For years, some villagers complain, the village had no asphalt road to the nearest city, Quba, about 38 kilometers to the north. The government finally built one in 2006.
But, nonetheless, with no doctor, no public transportation, minimal utilities and only a primary school, they feel forgotten. [ the last repair to this road occurred 12 years ago. ]
Asked about government support for Jek,a government official in the nearby village of Alik emphasized that “they have everything” -- a school and an asphalt road. “I don’t know, what else do they need?” asked Mubariz Aghasiyev.
“It’s quite a small village.”
Baku-based sociologist Aliagha Mammadli, who has studied other so-called Shahdagh ethnic groups, believes these practical concerns override all others.
“We see where they live as an exotic place, but they have lots of difficulties in their daily life, especially during the winter,” says Mammadli, head of the department of ethno-sociological research at the Academy of National Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography. “People [in Jek] do not think about their identity. They want to live a more comfortable life.”
But worries about Jek’s identity persist, nonetheless.
Youngsters are “wrapped up with their smartphones and new things and do not want to speak Jek,” observes 58-year-old Agali Muradov, a mountain-tour guide who grew up in Jek. “I'm not against the Azerbaijani language, but Jek is our mother tongue and, all together, we need to save it."
Except for Khinalug, Jek villagers can understand other languages from the Shahdagh group. Since the language has no written alphabet, though, speaking in Jek is the one way the language stays alive.