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the language of the Azerbaijanis; a people living in the Azerbaijan SSR, Georgian SSR, Dagestan ASSR, Uzbek SSR, Kazakh SSR, and Ukrainian SSR, and also in Iran and Iraq.
The Azerbaijani language was spoken by about 2.94 million people in the USSR in 1959; 3.6 million speakers were estimated for the beginning of 1965. Azerbaijani belongs to the southwestern branch of the Turkic languages. It derives from the language of the Oguz tribes of Central Asia of the 7th to 11th centuries; that language is considered the precursor of several modern Turkic languages, including Azerbaijani and Turkish. In the process of development, these languages underwent changes in their phonetic structure, grammar and morphology, and vocabulary.
A large number of dialects are noted in spoken Azerbaijani, and these are assigned to the following groups: the eastern group (Kuba, Derbent, Baku, Shemakha, Mugan, and Lenkoran); the western group (Kazakh, Karabakh Giandzhinskii, and Airumy); the northern group (Nukha and Zakatalo-Kakhi); and the southern group (Nakhichevan, Ordubad, and Tabriz, dialects, and the Yerevan speech). Special groups of Azerbaijani constitute dialects—the Kashka, Avsa in Iran and Afghanistan, and Terek in the Armenian and Georgian SSR’s.
Azerbaijani literature began to appear in the 11th century, whereas modern Azerbaijani literature was formed in the mid-19th century based on the Baku and Shemakha dialects. The language was written in the Arabic alphabet until 1929, the Latin alphabet from 1929 to 1939, and the modified Russian Cyrillic alphabet since 1939.
REFERENCESShiraliev, M. A. “K voprusu ob izuchenii i klassifikatsii azerbai-dzhanskikh dialektov.” Izv. Azerbaidzhanskogo filiala AN SSSR, 1941, no. 4.
Dämirchizadä , Ä . Azäri ädäbi dili Tarikhi. Baku, 1967.
Dämirchizadä , E. Azärbayjan ädäbi dili Tarikhi khulasäläri. Baku, 1938.
Russko-azerbaidzhanskii slovar’. Edited by G. Guseinov. Volumes 1–4, Baku, 1940–1946.
T. G. BRIANTSEVA