Kurmanji (‹See Tfd›Kurdish: Kurmancî ,کورمانجی, meaning Kurdish), also termed Northern Kurdish, is the northern dialect of the Kurdish languages, spoken predominantly in southeast Turkey, northwest and northeast Iran, northern Iraq, northern Syria and the Caucasus and Khorasan regions. It is the most spoken form of Kurdish and mother tongue to other ethnic minorities in Kurdistan as well, including Armenians, Chechens, Circassians, and Bulgarians.
|‹See Tfd›Kurdish: Kurmancî ,کورمانجی|
|Region||autochthonous to Kurdistan, Kurdish diaspora|
|15 million (2009)|
|Arabic script in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon,|
Latin script in Turkey and Syria,
Cyrillic script in Russia and Armenia.
Official language in
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. Kurmanji Kurdish is also the common and ceremonial dialect of Yazidis. Their sacred book Mishefa Reş and all prayers are written and spoken in Kurmanji.
Phonological features in Kurmanji include the distinction between aspirated and unaspirated voiceless stops and the presence of facultative phonemes. 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/.
Kurmanji forms a dialect continuum of great variability. Loosely, six subdialect areas can be distinguished:
- Northwestern Kurmanji, spoken in the Kahramanmaraş (in Kurmanji: Meraş), Malatya (Meletî) and Sivas (Sêwaz) provinces of Turkey.
- Southwestern Kurmanji, spoken in the Adıyaman (Semsûr), Gaziantep (Entab) and Şanlıurfa provinces of Turkey and the Aleppo Governorate of Syria.
- Northern Kurmanji or Serhed Kurdish, spoken mainly in the Ağrı (Agirî), Erzurum (Erzerom) and Muş (Mûş) provinces of Turkey, as well as adjacent areas.
- Southern Kurmanji, spoken in the Al-Hasakah Governorate in Syria, the Sinjar District in Iraq, and in several adjacent parts of Turkey centering on the Mardin and Batman provinces.
- Southeastern Kurmanji or Badînî, spoken in the Hakkâri province of Turkey and Dohuk Governorate and parts of Erbil Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan.
- Anatolian Kurmanji is spoken in central Anatolia, especially in Konya, Ankara, Aksaray, by Anatolian Kurds
Ezdîkî and Yazidi politics
Among some Yazidis, the glossonym Ezdîkî is used for Kurmanji to signify an attempt to erase their affiliation to Kurds. While Ezdîkî is no different from Kurmanji, these efforts attempt to prove that Ezdîkî is an independent language which includes claims that it is a Semitic language. This has been criticized as not being based on scientific evidence and lacking scientific consensus.
On January 25, 2002, Armenia ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and placed Kurdish under state protection. However, because of the divided Yazidi community in Armenia and after strong criticism from parts of the community, the authorities chose to ratify the charter by mentioning both "Kurdish" and "Yezidi" as two separate languages. This resulted in the term Êzdîkî being used by some researchers when delving into the question of minority languages in Armenia, since most Kurdish-speakers in Armenia are from the Yazidi group. As a consequence of this move, Armenian universities offer language courses in both Kurmanji and Êzdîkî as two different dialects.
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- Also described as a language or dialect group
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As for their language, the Yezidis themselves, in an attempt to avoid being identified with Kurds, call it Ezdiki.
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