
|ڤ, ۋ||В в||V v||[v]|
|ی||Й й||Ј ј||J j||Y y||[j]|
|یَ||Я я||ЈА jа||ЈА ја||YA ya||[jɑ]|
|یێ||Е е1||ЈЕ је||ЈE јe||YE ye||[je]|
|یع||Э э1||Е е||E e||[e]|
|یۆ||Йо йо||ЈО јо||ЈO јo||YO yo||[jɔ]|
|یُ||Ю ю||ЈУ ју||ЈU јu||YU yu||[ju]|
|ﺫ, ﺯ, ﺽ, ﻅ||З з||Z z||[z]|
1 - in the beginning of a word and after vowels
The Azeri Perso-Arabic alphabet also contains the letter ڭ. Originally ڭ stood foor the sound [ŋ], which then merged with [n]. Initial versions of the Azeri Latin alphabet contained the letter N̡n̡, which was dropped in 1938.
The letter Цц, intended for the sound [ts] in loanwords, was used in Azerbaijani Cyrillic until 1951. In Azerbaijani, the sound [ts] generally becomes [s].
- Hatcher, Lynley. 2008. Script change in Azerbaijan: acts of identity. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 192:105-116.