Old Azari language زبان آذری کهن

Old Azari languageث

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This article is about the Iranian language of Azerbaijan. For the Turkic language of Azerbaijan, see Azerbaijani language.



آذری Āḏarī

Spoken in

Iran (Persia), Azerbaijan


Middle East, Central Asia


1100–1600 CE

Language family


Language codes

ISO 639-3



Azari (Persian: آذری Āḏarī, [ɑːzæri], also spelled Adari, Adhari) is the name used for the Iranian language composed of groups of dialects which were spoken in Azerbaijan at one time. Some linguists have also designated the southern Tati dialects of Azerbaijan like those spoken by the Tats[1] around Khalkhal, Harzand and Keringan as a remnant of Azari.[2][3][4] In addition, Old Azari is known to have strong affinities with Talysh.[5]
It was the dominant language in Azerbaijan before it was replaced by a Turkic language, now known as the Azerbaijani language.[4]


 1 Linguistic affiliation2 Historical attestations2.1 The Iranic dialect of Tabriz2.2 On the language of Maragheh3 Pre-Turkic Azari4 Some Azari Words with other Iranian languages5 See also6 References used7 External links

Linguistic affiliation

Azari is believed to be a part of the dialect continuum of Northwest Iranian languages. As such, its ancestor would be close to the earliest attested Northwest Iranian languages, Median. As the Northwestern and Southwestern Iranian languages had not yet developed very far apart by the first millennium AD, Azari would also still have been very similar to classical Middle Persian (also called Pahlavi).
Azari was spoken in most of Azarbaijan at least up to the 17th century, with the number of speakers decreasing since the 11th century due to the Turkification of the area. According to some accounts, it may have survived for several centuries after that up to the 16th or 17th century. Today, Iranian dialects are still spoken in several linguistic enclaves within Azarbaijan. While some scholars believe that these dialects form a direct continuation of the ancient Azari languages,[4] others have argued that they are likely to be a later import through migration from other parts of Iran, and that the original Azari dialects became extinct.[6]
The name "Azari" is derived from the old Iranian name for the region of Azarbaijan[citation needed]. The same name for the region, in a Turkified form, was later adopted also to designate the modern Turkic language "Azeri".
According to Vladimir Minorsky, around the 9th-10th century:[7]:
"The original sedentary population of Azarbayjan consisted of a mass of peasants and at the time of the Arab conquest was compromised under the semi-contemptuous term of Uluj("non-Arab")-somewhat similar to the raya(*ri’aya) of the Ottoman empire. The only arms of this peaceful rustic population were slings, see Tabari, II, 1379-89. They spoke a number of dialects (Adhari, Talishi) of which even now there remains some islets surviving amidst the Turkish speaking population. It was this basic population on which Babak leaned in his revolt against the caliphate.
Professor Igrar Aliyev states that[8]:
1. In the writing of medieval Arab historians (Ibn Hawqal, Muqqaddesi..), the people of Azarbaijan spoke Azari. 2. This Azari was without doubt an Iranian language because it is also contrasted with Dari but it is also mentioned as Persian. It was not the same as the languages of the Caucasus mentioned by Arab historians. 3. Azari is not exactly Dari (name used for the Khorasanian Persian which is the Modern Persian language). From the research conducted by researchers upon this language, it appears that this language is part of the NW Iranian languages and was close to Talyshi language. Talyshi language has kept some of the characteristics of the Median language.
Aliyev also mentions that the medieval Muslim historians like Baladhuri, Masudi, Ibn Hawqal and Yaqut have mentioned this language by name.[8] Medieval historians and scholars also record that the language of the region of Azarbaijan, as well as its people there, as Iranians who spoke Iranian languages. Among these writes are Istakhri, Masudi, Ibn al-Nadim, Hamza Isfahani, Ibn Hawqal, Baladhuri, Muqaddasi, Yaghubi, Hamdollah Mostowfi, and Khwarazmi.[4]
According to Gilbert Lazard[9]:
Azarbaijan was the domain of Adhari, an important Iranian dialect which Masudi mentions together with Dari and Pahlavi.
According to Professor. Richard Frye: Azari was a major Iranian language and the original language of Azerbaijan region and Azari gradually lost its stature as the prevalent language by the end of the 14th century.[10]

Historical attestations

Ebn al-Moqaffa’ (d. 142/759) is quoted by ibn Al-Nadim in his famous Al-Fihrist as stating that Azerbaijan, Nahavand, Rayy, Hamadan and Esfahan speak Fahlavi (Pahlavi) and collectively constitute the region of Fahlah.[11]
A very similar statement is given by the medieval historian Hamzeh Isfahani when talking about Sassanid Iran. Hamzeh Isfahani writes in the book Al-Tanbih ‘ala Hoduth alTashif that five "tongues" or dialects, were common in Sassanian Iran: Fahlavi, Dari, Persian, Khuzi and Soryani. Hamzeh (893-961 CE) explains these dialects in the following way[12]:
Fahlavi was a dialect which kings spoke in their assemblies and it is related to Fahleh. This name is used to designate five cities of Iran, Esfahan, Rey, Hamadan, Man Nahavand, and Azerbaijan. Persian is a dialect which was spoken by the clergy (Zoroastrian) and those who associated with them and is the language of the cities of Fars. Dari is the dialect of the cities of Ctesiphon and was spoken in the kings' /dabariyan/ 'courts'. The root of its name is related to its use; /darbar/ 'court* is implied in /dar/. The vocabulary of the natives of Balkh was dominant in this language, which includes the dialects of the eastern peoples. Khuzi is associated with the cities of Khuzistan where kings and dignitaries used it in private conversation and during leisure time, in the bath houses for instance.
Ibn Hawqal states:[4]
the language of the people of Azerbaijan and most of the people of Armenia (sic; he probably means the Iranian Armenia) is Iranian (al-farssya), which binds them together, while Arabic is also used among them; among those who speak al-faressya (here he seemingly means Persian, spoken by the elite of the urban population), there are few who do not understand Arabic; and some merchants and landowners are even adept in it".
It should be noted that Ibn Hawqal mentions that some areas of Armenia are controlled by Muslims and others by Christians.[13]
Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn Al-Masudi (896-956), the Arab historian states:
The Persians are a people whose borders are the Mahat Mountains and Azarbaijan up to Armenia and Aran, and Bayleqan and Darband, and Ray and Tabaristan and Masqat and Shabaran and Jorjan and Abarshahr, and that is Nishabur, and Herat and Marv and other places in land of Khorasan, and Sejistan and Kerman and Fars and Ahvaz...All these lands were once one kingdom with one sovereign and one language...although the language differed slightly. The language, however, is one, in that its letters are written the same way and used the same way in composition. There are, then, different languages such as Pahlavi, Dari, Azari, as well as other Persian languages.[14]
Al-Moqaddasi(d. late 4th/10th century) considers Azerbaijan as part of the 8th division of lands. He states:"The languages of the 8th division is Iranian (al-‘ajamyya). It is partly partly Dari and partly convoluted (monqaleq) and all of them are named Persian".[15]
Al-Moqaddasi also writes on the general region of Armenia, Arran and Azerbaijan and states[16].:
They have big beards, their speech is not attractive. In Arminya they speak Armenian, in al-Ran, Ranian (Aranian). Their Persian is understandable, and is close to Khurasanian (Dari Persian) in sound
Ahmad ibn Yaqubi mentions that the People of Azerbaijan are a mixture of Azari 'Ajams ('Ajam is a term that developed to mean Iranian) and old Javedanis (followers of Javidan the son of Shahrak who was the leader of Khurramites and successed by Babak Khorramdin). [17]
Zakarrya b. Mohammad Qazvini's report in Athar al-Bilad, composed in 674/1275, that "no town has escaped being taken over by the Turks except Tabriz" (Beirut ed., 1960, p. 339) one may infer that at least Tabriz had remained aloof from the influence of Turkish until the time.[4]
From the time of the Mongol invasion, most of whose armies were composed of Turkic tribes, the influence of Turkish increased in the region. On ther hand, the old Iranian dialects remained prevalent in major cities. Hamdallah Mostawafi writing in the 1340s calls the language of Maraqa as "modified Pahlavi"(Pahlavi-ye Mughayyar). Mostowafi calls the language of Zanjan (Pahlavi-ye Raast). The language of Gushtaspi covering the Caspian border region between Gilan to Shirvan is called a Pahlavi language close to the language of Gilan. [18]
Following the Islamic Conquest of Iran, Middle Persian, also known as Pahlavi, continued to be used until the 10th century when it was gradually replaced by a new breed of Persian language, most notably Dari. The Saffarid dynasty in particular was the first in a line of many dynasties to officially adopt the new language in 875 CE. Thus Dari, which contains many loanwords from its predecessors, is considered the continuation of Middle Persian which was prevalent in the early Islamic era of western Iran. The name Dari comes from the word (دربار) which refers to the royal court, where many of the poets, protagonists, and patrons of the literature flourished. (See Persian literature)

The Iranic dialect of Tabriz

According to Jean During, the inhabitants of Tabriz did not speak Turkish in the 15th century.[19]
The language of Tabriz, being an Iranian language, was not the standard Khurasani dari. Qatran Tabrizi(11th century) has an interesting couplet mentioning this fact:[20]
بلبل به سان مطرب بیدل فراز گل
گه پارسی نوازد، گاهی زند دری
Translation: The nightingale is on top of the flower like a minstrel who has lost her heart It bemoans sometimes in Parsi (Persian) and sometimes in Dari (Khurasani Persian)
There are extant words, phrases, sentences and poems attested in the old Iranic dialect of Tabriz in a variety of books and manuscripts.[21]
Hamdullah Mustuwafi(14th century) mentions a sentence in the language of Tabriz:[22]:
تبارزه اگر صاحب حُسنی را با لباس ناسزا یابند، گویند
 "انگور خلوقی بی چه در، درّ سوه اندرین
 یعنی انگور خلوقی( انگوری مرغوب) است در سبد دریده
"The Tabrizians have a phrase when they see a fortunate and wealthy man in a uncouth clothes:" He is like fresh grapes in a ripped fruit basket. "
A Macaronic(mula'ma which is popular in Persian poetry where some verses are in one language and another in another language) poem from Homam Tabrizi where some verses are in Khorasani (Dari) Persian and others are in the dialect of Tabriz .[23]
بدیذم چشم مستت رفتم اژ دست//

کوام و آذر دلی کویا بتی مست //

دل‌ام خود رفت و می‌دانم که روژی //

به مهرت هم بشی خوش کیانم اژ دست //

به آب زندگی ای خوش عبارت //

لوانت لاود جمن دیل و کیان بست //

دمی بر عاشق خود مهربان شو //

کزی سر مهرورزی کست و نی کست //

به عشق‌ات گر همام از جان برآیذ //

مواژش کان بوان بمرت وارست //

کرم خا و ابری بشم بوینی //

به بویت خته بام ژاهنام
Another Ghazal from Homam Tabrizi where all the couplets except the last couplet is in Persian. The last couplet reads:[24]
«وهار و ول و دیم یار خوش بی //

اوی یاران مه ول بی مه وهاران»

 Transliteration: Wahar o wol o Dim yaar khwash Bi Awi Yaaraan, mah wul Bi, Mah Wahaaraan
Translation: The Spring and Flowers and the face of the friend are all pleasant But without the friend, there are no flowers or a spring.
Another recent discovery by the name of Safina-yi Tabriz has given sentences from native of Tabriz in their peculiar Iranic dialect. The work was compiled during the Ilkhanid era. A sample expression of from the mystic Baba Faraj Tabrizi in the Safina[25]:
انانک قده‌ی فرجشون فعالم آندره اووارادا چاشمش نه پیف قدم کینستا نه پیف حدوث
Standard Persian (translated by the author of Safina himself):
چندانک فرج را در عالم آورده‌اند چشم او نه بر قدم افتاده است نه بر حدوث
Modern English:
They brought Faraj in this world in such a way that his eye is neither towards pre-eternity nor upon createdness.
The Safina (written in the Ilkhanid era) contains many poems and sentences from the old regional dialect of Azerbaijan. Another portion of the Safina contains a direct sentence in what the author has called as "Zaban-i-Tabriz"(dialect/language of Tabriz)[26]:
دَچَان چوچرخ نکویت مو ایر رهشه مهر دورش
چَو ِش دَ کارده شکویت ولَول ودَارد سَر ِ یَوه
پَری بقهر اره میر دون جو پور زون هنرمند
پروکری اَنزوتون منی که آن هزیوه
اکیژ بحتَ ورامرو کی چرخ هانزمَویتی
ژژور منشی چو بخت اهون قدریوه
نه چرخ استه نبوتی نه روزو ورو فوتی
زو ِم چو واش خللیوه زمم حو بورضی ربوه
A sentence in the dialect of Tabriz (the author calls Zaban-i-Tabriz (dialect/language of Tabriz) recorded and also translated by Ibn Bazzaz Ardabili in the Safvat al-Safa [27]:
«علیشاه چو در آمد گستاخ وار شیخ را در کنار گرفت و گفت حاضر باش بزبان تبریزی گو حریفر ژاته
 یعنی سخن بصرف بگو حریفت رسیده است. در این گفتن دست بر کتف مبارک شیخ زد شیخ را غیرت سر بر کرد
» The sentence: "Gu Harif(a/e)r Zhaatah" is mentioned in Tabrizi Dialect.
A sentence in the dialect of Tabriz by Pir Zehtab Tabrizi addressing the Qara-qoyunlu ruler Eskandar[20]:
اسکندر, رودم کشتی, رودت کشاد "Eskandar, Roodam Koshti, Roodat Koshaad!" (Eskandar, You killed my son, may your son perish!")
The word Rood for son is still used in some Iranian dialects, specially the Larestani dialect and other dialects around Fars.
Four quatrains titled fahlavvviyat from Khwaja Muhammad Kojjani (d. 677/1278-79); born in Kojjan or Korjan, a village near Tabriz, recorded by Abd-al-Qader Maraghi.[21][28] A sample of one of the four quatrains from Khwaja Muhammad Kojjani
همه کیژی نَهَند خُشتی بَخُشتی
بَنا اج چو کَه دستِ گیژی وَنیژه
همه پیغمبران خُو بی و چو کِی
محمدمصطفی کیژی وَنیژه
Two qet'as (poems) quoted by Abd-al-Qader Maraghi in the dialect of Tabrz (d. 838/1434-35; II, p. 142).[21][28] A sample of one these poems
رُورُم پَری بجولان
نو کُو بَمَن وُرارده
وی خَد شدیم بدامش
هیزا اَوُو وُرارده
A Ghazal and fourteen quatrains under the title of fahlaviyat by the poet Maghrebi Tabrizi (d. 809/1406-7).[21][29]
A text probably by Mama Esmat Tabrizi, a mystical woman-poet of Tabriz (d. 9th/15th cent.), which occurs in a manuscript, preserved in Turkey, concerning the shrines of saints in Tabriz.[4]

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