Azeri Language and Literature

views updated


Language spoken in Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran by the Azeris.

Azeri is spoken by 6,770,000 Azeris (1989 census) in Azerbaijan and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. Millions of additional speakers of Azeri live in northwestern Iran. Azeri (together with the closely related languages Turkish and Turkmen) belongs to the southwestern, or Oghuz, branch of the Turkic languages. Azeri was originally written using Arabic script (and in Iran is now written again in Arabic script); the Azeris of the former Soviet Union adopted Latin script in 1927 and a modified Cyrillic alphabet in 1939. There is a current move to adopt a Turkish-style Latin script.

Azeri literature enjoyed continuous close ties to Persian, Turkish, and Chaghatay literature since its beginnings in the thirteenth century. Major figures of classical Azeri literature include İsfaraini, Nesimi, Hatai, Habibi, Fuzuli, and Vakil. The founders of modern Azeri literature include Kasim Beg Zakir (17841857), who introduced satire, Abbas Kuh Agha Bakihani ("Kudsi," 17941848), İsmail Beg Kutkaşinli, and Mirza Şefi ("Vazeh," 17921852). Mirza Feth-Ali Ahundzade (18121878) first introduced drama and other prose genres, and Necef Beg Vezirli (18541926) was another notable playwright. Mirza Ali-Ekber Sabir (18621911) wrote fine satire, and Celil Mehmedkuhzade (18691932) wrote important prose.

see also arabic script; azerbaijan; literature: persian; literature: turkish; turkish language.

Uli Schamiloglu