Can’t Name Your Kids Atatürk or Samovar in Azerbaijan
Ever with an eye out for appearances, the Azerbaijani government has decided that citizens cannot name their children after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of the Turkish Republic, or after their favorite fruits and objects.
After years of close cooperation with Ankara, Baku has decided that it wants to help its big Turkic cousin make sure there is only one Atatürk ("Father of the Turks") out there. As it stands, Azerbaijan has 18 of them; several born within the past few years, according to the country's State Terminology Commission, Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported.
Commission Chairperson Sayaly Sadigova claimed that the decision to ban "unofficially" the use of Atatürk was made at Turkey's own request, the Russian daily said. The Turkish foreign ministry did not respond to requests from EurasiaNet.org to confirm the report.
But Azerbaijan’s linguistic authoritarianism does not end there. The name-regulators say parents also cannot call their baby Samovar even if they are convinced that the little darling totally looks like the Russian tea boiler. All such requests have been denied, Sadigova underlined to APA news agency. Perhaps fortunately for the children concerned.
For several years now, Azerbaijani citizens have needed government approval for their children's names, turning the onomastics commission into something of a national copy-editing service.
Apart from providing guidelines for translations, the commission has created an advisory system on proper names, categorizing them essentially as good, bad and funny.
The "good names,” color-coded in green for users’ convenience, are the names that supposedly conform to Azerbaijan's cultural and ideological values. The bad names are pretty much names associated with much-hated neighbor Armenia and are marked in red. Names that sound funny in Azeri or other languages go into the yellow, best-to-avoid category.
Yet, despite the commission’s tireless efforts to improve the quality of Azerbaijani names, funny names remain a serious problem. Back in 2011, Sadigova complained that 10 percent of the 180,000 names reviewed by the commission do not conform to Azeri-language standards and are plain ridiculous.
But she was pleased to see that all the Olyas and Galyas that prevailed when Soviet Moscow dominated Azerbaijan have now given way to more authentically Azeri-sounding Alis and Ayguns.
And, no, in case you're wondering, it is also not acceptable to call your baby Kishmish (raisin), Sadigova told APA. Cute as it may sound.