South Azerbaijani language

Book in South Azerbaijani about Marsia (1819-1891)
An elementary student report card in South Azerbaijani (1945)
An official document with cover letter of Azerbaijan People's Government in South Azerbaijani
One Tuman official banknote in South Azerbaijani
A page of the book, Ancient History of Iranian Turks (1998)

South Azerbaijani is an Altaic->Turkic->Southern Turkic language spoken by about 23.5 million in Iran , 530,000 in Turkey, 300,000 in Iraq, 30,000 in Syria and by small groups in Afghanistan, Jordan and possibly in Azerbaijan and United States.[1][2][3] Dialekts of South Azerbaijani:Karapapakh(originaly speaking the Karapapakh language), Moqaddam, Pishagchi, Qaragozlu, Shahsavani, Tabriz, Kharghani.[4]

South Azerbaijani is standardized by two orthography seminars. The results of these seminars can be found in here

Historical Background


The prominent written Azerbaijani literature goes back to the 14th century, where poets like Imadaddin Nasimi.[5] That is kept at Astan-e-Qods-e-Razavi's library in Mashhad.[6] Among the poets of this period were people like Haqiqi (pen name Habibi) .[7]At the end of the 14th century was the period of starting literary activity of Imadaddin Nesimi,[8] one of the greatest South Azerbaijani[9][10][11] Hurufi mystical poets of the late 14th and early 15th centuries[12] and one of the most prominent early Divan masters in Turkic literary history.

The Divan and Ghazal styles, introduced by Nesimi in South Azerbaijani poetry in 15th century, were further developed by poets like Qasim al-Anvar and Fuzuli

The book Dede Qorqud which is written in the Oghuz Turkic language ,which consists of two manuscripts copied in the 16th century,[13] and got later translated into South Azerbaijani was not written earlier than the 15th century.[14][15] It is a collection of twelve stories reflecting the oral tradition of Oghuz nomads.[15] Since the author is buttering up both the Turkmen Aq Qoyunlu and Turkish Ottoman rulers, it has been suggested that the composition belongs to someone living between the Turkmen Aq Qoyunlu and Turkish Ottoman Empire.[14] Geoffery Lewis believes an older substratum of these oral traditions dates to conflicts between the ancient Oghuz and their Turkish rivals in Central Asia (the Pechenegs and the Kipchaks), however this substratum has been clothed in references to the 14th-century campaigns of the Turkmen Aq Qoyunlu Confederation of Turkic tribes against the Georgians, the Abkhaz, and the Greeks in Trabzon.[13]

The 16th century poet, Muhammed Fuzuli produced his timeless philosophical and lyrical Qazals in Arabic, Persian, and South Azerbaijani. Benefiting immensely from the fine literary traditions of his environment, and building upon the legacy of his predecessors, Fizuli was destined to become the leading literary figure of his society. His major works include The Divan of Ghazals and The Qasidas.

In the 16th century, South and North Azerbaijani literature further flourished with the development of the Ashik poetic genre of bards. During the same period, under the pen-name of Khatāī (En:Sinner) Shah Ismail I wrote about 1400 verses in an language called,,Turki“.This language couldn‘t be categorized, but it is really close to the South Azerbaijani language.[16]This langauge wasnt really South or North Azerbaijani, but cause it’s written in a language very close to South Azeri it developed the South Azerbaijani literature.These poetric works were later published as his Divan. A unique literary style known as qoshma was introduced in this period.

In the span of the 17th century and 18th century, Fizuli's unique genres as well Ashik poetry were taken up by prominent poets and writers of different ethnicity’s such as Qovsi of Tabriz, Shah Abbas Sani, Agha Mesih Shirvani, Nishat, Molla Vali Vidadi, Molla Panah Vagif, Amani, Zafar and others.

Until this period of time all South and North Azerbaijani literature has been written in the Perso-Arabic script, but the North Azerbaijanis who are after linguist and ethnologists a different ethnic group than the South Azerbaijanis finally adopted the Cyrillic alphabet, thus distancing itself even further from South Azerbaijani.

An influential piece of post-World War II South Azerbaijani poetry, Heydar Babaya Salam (Greetings to Heydar Baba) was written by South Azerbaijani poet Mohammad Hossein Shahriar who had already established himself as a notable. This poem, published in Tabriz in 1954 and written in South Azerbaijani, became popular not only among Iranians and the people of Iranian Azerbaijan but also in the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, Turkey and among other Turkic peoples. In Heydar Babaya Salam, Shahriar expressed his identity as an South Azerbaijani attached to his homeland, language, and culture. The other poets that that have poems in South Azerbaijani are Bulud Qarachorlu, Ali Agha Vahed, Karimi Maragheh, etc. The most important translation of Quran in Standard South Azerbaijani are by Ahmad Kaviyanpur and the other by Rasul Ismael Zadeh Duzduzal.[17][18] To buy Ismael Zadeh translation of Quran




  • According to Iranian constitution (Article 15) , regional languages can be used in the press, mass media and can be taught at schools and universties beside Persian language,[19] and South Azerbaijani is in use by 6 regional and 2 international broadcastings in Iran.
  • South Azerbaijani is also taught as a selective course in the universities of north western Iran, including University of Tabriz[20].



The Iraqi Turks, the third major ethnic group in Iraq (recognized by Iraq Constitution (2005, Constitution, Article 4 (1)), constitutional term: Turkmen. Unevenly recognized except in Kurdistan Region.) as Turkmens or Torkmans that not be confused with Turkmen language spoken in Turkmenistan)speak a Turkic language which forms a continiuum between Turkish and South Azerbaijani. [21][22]



It's an unofficial minority language in Afghanistan.[23]

Syria and Jordan

  • There are 100,000[24] or 200,000[25] to 1,500,000[26][27][28] native speaker of South Azerbaijani in Syria specially in Homs and Hama. They also know Arabic.

Books, Magezines, and Newspapers

  • A grammar of Iranian Azerbaijani, Lee, S. Noah, 2008, The Altaic Society of Korea, Seoul-Korea, 349 pages, Published, South Azerbaijani[azb] and English[eng]
  • In the past 30 years about 1441 books have been published in South Azerbaijani only in Iran.[29]
  • Thousands of books in South Azerbaijani are available at South Azerbaijani, English, Farsi, Turkish).

Yurd books


Thousand of books in South Azerbaijani:

  • Varliq Magazine archive (from 1979 to 2007), Buy
  • Azerbaijan Sun magazine (both in South Azerbaijani and Persian) Buy
  • Dilmac magazine Buy
  • Chiraq magazine Buy
  • Gunash (Sun) magazine Buy
  • First Lesson at Mother tongue, first grade of elementary school based on official education Buy
  • Ark South Azerbaijani-South Azerbaijani dictionary, about 115,000 words, expressions, place names, etc. Also contains etymology of words. Buy
  • English-South Azerbaijani Picture dictionary Buy
  • etc.



These are some websites include South Azerbaijani version:

  • Ada sozluk, a wikipedia like dictionary - South Azerbaijani(Azb) version (Other version(s): Az,En, and Tr(Also translating to and from De, Fa, Fr, Ru, etc.))
  • Islamic Development Organization (East Azerbaijan province branch) - South Azerbaijani(Azb) version (Other version(s): Fa)
  • Arzublog, a free weblog provider in South Azerbaijani - South Azerbaijani Only in South Azerbaijani containing about 1700 blogs with 16,000 posts in litreture, sport, history, music, culture, science, news, entertainment, etc.
Note #1: It's not only blog in South Azerbaijani. You can find South Azerbaijani weblogs in blogfa, persianblog, mihanblog, etc.
Note #2: Webloggers are potentially wikipedia users.

Differences between AZB and AZJ


The differences between South Azerbaijani(AZB) and North Azerbaijani(AZJ) is not only in scripts but also in vocabulary. The northern dialects differ from South Azerbaijani in phonology, lexicon, morphology, syntax, script and loan words.[30] The main claim about not creating a new wiki is that there are many similarities between them and separation because of political borders aren't accepted. They're right. But in this condition we should have one wiki for all Turkic languages. Refer to vocabulary comparison table to see similarities between all Turkic languages. The table contains about 60 most used words that are same or at most one or two different letters.

We can summarize the differences of AZB and AZJ as follows:

  • AZB uses Arabic script, but AZJ uses Latin script.
  • AZB is heavily influenced by Persian, however, AZJ is influenced by Persian by lesser degree, and in exchange is influenced by Russian and Western languages. So there are lots of words in each, which do not exists in the other.
  • AZB uses Jalali calendar of Iran, but AZJ uses Gregorian calendar. So the dates and month names are all different. Even the gregorian month names in both are different(e.g. February => AZJ: Yanavar, AZB: Fevriyeh)
  • The names of week days are different (e.g. Sunday => AZJ: Bazar, AZB: Shanbah)




Some Vocabulary Differences between Northern and Southern [31]. (Like en:Comparison of Malaysian and Indonesian)

English(EN) South Azerbaijani(AZB) Origin North Azerbaijani(AZJ) Origin
table میز (miz) fa stol (استوْل) ru
chair صندل (səndəl) May be fa stul (استۇل) ru
bench نیمکت (nimkət) May be fa skamya (اسکامیا) ru
bicycle (duçərxə) چرخ، دۇچرخه (çərx) fa velosiped (وئلوْسیپئد) ru
driver شوفئر (şofer) ،راننده (ranəndə) fr, fa sürücü (سۆروجۆ) azj
intersection چاهارراه (çaharrah) fa tin (تین)
newspaper روزنامه (ruznamə) fa qəzet (قزئت) ru
university بیلیم‌یوردو (bilimyurdu) ،دانیشقاه (danişqah) azb, fa universitet (اۇنیوئرسیتئت) ru
number سایێ (sayı) ،شوماره (şumarə) azb, fa nümrə (نۆمره) ar, ru
pen خۇدقار (xutqar) fa ruşka (رۇشکا) ru
purse کیف (kif) May be fa sumka (سۇمکا) ru
skirt اَتَک (ətək) azb yupka (یۇپکا) ru
necktie کێراوات (kravat) qalstuk (قالستۇک) ru
army ارتئش (ərteş) fa ordu (اوْردۇ) azj
soldier سرباز (sərbaz) fa əsgər (عسگر) ar
general سرهنگ (sərhəng) fa palkovnik (پالکوْونیک) ru
helicopter هئلیکوْپتئر (helikopter) en vertolyot (وئرتوْلیوْت) ru
nurse پرستار (pərəstar) fa şəfqət bacısı (شفقت باجێ‌سێ) ar-azj
veteinarian مال دؤکتۆرۆ (mal döktürü) ،دامپیزیشک (dampizişk) azb-en, fa baytar (بئیطر ، بایطار) ar
elections اینتیخابات (intixabat) ar seçkilər (سئچکیلر) azj
minister وزیر (vəzir) ar nazir (ناظیر) ar
meeting جلسه (cələsə) ar iclas (ایجلاس) ar
break تنفۆس (tənəffüs) ar fasilə (فاصیله) ar
secretary مۆنشی (münşi) ar katibə (کاتیبه) ar
salary آیلێق (aylıq) ،حقوق (huquq) azb, ar maaş (معاش) ar
announcer دانێشان (danışan) ،قوینده (quyəndə) azb, fa diktor (دیکتوْر) ru
listener ائشیدن (eşidən) azb dinləyici (دینله‌ییجی) azj
to take photos عکس سالماق (əks salmaq) azb-ar şəkil çəkmək (شکیل چکمک) ar-azj
tooth paste خمیر دندان (xəmir dəndan) ar-fa diş pastası (دیش پاستاسێ) azj-en
electricity برق (bərq) ar elektrik (الکتریک), işıq (اێیشێق) en, azj

South Azerbaijani Test Wikipedia Status


The request for creation of South Azerbaijani was on 2008-10-15[32] Up to now 30 arguments in favor and 22 arguments aggainst exist. Although some of participants didn't write any reasons or their comment was written before changes at Az Wikipedia, all reasons categorized below:

Reasons against creation of AZB


Reasons against the creation of azb can be found here categorized below:

1. Just a multiscript language

We have more macro languages that have two, three or more wikipedias. Like Kurdish, Persian, etc that discussed below. Don't ignore simple wikipedias.

2. People understand both scripts

Although almost Southerners understand northers daily conversations (not written), they don't understand academic articles. By the way a great number of southerners don't how to read AZJ texts. By the way not two scripts, actually 3 scripts (Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin). Also people in Afghanistan ,Iraq and Syria don't know latin script. Also the difference between them is not only scripts but also phonology, lexicon, morphology, syntax, script and loan words.



Up to now about 3,000 articles created in AZB test wiki. Besides There are about 12,000 articles in AZ(J) wiki. Overall it has about 15,000 articles.

Note1: In comparison Ar and Tr about 200,000, Fa about 300,000, Az about 90,000, Ckb about 12,000, Diq about 4,000, Mzn about 10,000, Glk about 6000, Ku about 19,000, Tg about 10,000 Arz, about 10,000 articles have.
Note2: Unfortunately South Azerbaijani's articles were made under uncertain conditions of being deleted in both Az wiki, and incubator.


  • 73 editors (including any with at least one edit and bots)
  • About 7.45 user(s) per month (67 editors in last 9 months of activity)
Note: It shows that azb editors are steady


  • 100 % of main translations translated
  • about 30% of the whole entries has been translated[33]
Note:In comparison 29% of AZ(J), 44% of TR, 46% of Fa, 79% of Ar, 0% (200 messages out of 55,483) of Glk, 6% of Mzn, xx%(Not found) of Ku(or Ku-latin), 34% of Arz, 22% of ckb, and 47% of Diq has been translated

5-year-olds problem


Although from 2006 until 2009 the main page had been written in both scripts (almost equally, because some of the objects not bi-script), the appearance of Arabic-based script texts have been faded.

One Wiki - Two Scripts[note 1]

Az wikipedia main page almost equally in both scripts.(2006-2009)

Having two scripts in one wiki (present AZ wikipedia), can be a solution with both advantages and disadvantages. Because South Azerbaijani speakers constitute three-fourth majority of all Azeri speakers , the Arabic-based script should be the first script or at least in same position of Latin-based script Azerbaijani.



In this case, main page, village pump, community portal, help desk, interwikis, etc should be in both scripts. So both scripts can operate in a friendly way.



These problems can bee seen at Az Wiki, Lad Wiki, Kk Wiki,etc[note 2]. These are problems should be solved before selecting this option:

  1. Interwiki: The interwiki should be in both scripts (or at least Arabic-based script should be in preference to Latin-based script, that may not accepted by Latin-based users)
  2. Administrators: Administrators should be selected from both groups and each of them being familiar with other script , a problem that may be dificult to solve , because almost no Azeri speaker in Azerbaijan repulic can read Perso-Arabic script.
  3. Templates and Categories: Each template/category should be in both scripts or both of them should have a separate template/category?
  4. Buttons: All buttons including: edit, save page,show preview, read, view history, logout, preferences, sandbox, watchlist, contributors, etc should be in both scripts that may cause some time-consuming technical errors.
  5. Logo: The wikipedia logo's title should be in both, that may cause low space to write.

  1. May be three scripts. Don't forget the fact that Daghestani people in Russia use cyrillic-based script for their Azeri language.
  2. See that second script is imprisoned by other script users at Az and lad. Kk is in one script now. No bi-script texts is shown at main page at Kk and Az.

New Wiki


In spite of claims ,it is not uncommon to have several Wikis for similar languages . Examples include Kurdish wikipedia (in both Arabic-based and Latin-based and possibly Zazaki a double Latin-based), Persian Wikipedia (is in Arabic script and Tajiki which is the same language in Cyrillic script, and Gilaki and Mazandarani with high similarity between them comparing to Persian[34][35])



The above problems that are categorized in the first solution, besides some other problems that may occur later, are completely vanished.



Discussed at reasons against creation of AZB section.

Wiki in One script and Automatic Conversion to other script(s)


This is just like Kazakh wikipedia which is written in the Cyrillic script but is available is Latin and Arabic script by the help of Automatic Conversion system.


  • No need to double efforts in two scripts
  • No mixture of scripts which harm beauty of interface


  • There is no perfect converter, because of heavy influence of Arabic and Persian languages, which use their own writing system and do not fit in Turkic script conversion rules.
  • The converted pages do not become indexed by search engines and then do not appear in search results (We confirmed this in Kazakh Wikipedia). So this will be just a practically useless feature.
  • Users of Arabic script usually cannot write in Latin script and Vice versa. So one group will only be able to read and not edit.



Historical background


South Azerbaijani has used the Perso-Arabic script for almost all of its existence, and the heritage of this language is entirely written in this script. When dead languages like Latin can have their own Wikipedia, then why a language that is alive and is still functioning can not have a Wikipedia?

Double Standards

  • Although the Language Committee does not even approve the eligibility of South Azerbaijani after 5 years, it easily approved Laki's eligibility only 44 days after the initial request. See ethnologue page for Laki that says it's 70% similar to Persian.


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. [4]
  5. [5]
  6. [6]
  7. Aesopian Literary Dimensions of Azerbaijani Literature of the Soviet Period, 1920-1990 (isbn=0-7391-0169-2)
  8. [Dictionary of Oriental Literatures, 1974]
  9. [Mystical Islam: An Introduction to Sufism, 2000(isbn=1-86064-631-X)]
  10. [The Quatrains of Nesimi Fourteenth-Century Turkic Hurufi, 1972 (isbn=90-279-2328-0)]
  11. [The Cambridge History of Islam, 1970 (isbn=0-521-29138-0)]
  12. Seyid Imadeddin Nesimi
  13. 13.0 13.1 Michael E. Meeker, “The Dede Korkut Ethic”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Aug., 1992), 395-417. excerpt: The Book of Dede Korkut is an early record of oral Turkic folktales in Anatolia, and as such, one of the mythic charters of Turkish nationalist ideology. The oldest versions of the Book of Dede Korkut consist of two manuscripts copied in the 16th century. The twelve stories that are recorded in these manuscripts are believed to be derived from a cycle of stories and songs circulating among Turkic peoples living in northeastern Anatolia and northwestern Azerbaijan. According to Lewis (1974), an older substratum of these oral traditions dates to conflicts between the ancient Oghuz and their Turkish rivals in Central Asia (the Pecheneks and the Kipchaks), but this substratum has been clothed in references to the 14th-century campaigns of the Aq Qoyunlu Confederation of Turkic tribes against the Georgians, the Abkhaz, and the Greeks in Trebizond. Such stories and songs would have emerged no earlier than the beginning of the 13th century, and the written versions that have reached us would have been composed no later than the beginning of the 15th century. By this time, the Turkic peoples in question had been in touch with Islamic civilization for several centuries, had come to call themselves “Turcoman” rather than “Oghuz,” had close associations with sedentary and urbanized societies, and were participating in Islamized regimes that included nomads, farmers, and townsmen. Some had abandoned their nomadic way of life altogether.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Cemal Kafadar(1995), “in Between Two Worlds: Construction of the Ottoman states”, University of California Press, 1995. Excerpt: "It was not earlier than the fifteenth century. Based on the fact that the author is buttering up both the Aq Qoyunlu and Ottoman rulers, it has been suggested that the composition belongs to someone living in the undefined border region lands between the two states during the reign of Uzun Hassan (1466-78). G. Lewis on the hand dates the composition “fairly early in the 15th century at least”."
  15. 15.0 15.1 İlker Evrim Binbaş,Encyclopaedia Iranica, "Oguz Khan Narratives" [7], accessed October, 2010. "The Ketāb-e Dede Qorqut, which is a collection of twelve stories reflecting the oral traditions of the Turkmens in the 15th-century eastern Anatolia, is also called Oḡuz-nāma"
  16. [The Poetry of Shah Ismail, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, volume 10, issue 4]
  17. [8]
  18. [9]
  19. Iran Online Constitution
  20. BBC Persian, South Azerbaijani is taught in Tabriz university (Date:2004-5-1 SAT)
  21. Ethnologue: Languages of the World Azerbaijani, South. 600,000 in Iraq (1982). Language use: They speak South Azerbaijani at home.
  22. David Dalby. 1999/2000. The Linguasphere Register of the World's Languages and Speech Communities (Observatoire Linguistique), see pg. 346
    Hendrik Boeschoten. 1998. "The Speakers of Turkic Languages," The Turkic Languages, ed. Lars Johanson & Éva Ágnes Csató (Routledge), pp. 1-15, see pg. 5
  23. [10]
  24. [11]
  25. [12]
  26. [13]
  27. [14]
  28. [15]
  29. [16]
  30. [17]
  31. Reference
  32. Metawiki
  33. South Azerbaijani statics at translate wiki
  34. [ Gilaki heavily influnced from Persian. Language status: 4 (Educational)]
  35. Mazandari Literacy rate in L1: Very low. Literacy rate in L2: Very high in Persian. Language status: 7(shifting)