Azerbaijan is moving forward with a curious social experiment. The government may soon order most of its citizens to change their last names and to pick first names for their children from a government-compiled list. The project, first announced last year, is meant to erase the influence of Azerbaijan’s erstwhile overseer, Russia, and to help Azerbaijan go back to its national roots.
Parliament is expected soon to discuss a bill that would replace Russian last name endings such as “-ov/-ova” with Azeri-style endings such as “-lie,” “-oglu,” “-gil,” or “-soy.” Upwards of 80 percent of Azerbaijani last names end with “-ov/-ova," “-ev/eva," according to the National Academy of Sciences.
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