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Other spelling: Talish; Talesh; Talishi; Talyshi; Taleshi

Figures in 1000.
Talysh (main)
Alviri-Vidari; Eshtehardi; Gozarkhani; Kabatei; Kajali; Kho'ini; Koresh-e Rostam; Maraghei; Razajerdi; Rudbari; Shahrudi; Upper Taromi

Indo-European Iranian language (Northwestern), spoken by about 1.3 million of the Talysh people. Most live in Azerbaijan, some 430,000 live in Iran.
Talysh comes fairly close to Persian, Gilaki, Azerbaijani as well as Zazaki. Still, it is the small language of Tati, spoken in a few villages in Iranian Azerbaijan that is the closest to Talysh.
Talysh is a written language, using Arabic script, and in Azerbaijan there are even newspapers in Talysh. In Iran it is a colloquial language in local communities, while most Talysh speakers speak and write Persian in its Western form for formal uses.
Talysh today is mainly a language used in rural areas, those moving into larger urban centres tend to take up national languages like Azerbaijani and Persian.
Talysh is divided into three dialect zones: Northern, Central and Southern. The Southern is under strong influence by Persian, the Northern, which is spoken in Azerbaijan is under some influence by Azerbaijani and Russian. Central Talysh is generally considered the least influenced. Talysh has also been defined according to other distinctions, that spoken in the mountains and that spoken in the plains.

This dialect is geographically distanced from the other Talysh dialects, as well as the most deviating. It represents a transition between Talysh and Semnani. It is spoken by 220,000, in the Zanjan, Qazvin and Markazi provinces.

This dialect, spoken by 180,000 in Iran, is a major language in Azerbaijan, where it is the dominant language of the Caspian coastal region right north of the border to Iran, daily language of some 900,000.
It is confusingly classified as a dialect of the language of the very same name. This classification comes from it being the dominant variant of general Talysh.
This dialect is mainly spoken in northwestern Gilan Province, along the coast and the plains of the Caspian Sea.

Other spelling: Harzandi
This dialect, counting a total of 30,000 (2009 estimate), is centered to the region around the village of Harzand in West Azerbaijan province. It is close to standard Talysh and Karingani dialects, but distinguished with longer vowels than other Talysh dialects, and use a soft 'r' in place of the strong 'd'.

Karingani is spoken only by 20,000 (2009 estimate) in the East Azerbaijani province, mainly around the Keringan village. It is very close to Harzani.

Other dialects
There are more dialects classified as part of Talysh. These have in common that there is no estimate to the number of speakers. While this may suggest that the dialects are truly extinct, this need not be the case. The dialects are:

  • Alviri-Vidari (Markazi province)
  • Eshtehardi (Markazi province)
  • Gozarkhani (Qazvin province)
  • Kabatei (Gilan province)
  • Kajali (East Azerbaijan province)
  • Kho'ini (Zanjan province)
  • Koresh-e Rostam (East Azerbaijan province)
  • Maraghei (Gilan province)
  • Razajerdi (Qazvin province)
  • Rudbari (Gilan province)
  • Shahrudi (East Azerbaijan province)
  • Upper Taromi (Zanjan province)

By Tore Kjeilen