Evidence of shifts in public attitudes towards Azeri is emerging
these days. Gradually, it is becoming more prestigious even in
traditional Russian-speaking Azerbaijani families to reclaim
Azeri as the native language.
As poet Vagif Samadoghlu observed, "The use of a State language
is equal only to the strength of that nation. The stronger the
State, the stronger its language will be."
We cannot prove the shift statistically but most people acknowledge
it existence; there is enormous anecdotal evidence to support
it. Here are a few examples:
- During the
Soviet era, announcements on television were always first made
in Russian and then followed by Azeri (but not always). Today
Azeri claims the spotlight. Most programs are in Azeri except
for movies. Azeri Latin is standard for TV messages and advertisements.
- You hear more
Azeri on the streets these days.
- All major international
public forums are conducted in Azeri, with translations in Russian
if deemed necessary.
- Doctors are
writing prescriptions in Azeri.
- Foreign companies
are hiring translators that are fluent in Azeri and Russian,
not just Russian.
Russian-speaking families are sending their children to Azeri
kindergartens where their kids are growing up to speak Russian
with an Azeri accent. Unfortunately, many more educational resources
are still available in Russian than in Azeri.
- CD and cassette
labels are printed in Azeri Latin with Azeri lyrics.
- Signage of
government buildings, institutes, schools and metro stations
have been changed to Azeri Latin. Russian signs are disappearing.
- More newspapers
are being printed in Azeri than in Russian - a reversal of the
The Russian language still has strong roots in powerful places
despite the fact that Azeri has been declared the State Language
in Azerbaijan's Constitution in 1995.
- Still a number
of foreign embassies in Baku have not acknowledged Azerbaijan's
national language by providing visa applications in Azeri. They
offer forms in their own language and Russian, but where's the
- Still many
government offices, including Azerbaijani Embassies, use the
Russian language in everyday discourse, not Azeri.
- Still when
Azerbaijani native speakers call many foreign companies and international
humanitarian organizations and open the conversation in Azeri,
they are "politely" urged to switch to Russian.
is Russian pronounciation; "hamburger" is Azeri.
(8.1) Spring 2000.
© Azerbaijan International 2000. All rights reserved.
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