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All responsible for linguistic purity

20 November 2015 10:00 (UTC+04:00)
All responsible for linguistic purity

By Aynur Karimova

The Azerbaijani language, which is the state language of the Republic of Azerbaijan, differs for its richness that simply doesn't exist in many other languages. Azerbaijanis are inordinately proud of their tongue's complexity.

This language is a mean of communication for over 9.6-million population of the country. Besides, the Azerbaijani language is also spoken by around 30 million of Azerbaijanis living in Iran, along several millions of those residing in Russia, U.S., Turkey, Western Europe and other parts of the world.

Genealogically, the Azerbaijani language belongs to the Turkic group of languages and, together with closely associated Turkish, Turkmen and Gagauz languages, forms the southwestern group of the Turkic languages.

Today, the processes taking place in science and modern society create the necessity of adding new words to the Azerbaijani language as it is being observed in other languages.

One group of experts believes that entering of new words to the Azerbaijani language is a good trend for further enriching the language, while others claim that these new words cause problems for those who do not know the origin and meaning of these barrowed words.

Nizami Jafarov, a member of the Azerbaijani Parliament and a linguist, believes that borrowed words should not enter the Azerbaijani language.

"As in other languages, there are a lot of borrowed words in the Azerbaijani language. But before the borrowed words enter our language, we need to find the equivalent for them," he said.

The MP stressed that if the equivalent of the borrowed word exists in the Azerbaijani language, then one should not use it instead of its Azerbaijani version.

Jafarov further voiced regret that the TV programs devoted to domestic issues usually use more and more foreign words borrowed from the English and Turkish languages without any need.

He believes the most dangerous problem is that after some time these borrowed words replace the Azerbaijani words.

"Borrowed words can be used in conversation or writing in academic style, because, many terms are used just in this style. But there is no need for using them in the journalistic style, in radio and TV programs, media outlets," he added.

President Ilham Aliyev has also noted the necessity of preserving the purity of the national language, as the leader believes the Azerbaijani language is so rich that it does not need any foreign words.

In his remarks at the general meeting marking the 70th jubilee of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, President Aliyev expressed concern with the outside intervention in the Azerbaijani language.

"The Azerbaijani language has saved us as a people and nation. We lived within other countries and empires for centuries. At a time when we were not independent, we managed to preserve our national values and native language. We managed to preserve the purity of the Azerbaijani language," he said, stressing a need to further ensure the purity of the Azerbaijani language.

"Of course, the more foreign languages our citizens speak, especially the younger generation, the better. But they should first of all speak their native language. On the other hand, we should not allow entry of foreign words into our native language. That is unnecessary. But we are seeing that. I hear foreign expressions being used by some public figures, members of the government, television channels and in the Parliament. This is unnecessary. Of course, I am no expert in this area, but as a citizen I believe that there is no need for inventing new words. Our language is so rich that if we keep it and pass it on to future generations, it will be our greatest achievement in this area," he added.

The Institute of Linguistics of ANAS is taking serious steps towards protecting the purity of the native language. Earlier Deputy Director of the institute Baba Maharramli told Trend that the institute plans to prepare a list of borrowed words which have entered the Azerbaijani language without a need.

He said the majority of borrowed words come to our language from English and Turkish languages. The Institute of Linguistics will apply the experience of Turkey in using borrowed words in the Azerbaijani language.

A special commission of the Turkish Language Society registers each new word that entered the Turkish language, explains its meaning, and immediately searches for its Turkish equivalent.

"In the future, we also want to take advantage of this principle. We plan to prepare a dictionary of new words entering our language each year, or quarter, or even each month, and publish it in book form," he stated.

Rich history

The people of Azerbaijan, which enjoys an ancient and rich culture, have given a lot of valuable contributions to the universal civilization. The first samples of early civilization have been passed to the present day via Gobustan and Gemigaya pictures, epigraphic monuments. The Azerbaijani people used different alphabets in creating these valuable works.

Today the best place for getting detailed information about the history and development of the Azerbaijani language is the Institute of Manuscripts in Baku. The visit to this institute and the exhibits of manuscripts in various alphabets makes a walk back through time.

One of the earliest alphabets used in Azerbaijan was a cuneiform script, made up of wedge-shaped characters, which were created by pressing a stylus into clay. According to ancient Assyrian and Greek sources, this script was used in Southern Azerbaijan - Kingdom of Manna during the 9th century BC.

Next ancient Syrian and Aramaic script was used by the Medeans living there between the 6th and 1st centuries BC. The Aramaic was widespread in Southern Azerbaijan, Iran and Central Asia before Islam came to the region.

The Avesta, the holy book of the Zoroastrians (Zoroastrianism was the ancient religion of Azerbaijan and Iran), was written in the Pahlavi script. Pahlavis were the ancient tribes from Afghanistan and Central Asia that conquered Iran and Azerbaijan in the 3rd century B.C.

Beginning in the 4th century AD, the people living in Northern Azerbaijan (Caucasian Albania) began using an Albanian script. According to ancient authors, 26 languages and dialects existed in Albania. Meanwhile, Caucasian Albania had an independent Albanian language, consisting of 52 letters.

After adoption of Islam, Azerbaijanis created a rich cultural heritage using Arabic alphabet for centuries. Functioning as a common script for Muslim East nations, the Arabic alphabet played an important role for great Azerbaijani writers, scientists, and philosophers to enrich the universal civilization.

However, the Arabic script could not completely reflect the sound system, structure and character of the Azerbaijani language. In this regard, since the beginning of the second half of the 19th century, the progressive intellectuals led by Mirza Fatali Akhundov started thinking of the alphabet reform. The public-political and cultural processes in the early 20th century also required replacing the existing alphabet with more appropriate one.

The Alphabet Committee established in 1922 was instructed to develop an alphabet with Latin script for Azerbaijani language, and this step became the first serious step towards the new script. From January 1, 1929 alphabet based on Latin script was applied in Azerbaijan in response to the recommendations of the 1st All-Union Congress on Turkology held in 1926.

For a short time, the use of Latin script provided very favorable conditions for elimination of illiteracy in Azerbaijan. However, on January 1, 1940 that alphabet was replaced with a new one based on Cyril script. For more than 50 years the significant patterns of Azerbaijani science and culture were created with Cyril script.

Despite the efforts to fit the Cyril script to the sound structure of the Azerbaijani language, the best version cannot be achieved and this strengthened the probability that the Cyril script will be changed.

Independence opened new opportunities to the Azerbaijani people to join the common script system of the world and restore the Azerbaijani alphabet based on Latin script. This resulted in adoption of the respective law. On December 25, 1991 the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan adopted a decision on restoration of the Azerbaijani alphabet based on Latin script.

The complete official application of the law started 10 years later. All institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations, all publications in Azerbaijani language transferred to the Latin alphabet under a decree signed by President Heydar Aliyev on June 18, 2001.

Heydar Aliyev signed another decree on August 9, 2001, which declared August 1 as the Day of Azerbaijani Alphabet and Azerbaijani Language. Since then, August 1 is celebrated as Day of the Azerbaijani Alphabet and Azerbaijani Language in the country.

The position of the Azerbaijani language is protected by the Constitution as well in accordance with the Article 21, while the Article 45 of the Constitution says that every person enjoys a right to use his/her native language.

One should remember that the language makes a nation from people. Theretofore, to protect the pureness of the language is of significant importance given that the language is national value of each nation. Protection of the national language is not only a political, but also an ideological issue for each nation.


Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Aynur_Karimova

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