Autumn 2003 (11.3)
Below: Students in the first-year
intensive language course of Azeri at the 2003 Summer Session
at the University of Indiana at Bloomington. Dr. Shahyar Daneshgar
(right) is the instructor. Azeri courses are offered every summer
on a regular basis.
For the last several
years, Indiana is the only university in the United States, offering
a regular program of instruction in Azeri. For the last five
years, they have offered a continuous, uninterrupted program
of intensive language study each summer.
Indiana University has been linked to Azeri language-learning
instruction in English beginning in the early 1960s. Interest
in Azerbaijani was spurred on by the publication of a grammar
book written by linguistics professor Fred W. Householder, Jr.,
along with Mansour Lotfi.
The text, entitled "Basic Course in Azerbaijani", was
published in English in 1965 by Indiana University at Bloomington
as part of the Uralic and Altaic Series (Vol. 45).
Currently out of print, the text was based on the Tabrizi (Iran)
dialect and written with its own Latin-modified alphabet (non-official)
since at that time the Azeri spoken in the USSR was written in
the Cyrillic script, and in Iran it was, and continues to be,
written with a modified Arabic script. Currently, the independent
Republic of Azerbaijan has a population of 8 million. An estimated
25-30 million Azerbaijanis live in Iran.
Prior to Householder's work at Indiana, comprehensive language-learning
material in English was scarce. In 1932, J. Christy Wilson, a
Christian missionary to Tabriz wrote: "A Grammar of Azerbaijan
Turkish". In 1957 Cyril Gordon Simpson published "The
Turkish Language of Soviet Azerbaijan: Selections from the Press
and from Modern Authors with a Grammatical Instruction"
(124-pages). In 1962 Gerd Fraenkel completed his dissertation
at Indiana entitled: "A Generative Grammar of Azerbaijani".
Beginning in the late 1980s, Indiana began offering intensive
summer courses for some of the minority languages spoken in the
former Soviet Union but it wasn't until 1994, that the first
Azeri class was offered. Six students enrolled that year. After
a few years' lapse, beginning in 1998, the course has been taught
on a continuous, uninterrupted schedule. Shahyar Daneshgar, an
Azerbaijani from Iran and Research Associate at the Inner Asian
and Uralic National Resource Center at Indiana, is the main instructor.
In Summer 2002, an advanced class of Azerbaijani was offered
for the first time. In 2003 it was taught by Zema Zeynalova from
Baku. The majority of students who study Azerbaijani at Indiana
are pursuing academic careers. For example, three of the four
students who enrolled in the advanced class this past summer
are planning to write dissertations related to Azerbaijan. Some
have opted to learn the language simply out of a deep appreciation
for the culture, particularly music. A few students go on to
join the U.S. government or get involved with non-governmental
In the summer of 2004, Indiana will again be offering both first
and second year courses of Azerbaijani. Scholarships are available.
For more information
about the Summer program in Azeri, contact: Indiana University,
Inner Asian & Uralic National Resource Center (IAUNRC), Goodbody
Hall 324, Bloomington, IN 47405. Phone: (812) 856-5263, E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org or write Shahyar Daneshgar: email@example.com.
Details at the Web site: INDIANA.edu/~iaunrc/.
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