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Spotlight Article

Celebrating the Azerbaijani Language with Gmail

Azerbaijan America Alliance
August 04, 2014

On August 1st Azerbaijan celebrated National Language Day; first instituted in 2001 by former President Heydar Aliyev. The holiday celebrates the Azerbaijani language, which has been the official language of Azerbaijan since the passing of the nation’s constitution in 1988.

Azerbaijan boasts 17 living languages. However, Azerbaijani remains the sole official language, and has acted as a lingua franca connecting not only Azerbaijanis but also communities in neighboring countries.  In an interview featured on Azerbaijan International, President Heydar Aliyev discussed the significance of the language,

Since ancient times, Azerbaijan has had its own language. True, there were interruptions. For instance, when the Arabs came, their language came into use here, or when the Persians came, the same thing happened. However, our own language survived.”

This year there was unique cause for celebration. Gmail announced in July that they will now be supporting 13 new languages including Azerbaijani. There are over 30 million speakers of Azerbaijani across the globe that are now connected via Gmail in Russia, the United States, Turkey, Western Europe, and naturally, Azerbaijan.

Often the interconnectedness of our globalized world is taken for granted. One might be surprised to realize that Azerbaijani is not supported by Twitter, LinkedIn, or Yahoo. Luckily, Google believes dispersed groups of Azerbaijani speakers are worth connecting in their own language and alphabet.

As Azerbaijan, and its capital Baku, rises as a destination for tourism, business, and sport, connecting the Azerbaijani speaking community over email is a significant milestone.  The serendipitous alignment of Gmail’s announcement and National Azerbaijani Language Day is a wonderful and whimsical landmark in the growing importance of “The Land of Fire.” 


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