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Translating a dictionary into north/south Azeri?!
Thread poster: Jan Sundström

Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:46
English to Swedish
+ ...
Mar 26, 2009

Hi all,

A colleague of mine received a request to translate a small dictionary into Azeri.
This is meant to help immigrants in Sweden get by in the society.

The peculiar situation in Sweden is that we have 1700 immigrants from Azerbajdzjan (speaking the north Azeri dialect), and some 25.000 Azeri immigrants from Iran (speaking the south Azeri dialect).

The ambition of the client is that the dictionary should cover all Azeris in Sweden.
I wonder if this is possible?

The south azeris are traditionally used to persian/semitic script, whereas northern azeris use latin characters.
If the dictionary is published in latin characters, would the southerners be able to use it?

And what about differences in syntax? How many percent of the words differ between the two groups?

Would it make sense to have shared entries, like "swedish word"= xxx (north A.) /yyy (south A.)

Or would it be more clear-cut to just stick to one group (southern?) and ignore the northern minority?
But then I guess that the script should better be persian/semitic?

Thanks a lot for your input!


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Sahin Beygu
Local time: 01:46
English to Turkish
resources Mar 26, 2009

Although hardly a reply to your questions I thought a publisher (and also a proz from Germany would be helpful: a

Best wishes on your project.

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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:46
English to Turkish
You may get more help in a general forum Mar 26, 2009

Like Linguistic Diversity or maybe Translation Theory & Practice.

Don't assume translators of Turkish would be automatically able to answer your questions about Azeri (or vice versa). There are a couple working with AZ, though, but my advice, for what it's worth, would still be a general forum.

Good luck!

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Alp Berker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:46
Turkish to English
+ ...
Use both Mar 27, 2009

I wouldn't differentiate between Northern or Southern. I would include both Azeri in Arabic and Latin script. Also before 1992 The Cyrillic script was used in Azerbaijan when the Republic of Azerbaijan was a part of the Soviet Union.
When there are differences, you can indicate it as such.
To the best of my knowledge, I don't know of any resources that have both Arabic/Latin/Cyrillic for both what you call Northern or Southern Azerbaijani.
Also I would recommend getting in touch with some institutions that localize into Azerbaijani. They can give you the best answers overall.
I would recommend :
Tercume AZ
Azerbaijan University of Languages.

I don't have any links for Southern Azerbaijani resources.

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Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:46
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Topic moved from Turkish forum to Azerbaijani forum Mar 27, 2009

Hope you will find answers to your questions in this new forum.


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Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:46
English to Swedish
+ ...
How do other dictionaries handle regional differences? Apr 6, 2009

Alp Berker wrote:
I wouldn't differentiate between Northern or Southern. I would include both Azeri in Arabic and Latin script.
When there are differences, you can indicate it as such.

Hi Alp and all,

I'm afraid that the Arabic script would be outside the scope of the dictionary for now, due to financial restrictions from the end client.

I understand that the differences between the northern and southern variety is a touchy subject.
For the record, I know that many countrymen deny that there is any difference and just treat it as one language, and that even the terms Northern/Southern Azeri are debatable. But let's not go into that discussion. We're simply following ISO 639-3, which differentiates between the two, so let's stick to that definition.

This is what Wikipedia says:
"While there is a fair degree of mutual intelligibility between South Azeri and North Azeri, there are also morphological and phonological differences between the two varieties, so much so that ISO 639-3 lists them as two varieties of a single macrolanguage—Azerbaijani."
(from )

So let's take a look at page 3 of this PDF:

Since there are a lot of words that differ between the two varieties, the approach of the dictionary might be to add a remark to those words which usage is limited to either of the linguistic regions.
table (EN) = miz (S. Az), stol (N. Az)

Does anyone know if this has been done before?

How do other Azerbaijan dicitionaries tackle this problem? Do they list Northern + Southern differences when they exist, or do they deal exclusively with Northern Azerbaijan?

As far as I can see (from a superficial outsider standpoint) it seems that all dictionaries just mention one "standard azerbaijani" (which I assume is based on the Northern variety?):

Is there any dictionary/glossary at all published in the Southern variety???

Thanks a lot for your input!

[Edited at 2009-04-06 12:38 GMT]

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Local time: 01:46
English to Turkish
+ ...
there is no such a dictionary Jun 12, 2009

Hi Jan,
First of all, sorry for late reply. I have just seen the topic thread. Probably you have decided on this issue already, but I wanted to inform all interested.
Northern and Southern Azerbaijani dialects are very different nowadays. As you know, Azerbaijani people were divided into two in the beginning of 19th century, which made these people to use slightly differing words, phrases during this period.
Southern Azerbaijanis were made to use Persian alphabet, whereas Notherners to use Crillic. And these facts made two dialects differ greatly, since they were affected by Russian and Persian.
And in Iran, Azerbaijanis are not allowed to use Latin alphabet, they don't have their own schools, journals, newspapers, etc. So they only use Azerbaijani in spoken language.
Today, Northern Azerbaijani is accepted as the standard Azerbaijani language.
As an Azeri, I have never seen a single dictionary consisting both dialects.
What I would do is to prepare two different dictionaries: one in standard Azerbaijani and the other in Persian (because all Southern Azerbaijanis speak Persian, which is naturally obligated in Iran, for they are citizens of Iran).
I don't think that they speak Northern Azerbaijani effectively but it would be better to ask them, probably with a quick poll.
Hope this would help a bit,

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Tahmineh Zardasht
Local time: 02:16
English to Persian (Farsi)
+ ...
both south and north azeri speakers understand each other Dec 12, 2010

As my native language is South azeri, my experience with north azeri speakers proves that, we understand each other. But just one important point: South azeri speakers do not have standard written language. so you have just one choice: North zaeri language. But dont worry! as I said south azeri speakers understand north azeri.
good wishes

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Handling script problem Dec 8, 2011

Dear Jan,
As an southern Azerbaijani, I think You should consider the two group as different language. I am a student in Azerbaijan republic. When I came to study in this country as Iranian azeri, I thought there is no difference between them and It will be so easy to communicate with North azeri language (Writing my Thesis). But it wasn't last too long. I discovered that, North Azeri language in its official and academic language (Verbal) is so different from those which we understand it in South (despite my capability of reading and writing! N. Azeri). The two groups was certainly similar couple Hundred years ago, but nowadays they have remarkable difference. You made a good example (table (EN) = miz (S. Az), stol (N. Az)). If you say in south "stol" no one will understand you. But when you write "Miz", every one which has preliminary education will understand that.
To my knowledge you problem concerns the capability of people to understand the official terminology which they encounter with them during immigration.
My recommend to handle this problem is that, you choose English alphabet for Southern Azeri language. English language is been teaching in Iran schools from lavel 7 and so on). So the people are familiar with this alphabets. Though, there are some voices that you should use the combination of some letters, which you can introduce them in the beginning of the dictionary. I am not a linguistician, I suggests the following combination of letters.

اُر اُرتمک ao Aormak To cover Ö Örtmək
اُو اُوشوُمک au Aushaumak To becom cold Ü Üşümək
یِ قیِز ai Qaiz Girl I Qız
ا ال a al Hand Ə Əl
آ آل oa Oalmaq To by A Almaq
ج J Jib Pocket C Cib
چ CH Chini Ceramic Ç Çini
خ KH Khoshhoal Happy X Xoşhal
ش SH Shirin Sweet Ş Şirin
غ GH Bagh Garden Ğ Bağ
ژ ZH Bezh Beige J Bej

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Tabrizli Maryam
Local time: 00:46
Azerbaijani to English
+ ...
both azeris are very important Mar 14, 2012

The two Azeri languages both have the same root. But due to Persian and Russian official languages in these two parts they have been mixed with these languages a lot, which may be a matter of difference.
Another difference may be because of changes in writing methods which have been a reason to lose the original root in one of these dialects.
So what I would recommend to mention that these two dialects are the same, So we shouldn't name the dictionary by just one of them. But there can be an explanation inside it talking about the historical and linguistic histories of these two dialects and mentioning both dialects in front of the words where there are different words used in north and south Azerbaijan.
By the way I am a southern Azeri living in Sweden and would like to help you in this project.

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