Northern Kurdish

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Northern Kurdish
Kurmancî, کورمانجی‎, Кӧрманщи
Kurdiya Jorîn, کوردیا ژۆرین‎, Кӧрдьйа Жорин
Native toTurkey, Armenia, Syria, Iraq, Iran
Native speakers
15 million (2009)[1]
  • Northern Kurdish
  • Botani
  • Bazidi
  • Bakrani
  • Hakkari
  • Behdini
  • Shengali
  • Judikani
  • Jiwanshiri
  • Alburzi
  • Qochani
  • Bujnurdi
  • Rihayi
Latin (Turkey, Syria), Perso-Arabic (Iran, Iraq); Cyrillic (formerly in the Soviet Union), Armenian (formerly in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic)
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3kmr
Kurdish languages map.svg
Geographic distribution of Kurdish and other Northwestern Iranian languages spoken by Kurds

Northern Kurdish (Kurdiya jorîn, کوردیا ژۆرین‎), also called Kurmanji (Kurmancî, کورمانجی‎), is a Kurdish language spoken in southeast Turkey, northwest and northeast Iran, northern Iraq and northern Syria. It is the most widespread language of the Kurdish languages. While Kurdish is generally categorized as one of the Northwestern Iranian languages along with Baluchi,[4][5] it also shares many traits with Southwestern Iranian languages like Persian, apparently due to longstanding and intense historical contacts, and some authorities have gone so far as to classify Kurmanji as a Southwestern or "southern" Iranian language.[6][7]

Scripts and books[edit]

Northern Kurdish is written using the Latin script in Turkey, where most of its speakers live, as well as in Syria. Northern Kurdish is the most widely spoken Kurdish language, being spoken by 80% of all Kurds. The earliest textual record of a Kurdish language dates to the 16th century.[4]

Kurmanji is also the ceremonial language[8][9] of Yazidism. The sacred book Mishefa Reş (the "Yazidi Black Book") and all prayers are written and spoken in Kurmanji. In this context, the Kurmanji language may also be called Ezdiki.[10]


Front Central Back
Close i u
Near-close ʏ
Mid ə
Close-mid e o
Open a ɑ

The vowels /i, a, u/ have long forms, and Kumandji has contrastive vowel length.[11]

Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain aspirated plain aspirated plain aspirated plain aspirated
Stop voiceless p t̪ʰ k q ʔ
voiced b d̪ʱ g
Affricate voiceless t͡ʃ t͡ʃʰ
voiced d͡ʒ d͡ʒʱ
Fricative voiceless f s ɬ ʃ x ħ h
voiced (v) z ʒ ɣ (ʕ) ɦ
Nasal m ŋ
Approximant j w
Trill r
Flap ɾ


Northern Kurdish forms a dialect continuum of great variability. Loosely, five dialect areas can be distinguished:[12]

The most distinctive[clarification needed] of these is Badînî.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Northern Kurdish at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ Pavlenko, Aneta (2008). Multilingualism in post-Soviet countries. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. pp. 18–22. ISBN 978-1-84769-087-6.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Northern Kurdish". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ a b Paul, Ludwig (2008). "Kurdish language I. History of the Kurdish language". In Yarshater, Ehsan. Encyclopædia Iranica. London and New York: Routledge. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  5. ^ Windfuhr, Gernot (1975), “Isoglosses: A Sketch on Persians and Parthians, Kurds and Medes”, Monumentum H.S. Nyberg II (Acta Iranica-5), Leiden: 457–471
  6. ^ Paul J. White, ed. (2002). Turkey's Alevi Enigma: A Comprehensive Overview. Brill. p. 23. ISBN 978-9004125384.
  7. ^ Gunter, Michael M. (2009). The A to Z of the Kurds. The Scarecrow Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-0810868182.
  8. ^ Kurmanji is the language of almost all the orally transmitted religious traditions of the Yazidis.
  9. ^ YEZIDIS in Armenia. "People Armenia Travel, History, Archeology & Ecology TourArmenia Travel Guide to Armenia".
  10. ^ Arakelova, Victoria (2001). "Healing Practices among the Yezidi Sheikhs of Armenia". Asian Folklore Studies. 60 (2): 319–328. doi:10.2307/1179060. As for their language, the Yezidis themselves, in an attempt to avoid being identified with Kurds, call it Ezdiki.
  11. ^ Asadpour, Hima; Mohammadi, Maryam. "A Comparative Study of Kurdish Phonological Varieties" (PDF).
  12. ^ Öpengin, Ergin; Haig, Geoffrey (2014), "Regional variation in Kurmanji: A preliminary classification of dialects", Kurdish Studies, 2, ISSN 2051-4883
  13. ^ for Bahdinan, a historical Kurdish principality, paralleling use of Sorani, also the name of a historical principality, for southern dialects. See BAHDĪNĀN in Encyclopedia Iranica by A. Hassanpour, 1988 (updated 2011): "The majority of the population are Kurds (see figures in Edmonds, [Kurds, Turks and Arabs, London, 1957,] p. 439) and speak Kurmanji, the major Kurdish dialect group, also called Bādīnānī (see, among others, Jardine [Bahdinan Kurmanji: A Grammar of the Kurmanji of the Kurds of Mosul Division and Surrounding Districts, Baghdad, 1922] and Blau [Le Kurde de ʿAmādiya et de Djabal Sindjar: Analyse linguistique, textes folkloriques, glossaires, Paris, 1975])."

External links[edit]