Ancient writers, poets, and books from Azerbaijan, with a written excerpt of the national anthem and letters from the contemporary Azerbaijani alphabet.
In the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani alphabet refers to a Latin alphabet used for writing the Azerbaijani language. This superseded a previous versions based on Cyrillic and Arabic scripts.
In Iran, the Perso-Arabic script is used to write the Azeri language, with several characters borrowed from other Arabic alphabets or invented for Azeri. While there has been a few standardization efforts, the orthography and the set of letters to use differs widely among Iranian Azeri writers, with at least two major branches, the orthography used by Behzad Behzadi and the Azari magazine, and the orthography used by the Varliq magazine (both are quarterlies published in Tehran).
From the 19th century there were efforts by some intellectuals like Mirza Fatali Akhundov to replace the Arabic script and create a Latin alphabet for Azeri. In 1922, a Latin alphabet was created by Yeni türk əlifba komitəsi (New Turkish Alphabet Committee; Јени түрк əлифба комитəси) in Baku. In 1929, the Uniform Turkic Alphabet was introduced to replace the varieties of the Arabic script in use at the time. In 1939, because Joseph Stalin wished to sever the ties between the Republic of Turkey and the Turkic peoples living within the Soviet Union, he decreed that only the Cyrillic script be used. When the Soviet Union collapsed and Azerbaijan gained its independence, one of the first laws passed in the new Parliament was the adoption of the new Latin alphabet.
The 1958–1991 script is based on the Macedonian Cyrillic alphabet, with a few letters representing Macedonian sounds removed and new letters for Azerbaijani sounds added.
From 1918 until 1939
Aa, Bв, Cc, Çç, Dd, Ee, Əə, Ff, Gg, Ƣƣ, Hh, Ii, Ьь, Jj, Kk, Qq, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Ɵɵ, Pp, Rr, Ss, Şş, Tt, Uu, Vv, Xx, Yy, Zz, Ƶƶ
From 1939 until 1958
Аа, Бб, Вв, Гг, Ғғ, Дд, Ее, Ёё, Әә, Жж, Зз, Ии, Йй, Кк, Ққ, Лл, Мм, Нн, Оо, Өө, Пп, Рр, Сс, Тт, Уу, Үү, Фф, Хх, Һh, Цц, Чч, Ҷҷ, Шш, Щщ, ъ, Ыы, ь, Ээ, Юю, Яя, ' (apostrophe)
From 1958 until 1991
Аа, Бб, Вв, Гг, Ғғ, Дд, Ee, Әә, Жж, Зз, Ии, Ыы, Јј, Кк, Ҝҝ, Лл, Мм, Нн, Оо, Өө, Пп, Рр, Сс, Тт, Уу, Үү, Фф, Хх, Һһ, Чч, Ҹҹ, Шш, ' (apostrophe)
From 1991 until 1992
Aa, Ää, Bb, Cc, Çç, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Ğğ, Hh, Xx, Iı, İi, Jj, Kk, Qq, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Öö, Pp, Rr, Ss, Şş, Tt, Uu, Üü, Vv, Yy, Zz
Aa, Bb, Cc, Çç, Dd, Ee, Əə, Ff, Gg, Ğğ, Hh, Xx, Iı, İi, Jj, Kk, Qq, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Öö, Pp, Rr, Ss, Şş, Tt, Uu, Üü, Vv, Yy, Zz
The Azerbaijani alphabet is the same as the Turkish alphabet, except for ə, x, and q, the sounds for which do not exist in Turkish.
An interesting fact about the alphabet is the existence of schwa (Ə ə). When the new Latin script was introduced on December 25, 1991, A-umlaut was selected to represent the sound /æ/. However, on May 16, 1992, it was replaced by the schwa. Although use of Ä ä (also used in Tatar, Turkmen, and Gagauz) seems to be a simpler alternative as the schwa is absent in most character sets, particularly Turkish encoding, it was reintroduced; the schwa had existed continuously from 1929 to 1991 to represent Azeri's most-common vowel, in both post-Arabic alphabets (Latin and Cyrillic) of Azerbaijan.
Rock drawings of Gobustan, samples of Old Turkic script
The Old Turkic script is the alphabet used by the Göktürk and other early Turkic Khanates from at least the 7th century to record the Old Turkic language. It was later used by the Uyghur Empire. Additionally, a Yenisei variant is known from 9th-century Kyrgyz inscriptions, and it has likely cousins in the Talas Valley of Turkestan and the Old Hungarian script of the 10th century. The alphabet was usually written from right to left.
The script is named after the Orkhon Valley in Mongolia, where late 7th century inscriptions were discovered in an 1889 expedition by Nikolay Yadrintsev. These Orkhon inscriptions (Turkish: Orhun Yazıtları) were published by Vasily Radlov and deciphered by the Danish philologist Vilhelm Thomsen in 1893.