I had no idea that the
alphabet was being changed. I was only five years old at the
time and what did I know? When I went to school, I started out
learning Azeri Latin. I didn't have any difficulties simply because
it was my first alphabet.
The biggest headache for me today is that there are not many
books published in Latin. I want to read more and more books,
but I can't find any.
Sometimes it seems like my generation has been completely forgotten
by the adults. When they were growing up, they had all kinds
of books to read in Cyrillic. They could learn all they wanted,
but we don't have this kind of opportunity. It's amazing that
so many years have passed since the adoption of the new alphabet,
and yet we hardly have any books published in Latin, to say nothing
of newspapers and magazines.
Thank God we started to learn Russian in school, so now I have
learned the Cyrillic alphabet. Of course, Cyrillic was a bit
difficult for me to get used to, but I knew I had to learn it
if I wanted to grow up to be clever and intelligent.
My parents studied Cyrillic in school, but my two sisters and
I started school learning the Latin script. At first I remember
my parents had a hard time with Latin. When they would watch
television, they would ask us kids what this or that meant. My
grandmother still uses me as her "interpreter" when
we walk around the city. She asks me to "translate"
all the signs and whatever is written in Azeri Latin.
The best thing about the Latin alphabet is that it looks like
English and other major alphabets and so once we master it, foreign
language scripts come easy.
Nothing to Read
All of these changes are good of course, but I'm really concerned
about my future. Will we have to use Cyrillic books at the Institute,
too? Why not publish more books in Latin? For kids my age, it's
rare to see any book, novel or story written in Azeri Latin.
I remember how several years ago one of my relatives brought
me a book by Alexandre Dumas from Turkey. The novel was translated
into Turkish, in Latin script. Though I don't know Turkish as
well as Azeri, at least I know the Latin alphabet. Thank God
our languages have a lot in common. I read that book with such
great enthusiasm and then passed it along to some of my classmates.
They were really surprised to see such a colorful book in Latin.
We all wished that we could have books like that published in
Azerbaijan. That would be such a wonderful day.
Tinatin Valiyeva (born 1986) is in the
eighth grade and studies in the Azeri track. Azeri is her mother
tongue and the language that is used most often in her home.
She also knows some Russian and some English.
(8.1) Spring 2000.
© Azerbaijan International 2000. All rights reserved.
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