Azerbaijan International

Spring 2002 (10.1)

Sociolinguistically Speaking
Silence is Golden - Part 12

by Jala Garibova and Betty Blair

Printable Version

For Azerbaijanis, what is left unsaid can be just as important as what is said. Westerners, especially Americans who are known for their directness, sometimes miss these subtleties in Azerbaijani conversation. Talk that would be considered straightforward, or perhaps honest, in Western culture may be considered blunt, or even rude, in Azerbaijani culture. Especially in the context of the business world, this type of faux pas could be disastrous. To flush out these differences, our 12th installment of "Sociolinguistically Speaking" takes a look at the Azerbaijani tendency toward silence and indirectness.

Left: Soltan Gara's "Together", 1999, oil on canvas, 70 x 75 cm. More of Gara's works are on display at

Below: Soltan Gara's "Triumvirate", 1999, oil on canvas, 25 x 60 cm. Contact the artist at his home in North Carolina at (919) 933-8301.


Jala Garibova holds a doctorate in linguistics and teaches at Western University in Baku. Betty Blair is the Editor of Azerbaijan International.

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