Azeri: Getdik!

The word “getdik” is an Azeri phrase essentially meaning “let’s go.” I wasn’t ready to leave, but oh well.

Modern Azeri (or more specifically Azerbaijani) is way different than the ancient language spoken by the native Turkic people who lived there 2,000 years ago. Although Azeri is part of the Altaic language family (under the Turkish branch), it saw an early influence from Arabic and Persian due to Azerbaijan’s rule by neighboring countries in the mid first millennium AD. After the Oguz Turks came and sort of branded the language, Azerbaijani experienced a cultural revolution, especially in language department. The unification of Azerbaijan states by Uzun Hasan in the 1400s also fostered growth of an Azerbaijani identity.  Unfortunately, this would be hindered by a brief rule from Iran and exploitation and capture from Russia, which would lead to several atrocities, including genocide and conflict with Armenia.

One interesting thing about Azerbaijani is that it’s one of of the few languages to have used three different alphabet systems: a Perso-Arabic script, a Cyrillic alphabet and, as of now, a Latin one. Azerbaijani also uses a schwa (Upside-down e) for one of its letters.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS: This language sounds, to me, like a Turkish derivative. I’ve only seen and heard Turkish in glimpses and haven’t reviewed it yet, but I can understand why there’s a close relationship.

Some things about it are really interesting. Like Finnish, Azeri uses vowel harmony. If a word ends in a back vowel (A a, I ı, O o, U u), then the suffix must have a back vowel. Same with the front vowels (Ə ə, İ i, E e, Ö ö, Ü ü). This is evident through forming infinitives, using -maq for back verbs and -məq for front ones.

Another interesting feature: consonant mutation. According to Learning Azerbaijani, when certain words end in consonant and a suffix beginning with a vowel is added, the original consonant changes:

K –> Y
Q –> Ğ
T –> D

There’s also a consonant buffer, which is sort of the same concept. A consonant is added for words that end in a vowel combined with suffixes that begin with one. S is used for possessive case and y is used for nominative case. Confused, yet?

Azeri doesn’t have masculine/feminine forms of nouns (yes!) nor pronouns. However, both nouns and pronouns have declensions while adjectives aren’t necessarily inflected according to the noun. Azeri uses a SOV order, but this is loose because most of the time the verb is inflected in such a way that indicates the subject’s case. Sounds very familiar …

I do like Azeri, though. Maybe because it’s intriguing and a little complex, but in the right ways. And it really sounds beautiful when spoken, as the vowel harmony gives it an interesting sound. It’s even more beautiful when sung (video c/o Patricia Constantinian):

Intelligibility: 2
Complexity: 2
Resonance: 4
Continuation: 3


6 thoughts on “Azeri: Getdik!

  1. Hey Keith! The young woman singing in the video is Güllü Muradova. She is currently (in my opinion) one of the finest interpreters of traditional Azeri music. It’s wonderful that you’ve included her in your survey of Azeri.

    1. Patricia,

      Thank you so much for the tip! This song blew me away, it is so mesmerizing and beautiful. I was more than happy to include her in the survey and discover traditional Azeri music!

  2. Keith, BTW, Azeri is a Turkic language, part of the Altaic Branch of languages, not the Indo-European as you had mentioned in your post under Azeri.

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