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Index / Languages / Turkic /
Iran / Languages /
Also called: Azeri

By country
Figures in 1000.
% to inhabitants in country.
12,000 18.0%
900 3.1%
6 0.1%
530 0.7%
80 0.4%
13,500 2.8%

Total calculated to the MENA, with 490 million inhabitants.

Turkic language spoken in Azerbaijan (national language), Iran, Iran, Turkey and Syria. About 13.5 million speak Azerbaijani in the MENA; in addition comes about 6.9 million in Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia. A world total seems to slightly exceed 20 million.
In a substantial part of northwestern Iran, Azerbaijani is the only language in use. In the east, near the coast of the Caspian Sea, Talysh and Gilaki takes over. In the west along the border to Turkey, Kurdish becomes dominant.
Azerbaijani is member of the Oghuz branch of Turkic languages, together with Turkish, Turkmen and Qashqai. It also has strong influences from Persian, and as Persian has many words from Arabic, Arabic has indirectly influenced Azerbaijani.
The strong influence from other languages has in modern ages been a matter of concern among Azerbaijani elite. In this, programs to promote a simpler and more popular style was promoted from the top. In addition to preserving the language this also aided another goal, allowing more to learn how to read and write.
Azerbaijani is divided into two main groups: North and South. North belongs to the state of Azerbaijan; South to Iran, Turkey and Syria. Speakers of South Azerbaijani often call their language Türki.
Azerbaijani is overall classified to many dialects, these are defined geographically. The consequence of this is that differences can be small between two groups.
Azerbaijani spans three different alphabets, mainly depending on geography. In Iran, Arabic script is used (through the political and cultural dominance of Persian). In the state of Azerbaijan and in Turkey, Latin is used (then by the influence of Turkish). In the Russian controlled regions, Cyrillic remains the alphabet in use (then influenced by Russian). In Azerbaijan, Cyrillic was used until the early 1990's, when the country gained independence.
In all versions, Azerbaijani uses modified versions, to comply with the letters that have no standard equivalent in the borrowed alphabet.

By Tore Kjeilen