Voice of Talysh
John Clifton, Calvin Tiessen, Gabriela Deckinga, Laura Lucht. Sociolinguistic Situation of the Talysh in Azerbaijan
This paper presents the results of sociolinguistic research conducted between August 1999 and October 2000 among the Talysh people living in southeastern Azerbaijan. The goals of the research were to investigate patterns of language use, bilingualism, and language attitudes with regard to the Talysh, Azerbaijani, and Russian languages in the Talysh community. Of particular interest are the correlations between patterns of language use and social isolation. Interviews, observations, questionnaires, and an Azerbaijani Sentence Repetition Test were employed.∗
The Talysh language is a member of the northwest group of Iranian languages. Historically, the language and its people are reported to have roots in the Medes. Talysh is one of at least sixteen languages and speech varieties in the Tati language group of northwestern Iran and southern Azerbaijan. Talysh refer to themselves and their language as ‘Tolish’. The origin of the name ‘Tolish’ is not clear but is likely quite old, predating the migration of the Iranian peoples to the southwestern shores of the Caspian.
Northern Talysh is one of three major dialects of Talysh, distinguishing itself from Central and Southern Talysh not only geographically but also culturally and linguistically. While speakers of Northern Talysh are found almost exclusively in the Republic of Azerbaijan, some can also be found in the neighboring regions of Iran along the Caspian Sea in the Province of Gilan.
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