When I heard that the
alphabet was going to be changed from Cyrillic to Latin, my reaction
was positive. I didn't realize it would end up being such a big
problem for me - I can't read the Latin alphabet. I know Cyrillic
because that's what the Soviet system taught us for 70 years.
But I don't know Latin.
I feel like I'm too old to go and learn the Latin alphabet -
that would be like going back to first grade and starting all
over again. I can't do that.
Access to News
But I'm concerned about my future. I'm afraid that soon I won't
have any access to Cyrillic newspapers and books. I read newspapers
a lot. I'm a driver, so I'm used to sitting in the car for hours
and sometimes I read while I wait. I'm afraid that someday I'll
end up experiencing an information blockade. At least right now,
I can read newspapers, but when everything changes over to the
Latin alphabet, I won't even be able to read newspapers.
My kids are learning the Latin alphabet in school, and sometimes
they ask: "What is this, Papa? What is that, Papa?"
I say that I don't know what it is because I don't know the Latin
alphabet. So I can't even help my kids.
Their teachers help
them, but at home nobody can help them. I know a little bit of
mathematics and numbers, so I can help them out with that, but
not with written words. Since the Azerbaijani channels on TV
use Latin, sometimes I even have to ask my kids to read for me.
On the Job
So many of the store names are in Latin these days. As a driver,
I manage to get by mostly because I know where the streets are
even without reading store names. But sometimes I run into problems.
For example, one day I was passing by the Musical Comedy Theater
and I saw three notices announcing upcoming performances. I wanted
to know what the new shows were all about, but two of them were
in Azeri Latin. I could only read the one in Russian.
Photo: Fast food menus are
found in Azeri Latin as well as Russian Cyrillic.
I sense that there is more of a tendency for people to speak
Azeri these days. For example, in restaurants, waitresses used
to speak only Russian, but now they speak Azeri, too. That's
one good thing. At least I think so.
Elman Gurbanov (born 1960) is a company driver. At home,
he speaks Azeri with his family. Elman followed the Azeri track
at school and is sending his kids to Azeri-track schools. As
for foreign languages, he considers it more important for his
children - who are still in elementary school - to study English
rather than Russian.
(8.1) Spring 2000.
© Azerbaijan International 2000. All rights reserved.
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