Summer 1997 (5.2)
Azeri Latin and
by Judith Scott
Computers can greatly facilitate implementation of a new alphabet but presently, in Azerbaijan, they are impeding progress simply because they are being used as typewriters and not the powerful time-saving, efficient tools they were designed to be.
Character font assignment has yet to be standardized. Consequently, most fonts are incompatible with each other. The same document printed in one office may not print out on another computer. At least six different "standards" exist, possibly even more, according to Ed Lake of Amoco who has been following the process of computer usage in Azeri for the past five years.
Lake suggests that a standard be established which would permit virtually all existing computers, including the relatively low powered older computers, to effectively and consistently manage the Azeri Latin and Azeri Cyrillic language / fonts. This can be done with ASCII / ANSI character code definitions. ASCII (pronounced AS-key) is the acronym for "American Standard Code for Information Interchange" and ANSII (pronounced AN-si) stands for "American National Standards Institute."
For the more powerful newer computers and networks, eventual migration to the UNICODE standard is recommended. UNICODE will permit virtually all of the languages in the world to be effectively managed and will eliminate the current problems associated with incompatible fonts.
Not only will font styles begin to proliferate once standardization is resolved, but aince Azeri Latin and Azeri Cyrillic have a one-to-one symbol correlation, documents typed in one alphabet can easily be converted to the other.
Two more critical needs should be addressed: standardization of keyboard layout for Azeri and Spell Check software. At least, one standard keyboard layout, possibly two, should be identified, depending on whether the Russian or English layout is preferred. Software does exist (KeyGO) that enables the reassignment of keys to any position on the keyboard. But a standard should be identified for Azeri and the published.
An Azeri Latin spell check would greatly facilitate office work, enhance efficiency, save time and help standardize spelling (which is in a flux because many words are influenced by Russian).
As computers are still quite new to the general public, now is the time to establish norms. In turn, these fundamental decisions will both strengthen and speed the use of the Latin script throughout Azerbaijan. s