1 August – Day of Azerbaijani Alphabet and Azerbaijani Language
”Nationality of a nation is safeguarded by its language”
The people of Azerbaijan, who possess an ancient and rich culture, have given a lot of valuable contributions to the universal civilization. The first samples have been passed to the present day via Gobustan and Gemigaya pictures, epigraphic monuments. Creating these valuable works, the Azerbaijani people used different alphabets. A great part of this wealth, created on the basis of scripts till adoption of Islam, has been destroyed, scripts reflecting those monuments forgotten or converted to Arabic script. After adoption of Islam, our people have created a rich cultural heritage using Arabic alphabet for more than thousand years. For centuries, Arabic alphabet has functioned as a common script for Muslim East nations. Playing an important role in formation and development of the Islamic culture, great Azerbaijani writers, scientists, and philosophers enriched the universal civilization. However, since Arabic script, which served for centuries the cultural relationship of different nations, could not completely reflect the sound system, structure and character of our language, beginning from the second half of the 19th century the progressive intellectuals led by Mirza Fatali Akhundov started thinking of the alphabet reform. This was related to the historical conditions of the Azerbaijani people. The enlightenment movement of the new era, sourced from Europe, defined the direction of the development of Azerbaijani culture and this demanded a modern alphabet according to the new type of culture. The public-political and cultural processes in the early 20th century required replacing the existing alphabet with more appropriate one.
Creation of the new Alphabet Committee in 1922 by the decision of the Azerbaijani government and commissioning that committee to develop an alphabet with Latin script for Azerbaijani language was the first serious step towards the new script. From 1923, transition into Latin alphabet was intensified and 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 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. But incompatibility between Cyril script and Azerbaijani language’s sound structure made Azerbaijani intellectuals improve this alphabet. Experience showed that no matter how many efforts were made to conform Cyril script to the sound structure of our language, the best version could not be achieved and this strengthened the probability that it will be changed some time.
Independence opened new opportunities to our people to join the common script system of the world and made the restoration of the Azerbaijani alphabet based on Latin script necessary. This resulted in adoption of the respective law. On December 25, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan adopted decision on restoration of the Azerbaijani alphabet based on Latin script. The complete official application of that started 10 years later. All institutions, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, all publications in Azerbaijani language transferred to the Latin alphabet according to decree of President Heydar Aliyev of June 18, 2001. Taking into consideration the importance of the use of the Latin alphabet in political life of Azerbaijan and history of our script culture, Heydar Aliyev signed another decree on August 9, 2001. The decree declared August 1 as Day of Azerbaijani Alphabet and Azerbaijani Language. Since then, August 1 has been celebrated as Day of Azerbaijani Alphabet and Azerbaijani Language in the Republic of Azerbaijan.
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