Northern Kurdish

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Northern Kurdish
Kurmancî, Kurdiya Jorîn
Native to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey
Native speakers
"Very provisional" figure of 15 million in Turkey (2009)[1]
Maybe 5 million elsewhere, including 2.8 million in Iraq (2004), 940,000 in Syria (1993), and 350,000 in Iran (1988)[1]
Latin (main); Perso-Arabic
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 kmr
Glottolog nort2641[3]
Geographic distribution of Kurdish and other Northwestern Iranian languages spoken by Kurds

Northern Kurdish (کوردیا ژۆرین; kurdiya jorîn), also called Kurmanji (کورمانجی; Kurmancî), is a group of Kurdish dialects predominantly spoken in southeast Turkey, northwest Iran, northern Iraq and northern Syria. It is the most widespread dialect group 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 dialects, which uses the Latin script, is the commonest dialect group of the Kurdish language, spoken by 80% of all Kurds. The earliest textual record of the Kurdish language dates to the 16th century.[4]

Kurmanji is the ceremonial language[8][9] of Yezidism. The sacred book Mishefa Reş (the "Black Book") and all prayers are written and spoken in Kurmanji.


Kurmanji is a recognized minority language of education in Armenia, where most Kurds are Yazidi.[1]


Northern Kurdish forms a dialect continuum of great variability. Loosely, five dialect areas can be distinguished:[10]

The most distinctive of these is Badînî.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Northern Kurdish at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Pavlenko, Aneta (2008). Multilingualism in post-Soviet countries. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. pp. 18–22. ISBN 978-1-84769-087-6. 
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Northern Kurdish". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  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. ^ Yazidis belong to the Kurdish race but have their own religion. They speak a northern dialect of Kurdish (Kurmanji). Except for a few Arabic poems, all religious texts are in Kurmanji, including their hymns (qewl). All Scriptures and texts that they have are also in Kurdish.
  10. ^ Öpengin, Ergin; Haig, Geoffrey (2014), "Regional variation in Kurmanji: A preliminary classification of dialects", Kurdish Studies 2, ISSN 2051-4883 
  11. ^ 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]