Jon Udell has this little gem hiding at the bottom of a recent blog entry of his: > The newly independent countries of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have not altered their spoken languages, which are Turkish tongues. But the governments have moved to replace Cyrillic street signs, textbooks, tax forms, etc., with new ones printed in a modified, 29-letter Roman alphabet. Elementary schools now teach Roman letters. The massive, disruptive changeover – inspired by westward trade ambitions and hatred of the Soviet memory – was declared officially complete in Azerbaijan, at least, in 2001. The new alphabet is modeled on that of modern Turkey, which switched from Arabic to Roman letters in 1928, under the westernizing regime of Kemal Atatürk.

Wow, they’re switching their entire alphabets. I’m in awe. The computer programmer in me boggles at the sheer amount of work involved. The American in me wonders if it’s worth the cost. Mostly, I’m just impressed that they’re willing to take on a project of this size, and amazed that Azerbaijan is (officially, at least) finished.