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Northern Kurdish
Kurmancî, کورمانجی‎, Кӧрманщи
Kurdiya Jorîn, کوردیا ژۆرین‎, Êzdîkî
Regionautochthonous to Kurdistan, Kurdish diaspora[1]
Native speakers
15 million (2009)[2]
  • Subdialects
    Botani (Boti)
  • Marashi
  • Ashiti
  • Bayezidi
  • Hekari
  • Shemdinani
  • Shikakî
  • Silivî
  • Mihemedî[1]
Naskh Arabic script in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon,
Latin script in Turkey and Syria,
Cyrillic script in Russia and Armenia.[1]
Official status
Official language in
 Kurdistan Region[1]
Recognised minority
language in
 Armenia (Educational)[1]
 Azerbaijan (Educational language of a recognized national minority)[5]
 Georgia (Educational language of a recognized national minority)[6][7]
Language codes
ISO 639-3kmr
Kurdish languages map.svg
Geographic distribution of the Kurdish languages spoken by Kurds

Kurmanji (Kurmanji Kurdish: Kurmancî,[9] meaning Kurdish),[10][11][12][13] also termed Northern Kurdish,[1][14][15][16] is the northern dialect,[15][19] of the Kurdish languages, spoken predominantly in southeast Turkey, northwest and northeast Iran, northern Iraq, northern Syria and the Caucasus and Khorasan regions.[20] It is the most spoken form of Kurdish and mother tongue to other ethnic minorities in Kurdistan as well, including Armenians,[21] Chechens, Circassians,[22] and Bulgarians.[23]

The earliest textual record of Kurmanji Kurdish dates back to approximately the 16th century and many prominent Kurdish poets like Ahmad Khani (1650–1707) wrote in this dialect as well.[24][12] Kurmanji Kurdish is also the common and ceremonial dialect of Yazidis.[25] Their sacred book Mishefa Reş and all prayers are written and spoken in Kurmanji, which some Yazidis call Ezdiki.[26]


Phonological features in Kurmanji include the distinction between aspirated and unaspirated voiceless stops and the presence of facultative phonemes.[27][28] For example, Kurmanji Kurdish distinguishes between aspirated and unaspirated voiceless stops, which can be aspirated in all positions. Thus /p/ contrasts with /pʰ/, /t/ with /tʰ/, /k/ with /kʰ/, /q/ with /qʰ/, and the affricate /t͡ʃ/ with /t͡ʃʰ/.[28]

Dialect continuum

Kurmanji forms a dialect continuum of great variability. Loosely, six subdialect areas can be distinguished:[29]

The most distinctive of these is Badînî.[31]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Ethnologue - Kurmanji Kurdish". Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  2. ^ Kurmanji at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  3. ^ "Social Contract - Sa-Nes". Self-Administration of North & East Syria Representation in Benelux. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  4. ^ ""Rojava could be a model for all Syria"". Salih Muslim. Nationalita. 29 July 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Təhsil" (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Minority Language Education in Georgia". 15 August 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Report on the implementation of state strategy for civil equality and integration and 2016 action plan" (PDF). Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  8. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Northern Kurdish". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  9. ^ Ferhenga Kurmancı̂-Inglı̂zı̂ (in Kurdish). Yale University Press. 2003.
  10. ^ Captain R. E. Jardine (1922). Bahdinan Kurmanji - A grammar of the Kurmanji of the Kurds of Mosul division and surrounding districts of Kurdistan. Baghdad: Government Press. p. ii.
  11. ^ Ayfer Gokalp (August 2015). "Language and Literacy Practices of Kurdish Children Across Their Home and School Spaces in Turkey:" (PDF). Arizona State University: 146. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  12. ^ a b Paul, Ludwig (2008). "Kurdish language I. History of the Kurdish language". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica. London and New York: Routledge. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  13. ^ Georg Krotkoff (1997). Humanism, Culture, and Language in the Near East. p. 299.
  14. ^ "Ethnologue - Kurdish". Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Kurdish language". Britannica. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  16. ^ E. S. Soane (1909). Notes on Kurdish Dialects. p. 906. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  17. ^ Thackston, W. M. "—Kurmanji Kurdish— A Reference Grammar with Selected Readings" (PDF). Harvard University.
  18. ^ Ehsan Yar-Shater. "Encyclopaedia Iranica". Encyclopaedia Iranica. University of California. 3 (5–8): 485.
  19. ^ Also described as a language[17] or dialect group[18]
  20. ^ Philip G. Kreyenbroek, Stefan Sperl (2005). The Kurds : a Contemporary Overview. Routledge. ISBN 1134907656.
  21. ^ "Kürtler'le Ermeniler işte böyle karıştı!". Internethaber (in Turkish). 30 March 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  22. ^ Aşiretler raporu (1st ed.). İstanbul: Kaynak Yayınları. 2000. ISBN 9753432208.
  23. ^ "Türkçe için getirilen Bulgarlar Kürtçe konuşuyor". Rûdaw. 17 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  24. ^ Sebastian Maisel (2018). The Kurds: An Encyclopedia of Life, Culture, and Society. p. 164-165.
  25. ^ "Yazidis i. General". Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Khan, Celadet Bedir; Lescot, Roger (1970). Grammaire Kurde (Dialecte kurmandji) (PDF). Paris: La librairie d'Amérique et d'Orient Adrien Maisonneuve. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  28. ^ a b Haig, Geoffrey; Matras, Yaron (2002). "Kurdish linguistics: a brief overview" (PDF). Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung. Berlin. 55 (1): 5. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  29. ^ Öpengin, Ergin; Haig, Geoffrey (2014), "Regional variation in Kurmanji: A preliminary classification of dialects", Kurdish Studies, 2, ISSN 2051-4883
  30. ^ "The Kurdish language". Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  31. ^ 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