KAL Featured Articles

ArticlesKAL introduces featured articles to Kurdish Language at this section. You may email us an electronic version of your article to be posted at KAL. The featured articles are for public view. The registered users will be able to comment on articles. Membership to KAL is open to all callers. KAL collects and represent articles and essays on Kurdish language in any language of dates. Please provide us with references which might be important from Kurdish linguistic point of view.

Featured articles are considered to be selected articles by KAL's editorial. Before being listed here, articles are reviewed at KAL. The Featured article candidates for accuracy, neutrality, completeness, and style according to our featured article criteria. A featured article exemplifies our very best work and features professional standards of writing and presentation. In addition to meeting the requirements for all KAL articles, it has the following attributes.

  1. 1. It is—
    (a) well-written: its prose is engaging, even brilliant, and of a professional standard;
    (b) comprehensive: it neglects no major facts or details;
    (c) factually accurate: claims are verifiable against reliable sources, accurately represent the relevant body of published knowledge, and are supported with specific evidence and external citations; this requires a "References" section in which sources are listed, complemented by inline citations where appropriate;
    (d) neutral: it presents views fairly and without bias; and
    (e) stable: it is not subject to ongoing edit wars and its content does not change significantly from day to day, except in response to the featured article process.
  2. It follows the style guidelines, including the provision of:
    (a) a lead—a concise lead section that summarizes the topic and prepares the reader for the detail in the subsequent sections;
    (b) appropriate structure—a system of hierarchical headings and a substantial but not overwhelming table of contents (see section help); and
    (c) consistent citations—where required by Criterion, consistently formatted inline citations using either footnotes.
  3. Images. It has images and other media where appropriate, with succinct captions and acceptable copyright status. Non-free images or media must satisfy the criteria for inclusion of non-free content and be labeled accordingly.
  4. Length. It stays focused on the main topic without going into unnecessary detail.
Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (10 votes)

Abdulla Pashew

Born in 1946 in Hawler, Southern Kurdistan, he studied at the Teachers Training Institute in Erbil. In 1973 he went to the former USSR where six years later, he earned a Master of Arts in pedagogy, specializing in foreign languages. In 1984 the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences awarded him a Ph.D. in Philology. From 1985 to 1990 he lectured at Alfatih University in Libya.

Since 1995 he has lived in Finland. His first poem was published in 1963, his first collection in 1967. Since then he has published 8 collections, the latest, Baraw Zardapar-Towards the Twilight, was published in Sweden in 2001. He has also translated many distinguished writers and poets, in particular Walt Whitman and A. S. Pushkin.


No, I am not against dictators!
Let them multiply across the earth
Like the shadow of God.
But on one condition--
Let the children be dictators!


The free world has listened for so long
To the pulse of oil deep in the heart of things
It has become humpbacked,
Stone deaf.
It doesn't hear the mountains burning.


I am a bare dagger!
My Motherland is a stolen sheath.
Don't think I am bloodthirsty!
Go; find fault with the one,
Who unsheathed me!


If you wish your children's pillows
To bloom pink,
If you wish your gardens
To be fruitful,
If you wish heavy clouds
To send green messages to your fields
And raise the sleepy eyelids of spring _
Then liberate
Liberate the bird
That nests on my tongue!


If someday a delegate comes to my land
And asks me:
"Where is the grave of the Unknown Soldier here?"
I will tell him:
On the bank of any stream,
On the bench of any mosque,
In the shade of any home,
On the threshold of any church,
At the mouth of any cave,
In the mountains on any rock,
In the gardens on any tree,
In my country,
On any span of land,
Under any cloud in the sky,
Do not worry,
Make a slight bow,
And place your wreath of flowers."


Since the beginning of the earth
Man has been seeking after
Pearls, gold and silver
Searching the depth o oceans
And the peaks of mountains.
But, every morning, I discover a treasure,
When I see your plaits
Covering half of the pillow.


Every night, when a pillow
Invites our heads
As the two poles of the earth
To the feast of sorrow,
I see the parting lies between us
Shining, Like a dagger,
I remain awake,
Staring at it.
Do you see it, as I do?


Some need a magnificent lustre
To find the way to the Sultan's heart.
Some need a piece of a candle
For self seeing and self burning
Therefore, before taking up my pen,
I examine
What is lighting inside me:
The lustre, or the candle!


Poetry is a capricious woman
And I have fallen deeply in love.
Promising each day to come to me
She comes rarely, or not at all.


If an apple falls to my lot
I will cut it into two pieces:
One for me,
One for you,
If I win a smile, I will cut it into two pieces:
One for me
One for you.
If I come across grief
I will inhale it as deeply
As the last breath!


If I return once more,
In the mornings,
I will frolic in the lush fields like a lamb
I will chew a blade of bitter grass
And dampen my feet in the dew till I fall.

If I return once more,
I will climb the nut-trees, like a squirrel.
Like a low cloud, I will drift over green meadows.
Like a sad willow,
I shall bow over streams,
Touching the stones on their banks tenderly.
Oh, only to return once more?

If I return once more
With staring eyes I shall watch
How the heads of corn yellow;
How the apples and the pomegranates ripen,
How the birds make their nests;
How the young ones learn to fly;
How the migrant swallows sit in a row
On the telegraph wires;
Where brooks originate
And where they stream!

If I return once more
I will drink a sip of water
From the breast of each spring
To make them all my mothers.
In every cave
I will lay my head on a stone each night
To make them all my cradles.

If I return once more
I shall bring tongues of fire
To those who cannot speak.
I shall bring wings of fire
To birds which cannot fly.

If I return once more
I won't allow the young to rip up flowers
To place in dead vases

I will teach them how to place them
On the breasts of their lovers
Before embracing them.

If I return once more
I'll celebrate the birthdays of the children
Who have known no celebrations,
Instead of candles,
I shall burn my fingers
I shall burn the pupils of my eyes
I shall burn the youngest of my verses.

If I return once more
I shall bow over any cradle
I come across
Ah, children, if only I return once more.


Since I'll only live once
I love both of you.
Since I'll only live once
I offend neither the sunray,
Nor the moonbeam!

If I lived twice
I would have loved you in this life
And loved the other in that life.
Since I only live once,
I have no choice:
I love both of you.
I offend neither the sunray
Nor the moonbeam.


My Homeland--is the nest of the sun,
And the meadow, where rays bloom.
My head--is not a head,
But an ever-inclined sunflower!


My head was sea,
Thoughts, like small fishes,
Sank and floated till the morning,
I threw my net into the sea:
It fished a single.
And that one,
Turning from side to side, died!


I am in a hurry
It is high time to get
Some leaves of trees,
Some blades of grass,
Some wild flowers from that land.
I am not afraid to forget their names
I am afraid to forget their fragrance.


I admit--you are beautiful,
Like a drop of dew on a petal.
I admit--you are a temple for every eye,
Like a drop of dew on a petal.
Yet still I am bored with you,
As if you were my false passport--
I am mountainous!
The slightest touch
Boils my blood like a flame
And you are cold,
Like a drop of dew on a petal!


It was a snowstorm.
In the dusk, I made a nest of my own palm
For a wandering snowflake.
I gazed on it like a lover.
When it melted, I recognized it--
A drop of water in Kurdistan!


However I may try
I cannot distinguish youth from old age.
I worship both:
At dawn-the sunrise
At evening-the sunset
Ravish me.


Last night I left my bed,
Held up my thunderful head
Towards the sky.
I saw thousands and thousands of stars,
Scattered about,
Like seeds of pomegranate.
I came back, and remained sleepless
With sorrow for those stars
That fell down prematurely.

Source: International Journal of Kurdish Studies,  Jan, 2004
Translated by: Abdulla Pashew and Rikki Ducornet

Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (11 votes)

Xale Melay Dawudí u xwéndiní Kurdí

Rojhnamey Kurdistan le jhimarey 1-í xoyda [Pénjshemo 20/10/1324 =11-í Jhanwiyey 1946] dú hewalí giríngí sebaret be xwéndin u serinjdan be barí perwerdey mindalaní bé day u bab bilaw kirduwetewe:

"Kobunewey Heyetí Ferhengí Kurdistan jhimare 32 Rojhí cuwarshemmuiye 12/10/1324 jelsey Heyetí Ferhengí Kurdistan satí dú pash níwerru gíra le babet mekteb u dananí du nefer pishkinér bo mektebekan giftugoy lazim kira axayaní 'Elí Xusrewí u Rerhím Leshkirí bo pishkinérí helbjhérdiran u hukmyan sadir kira.

We qerar dira ew mindalaney ke bé kesin u be suwal meshxulin ko bikrínewe le naw míllet da besh bikirén we rojhane le mektebí Gelawéjh bixwénin u bo xirkirdinewey em hejhare békesane be sharewaní emir dira ke xiryan katewe u biyan date dest axayaní Furuher u Menafí Kerímí u ewanísh be néw míllet da beshyan ken. 

  1. Be akseríyetí ara pesind kira axayaní Furuher u Kerímí xelkí bésewad hazir ken ke shewane le mektebéda be zimaní Kurdí bixwénin. 
  2. Pesind kira hemú níshaney (tablo) ídaran u mekteb u tejartxanan u 'ímaretan bigorin u be Kurdí binúsré. 
  3. Pesind kira ke ew mindalaney ko dekrínewe temenyan le shesh ta carde salan ziyatir nebé. 
  4. Le axirí jelese da pesind kira ke jelesey díke jorí líbasí shagird mektebekan m'lum kiré "

"Agadarí be tewawí ehalí xoshewístí (sabilax) radegeyndirét - le ser emrí Pésheway mu'ezem u qerarí (Hízbí Démokratí) Kurdistan lewey bewlawe péwíste bo perepédan u rewají zimaní Kurdí, xwéndin le medresekanda be Kurdiye lew(taríxewe) ta de 10 - rojhí díke her kesék kur u kicí hebé ke 'umrí íqtízay xwéndin bika debí bínéréte medrese elbete her kes lew emrey rú wergéré be tundtrín mujazat tenbé dekré. 

Komítey Merkezí (Hízbí Démokratí Kurdistan - mu'awíní Hízib Tezade

‌[Seyid Miemedí Tehazade [Eyúbyan])"

Ber le rageyandiní komar u be taybetí le salí 1324 [1945] calakí u bújhanewey ferhengí u hewldan bo xwéndin u perwerdey Murdí gesheyekí bercawí be xoyewe díwe u her lew maweye da "Daykí Níshtiman" le Mihabad u cend sharí díke péshkésh kirawe. Xale Mela yek le endamaní damezrénerí Komeley Jhiyaní kurd,ci le serdemí pésh damezraní Komar u ci le katí hukúmetí Kurdistan da dewrí serekí gérawe le perepédaní perwerde u xwéndin be zimaní Kurdí u le jhimare berayiyekaní Kurdistan da basí calakiyekaní "Dersxaney Gelawéjh"í bilaw kirduwetewe.

‌Le mawey yek salley Komar u le qonaxí jiyawaz da piley berpirsiyaretí zor jar al u gorí be ser hatuwe u le mer wezaret [ídare]í Ferhengísh her wabuwe. 'Elí xusrewí, Reshídí 'Ezízí, Sídqí, Dilshadí Resúlí, Menafí Kerímí u Íbirahímí Nadirí ew nawanen ke le Kurdistanda wekú "pishknér" "serok ", "mu'awín ", " wezír" u " reyis " í ídarey ferheng basyan léwe kirawe. Emesh agadariyekí kurtí Melay Dawudí le rojhnamey Kurdistan da:

"Qurbaní: emin cend sall lewey pésh 'ehdim kird le katékda kurd serbexo bin, xom u dú kurrim xoman bikeyn be qurbaní. Éstash awatim be jé hatuwe. Amadeyn degell 50 nefer shagirdí dawteleb be ízní bawk u daykiyan rojhí 26/11/1324 le pésh 'ímaretí Duktur Wénatan wefa be 'ehd bikeyn. 

Melay Dawudí

Kurdistan: birayaní xwén germ u péshmerge, husní nezerí mubarekí Péshewa reyis Jimhúrí berzí Kurdistan le ser eweye ke engo shagirdekantan be júrí ke péwíste terbiyet u amade biken ke be péy emrí Pésheway xotan le rojhí pédawíst da qessabí le dujhminí Kurdistan biken u le meydaní karzar da bibin be qurbaní. " [Kurdistan, jhimarey 11, cuwarshemo 17-í Rébendaní 1324/ 6í Féwriyey 1946]

Tébíní: em wéneye le rúwí wéneyekí bekomel (péshtir léreda bilaw kirawetewe) sazdrawetewe ke be sipasewe le laperey "Kewneníshtiman" í gowarí Mihabad, jhimare 81 wergírawe. Ew lapereye le layen Fereydúní Hekímzadewe amade dekiré.


Sercawe: Em babete le mallperrí wénekaní komarí Kurdistan wergírawe ú hénawete ser rénúsí Yekgirtú. [KAL]



No votes yet

A Comparison Between Allophone, Syllable, and Diphone Based TTS Systems for Kurdish Language

By Wafa Barkhoda1, Bahram ZahirAzami1, Anvar Bahrampour2, Om-Kolsoom Shahryari1

Abstract- nowadays, concatenative method is used in most modern TTS systems to produce artificial speech. The most important challenge in this method is choosing an appropriate unit for creating a database. This unit must warranty smoothness and high quality speech, and also, creating database for it must take reasonable resources and should be inexpensive. Syllable, phoneme, allophone, and, diphone are usually used as the units in such systems. In this paper, we implemented three synthesis systems for Kurdish language, respectively based on syllable, allophone, and diphone. We compare the quality of the three systems, using subjective tests.

Keywords- Speech Synthesis; Concatenative Method; Kurdish TTS System; Allophone; Syllable, and Diphone.


High quality speech synthesis from the electronic form of text has been a focus of research activities during the last two decades, and it has led to an increasing horizon of applications. To mention a few, commercial telephone response systems, natural language computer interfaces, reading machines for blind people and other aids for the handicapped, language learning systems, multimedia applications, talking books and toys are among the many examples [1].

Most of the existing commercial speech synthesis systems can be classified as either formant synthesizers [2,3] or concatenation synthesizers [4,5]. Formant synthesizers, which are usually controlled by rules, have the advantage of having small footprints at the expense of the quality and naturalness of the synthesized speech [6]. On the other hand, concatenative speech synthesis, using large speech databases, has become popular due to its ability to produce high quality natural speech output [7]. The large footprints of these systems do not present a practical problem for applications where the synthesis engine runs on a server with enough computational power and sufficient storage [7].

Concatenative speech synthesis systems have grown in popularity in recent years. As memory costs have dropped, it has become possible to increase the size of the acoustic inventory that can be used in such a system. The first successful concatenative systems were diphone based [8], with only one diphone unit representing each combination of consecutive phones. An important issue for these systems was how to select, offline, the single best unit of each diphone for inclusion in the acoustic inventory [9,10]. More recently there has been interest in automation of the process of creating databases and in allowing multiple instances of particular phones or groups of phones in the database, with the selection decided at run time. A new, but related problem has emerged: that of dynamically choosing the most adequate unit for any particular synthesized utterance [11]. The development and application of text to speech synthesis technology for various languages are growing rapidly [12,13]. Designing a synthesizer for a language is largely dependant on the structure of that language. In addition, there can be variations (dialects) particular to geographic regions. Designing a synthesizer requires significant investigation into the language structure or linguistics of a given region.

In most languages, widespread researches are done on Text-to-Speech systems and also, in some of these languages commercial versions of system are offered. CHATR [14, 15] and AT&T NEXT GEN [16] are two examples offered in English language. Also, in other languages such as French [17,18], Arabic [4,19,20], Norwegian [21], Korean [22], Greek [23], Persian [24-27], etc, much effort has been done in this field.

The area of Kurdish Text-to-Speech (TTS) is still in its infancy, and compared to other languages, there has been little research carried on in this language. To the best of our knowledge, nobody has performed any serious academic research on various branches of Kurdish language processing yet (recognition, synthesis, etc.) [28,29].

Kurdish is one of the Iranian languages, which are a sub category of the Indian-European family [30,31]. The Kurdish phonemics consists of 24 consonants, 4 semi vowels and 6 vowels. Also / ع/ ,/ح /, and / غ/ have entered Kurdish from Arabic. Also, this language has two scripts: the first one is a modified Arabic alphabet and the second one is a modified Latin alphabet [32,33]. For example “trifa” which means “moon light” in Kurdish, is written as / تريفه / in the Arabic script and as “tirîfe” in the Latin. Whereas both scripts are in use, both of them suffer some problems (e.g., in Arabic script the phoneme /i/ is not written; also both /w/ and /u/ are written with the same Arabic written sign / 32,33 ] /و ], and Latin script does not have the Arabic phoneme / ئ/, and it does not have any standard written sign for foreign phonemes [33]).

In concatenative systems, one of the most important challenges is to select an appropriate unit for concatenation. Each unit has its own advantages and disadvantages, and might be appropriate for a specific system. In this paper we develop three various concatenative TTS systems for Kurdish language based on syllable, allophone, and diphones, and compare these systems in intelligibility, naturalness, and overall quality.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows: Section 2 introduces the allophone based TTS system. Section 3 and 4 presents syllable and diphone based systems respectively, and finally, comparison between these systems and quality test results are presented in Section 5. Conclusions are drawn in Section 6.



A Comparison Between Allophone, Syllable, and Diphone Based TTS Systems for Kurdish Language

Wafa Barkhoda1, Bahram ZahirAzami1, Anvar Bahrampour2, Om-Kolsoom Shahryari1

1Department of Computer, University of Kurdistan Sanandaj, Iran

2Department of Computer, Islamic Azad University Sanandaj, Iran

{w.barkhoda, zahir, shahryari.kolsoom}@ieee.org , bahrampour58@gmail.com

University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj, 200x


Please view the full report as attached.

No votes yet

A Dictionary Law in

A Dictionary Law in Arabic-Kurdish-French and English

Dr. Nouri Talabany

The responsibility for developing and advancing the Kurdish language lies not only with the experts in linguistics, but also with all professionals, each in his own particular sphere.

In every language, and especially in those which have progressed, you will find two kinds of dictionary - a standard one compiled by lexicographers, containing most words in common usage and a second, relating to a specific science, which must be compiled by linguists with specialist knowledge of that science.

In recent decades, some Kurdish linguists have published or translated books dealing with their specialties, which include a glossary of new terms at the back of the volume. Until now, no such thing has been done in the field of the law.

I have spent the academic year 1974 - 1975 on Sabbatical leaved in London where I had the privilege of meeting occasionally with the Kurdish scholar. Mr. Tawfiq Wahbi, who was fluent in at least seven languages. One day he asked me why I was not working on the Kurdish legal language. In response to my protest that I was not a specialist in language he said, "You know at least four languages and that is sufficient to help you", and he offered his personal assistance also. What I learnt from this distinguished scholar provided the impetus for me to attempt to compile a Kurdish dictionary of law, though I knew that it would be a far from easy task, especially since there had never been a proper Kurdish dictionary of law. This means that we must search for new definitions of certain words - an approach that will not be readily accepted by many, even by those legal professionals who are accustomed to using Arabic words. I must say that it would have been better had this work been undertaken earlier, but better late than never. Meanwhile, a Kurdish Academy of Linguistics should be established to oversee the use and development of language, not only in the realm of law, but in every other scientific field also.

It should be mentioned here that, at the beginning of the 1970s, a Committee for the Kurdish Language at the Kurdish Science Academy was set up to establish a unique Kurdish language. To this end, the committee amassed a collection of words and various scientific terms and invited Kurdish professionals to discuss them and to deliver their verdict on them. Though the results of this work were published with great hope that this would provide the basis for a unique Kurdish language, the committee was unable to continue its work. However, I took advantage of its proposals.

In preparing my Dictionary of Law, I endeavoured to use Kurdish words and expressions but, in the absence of a suitable Kurdish word, I was frequently obliged to translate words from other languages. However, I did not change some words which, although not actually Kurdish, have been absorbed and have become a part of the Kurdish heritage. They have been used for centuries with little or no change. Some derive from Islamic law, for example, 'sharia', 'wakf', 'talak', 'nafaka', 'mirat', 'wassyat', etc. They have been used in our language for a long time and it is difficult to ignore them or to find suitable alternatives. If we accept that the majority of Kurds are Muslims and that the Islamic Sharia is the common heritage of all Muslim nations, then we accept the fact that the Kurds have a right to use these words.

For centuries, the Kurdish mullahs played an important role in promoting the Sharia and its language, which is, of course, Arabic. The few examples I have given of this use of the Arabic language have been used for decades. They are an accepted part of the peoples' everyday vocabulary and are difficult to replace. I am sure that all Kurdish linguists would agree that fewer Arabic words are used in the Kurdish tongue than are used in other non-Arabic languages such as Turkish and Persian.

In compiling lists of words used specifically in the fields of commerce and politics, I have used some Latin, French and English terminology as these terms are used in the most widely spoken languages. It is my belief that their use brings Kurdish closer to these other languages, especially since Kurdish is, like them, an Indo-European language. Words such as 'democracy', 'socialism', 'bourgeois', 'police', 'insurance' and 'balance.' have become international. Taking these words from the original English or French doesn't diminish our language because, as I have said, they are used without alteration. If you examine our neighbouring languages, including those Arabic ones, you will find that they contain many English and French words.

When translating from other languages, I did not look at one specific language but tried to translate from the origin of the word. Egyptian linguistic experts, following the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon in 1798, translated a great many legal terms from French into Arabic. We know, also, that French law has influenced most Iraqi law, even from the time of the Ottomans. Why are we Kurds not emulating them? Instead of translating words and expressions from Arabic, which have been translated from French, we need to return to their French origins. The same principle applies to words taken from English and other languages. For example, the word 'canon' is originally Greek and comes from the Greek canninimos'. Some Kurds assumed that 'canon' was Arabic and looked for a Kurdish equivalent. They used the word 'yassa' which is, in fact, a Turkish or Turkish Mongolian word.

In compiling the dictionary, I collected words relating specifically to the law. To explain the meaning of some of them I was obliged to add footnotes (about 250 footnotes).

This Dictionary of Law has been compiled in four languages - Arabic, Kurdish, French and English. Perhaps some will question this particular order. It is because, as yet, we have no Kurdish terms for the law and legal professionals in Iraqi Kurdistan continue to use the Arabic terms. At present, unless they start with Arabic, they don't understand the meaning of the laws. The definitions of words has been given in French and English for two reasons. Firstly, it is to help legal professionals to learn these terms in those languages. Secondly, it is to show that it is not a direct translation from the Arabic, but is a return to the origin of the words.

The Dictionary is a first step towards the compilation of a Kurdish Dictionary of Law. It is, as yet, incomplete and needs to the enlarged and enriched by other professionals.

In closing, I acknowledge my debt of gratitude to the Kurdish scholar, Mr. Tawfiq Wahabi, who died in 1984, for his encouragement. I also thank those other Kurdish linguists who have given so much valuable assistance.

This Kurdish Dictionary of Law will be of particular value to future paractioners of law in Kurdistan. It is about 270 pages on a CD Rom, ready for publication. There is a possibility of printing a second section English -French -Kurdish- Arabic. I would like to know if there is a Kurdish or other publisher interested in publishing it in Europe or in USA.


Nouri Talabany:


Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

A Journey through Poetic Kurdistan

Sherko Bekes; The secret diary of a rose

Art is the view of life mirrored in the mind of an artist. Every artist tries to show us his own world in the light of his philosophy of life. There is a mysterious language between the human soul and the soul of nature. In the context of this language every one of us receives a barrage of concealed signals from nature, but it is only the elite of human beings, namely the poets, who possess the marvelous ability to pick up these rays, turn them into words or a composition of pictures. Tinged with elements of their personalities they reflect them in a magnificent style, which impinges on our sense of beauty, so that these emotional experiences become our property once we read them.

We can prolong our short lives on this earth and multiply our experiences by adding the unique worlds of others to ours whenever we wander with a poet through the world of his fantasies. A poet can open windows to the spring of life for us so that we can flee the chains of the present moment to those special moments of eternity, moments full of inspiration, which may even be beyond our imagination.

Sometimes we experience the same moments as the poets, but we are not talented enough to reflect them in the form of living words, which can stir up reactions in others the way they touched us. But poets can convey to the reader an aura of familiarity with the content of their works as if they had had the same experiences.

The language we use in our everyday life, or even the languages registered in our large dictionaries, is often not nearly adequate to picture a pulsatile emotion in the form of a poem, which then is for the readers to understand, enjoy and feel its originality.

We are constantly challenged by the languages we use. Sometimes we do not take these challenges seriously, with the consequence that in some languages we lack many words to describe beautiful events occurring in our surrounding or deep inside US. It is already this passive attitude (in addition to the differences regarding the character of each language), which makes the translation of poems one of the most difficult tasks which d writer can ever engage in and fulfill.

A poet is like the, monitor of radar drawing the vibrations it has just received. Poets treat sensitive areas of our lives whenever a certain event triggers a burst of innate feelings in them. And these feelings are so difficult to trace in another language.

In our short journey with Shérko Békes we will realize how t`6rId the Kurdish people are 01' 11atUrC, and that it is a mutual love between the two. One may try to explain this affection through the protection the Kurds have always enjoyed in the lap of their lovely mountains. We should also note the paramount ability of this language to survive even without a decent dictionary. But it is not mere survival, because the Kurdish language is characterized by purity, richness and preservation of its own identity.

If every Kurd regards Goran as the poet of love and beauty, we can call Shérko Békes the poet of the philosophy of love and beauty in Kurdish literature. Shérko Békes does not describe nature in its purity and beauty in a plain way, but rather uses it as a tool or a frame to model a philosophical idea, to inspire meaning, or to exhibit a painting, which portrays a living event.

The most beautiful aspect of nature is its liveliness, and the highest grade of life is the ability to speak. That is why in this art gallery nature no longer presented as a set of inanimate and mute objects, but as pulsating with life.

The philosophy of love and beauty in Békes' poetry has such a wide horizon that the language barriers start to crumble as soon as he tries to find an outlet for the stream of his thoughts and allows them to flow without any turbulent effect by these barriers. But because he loves his Kurdish language he comes back and apologizes for his rebellion in one of his poems.

Look at that painting which displays two cheeky stars exchanging bunches of twittering by smiling at each other. One of them misses its target and a bunch of twitters falls onto the bed of our poet who was at that moment watching them from his hiding place in the dark. The warmth of the twittering brings one of his poems to life by allowing it to "hatch". The word "hatching" here mediates a very gorgeous and vivid scene of the birth of a poem, full of movement and fantasy, which you can feel when you read that cute little "baby poem".

One may come to the conclusion that shadows of pain and sadness pervade some of his poems. Often birds are killed. The earth is in labour pains giving birth to grains of barley and wheat. Flowers in coffins are carried to the graveyard. Poppies bend down In humiliation to thorns. The poet keeps watch at the wounds over his poems.

All these are shadows of pain and sorrow in the poems of Shérko Békes. They are not hopelessness or desperation parse, but rather reflections of the present reality of the Kurdish people and their national tragedy. They are the pains Of Kurdish mothers; the teat's of children and the divulgence of secret longings for the homeland from their place of exile.

A poet from the orient says, "sadness and pain have always been the womb in which masterpieces of' literature, art and music matured. Sadness is my teacher, but I am the teacher of happiness."

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

A Kirmaşanî Translation of the Gospel of John

Mustafa Dehqan*, 2009

In the area of sources for Eastern Christianity there are many excellent and available depositories for textual material in Kurdistan.1 A single paper can not do justice to such a comprehensive subject,2 but it is possible to indicate only a newly-found source, so I shall attempt to do this without treating any one part of the subject in detail. The paper deals first with the Kurdish translations of the Bible, as this is the natural starting point. Next comes a brief account of the manuscript of Injīl-a Kirmaşanî or Kirmanşahî3 translation of the Gospel of John. The purpose of this paper is to present and describe rather than to criticize.

I. Kurdish translations of the Bible

The earliest known translations of the Bible into Kurdish language and its several dialects were made in the early 19th century. The earliest Kurdish translation of the Gospel was based on an Arabic original. This translation sponsored by a Chaldean Catholic bishop, Shevriz, and revised by local Kurdish scholars, but it was never published.4 A Kurmancî5 Gospel version had been prepared in 1830 by Stepan, an Armenian preacher in Haineh, in Turkey.6 Beginning in 1865, the British and Foreign Bible Society sponsored the translation and publication of the Gospel of Matthew in Armenian characters, reportedly the first book ever published in the Kurdish language.7 The other parts of the New Testament were translated by Tamo, an Armenian Kurdish deacon, and published by the American Bible Society in 1872. The Armenian pastors, Bedros Affendi, Bedros Amirkhanian, and Kavine Aflakadian, translated the New Testament and Psalms into Kurmancî, which were published in 1891.8

Mīrzâ Yahyâ Khân-i Kirmânshâhī translated the Gospel of John into Kirmaşanî dialect of Kurdish from a Persian translation in 1894.9 Some years later W.St.Clair Tisdall of the Church Missionary Society in Isfahân revised Mīrzâ Yahyâ’s translation of the Gospel of John and translated the other Gospels into Kirmaşanî.10 A few years later another translation project was begun in Kurdistan by P.von Oertzen of the German Orient Mission who translated the New Testament into Mukrî dialect of Kurdish,11 but only the Gospel of Mark was published in Arabic characters.12 Subsequently a group in Sablax, the center of Iranian Mukrî Kurdistan, led by L.O. Fossum of the

Inter-Synodical Evangelical Lutheran Orient Mission Society in America, translated the Gospels into Mukrî.13 The American Bible Society published a new Kurdish translation of the Gospel of Matthew in Armenian characters in the same year.14 The Gospel of Matthew and Mark were translated in 1922 and Luke in 1923 in general direction of A.N. Andrus of Mardin and H.H. Riggs of Constantinople, both employed by American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.15

A translation of the Gospel of Luke into Kurmancî dialect of Kurdish was begun in Beirut by Kamran Ali Bedir Khan, a Kurdish intellectual, and Thomas Bois, a Dominican priest. They published also a Kurmancî version of Proverbs.16

II. Gospel of John in Kirmaşanî

1. Manuscript

To my knowledge the Kirmaşânî version of the Gospel of John has survived in one codex only, the Hamadân. To date there is no description of the manuscript, and the oral information of its owner, Hesen Mirad, a Kurdish peasant of Hamadân, in Iran, is our only source. He is a great lover of rare and artistically executed objects, particularly of fine and old manuscripts of the famous Kurdish, Persian and Arabic authors. Unfortunately, Hesen Mirad does not have any detailed descriptions of these manuscripts. This information about the special position of Kirmaşanî Injīl is based on the conclusions I have drawn after having investigated all the items of the collection and after meeting and talking with Hesen Mirad’s grandson who is an educated person.

Although the provenance of the manuscript of Kirmaşanî Gospel is not obvious, yet Hesen Mirad’s grandson mentions that Hesen Mirad had bought the manuscript of a Assyrian priest, in Urūmīyah. Since, in some of the extracts from his correspondence, kept in the family archives, there is mention of Hesen Mirad’s travel to the Assyrian region of Urūmīyah, it is probably acceptable to assume that the original depository of the manuscript is the collections of the Iranian north-western Christian community. My conclusions and assumptions, however, are mainly based on oral information.

The manuscript contains of two sections, completely different in type of script and in content, which have been bound together with two blank leaves between, in order to form a new codex. The second part of the codex is incomplete with a number of leaves missing from the beginning and the end of the text, most likely lost during binding. The first part contains translation of the Gospel of John (fols. 2r.-41v.). Unquestionably this part does not date from the tenth century, as has been observed by the owner of the manuscript. In fact, it must have been written much later, at the middle of the seventeenth century. The paper of the manuscript is of European manufacture (Amsterdam) which has a watermark. The watermark reads “H.F. Grunen” and the date of its manufacture is “1642” (watermark). The second part of the codex opens with the Kurdish poem entitled Bahārīyyah, which covers nine folios (fols. 44r.-53r.). It continues with religious poems of Ahl-i Haqq17 (fols. 54r.-79v.) and the poems of local Kurdish poets (fols. 80r.-108v.). As a result of the incompleteness of this part of codex, some verses of the poems are missing.

The text of Kirmaşanî version of the Gospel of John probably grew through different reactions, but it is impossible to say at what date the first compilation was made. There are several references to the Safavid kings, suggesting a medieval-Islamic date, but it is not certain whether they are original or have been added to the work at some later stage. Neither the first colophon of the codex not the second attempted to attribute the texts (both the Gospel of John and the Kurdish miscellaneous) to any particular author of the seventeenth century, but the second colophon cites the date 1075 of the Hijra (1654). In fact the reference of the second part of the codex is the only secure testimony we have concerning the date of this Kurdish version of the Gospel.

2. Contents

The Kirmaşanî Gospel of John was estimated by the owner of the manuscript, very approximately, to contains 15 main chapters, and these in a somewhat confused order, but the main body of the Kirmaşanî Gospel of John, as I considered, comprises two sections: the public ministry of Jesus (2,1-11,54) and the parting discourses and the passion (11,55-19,42).

The first section contains with some defective translated dialogues: the wedding at Cana, the interview with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman (4,1-42), the healing of the official’s son (4,43-54), the healing at the pool, the feeding and the storm, the healing of the blind man, and the raising of Lazarus. Some stories, such as the Good Shepherd and the story of the woman taken in adultery (7,53-8:11), are missing.

The passion story begins with the anointing at Bethany and the entry into Jerusalem (12,1-19). It ends with the arrest, crucifixion, and burial (18-19).

Many sections of this translation seem to be worked out with great care, whereas others seem to put together materials of different kinds. Chapters and passages sometime appear to be in the wrong place. Probably the text was not translated all at once but over a longer period of time; he expounded the original sayings material and turned it into Kirmaşanî dialogues and speeches.


  1. For some useful discussions of Christian textual material in Kurdistan, see A. Grant, ‘Die nestorianische Republik in Kurdistan’, Das Ausland, 15 (1842), pp. 268-271; M. Chevalier, Les montagnards chrétiens du Hakkari et du Kurdistan septentrional (Paris: Departement de Géographie de l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne, 1985); H. Anschütz, Die syrischen Christen im Tur {Abdin: eine altchristliche Bevölkerungsgruppe zwischen Beharrung, Stagnation und Auflösung, Das östliche Christentum, N.F. 34 (Würzburg, 1985); and P. G. Kreyenbroek, ‘The Lawij of Mor Basilios Shim{un: A Kurdish Christian Text in Syriac Script’, The Journal of Kurdish Studies, 1 (1995), pp. 29-35.
  2. On the history of Christianity in Kurdistan and the basic lines of this subject, see J. F. von Zwiedinek-Südenhorst, ‘Historisch-geographische Notizen über den Nestorianer-District Hakkari; gesammelt auf einer Reise durch Kurdistan im Jahre 1872’, Mitteilungen der Geographischen Gesellschaft Wien, 19 NF 9 (1872), pp. 82-87 and R. Blincoe, Ethnic Realities and the Church: Lessons from Kurdistan, a History of Mission World, 1668-1990 (Pasadena, CA: Presbyterian Center for Mission Studies, 1998).
  3. On the Kirmaşanî or Kirmanşahî dialect of Kurdish, as the most important dialect of southern Kurdish, see I. K. Fattah, Dialectes kurdes du sud: éude linguistique du dialecte kırmânshâhî-faylî (PhD Thesis, University of Paris VII, 1988).
  4. See Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society (London: British and Foreign Bible Society, 1805-1961) Report XXI, 1825, p. 62; Report XXIII, 1827, p. xliv.
  5. On the Kurmancî dialect which belongs to the northern group of Kurdish language, see J. Bedir Khan and R. Lescot, Grammaire kurde (dialecte kurmandji) (Paris: A. Maison-neuve, 1970).
  6. See Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society, Report LIII, 1857, p.cxli.
  7. For the accounts regarding the Gospel in Armenian characters and Kurdish language, see B. W. Stead, ‘Kurdistan for Christ’, The Muslim World, 10,3 (1920), p. 247.
  8. See K. J. Thomas, ‘[Translations of the Bible into] Kurdish’, Encyclopaedia Iranica IV (1990), p. 214. Cf. also Mizgînî. Peymana Nû (Încîl) (Stockholm-Moscow: The British and Foreign Bible Society, 2000).
  9. See Stead, ‘Kurdistan for Christ’, pp. 247-248.
  10. See Thomas, ‘Kurdish’, p. 214.
  11. Mukrî is a dialect of Sôranî which belongs to the central group of Kurdish language. See I. Kalbasi, Guyish-i Kurdi-yi Mahabad (Tehran: Pazhuhishgah-i {Ulum-i Insani, 1983).
  12. See J. N. Wright, ‘Scriptures in Kurdish’, The Muslim World, 10,4 (1920), pp. 402-403.
  13. Ibid., p.402.
  14. See Stead, ‘Kurdistan for Christ’, p. 247ff.
  15. See M. Yusif, Injil (Ankara: Cemiyet, 1943).
  16. See Incîla Luqa (Bonn: Kurdisch Institut, 1984).
  17. Ahl-i Haqq is a Kurdish sect in Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan. For details, see V. Minorsky, ‘Notes sur la secte des Ahle-Haqq’, Revue du Monde Musulman, 40 (1920), pp. 19-97.

Source: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 61(1-2), 207-211, 2009


* Mustafa Dehqan, a native Kurd was born in 1978 in Tehran. He holds a B.A. in history and an M.A. in historical linguistics from the University of Tehran. Mustafa has published a number of essays on Kurdish literature and dialects, historical manuscripts and documents, and religious traditions. His main research interest is Kurdish manuscripts, documents, and textual traditions.


Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

A Pahlavi Poem

W. B. Henning, BSOAS, (1950)

The study of the Pahlavi poetry, so spiritedly initiated by M. Benveniste twenty years ago, seems to have come to a dead end. That certain Pahlavi texts, as the Ayadgar-i Zareran or the Draxt-i Asurig (the Dispute of the date-palm with the "goat), are poems, is conceded on all sides; but the formal problems, the problems of rhythm, metre, and rhyme, remain in the dark. It seems doubtful whether the material at hand is capable of leading us to definite conclusions.

There are two main obstacles. Firstly, the notorious sloppiness of the copyists leaves too much room for conjecture; the mere addition or omission, at the editors' discretion, of the word for "and" and the harf-i idafet is sufficient to disturb the rhythmical balance. Secondly, as a rule we do not know the dates of composition, and therefore cannot tell how the words were pronounced by the authors; it makes a considerable difference to the metre (whatever it was) whether we put down padak or paig, mazdayasn or mazdesn, rosn or rosan, adak or aig, sikanj or skanj, giyan or gyan, yazat or yazd, awis or os, druyist or drist or drust or durust, haeadar or azer.

One thing is clear: a biased approach will not lead to convincing results. On the strength of the preconceived notion, carried forward from the study of the Avesta (where matters are equally dubious), that the metre is a purely syllabic one, the Pahlavi poems were made to suffer a great deal of emendation; where the usual procedure of omitting inconvenient words produced lines too short to fit into the scheme, either words were added or their pronunciation distorted." The alternative theory, namely that the metre is accentual, seems to offer better prospects. It relieves us of the necessity of changing the texts overmuch; the number of syllables to a line can be left as variable as it is; and the precise pronunciation, rosn or rosan, becomes a matter almost of indifference.

Clear evidence in favour of the accentual verse can be found in the very text that formed the starting-point of M. Benveniste's investigations, the Draxt-i Asurig. The whole of this poem, which is less encumbered with glosses than most other Pahlavi texts, is written in fairly long lines, of twelve syllables on an average, with a caesura in the middle. There is a recurring formula, which fills the first half of lines, x. az man kareul "they make x. out of me". The first word can be one of one, two, or three syllables, so that the first half of a line can have five, six, or seven syllables. Does this not indicate that the metrical value of a word is wholly independent of its number of syllables. The second halves of the lines are not in anyway affected by the greater or lesser length of the first halves.


A Pahlavi Poem
W. B. Henning
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies BSOAS,
University of London, Vol. 13, No. 3 (1950), pp. 641-648

Please view the attached PDF file to read more!

No votes yet

Alignment in Kurdish: a diachronic perspective

Geoffrey L. J. Haig, June 2004

In 1995, when I first began to learn Kurdish, my interest was captivated by the feature commonly referred to as ergativity in the past tense of transitive verbs. Although it was familiar to me in an abstract fashion from the linguistic literature, actually using a language with that particular feature is a very different matter. However, at a fairly early stage I came to the conclusion that ergativity in Kurdish was a largely superficial phenomenon, something manifested in the morphology, but without apparent ramifications for the syntax.

The earlier stages of my thinking on the subject were summed up in Haig (1998). On the analysis embodied in that paper, Kurdish syntax wound up looking very much like that of its close relative, Persian: a fairly unremarkable Indo-European nominative/accusative alignment, but unlike Persian, cross-cut by ergative alignment in morphology in the past tenses. While the analysis offered in my earlier paper is still tenable as a synchronic description of the ‘standard’ versions of Kurmanji (see Section 1.1 on language names), it left a central issue unresolved: How did a language with seemingly unremarkable nominative/accusative syntax acquire morphological alignment bluntly at odds with its syntax? This book represents an attempt to answer that question.

Tackling the issue of ergativity in Kurdish from a diachronic perspective has turned out to be a daunting task. Ideally, it would have involved comprehensive coverage not only of the considerable number of Kurdish languages, but also of the attested earlier stages of these languages, and of the related Iranian languages. To forestall any false expectations, it has not been possible to achieve anything approaching this ideal. In particular, there is a dire lack of systematic evaluation of the attested Middle Iranian languages.

Obviously a more representative corpus of languages is required before firmer conclusions can be drawn. However, what this study lacks in breadth is partially compensated for by depth. While large-scale check-list typologies are invaluable for certain purposes, I believe that much can be induced through the careful inspection of individual languages, the intra-language variation, and most particularly, through the investigation of the constructions under consideration in running texts. As Allen (1995:452) stresses, one cannot reconstruct syntax merely by “strip mining descriptive studies for facts”. It is one of the main tenets of this study that discourse factors have shaped the development of alignments in various ways, and these can only be observed by investigating connected narrative texts rather than isolated examples in grammars. To this end, I have paid particular attention to analysing text material from Kurdish, rather than merely repeating what is stated in the grammars.

Kurdish provides an excellent starting point for such an undertaking. The various dialects/languages have been comparatively well-documented, and within the Kurdish languages themselves, a broad range of alignment types is attested. That internal variation may provide valuable insights to diachronic change is clearly recognized by Harris and Campbell (1995:12): “A fruitful and often overlooked source of reliable data in diachronic syntax is found in dialectal differences.” In particular, the text material available for Kurdish is far broader than that found in the corpora of older stages of the languages, because it includes extensive documentation of naturally spoken language, and in many cases can be supplemented by information from native speakers. The written records from older periods, on the other hand, often represent highly marked and often conservative varieties and registers, leading to considerable difficulties in interpretation. I nevertheless stress that the results presented here are to be considered as hypotheses, to be validated or invalidated against more extensive data from Iranian. Despite their limitations, the value of such hypotheses is considerable. They permit one to define a research goal in the form of a set of questions, thereby narrowing the scope of the data to be investigated. And they permit the results to be integrated into more general theories of alignment change. In principle, the amount and the nature of data available is unlimited; without some preformulated and testable hypothesis to guide our investigation, we would not progress beyond documentation. In this book then I will be examining a cross-section of past tense alignments, focussing primarily on Kurdish, but supplemented with data from other Iranian (mostly West Iranian) languages and older stages of Iranian, with the aim of formulating some hypotheses on the paths of development that may have led to the current situation. Alignment, and alignment changes, (see Section 2.1 for definitions) have been the subject of intense investigation in general and historical linguistics over the past three decades. The Kurdish case is, at first sight, comparatively well known. In particular, two short papers by Bynon, Bynon (1979) and Bynon (1980), are regularly cited. Although Bynon’s papers are actually based on very little primary data, most historical linguists since have been content to accept her account (see Chapter 8 for references and discussion). Beyond that, there has actually been very little research within general and historical linguistics dedicated specifically to alignment changes in Iranian.

This is all the more surprising given that the other well-documented case of alignment change in Indo-European, the rise of ergativity in Indo-Aryan, continues to attract intense attention from linguists of all persuasions. 3 Almost 20 years ago Bossong (1985:118) stressed that (my translation) “the problem of ergativity [in Iranian] is in need of thorough analysis”, but little progress has been made in that direction since. It is thus high time that the Iranian case was reassessed against more extensive data, and in the light of more recent theoretical developments regarding alignment shifts. In particular, the claims of Nichols (1992) on alignment as a diachronically stable genetic trait need to be evaluated against the Iranian data.


Alignment in Kurdish:

a diachronic perspective

Geoffrey L. J. Haig

Juni 2004

Please read this article in full by downloading the attached PDF file

KurdAlignment.pdf (Click to Read)1.07 MB
Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Behdînî û kurmancî

Niviskar: Newzad Hirorí

Kurmanciya devera Behdînan ji hinek aliyan ve ji kurmanciya deverên dî yên Kurdistanê cida ye. Sedemên vê cidahiyê dikarin dîrokî, cografî, aborî, civakî û/yan siyasî bin; lê newekheviyên heyî ji bo kurmancînivîs û kurmancîaxêvan diyardeyên balkêş û pirsgirêkên cidî ne.

Herçend xelk bi giştî navê ‘zarê Behdînan’, ‘devoka Behdînan’ yan ‘behdînî’ (badînî) li wê kurmanciya ku li herêma rojava ya Kurdistana Îraqê têt bi kar anîn dikin, mirov nikare sinorên aşkira û naskirî yên ku kurmanciya wê herêmê bi temamî ji kurmanciya deverên dî vediqetîne diyar bike. Kurmancîaxêvên, yan ‘behdîniyên’, ku nêzîkî sinorên Suriye û Tirkiyeyê dijîn bi zimanekê ku pêtir nêzîkî kurmanciya kurdên rojava û bakurî ye dipeyivin. Bo nimûne, peyivên “xoş” û “xo” yên ku li bajarê Dihokê tên bihîstin, li wan deveran dibin “xweş” û “xwe”. Herweha, hevokên wek “ez dikem”, “ez dibem” û “ez didem” yên deverên Dihok, Amêdî û Akreyê li Şengal û Zaxoyê dibin “ez dikim”, “ez dibim” û “ez didim”.


Diréjey em babete le mallperrí Kulturname




Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Book Review; Minority Language Media: Concepts, Critiques and Case Studies

Jaffer Sheyholislami, Carleton University, Dec 2009

Minority languages have been oppressed, denied, and neglected for a long time, and their decline is accelerating. Whereas estimates show that half of the world’s languages disappeared from 1450 to 1950, half of the remaining 6000 to 7000 languages could disappear in this century alone. Some observers include globalization and new media technologies among the factors contributing to this extinction. Some others, however, see new media, such as satellite television and the Internet, as the salvation of minority languages.

This book is a solid and major contribution to our understanding of the complex relationship between media, language maintenance, and language development. Although the book mainly focuses on Western Europe, its eclectic range of topics could resonate with minority language situations around the world. The book serves the editors’ ambitious project: to establish minority language media as a discrete field of study connected to, but independent of, media studies, and applied linguistics or sociolinguistics.

Initially developed out of the First Mercator International Symposium on Minority Languages and Research, a 2003 symposium sponsored by the European Commission, the book consists of fourteen chapters. In addition to the excellent introductory and concluding chapters by editors Mike Cormack and Niamh Hourigan, there are twelve chapters organized into two sections. The first section sets the context, describing key terms (e.g., minority language), presenting a rich literature review of the field, and mapping the theoretical and methodological issues. This section also furnishes an insightful analysis of networks of campaigns for minority television, the “knowledge economy” of digital media and its implications for minority language media, and recording the history of minority language broadcasting. The second section contains incisive case studies featuring more specific issues: the empowering affordances of the Internet for minority cultures, the crucial role of local television in the Basque Country and Catalonia in language normalization (“the recovery of public use of [the minority] language in all fields”) (p. 171), the representational affordances of local television in Wales, emphasizing the linguistic aspects of minority media production (e.g. translation, dubbing and subtitling), and finally, the struggle for putting sign language on British television.

A common thread that connects these chapters is the belief that it is important to maintain and develop minority languages and the stance that the media have a crucial role to play in maintaining and developing minority languages. Minority language media are deemed important for: a) their symbolic role in acknowledging that minority cultures can deal with the contemporary world; b) their ability to legitimate the existence of the language that they use; c) their potential to provide an “economic boost” for those who are interested in working in the minority language; d) their instrumentality in engendering a public sphere within a language community; e) their resourcefulness in enabling minorities to represent their community, not only within itself but also to outsiders instead of being re-presented by “others”; f) their capability to be conveyers of cultures and producers of cultural products; and g) their capability to magnify discursive practices of identity construction.

The book also reveals an array of challenges faced by minority language media and their advocates. For example, Daniel Cunliffe notes, not all minorities have access to or are able to own and use new media, and if they do, the increase in minority language media is outpaced by an even faster increase of media in the dominant language, as suggested by Cormack. Cormack also reminds us that the media, because of their need to attract advertising revenue, often favour large audiences and thus the majority language markets. It is also problematic, according to him, if minority media are not able to attract audiences and make connections with the speakers of the language.

Another strength of the book is its ability to strike a balance between the position that perceives digital media as instruments of English hegemony, and the position that sees new media as the saviours of minority languages. For example, whereas Daniel Cunliffe in his chapter “Minority Languages and the Internet: New Threats, New Opportunities,” looks at the affordances of the Internet and how some online tools can enable minority language speakers to change their role from consumers of majority media to producers of minority media content, in her chapter, “Media Policy and Language Policy in Catalonia,” Maria Corominas Piulats raises the concern with respect to Catalonians’ frequent use of online content in English instead of their first language. As another example, Cunliffe, on the one hand, expresses optimism that “a real opportunity exists for those languages that have the resources and the determination to make the transition to the Internet” (p. 147); on the other, he suggests that although Internet research can be very challenging, much more research is needed to identify actual utilization of online resources that could best serve minorities.

One of the limits, but not necessarily a weakness, of this book is its narrow focus on “indigenous” minority languages in Western Europe, a focus that excludes “immigrant languages” not to mention minority languages around the world (for an insightful discussion that addresses some aspects of this research gap see pp. 249-253). Donald Browne’s contribution “Speaking Up: A Brief History of Minority Languages and the Electronic Media Worldwide” stands out in that it widens the scope and provides “the first history of minority language broadcasting, drawing on a wide range of examples from around the world” (p. 13). This, however, has not been accomplished without difficulty. For example, regarding the Kurdish language, the author writes, “Iraq’s national radio service initiated Kurdish language programming in 1939. In the ensuing years, other states with Kurdish minorities— Iran, Turkey and Syria—followed suit, but such services often were discontinued and recommenced” (p. 109, emphasis added). It is difficult to reconcile the emphasized portion of this assertion when we know that until 1991 Turkey imposed a strict ban on Kurdish.

What might also be seen as a shortcoming is the virtual absence of audience research. Little is revealed as to how, when, to what extent, in what circumstances, and with what sorts of impact speakers of minority languages use their media. Having said that, it should also be clear that the editor, Mike Cormack, does acknowledge the importance of this, since, as part of his ecological research approach, he suggests several relevant questions that researchers should seek answers to through observing actual media use by audiences and interviewing them.

Notwithstanding these minor shortcomings and a few typos (e.g., pp. 62, 63, 69), this book is a major contribution to the study of minority language media. Cormack’s contributions “Introduction: Studying Minority Language Media” and “The Media and Language Maintenance,” as well as Hourigan’s “Minority Language Media Studies: Key Themes for Future Scholarship” serve as solid and exceptional starting points for anyone interested in investigating minority language media. Cormack’s introduction is devoted to a concise survey of previous studies of minority language media. His chapter builds on Einar Haugen’s work to develop an “ecological approach” to investigating this question: “In what ways can different media interact with other aspects of languages use to contribute, directly or indirectly, to language maintenance in specific communities” (p. 62)? Hourigan expands this question by indentifying more areas for future scholarship in connection to minority language media. They further illustrate that “minority language media studies can now be seen as an established field of study, one with its own research agenda, and one that is energized by the awareness of the fragility of the situations of many minority languages” (p. 15). Many of those fragile languages belong to the 50% of languages in the world today that will likely die by the end of this century.

Minority Language Media: Concepts, Critiques and Case Studies.
Edited by Mike Cormack and Niamh Hourigan. Clevedon:
Multilingual Matters LTD. 2007. 274 pp. ISBN: 9781853599637.

Book Review; Minority Language Media: Concepts, Critiques and Case Studies.
Jaffer Sheyholislami, Carleton University, Dec 2009

Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 34 (2009) 757-767

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Conflict Over Language Rights

Conflict Over Language Rights: The case of Kurds and Circassians in Turkey

By Burcu Toksabay

Language policy is used as a tool for regulating the status of languages and allocating benefits and resources in the society among different language groups. Therefore, language policy has both an instrumental and symbolic value for the ethnic groups and is a source of conflict between language groups and the state in many countries.

The positions of language groups towards the language policy are shaped by their perceptions towards language policy, and their relations with the state. Therefore, different language groups tend to perceive language policy in different ways and have differing demands.

This study aimed to analyze the perceptions and positions of two language groups in Turkey, Kurds and Circassians, regarding language rights. During the analysis, the differences between the perceptions and positions of these groups were also investigated. The data for the analysis was obtained out of the texts that are published by some groups in these communities, and interviews with the representatives of these groups.

Overall, language policy is percieved as a matter of recognition by the Kurdish groups, while for the Circassians the primary problem is to increase language use of the community and to develop the language. Therefore, while Kurdish groups demand their language to be treated equally in status with the Turkish language, the Circassian groups demand support for the education and development of the language. In order to accomodate the needs and interests of each particular language group, language policies should take these differences into consideration.

Submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences, SabancÛ University, Spring 2005, © Burcu Toksabay 2005


No votes yet

Gorani Influence on Central Kurdish

By Dr. Michiel Leezenberg
ILLC - Department of Humanities, University of Amesterdam


The vernaculars spoken by the Kurds fall in two groups, each again being divided into two main dialect groups. The great majority of the Kurds speak a variety of the so-called Kurmanci or Sorani dialects; smaller numbers speak Gorani or Zaza. Although the latter two dialects are close relatives of the former two, they do not strictly speaking belong to the same branch of Indo-Iranian languages. Nonetheless, both groups are commonly thought to belong to the Nortwestern group of Iranian languages.

A fact of particular interest is that Sorani shares a number of clearly contactinduced features with Gorani; we can then ask what kind of contact was involved. I would like to pose this question against the background of some recent theoretical work on language contact, especially Thomason & Kaufman (1988). These authors argue that there are no linguistic constraints on the results of language interference; it is rather the sociolinguistic history of the speakers that primarily determines the linguistic outcome (p.35). Furthermore, they distinguish two basic types of interference: interference with language shift (traditionally better known as substratum) and borrowing with language maintenance. These two, they argue, have distinct linguistic results. Substratal influence need not involve extensive lexical borrowing: it typically starts with phonology and syntax, and to a lesser extent the inflectional morphology (p.39). In borrowing, by contrast, both languages are maintained throughout the period of interference; lexical items, especially items of nonbasic vocabulary, are invariably the first borrowed elements; more intensive contact may also lead to the borrowing of structural (i.e., phonological and syntactic) elements. For borrowing, but not for substratal influence, a prolonged contact between the source and the target language is necessary (p.41).
I would like to use this theoretical framework to focus on specific kinds of questions relating to the language contact phenomena mentioned above. MacKenzie (1961b: 86) argued that the grammatical features distinguishing Sorani from Kurmanci are due to a Gorani substratum, i.e., to traces of the language spoken in the area before a presumed 'Kurdish invasion'.

Note 1) I am indebted to Martin van Bruinessen, Margreet Dorleijn, D.N. MacKenzie, Ishmael Murdochi, and Pieter Muysken for comments on an earlier draft of this paper. None of them should be held responsible for the views expressed here.

Page 1


My main argument, presented in part 3 of this paper, will be that these closer affinities between Central Kurdish and Gorani are best seen not as a substratum (presumably preceding the Mongol invasions), but rather as prestige borrowings of a much later date, probably not before the seventeenth century. This process need not have involved any serious language shift among the Gorani population, as an account in terms of substratal influence would imply.

Because of the relative unfamiliarity of the terrain, I will start with a survey of the Kurdish dialects in the wider sense, including a brief mention of their most salient grammatical and sociolinguistic characteristics. It turns out that there are two distinct senses of the expression 'Kurdish dialect': the one being 'dialect of the Kurdish branch of Northwestern Indo-Iranian languages', and the other 'dialect spoken by people who consider themselves Kurds'. Failure to distinguish these two senses may easily lead to to needless confusion and polemics: ethnic developments should not be confused with linguistic reconstructions. Because of the lack of adequate linguistic and sociolinguistic information concerning many of the dialects involved, much of this paper is of necessity tentative and rather programmatic, at times even speculative. Moreover, the argument requires the combining of purely linguistic data with historical and sociolinguistic, if not sociological, considerations. I realize that to do so is to court disaster, the more so since in none of these areas can I claim any expert knowledge. However, I think that an approach like the one outlined here may be fruitful for seeing things in their proper perspective.

1. Kurdish dialects and 'Kurdish' dialects

Among the dialects spoken by the Kurds, there are, first, what MacKenzie (n.d.) calls the Northern Kurdish dialects, spoken by most Kurds in Turkey, Syria, the northernmost parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, and in a number of former Soviet Republics.(1) These dialects are better known as Kurmanci, or, to Iraqi Kurds, as Badini. The Boti or Cizre variety of Kurmanci can boast the greatest literary monument of the Kurdish language, the seventeenth century epic Mem u Zin. This literary reputation of Kurmanci, and the fact that the most important political and intellectual leaders of the Kurds in the 19th century (such as Bedir Khan Beg, the last emir of the influential Botan principality centered around Cizre, and his partly European-educated offspring) were Kurmanci speakers, made it most likely that if the Kurds were going to have a literary language at all, this dialect would at its basis; in fact, the efforts of Emir Celadet Bedir Khan in Syria in the 1930s (ultimately published as Bedir Khan and Lescot 1970) to create a written form of Kurmanci in the Latin alphabet were as much a normative attempt at standardization as a first serious descriptive study of the Boti subvariety.(2)

Note1) The most detailed description of the Northern and Central Kurdish dialects is MacKenzie 1961a; see also Blau 1975. A brief overview can be found in Blau 1989a.
Note 2) For transcriptions, I will largely use Bedir Khan's alphabet, which has become more or less the standard among Kurdish writers, despite certain inadequacies.

Page 2


However, sociopolitical circumstances, most importantly the total prohibition of both spoken and written Kurdish in the newly founded Republic of Turkey since the 1920s, have largely blocked the natural growth of the Kurmanci dialect into a standardized language for education and mass communication. Only in Soviet Armenia did Kurmanci develop smoothiy into a standardized and written language at all; in Turkey, the early 1990s have seen an explosive growth of semi-clandestine publications in and on Kurmanci in Turkey, based upon Bedir Khan's work and, to some extent, upon research done by Kurds in exile In Iraqi Kurdistan, a few books in Kurmanci written in Arabic characters have appeared, but Kurmanci has never acquired the same status as an official language as Sorani.

The Kurmanci dialects have a case inflection for nouns and pronouns; the verb has a present and a past tense root; there is no passive conjugation, but an analytic passive is formed with the auxiliary verb hatin, 'to come'. The most salient phonetic characteristics will be listed in table 1 below. Syntactically, the most famous feature of Kurmanci is the ergative construction in the past tense forms of transitive verbs, as opposed to a nominative-accusative construction in the present tense. The verb here agrees with the logical object, which, though in object position, stays in the absolutive case:

Ez wî dibînim
I_[abs] he_[obl] see_[lsing.pres]
'I see him'

Mim ew dît
I_[obl] he_[abs] see_[3sing.pret]
'I saw him'

In constructions involving the reflexive pronoun xwe, which does not receive any marking for case or person, this yields an 'impersonal' construction with the third person singular verb form in the past tense:

Ez xwe dibînim
I_[abs] self see_[lsing.pres]
'I see myself'

Min xwe dît
I_[obl] self see_[3sing.pret]
'I saw myself'

In some of the spoken subvarieties of Kurmanci, however, this ergative construction is apparently eroding, and developing into a double accusative, or even a subject-object construction.(1)

Second, the Central Kurdish dialects, also called Kurdi or, more often, Sorani, after the dialect of Sulaimaniya. They also comprise, among others, the Mukri dialect, spoken around the town of Mahabad in Iranian Kurdistan. In Kurdistan of Iraq, these dialects are spoken south of the Litfie Zab river.
Sorani was the court language of the Baban court at Sulaimaniya, where the then British consul, Claudius James Rich, spent some time (cf. Rich 1836).

Note1) See Bynon (1979) and Dorleijn (1992) for more details.

Page 3


This principality emerged at the turn of the l8th-l9th century, and in the course of time came to overshadow the nearby court of Erdelan, located in Senna (Sanandaj), which had hitherto been the most important Kurdish principality in the Southern area.(1) In 1919, the British mandate authorities in Iraq decided to develop this dialect into the language for official use and in education, although literary texts had not been written in it before the early nineteenth century (cf. Hassanpour 1989: 66-7). Consequently, at the same time when Kurmanci was being forcibly suppressed in Turkey, the Sorani dialect was introduced by the British mandate authorities in Iraq as the official language of the Kurds there, and it has 'remained so ever since. Though spoken by a smaller number of people than Kurmanci, Sorani has thus had much better opportunities to adapt itself to the needs of modern mass communication. This development has had problems of its own, however: when Sorani was introduced as the official language of instruction in Iraqi Kurdistan, Badini (i.e. Kurmanci) speakers in Amadiya at first preferred to send their children to schools where Arabic was the instruction language.(2) Moreover, it seems that in the 1980s, the opportunities for education in Kurdish were steadily declining as a result of attempts at arabization by the Baath government.
The most distinctive features of Sorani are the loss of the case system, a passive morpheme -rêe-/-ra- and the employment of suffixed forms of personal pronouns, which in transitive verbs are placed between the verbal prefix and the stem; in the preterite, inflection is dependent on whether the semantic Agent and Patient are expressed in a noun, an independent pronoun, or a clitic:(3)

'e- tan bîn- im
pres. you (p1.) see_[pres] 1sing
I see you (p1.)

nard- im- ît
send[pret]- 1sing 2sing
'I sent you'

êwe- m dît
you(pl.) 1sing see_[pret]
(êwem dît) 'I saw you'

gurgekan- im dît- in
wolf-det-plur 1sing see_[pret] 3plur
(gurgekanim dîtin) 'I saw the wolves'

Unlike Kurmanci, Sorani requires that the reflexive pronoun xo- receive a suffixed personal pronoun:

xo-t 'e-sho-y
self_[2sing] imperf-wash_[pres] 2sing
(xote shoy) 'You wash yourself'


Note 1)We Will see the linguistic consequences of these events below; of particular interest here is the fact that the Baban court poets at first wrote verse in Gorani, but turned to Sorani as their medium of expression in the early 19th century.
Note 2)Blau 1975: 10; for a more detailed account of the emergence of Sorani as the standard language of Iraqi Kurdistan, see Hassanpour 1989: 96-117.
Note 3)More discussion of transitive-verb constructions in Kurmaci and Sorani: Bynon 1979; Blau 1980: 69-74.

Page 4


A minor third dialect group, which is related to the two mentioned thus far, consists' of the 'Southern Kurdish dialects, which are spoken in the south-eastern part of Kurdistan, especially around Kermanshah. According to MacKenzie (n.d.), they shade off into the Luri dialects. The vernacular spoken by the shi'ite Feyli Kurds, who used to live in the urban centers of Southern Iraq before being deported to Iran almost in their entirety in two subsequent waves in 1971 and 1980, apparently also belongs to this dialect group, although its precise position is unclear, as is that of Lakki. Several informants told me that in Iraqi Kurdistan, Luri is still spoken around Khanaqin and Mandali, and that there are, or have been, pockets of Lakki south of Arbil, and near Kirkuk. Little research has been done on these dialects, which lack a written literature; some of them, however, seem to have developed an impressive oral literary tradition (see Mann 1910 for dialect samples of Luri and Feyli).

Next, there are the Gurani or Gorani varieties, spoken by far fewer people than either Kurmanci or Sorani. Several distinct dialects of Gorani proper are spoken in Hawraman in Iranian Kurdistan and further south, and right across the border in Iraq; these varieties are most commonly called 'Hawrami' or 'Hawramani' by locals.(1) However, in Iraqi Kurdistan, there are various pockets of distinct ethnic groups speaking dialects closely akin to Gorani (see dialect map). To begin with, the Bajalan, partly living near Khanaqin, and partly north of Mossul, in the Khosar valley. Next, there are the Shabak, also living near Mossul. The precise linguistic and ethnic relations between the Shabak and the Bajalan are far from clear; earlier authors, e.g. Minorsky (1943: 76) and MacKenzie (1956: 418-420) use the terms 'Bajalan' and 'Shabak' as practically synonymous(2), but it seems that they actually should be kept distinct. Ethnically, the two are certainly different, the Bajalan being tribally organized and probably heterodox Sunnis, and the Shabak nontribal heterodox Shi'ites;(3) there are also some linguistic differences between the Bajalani from Arpachi recorded by MacKenzie 1956 and the Shabak samples I collected with the aid of a Shabak from Qahrawa village.(4) For example: Shab. çaw, 'eye' vs. Baj. çam (but Shab. ziman, 'tongue, language' vs. Baj. ziwan); Shab. shime, oshan, 'you (p1.), they' vs. Baj. êshma, êshan. There are also slight differences in e.g. numeral expressions and verbal morphology, but otherwise, the two dialects seem closely related; cf. Shab. emin zilam ê metî, 'I see the man', emin zilamem tît, 'I saw the man' with Baj. sara yânat mat î, 'tomorrow I'll see your house', and emin zilamem tît, 'I saw the man'.(5)


Note 1)Descriptions of various Gorani dialects can be found in Mann/Hadank 1930 and MacKenzie 1966.
Note 2) MacKenzie 1956: 419-420: 'All Shabaks... called themselves Bajlan or Bejwan'.
Note 3)My Shabak informant claimed that there are three ta'ifs (sects) of Shabak: the Bajalan, the Zengana, and the Shabak proper.
Note 4)For reasons of space I include only a small number of examples from the dialects involved, most of which have not yet been described; a more detailed treatment awaits another occasion.
Note 5)For more information on the Shabak, see Edmonds 1957: 190ff, Vinogradov 1974, Moosa 1988: ch. 1. For descriptions of the Bajalani dialects, see esp. Mann/Hadank 1930: 395-424 and MacKenzie 1956.

Page 5


Another important ethnic group speaking a Hawrami variety are the Kakai, also called Ahl-e Haqq, Ali-Illahi or, in Iran, Yaresan, who have a distinct religion and a religious literature partly written in New Persian, and partly in a Hawrami koine. Not all Kakai have Hawrami as their mother tongue: there are also Turcoman- and Sorani-speaking Kakai, and even some speaking Arabic in Mandali, Baquba, and Khanaqin; and, of course, a good number of them (as of other groups) speak several of these languages.

A few samples of Macho (as the Kakai dialect is often called, after the expression for 'I say') from Topzawa near Tawuq may suffice to show its belonging to the Gorani dialects: min birinc morî, 'I eat the rice', min birincim ward, 'I ate the rice'; çem,'eye', çemim, 'my eye'. The past tense personal suffixes are practically identical with those of New Persian, as appears from a sample conjugation. 'I, you, etc. saw a man': Singular: 1. min piyawyêm dî, 2. tu piyawyêt di; 3. ew piyawyêsh dî; plural: 1. piyawyêman dî, 2. piyawyêtan di, 3. piyawyêshan dî. The reflexive pronoun yo- receives a suffix: min yom mewînî, 'I see myself'. The Sarlî or Sarlû living near Eski Kalak are really Kakais, as Edmonds (1957: 195) surmised, and Moosa (1988: 168) observed; they actually dislike the term 'Sarlû' their neighbours use for them. The ones I met near the village of Sfêye, near Eski Kalak, belonged to the Ibrahimi 'family' of the Kakai; their dialect seems to be an intermediary between Shabak and Macho. Finally, the Zengana, a tribal confederation that traditionally lived Southeast of Kirkuk and near Khanaqin, also speak a clearly Hawramirelated vernacular, witness e.g. nan morüat;, 'I eat bread'; min nanim ward, 'I ate bread'; a piyaw mewînüat;, 'I see the man'; a piyawima dî, 'I saw the man'; çam, 'eye' ,çemi min, 'my eye'; min ma'açüat;, I say', min watim, 'I said'. Emonds (1957:195) calls them 'Kurdish Qizilbash', but local informants claimed that they are Sunnis. Interestingly, one informant also claimed that virtually the entire Germian area was Zengana-speaking until the late 19th century; more recently, the Zengana seem to have become largely assimilated to their Sorani-speaking neighbours. There may actually bestill other Hawrami-like dialects in this region: one informant mentioned the Roshkakai dialect spoken near Khanaqin.

Incomplete as it is, the available information unambiguously suggests that all dialects mentioned belong to the same branch of Iranian languages, and also that they are more widespread than is commonly thought. The present day numbers of all Gorani speakers together are estimated at several tens of thousands (cf. MacKenzie, 'Guran', 'Hawraman' in E12), but apparently these figures do not include the groups discussed above. Apart from the Hawrami living in the mountai nous range east of Sulaimaniya and Halabja, most of these Gorani pockets are situated in the foothill borderline territory between the Kurdish and Arab areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, where considerable numbers of Turcomans live as well. The northernmost of these pockets, the Shabak and the Bajalan, are geographically not all that far removed from the southernmost Zaza speakers dwelling in the plains around Diyarbakir, but linguistically they are much closer to the Hawramis furthereastward. In all, until quite recently there has been an almost continuous chain of separate Gorani-speaking communities on the edges of, and partly in, the area where dialects of Kurdish proper are spoken.


Page 6


Rather than 'some islands of mountainous territory.. in a Kurdish-speaking sea' (MacKenzie 1989: 541), they virtually constitute an entire archipelago of Gorani islands all the way from Mossul to Khanaqin and beyond. Recent political upheavals, however, especially the massive deportations that were part of the notorious Anfal operations in 1988 (the Baath government's 'Final Solution' for the Kurdish problem in Iraq), and the 1991 refugee crisis, have largely upset this geographical distribution. Many Zengana, Hawrami, Shabak, and others were relocated, deported to mujammas (concentration camps), or moved to refugee shelters far away from their original dwellings. It is a rather bitter irony that the government efforts at forced assimilation of these groups into the Arab majority have only strenghthened the sense of a common Kurdish identity among all of them: they have suffered the same persecutions, and the same destructive violence as the other Kurds. As one Shabak informant put it: 'the government said we are Arabs, not Kurds; but if we are, why did they deport us from our homes?'

The nomenclature of this group (or these groups) of dialects is rather confusing, as are the precise relations between the ethnic groups speaking them. Western authors use 'Gorani' as a generic term for all of these dialects, but none of my informants (save those familiar with European writings on the subject) ever used it in that way; instead, the expression 'Hawrami' or 'Hawramani' is used as the collective term by Iraqi Kurds (as well as by Hassanpour 1989), but also more specifically, to indicate the dialects spoken near the border with Iran.(1) Part of the trouble here stems from the fact that locals indiscriminately use terms like 'Gorani' and 'Hawrami' as geographical, ethnic, linguistic, or even social labels (cf. Van Bruinessen 1989: 139-51). Obviously, more detailed and principled research is needed to make an adequate classification of these groups and their dialects; here, I will be conservative, and stick (albeit reluctantly) to 'Gorani' as a generic label, while keeping in mind that few locals use it in that way, and that no conclusions as to ethnic affiliation can be drawn from it. At present, the Gorani speakers think of themselves as Kurds, even though they are aware of speaking dialects which are not mutually comprehensible with Kurmanci or Sorani, and in some cases, of having a dinstinct religious and cultural tradition (cf. Edmonds 1957: 10). Confusion as to whether the Goran are actually distinct from the Kurds may easily arise from the abovementioned ambiguity.

An interesting point to note is that many (though by no means all) Gorani speakers, especially those in Iraq, seem to be related to one of the various heterodox (Ghulat) sects that developed out of various Sufi orders, and in combination with the struggle between the Sunni Ottoman empire and Shi'ite Safavid Persia in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Both my Shabak and my Zengana informant claimed that all members of their respective ethnic groups were orthodox Sunnites; the Shabak, however, was unable - or unwilling - to say what his madhhab (branch) was, protesting that 'we are all muslims anyway'.


Note 1)Mann/Hadank 1930 and MacKenzie 1966 use 'Hawramani' in this more restricted sense.

Page 7


According to Edmonds (1957: 195), however, the Shabak as well as the Zengana are in fact Kurdish Qizilbash, that is, descendants from the (partly Turcoman) heterodox shi'ite tribes that migrated in the East of the Ottoman empire, and in Safavid Persia, up till the seventeenth century.(1) Likewise, the Kakai are adherents of a heterodox faith that seems to have developed out of an orthodox Sufi order with an ever-increasing amount of veneration for Ali, the nephew of the prophet.(2) As said, many, though not nearly all, Hawramani speakers are Ahl-e Haqq. We will return below to the significance of this. (3)

This group of dialects, like the next one, is grammatically quite distinct from the ones mentioned thus far, and not mutually comprehensible with any of them. It shares some morphological features with the Southern and Central dialects, but as we will see in Sec3, these common features are borrowings; apart from these, Gorani is quite distinct from its neighbours. Unlike Sorani, for example, it has maintained a case system.

The Hawrami dialect was the court language at the Kurdish principality of Erdelan, which flourished in the 17th and especially the 18th century.(4) As said, a Gorani koine was also used as the written medium of the epic and lyric poetry at the court, of many of the religious texts of the Ahi-e Haqq living in the area, and of popular ballads sung at the court and outside (see Soane 1921; Minorsky 1920, 1943).5 As said, towards the end of the eighteenth century, the Erdelan court was eclipsed by the nearby Baban court centered at Sulaimaniya, the poets of which had until then mostly written in the prestigious Gorani dialect, but from the early 1800s on wrote in Sorani, which then rose considerably in status. Nowadays, Gorani is a mere shadow of its past: it is largely spoken by impoverished and isolated peasants, and has practically become extinct as a literary dialect; for as far as I know, only one poet, Sayyid Tahir Hashemi, has written Gorani poetry in recent years; his Diwan was published in Mahabad (Iran) shortly after his death in 1991. However, the Pahiavi government of Iran did stimulate the use of Gorani in mass communication, and in the late 1950s started broadcasting radio programs in this dialect, apparently in an effort to sow discord among its Kurdish citizens (see Hassanpour 1989: 258); the Iraqi government, for similar reasons, also started broadcasting in Gorani in 1975 (ibid., p. 271).(6)


Note 1)My informants' claims may have been instances of taqiyya, the dissimulation of one's real faith which is allowed among shi'ites and other sects.
Note 2)For more information on the Kakai religion, see Edmonds 1957:190 ff; 1969; Minorsky 1920.
Note 3)See Sohrweide (1965) and Mazzaoui (1972) for a more detailed account of the historical developments concerning the islamic Sufi orders, and the Qizilbash and other heterodox groups that developed from them; cf. Moosa (1988);for detailed, if uncritical, information on the various ghulat sects.
Note 4)For more detailed historical information on the Erdelan court, see Nikitine 1922 and the lemma 'Senna' in Eli by the same author.
Note 5)Eventoday, gorani is the Sorani and Rawramani word for 'song', whereas Kurmanci uses stran.
Note 6)According to Hassanpour, Western theories stating that Gorani is not a Kurdish dialect and that Gorani speakers are not Kurds, were a major source of inspiration for the Iranian government policy.

Page 8


Finally, there are the varieties of Zaza, some of which are also called Dumili or Dimili. These are spoken in the northwesternmost part of Kurdistan, in the triangle between Sivas, Bitlis, and Diyarbakir.(1) Interestingly -and confusingly-, Zaza speakers in Dersim (present-day Tunceli) call their own tongue Kirmanci; and the local Kurmanci dialect Herewere (the Kurmanci imperative 'come-go') or Kurdasi; Dersimi Zaza is also called So-be ('comego' in Zaza) by local Kurmanci speakers. Mann and others have explained ~Dimili' as a metathesis of 'Dailami', which, they claim, suggests that the Zazas originate from the Dailam region near the Caspian Sea; however, I have not heard any Zaza from Dersim or further East refer to his native tongue as 'Dumili' or 'Dumilki' (cf. Van Bruinessen 1989a: 455 n16). Zaza is marked off from the neighbouring Kurmanci dialects by a number of phonetic differences (see table 1 below), and morphological features like a passive morpheme -ye-, a present suffix -an-/-n-, which is unlike the imperfective prefixes of the Kurmanci, Sorani and Gorani dialects (di-, 'e-, and ma- or mi- respectively), and probably a morphological borrowing from Armenian (cf. ManniHadank 1932: 32-5). Thus in the Siverek dialect we have o kisheno, 'he kills', and passive o kishyeno, 'he is killed' as opposed to Kurmanci ew dikuje, 'he kills' and ew tê kushtin, 'he is killed' (lit. 'he comes to killing'). Another morphological borrowing from Armenian is the negative prefix çi-, which strengthens the negative form of the copula, nû/nyo, thus yielding çinyo, 'is not'. On the whole, Zaza seems to have undergone a relatively strong influence from Armenian, which was spoken in the northernmost parts of the area now almost exclusively inhabited by Kurds up fill the early 20th century.(2)

The Zaza dialects are not a monolithic whole; among them, important dialectal differences appear, not only in phonetics (e.g the Dersimi s as opposed to sh in all other varieties), but also in morphology; for example, the personal pronoun systems diverge significantly. It must likewise be stressed that the Zaza-speaking areas are by no means monolingually so. For example, of the 127 tribes in the Dersim region listed by Dersimi (1952), 90 are Zaza- and 37 Kurmanci-speaking. Early authors writing on Zaza, such as Alfred von le Coq and the Armenian monk Antranig, claimed that most Zaza speakers also knew Kurmanci, and that in fact, among the Kurds of this region, Kurmanci was the lingua franca for trade and other contacts (quoted in Mann/Hadank 1932: 20).(3) When nowadays speakers of both varieties find themselves together, Turkish is the language most likely to be used as the common medium of conversation.


Note 1)Muller 1864 was the first attempt at a description of the 'Zaza dialect of the Kurdish language'; see Mann/Hadank 1932 for a description of the dialects of Siverek and K6r (near present-day Bingol), and Todd 1985 for an analysis based on a single speaker from Siverek.
Note 2) Asatrian & Gevorgian 1988; this kind of language contact is still very much an underinvestigated terrain, however.
Note 3) I have repeatedly come across a present-day variety of this bilingualism among Kurds in European exile: they had grown up speaking Zaza, but after receiving education in Turkish, they had practically lost the habit of speaking their native tongue. Once in Europe, they learned Kurmanci, which they saw as the Kurdish lingua franca, for communication with their fellow Kurds. Another reflection of this difference in status may be the often-heard remark that Zaza speakers learn Kurmanci more easily than vice versa.

Page 9


Some final sociolinguistic remarks: Zaza is not exclusively spoken by nontribal Kurds, as becomes clear from Dersimi (1952), who, as said, mentions no less than 90 Zaza-speaking tribes.(1) There is no indication that these Zazaophone tribes of Dersim were originally non-tribal peasants (nor, incidentally, that they have been in the area for longer than the Kurmanci speaking ones). In short, Zaza is, and for as far as we can tell has at all times been, spoken by tribal (semi-) nomads and by nontribal peasants alike. There is also an important link between the Zaza dialects and heterodox Islam, as with Gorani: a fair number of Zaza speakers, particularly in the Tunceli region, are Alevis, i.e. heterodox Shi'ites; but the Zaza speakers in other regions (e.g. Siverek, Diyarbakir, and Bingol) are mostly orthodox Sunnis.(2) Nevertheless, the link between Zaza and heterodox religion is significant, as are the similarities between the Alevi and the Ahi-e Haqq faiths (cf. Van Bruinessen 1989a: 139-51).

Zaza has practically no written literary tradition: the earliest specimens of written Zaza sources are two mawluds written in the Arabic alphabet, which were published in the early 20th century, one of them in 1930 in Damascus; all earlier grammatical studies concentrate on the spoken language. The first serious attempts at creating a Zaza variety fit for purposes of mass communication appeared in the review Tirej in the late 1970s. After three issues, however, this review was banned in 1980. Since then, a small number of authors have published poetry, short stories, and essays in exile periodicals such as Hevi and Berbang that also contain texts in Kurmanci and Sorani, and more recently in magazines exclusively written in Zaza, like Piya and Rashtiye, which espouse a specifically Zaza nationalist feeling (and a demand for a separate 'Zazaistan'); but these probably reach a small audience only. The most important contemporary Zaza author is Malmisanij, now living in Sweden, who regularly contributes poetry and prose texts to various periodicals; in 1987 he also published a Zaza- Turkish dictionary.

In conclusion, it seems safe to say that Zaza is not very likely to become a widespread medium of writing and education, although the increased self awareness of Zaza speakers, and the growing numbers of cassette tapes with music sung in Zaza (by vocalists like Yilmaz çelik, Kadri Karagöat;z, and on occasion even Shivan) may contribute to its survival as a spoken language in mass communication.


Note 1) Martin van Bruinessen (personal communication) informs me that the Zaza tribes do not practice long-distance migration like Kurmanci- speaking tribes such as the Alikan or the Milli. Transhumance is standard among them.
Note 2) Bumke 1989 and van Bruinessen 1989b: 614 claim that Kurdish Alevis consider themselves ethnically one with Turcophone Alevis rather than with Sunni Kurds, whether Zaza or Kurmanci.

Page 10


2. Genetic and other relations between the Kurdish dialects.

We have given a brief overview of the most important linguistic and sociolinguistic aspects of all Kurdish dialects. How are the dialects or dialect groups sketched above related to each other, and to the other Indo-Iranian languages? To give an idea of the genetic relations among them, I have listed their most important phonetic traits in table 1 below, which basically summarizes Blau 1989a, b.(1)


Table 1. Some isoglosses of Western Iranian languages


Old Iranian	New Persian	Kurmanci  Sorani	Gorani	Zaza                                   
*hw-          	kh-           	xw-/xo     xo-          w-        w-
             	khord- eat    	xwar-      xward-/xo-  ward-     werd
*j           	z             	j          j           j         c
             	zen - woman   	jin        jin         jenî      cenî
*z           	d            	z          z           z         z
             	dân - know    	zan-       zan-        zan-      zan-
*Vm, *-sm,   	-m            	-v/-w      -w          -m        -m
*-xm          	nâm - name    	nav        naw         nâmî      nam

The table shows that Kurmanci and Sorani clearly belong to the Northwestern group of the Iranian languages, as they do not share some of the most conspicuous features that set the Southwestern languages apart already at the stage of Old Persian, especially OIr. z- developing into d-, and the more recent development of OIr. j- into NP z- (a related form dz- does occur in some Dersim subvarieties of Zaza, but it is clearly an instance of a recent process, specific to these dialects, of palatalized fricatives and affricates losing their palatalization).

In all, although Kurdish proper contains some Southwestern elements (MacKenzie 1961b: 79, 86), on the whole it is rather distinct from Southwestern languages like New Persian (cf. Blau 1989b: 329). The table also indicates that Zaza and Gorani, although equally unambiguously part of the Northwestern group, are quite distinct from the other two dialects, and resemble each other closely. Phonologically, the most clearly distinguishing characterisics of these dialects are the development from Indo-Iranian *hw- into w-, and *b into v-/w-; morphologically they are set apart from Kurdish proper and New Persian alike, e.g., by the use of waç- (Gorani) or va- (Zaza) stems, rather than Km. bêej-/got-, Sor. gut-/lê- or NP goft- , for the verb 'to say'. This dovetails well with the often-heard observation that Zaza and Gorani speakers can mutually understand each other far more easily than speakers of Zaza and Kurmanci, or Gorani and Sorani. However, the differences between Gorani and Zaza should not be overlooked (cf. Mann & Hadank 1930: 65-6; 1932: 24-6): for example, most Gorani dialects have present tense prefix mi-/ma-, whereas we saw that Zaza has a suffix -an-.


Note 1) The Gorani examples are from personal notes (Byara dialect), the others from familiar published sources like MacKenzie 1961a and Toeld 1985. For more details, see Tedesco 1921, MacKenzie 1961b, Blau 1989a,b, Oranskij 1977.

Page 11


Mann (1909: XXIIIn) was the first to remark that the differences between Zaza and Gorani on the one hand, and Kurmanci and Sorani on the other, are so big that we cannot properly speak of different dialects of the same language; Soane (1921) independently reached the same conclusion some years later. Earlier authors, e.g. Lerch (1857-8) and Muller (1864), thought of Zaza as just one among the Kurdish dialects, albeit one that was particularly difficult to understand for speakers of other dialects; Rich (1836) on the whole tended to include the Goran among the Kurds ethnically, although at times he hesitated, being well aware of linguistic and social differences with the surrounding Kurdish-speaking Jaf tribesmen. Mann adjusted the linguistic picture, and stressed that Zaza and Gorani are not Kurdish dialects properly speaking but constitute a separate branch of the Iranian languages. However, he made this genetic distinction in linguistic terms only, and not in ethnic terms,- even though he did notice some distinct cultural features among the Goran. If Zaza and Gorani were considered Kurdish dialects by locals up until Mann's time (and for a long time afterwards), this was because, by and large, Gorani and Zaza speakers were unhesitatingly considered Kurds ethnically. In other words, language in itself was not a very important distinguishing ethnic criterion, although it could if it coincided with other factors like religion, tribal affiliation, etc.

This becomes clear if we look at the remarks made by early outside observers. The 17th-century travel writer Evliya Çelebi lists Zaza as one of sixteen (elsewhere fifteen) Kurdish dialects in book 4 of his Seyahatname; interestingly, he listed the local court language spoken in Bitlis, called Rojiki, among the Kurdish dialects, even though his samples in fact show this dialect to be quite obviously Turkish with a heavy dose of Armenian borrowings (cf. Dankoff 1990). Apparently, criteria other than linguistic ones were decisive for Evliya in establishing ethnic affiliation.

Similarly, the Danish pioneer scholar Carsten Niebuhr (1768), traveling in the area in the mid-l8th century, passed straight through Zaza-speaking territory on his way from Diyarbakir to Mardin, but did not note even a single time that this terrain contained a distinct ethnic group. As he did not speak Kurdish or Turkish himself, his informants (who otherwise seem to


Page 12


As he did not speak Kurdish or Turkish himself, his informants (who otherwise seem to have been rather meticulous and reliable) apparently did not tell him of any dialectal or concomitant ethnic difference here. In other words, at this time, it seems that Zaza speakers as such were not considered very distinct from the other Kurds. In this period, religion was a more significant ethnic boundary than language, but not even this boundary was absolute: Niebuhi (p.370) explicitly counts the Bajalan, the Lak, and the Sarli among the Kurds. Ethnically, Gorani and Zaza have thus for all practical purposes been Kurdish dialects throughout.

The reverse situation (i.e. a dialect that is linguistically speaking Kurdish, although its speakers do not consider themselves, and are not considered, Kurds) occurred as well. Niebuhr, on purely religious grounds, considered the Yezidis, who speak Kurmanci but often are not considered Kurds by Sunni Kurmanci speakers (cf. Van Bruinessen 1989b: 614), as a separate ethnic group. In recent years, however, it seems that the rise of a secular Kurdish nationalism, claiming among other things that the Kurds were originally Zoroastrians, has led to a more inclusive view of the Yezidis, who are now often perceived as having preserved the original faith, and consequently as being in a sense the 'purest' Kurds. Thus, Kurds from Syria will readily claim in public that they are Yezidi or, as they call it, 'believe in Zaradasht'.

Up to at least the mid-twentieth century, there are no traces of any awareness of a distinct secular Zaza identity. Tribal, geographical, and especially religious factors seem to have been more important at all times.(1) Until quite recently, Zaza was simply considered a Kurdish dialect, because the Zazas were considered Kurds.(2) Much the same can be said of the Gorani speakers. Belonging to a certain tribe, or, even more importantly, to a specific religious group, rather than to a linguistic community, seems to have been the more significant ethnic characteristic; in this, they did not differ from the Kurmanci-speaking Kurds.

The rise of a feeling of 'common Kurdish identity among all Kurds, regardless of social class, tribal or religious affiliation has been a relatively recent development (cf. Van Bruinessen 1989b); and once it had arisen, it was of course not fixed once and for all: it developed in interaction with social and political developments in the surrounding world. Religious and tribal differences persisted for a long time. For example, participation in the great Kurdish revolts in the Republic of Turkey (Shaikh Said, Dersim) was decided by religious factors or membership of a tribe or tribal confederation, rather than by linguistic considerations. In Shaikh Said's revolt, led by Zazaspeaking Sunni Kurds, the Kurmanci-speaking Mil confederation, and the Cibran and Hasanan tribes, participated; but Zaza- and Kurmanci-speaking Alevi tribes actively opposed the revolt: religious and tribal, rather than linguistic, boundaries were critical in these cases (cf Olson 1989: 95).


Note 1) I have come across linguistically mixed marriages in Tunceli, e.g. a Zaza-speaking man from the Kureyshan tribe married to a Kurmanci speaking woman of the Milli tribe from Pulumur; both were Alevis, however. Endogamy among members of the same tribe (and of the same dialect) seems thus to be less strictly applied nowadays although it remains among religious lines.
Note 2) In fact, growing acquaintance with the work of Western authors seems to have been instrumental in the rise of a specifically Zaza nationalism among educated expatriates in recent years.

Page 13


In the Dersim revolt of 1937-1938, only Alevi tribes participated. In recent years, with the development of a secular Kurdish nationalism, and under the influence of harsh government policies, these boundaries may have become less significant. In the Republic of Turkey, Zaza- and Kurmanci-speaking, and Sunni and Alevi Kurds alike have suffered the same oppression and attempts at forced assimilation, just as Kurmanci-, Sorani-, and Gorani speakers alike, whether orthodox or heterodox Muslims, have been persecuted regardless of religious or other affiliation. Likewise, as we saw in Sec1, Iraqi government policies have helped the shaping of a sense of common Kurdish identity among distinct, but equally oppressed, ethnic groups.

This is just one instance of the general point that not 'objective' factors such as language (in the genetic, linguistic sense), but rather 'subjective' ones, like self-perception and significance attached to such 'facts' (which, as we saw, are open to discussion anyway) are fundamental in determining ethnic identity (pace Isajiv 1974). In itself, speaking Kurmanci, Sorani, Gorani, or Zaza (or none of these, as is the case with many Kurds in Turkey) is not a knockdown argument in establishing one's main ethnic identity; it is the significance that the language spoken carries for the speakers which counts (cf Fishman 1977). The identity of an ethnic group is determined, and develops through interaction with other groups (cf. Barth 1969); ethnic boundaries are not fixed once and for all, but may be created, destroyed, or crossed at any time, either voluntarily in a negotiated process of interaction between groups of roughly equal status and power, or forcedly through major sociopolitical events or deliberate government measures.

A related point is that the concept of the formation of the Kurdish ethnic group(s) is, on the whole, a more useful one than that of its (their) origin. Often, the question of origins is not so much factually wrong as misguided. Rather than vainly searching for, say, the origins of the Zazas, the Ahi-e Haqq, or the Yezidis, we should look at how these became distinct ethnic groups. The processes involved are much better seen in terms of ethnogenesis than of origin: in fact, the literature contains various examples of people or groups of people becoming Kurds by crossing various ethnic boundaries. One example of a tribal group becoming Kurdish at a relatively recent date is that of the Karageç or Karakeçili tribe (also discussed in Van Bruinessen 1989b): this was a Turcoman tribe from Western Anatolia, but sultan Selim 1(1514-1520) relocated part of it in the Karacadagi area near Diyarbakir; this part gradually Kurdicised through intermarriage with, and incorporation of, the neighbouring Kurds, and remained Kurds after being deported again, in the nineteenth century, to the area south of Ankara.(1) Apparently, this displaced group as a whole underwent a drastic language shift along with the change in ethnic identity.

Note 1) Sykes (1908: 472) lists them as a Zaza-speaking tribe, but this seems to be wrong: Martin van Bruinessen (p.c.) heard the dialect described as a 'filthy Kurdish', not as Zaza, by locals.

Page 14


Another case in point are the numerous Armenians, especially those living in the Dersim region, who in the course of the nineteenth century converted to (heterodox) Islam, and thus became Kurds at a relatively recent date (cf. Molyneux-Seel 1914). It seems useful, then, to take Zaza and Gorani as 'Kurdish dialects' in a wider, ethnic sense, though not in the narrow, linguistic sense. At present, the speakers of these dialects by and large consider themselves Kurds.

3. Gorani elements in Central Kurdish (Sorani)

As we saw in the preceding paragraph, among the Kurdish dialects in the wider sense, Kurmanci and Sorani on the one hand, and Zaza and Gorani on the other, show clear and unambiguous grammatical differences. However, on a number of points Sorani differs from Kurmanci as MacKenzie (1961b: 81ff) was the first to note, these distinctive traits of the Central and Southern dialects seem to be due to Gorani influence. MacKenzie lists four cases 'in which C. and S. Kd. appear to have borrowed [sic] directly from Gorani':

1. The passsive conjugation: the Sorani passive morpheme -rê-/-ra corresponds to -yê-/-ya- in Gorani and Zaza, while Kurmanci employs the auxiliary hatin, 'come';
2. a definite suffix -eke, also occurring in Zaza;
3. an intensifying postverb -ewe, corresponding to Kurmanci preverbal ve-;
4. an 'open compound' construction with a suffix -e, for definite noun phrases with an epithet (e.g. kiç-e ciwan-eke, 'the pretty girl'). MacKenzie also sees indirect influence, rather than direct borrowing, in:
5. the preservation of enclitic personal pronouns, which have disappeared in Kurmanci and in Zaza;
6. a simplified izafe system: in the Central Kurdish dialects preserving a case system, the izafe became identical with the oblique case morpheme; in the dialects without case, it became a single form -i. MacKenzie attributes this development to 'the clash between the two systems' of Gorani and Central Kurdish (1961b: 82).

Because of these common characteristics, for MacKenzie 'there is no avoiding the conclusion that these [Central and Southern] dialects of Kurdish have overlaid a Gorani substratum, while the Northern dialects have to a much greater extent preserved their purity' (1961b: 86). In fact, such a conclusion is not at all the only one we could draw. We could attempt to explain this convergence in various ways: as parallel innovations of a Sprachbund-like nature, as prestige borrowings, or as innovations specific to Kurmanci. At least two of the cases listed could equally well, and probably more plausibly, be explained as inherited from a common Indo-Iranian ancestor: Avestan and Old Persian have passive morpheme quite similar to that in Gorani (-iia-, -ya-, and -yê-/-ya- respectively), and the enclitic pronouns of Old and New Persian are practically identical to those in some Gorani varieties.


Page 15


Obviously, conservatism in itself does not call for an explanation, let alone for a substratum, and in these cases the burden of explanation rather seems to lie with the innovations specific to Kurmanci (loss of passive conjugation and of enclitic pronouns).(1) Likewise, there is no particular reason to assume that the simplification of the izafe was caused by a substrate: it may equally well be due to developments internal to Central Kurdish comparable to the loss of the case system (for which MacKenzie does not claim external causes).

This leaves us with the affixes -eke, -ewe, and with the 'open compound construction,- really a rather meagre basis from which to argue for a substratum. There seems to be no noteworthy phonological or syntactic influence of Gorani on Sorani either; however, there is considerable lexical influence. The Sorani dictionary of Wahby & Edmonds lists a few Gorani borrowings, but their list is far from complete. MacKenzie (1966) includes a good number of lexical items occurring in both Sorani and Gorani, but not in Kurmanci; these include specific cultural items such as clothes and tools, but also basic vocabulary items like body part expressions and basic color terms. Remarkable, however, is that many such items also occur in e.g. New Persian (e.g. Km. kesk, 'green', vs. Sor. sewz; Gor. sawz; NP. sebz), and that Sorani speakers may employ both the 'Kurdish' and the 'Gorani' item (e.g. resh or siya, 'black', cf. Gor. siyaw),- an indication of borrowing rather than of shift. In numerals, there are some distinct differences between Sorani and Gorani, e.g. Sor. se, 'three' vs. Gor. yen. In short, the lexical evidence is not particularly conducive to a substratum hypothesis, either.

But there are more general problems with an explanation along the lines MacKenzie proposed. One is the apparent asymmetry in the extent of the presumed substratal influence of Zaza and Gorani. Northern Kurdish has nowhere near the same number of Zaza features as Central Kurdish has Gorani traits, even though, on MacKenzie's account, both Kurdish dialects, originally more resembling each other, overlay the original dialects in a similar manner. But then why did Zaza leave no traces in Kurmanci even remotely comparable to the Gorani features in Central Kurdish? Or, if we limit ourselves to Iraqi Kurdistan, why did none but the southernmost Gorani-like dialects leave any traces in the neighbouring varieties of Kurdish proper? We saw that there are islands of such dialects all the way up to the Kurmanci-speaking regions north of Mossul. In the absence of any historical or other extralinguistic evidence, there is no reason to assume that the presumed invading Kurdish tribes that partly subjugated and partly ousted the Zaza/Gorani stratum, faced radically different conditions at the northwestern and at the southeastern edges of their new domain of settlement.(2) Another problem is the fact that substratal influence is notoriously hard to demonstrate in the absence of sociohistoric evidence (cf. Thomason & Kaufman 1988: 111), this quite apart from the fact that MacKenzie does not


Note 1)The situation regarding the loss of enclitic pronouns is actually even worse: these have disappeared both in Kurmanci and in Zaza, so an additional explanation, not in terms of substratum, is necessary for this convergence (if such it is).
Note 2)MacKenzie (p.86) does suggest that the Kurds first ousted the Zazas and only 'in more recent times' overran the Goran, but this chronology of events seems purely speculative, and not a reflection of any linguistic findings.


Page 16


make his use of the term 'substrate' very precise.1 In the case under investigation, we have hardly any information, apart from reconstructions, about the structure of either the substratal or the target language during the supposed pre-Mongol period of Gorani influence. An even more serious difficulty arises if we look at precisely what substrate influence is. Substrata, in fact, are merely one specific kind of language shift through imperfect learning of the target language (ibid., p. 38f.). In the case of Gorani-Sorani, this would amount to a group of Gorani speakers acquiring an imperfect acquaintance with 'proto-Sorani', and this imperfect language then somehow becoming the standard among those having Sorani as their mother tongue as well. Historical evidence for such an event is altogether lacking, except for some hints that in the past 100 years or so large numbers of Gorani speakers have become asssimilated, - but this is a much more recent period than MacKenzie appears to refer to.

Shaky as the linguistic evidence for a substratum is, it leads MacKenzie to the much stronger hypothesis that the Zaza people, like the Goran 'originating from the southern shore of the Caspian Sea', i.e. from Dailam, were pushed westwards by the 'main body of the Kurds' arriving later (1961b: 86). A second, southward expansion of the Kurds then 'led to their overrunning and gradually absorbing all but the surviving Goran'.(2) This view, of the Goran/Zaza as the 'pre-Kurdish inhabitants' of the region being pushed aside or subjugated by invading waves of Kurdish immigrants is pretty much the standard one. Edmonds (1957: 12) holds on to a more specific variety of the same thesis: he believes that non-tribal Gorani speakers were the 'original' inhabitants of the area, overrun by waves of 'rough Kurdi-speaking nomads'. However, even apart from the fact that the linguistic data do not seem to warrant a Gorani substratum, we should be wary of making such inferences. Linguistic reconstructions such as protolanguages are purely theoretical notions, and can by no means be equated with actual ethnohistorical developments, at least not without further corroborating evidence from related disciplines such as history, archaeology, or anthropology. Linguistic arguments are just that: linguistic ones, so even if an explanation of Gorani elements in Central Kurdish in terms of a linguistic substratum is right, it does not yet entail the presence of a Gorani substrate underlying the Central and Southern Kurdish population.

There is no reason to assume that at any time either the Goran or the present-day Central Kurdish speakers constituted a homogeneous or undivided group either linguistically, socially, or ethnically. In fact, there is historical and other evidence pointing to a much more complex situation than linguistic reconstructions would lead us to believe. Van Bruinessen (1989a: ch. 2) has argued that the view of Kurdish-speaking tribes over-


Note 1)it may be that MacKenzie did not have any precise notion of 'substratum' in mind, or meant something else with it, viz. his indiscriminate use of 'borrowing' (p.85), 'substratum' (p.86) and 'simplification because of the clash between systems' (p.82) alongside each other. However, it is unclear what such an account would amount to, let alone whether it would warrant the far-reaching historical hypotheses he derives from it.
Note 2)In a more recent paper (1989), MacKenzie reiterated his hypothesis without any essential changes.


Page 17


running and subduing an original Gorani-speaking population which itself originated from Dailam (let alone an entirely non-tribal one, as Edmonds 1957: 10 suggested) is far too simplistic. Neither ethnic group was a monolithic whole, and there are historical sources indicating other processes. For example, Minorsky (1943: 78) states that 'the Goran are mentioned as a warlike tribe already in the tenth century' (emphasis added), and (p.84) refers to the fourteenth century Egyptian scholar Shihab al-Din al-'Omari, who wrote that after the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Kurds of Shahrizur emigrated to Syria and Egypt, and their place was taken by another nation hasaneh/hasano whose members aren't veritable Kurds." Minorsky conjectures that the term 'hasaneh' points to Gorani tribes replacing earlier Kurdish inhabitants of the area; in other words, if the identification is right, this source suggests the very opposite of Edmonds's and MacKenzie's claim.(1) Shihab al-Din further stated that the Goran consisted of warriors and peasants, which runs counter to the view of the Goran as a purely non-tribal agricultural community as well.

There is other historical evidence that the processes involved were more complex than MacKenzie and Edmonds suppose: 1) Rich (I, 201) makes mention of Goran princes with Kurdish tribes under their sovereignty. In other words, the Goran were by no means merely the subjugated nontribal peasantry of the area. The Goran themselves could be organized tribally, and even be the superiors of non-Gorani tribes. (cf. Van Bruinessen 1989a). 2) According to the Sherefname (II, tome I: 82), the sovereigns of Erdelan derived from a member of the Merwanid dynasty of Diyarbakir (cf. ManniHadank 1930: 20). 3) Edmonds (1957: 1904) notes that the (Gorani speaking) Kakai and their religion appear to originate from Luristan. There is thus no need to assume that the Goran came from Dailam en masse, or that they originate as a whole from the area south of the Caspian sea.

A general problem with the historical sources, however, is that we must beware of the ambiguity of the term 'Guran/Goran' (and, by the same token, of the term 'Kurd'): as Minorsky 1943 and Van Bruinessen (1989: ch.2) indicated, 'Goran' may be used to refer to a dynasty, a tribe or a tribal confederation, or even to a social class.(2) Consequently, we must be careful not to mistake one use of the word for another. For example, Butyka (1892: 209) mentions the presence of Goran in the Dersim region, which is far away from the Gorani heartlands; but he clearly uses the expression as indicating a social stratum rather than an ethnic group. It is very well possible that the word goran has undergone a change of meaning from, say, the ethnic sense to the social one in the course of various sociopolitical changes,- if it has ever had any single clearly specified meaning at all.

In other words, the picture of a Gorani substratum is unsatisfactory for linguistic as well as sociological and historical reasons. Instead, I would like


Note 1)The source does not specify who these 'hasaneh' are, however, nor explain why they are not 'veritable Kurds'.
Note 2)An informant from Arbil notified me of yet another sense expressed in the proverb 'Ez ne kurd im, ne guran im', meaning something like 'I am neither a town-Iweller nor a countryman'.


Page 18


to suggest that the Gorani elements in Central and Southern Kurdish may be the result of prestige borrowing at a relatively recent date. In so far as there has been a major language shift among 'the Goran' (which strictly speaking, a misnomer for the ethnic group as a whole), the observation, made by various local informants, that such a shift took place in the past 150 years is worth considering. The available historical evidence suggests that at least one of the preconditions for borrowing (Thomason & Kaufman 1988: 113) was fulfilled, viz. the prolonged maintenance of both the source language and the receiving language in the contact situation: as we saw, both languages are still spoken today. Likewise, a sociocultural background conducive to prestige borrowing is well attested: in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the court of Erdelan, which had Gorani as its court language, was at the height of its political and cultural influence. Its linguistic influence may as well have passed through literary as through colloquial channels: as said, the poets of the Baban court in Sulaimaniya at first wrote in Gorani; the influence on the spoken Sorani varieties could be due to the social and political prestige of the court dialect in trade and other informal contacts, and to the reputation of Gorani as a medium of a sophisticated literature, often sung in public,(1) which may well have persisted long after the political influence of the Erdelan court had vanished: even today the Hawramis have a reputation for cleverness and superior craftsmanship among the inhabitants of Sulaimaniya. Of course, we must be careful not to see particular sociohistorical circumstances as actually determining the outcome of language contact (cf. Thomason & Kaufman (1988: 46-47), but at least this historical knowledge provides a plausible background for the language contact we know to have occurred. This obviously leaves many problems open: for example, how did the islands' of Gorani or Gorani-related dialects in Iraq originate? How to account for the correlation between heterodox religion and heterolingual pockets in Iraq and Turkey? This is not the place for detailed discussion or further speculation, but two suggestive points stand out: first, the 'Goranirelated' religion of the Ahi-e Haqq had contacts, and features in common, with Alevi doctrines in Zaza-speaking Dersim and with the pockets of heterodox shi'ites often speaking Gorani-related languages in Northern Iraq. And second, these contacts cannot be fully accounted for in terms of common origins, as Moosa (1988: 447) and, possibly, Van Bruinessen (1989a: 147-9) (2) attempt to do; for most of these religions seem to derive from the Sufi orders (and, possibly, in part from Turcoman tribes) in the area that gradually became more heterodox in character, and did not develop a fully articulated doctrine, or even define distinct ethnic or religious groups, until at least the fourteenth century.(3) So although many questions remain wide


Note 1)Soane (1921) presents some translations from an 18-century anthology of Gorani poetry.
Note 2)N.B. this section does not occur in the 1992 English edition.
Note 3)See e.g. Melikoff 1975, 1982; Sohrweide 1965 for more information. Both stress the heterodox pseudo Shi'ite nature of the Alevi faith.


Page 19


open, ethnogenesis and relatively recent contacts seem more adequate explanatory concepts here than origins.

4. Conclusions

The main thesis of this paper may be summarized as follows: the Gorani like elements in Central Kurdish can be accounted for without any appeal to dramatic events such as a massive language shift among entire groups of Gorani speakers. The available historical evidence, and the kind of borrowings involved (primarily lexical and morphological), fit in well with an account in terms of prestige borrowing over a extended period of time. Next, we must be careful not to confuse linguistic reconstructions with postulated ethnohistorical developments. There is no historical evidence for anything like a homogeneous Gorani stratum in the population overrun by a clearly identifiable influx of 'real' Kurds, nor does the linguistic evidence give any reason to think so. However, migrations (some of which are attested) of individuals, of tribes, and of wordly and spiritual leaders have been taking place throughout the past centuries, and undoubtedly various cases of language shift did occur. The picture is far from clear, but it suggests that the phenomenon of language contact in dealing with Kurdish dialects deserves more attention than it has received thus far.

Third, it seems useful to distinguish an ethnic sense of the expression 'Kurdish dialect' from the purely linguistic sense. What is a Kurdish dialect in the former sense is a matter of ethnic affiliation that may well change over time; what is a Kurdish dialect in the second sense is a matter of linguistic classification and reconstruction. Thus, Zaza and Gorani are (at present) Kurdish dialects in the former sense but not in the latter. The predominant ethnic affiliation of individual members of any of these dialect groups, or even the ethnic identity of part or whole of those groups themselves develops in a dialectic interplay with social and political events, and is thus inherently instable. We have seen some cases (the Karakeçili tribe, Armenians in 19th-century Dersim) where the crossing of ethnic boundaries has demonstrably taken place, and in some others (the Gorani speaking groups that gradually became heterodox) it is quite likely to have occurred. A further question is whether and how these developments are reflected in the languages spoken by the ethnic groups under consideration, but obviously this is far too large a topic for the present occasion. Nevertheless, I hope to have shown that it may be worthwhile to look further in this direction.




Page 20


  1. P.A. Andrews (ed.) 1989 Etnnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey. Wiesbaden
  2. G.S. Asatrian & N.Kh. Gevorgian 1988 A Zaza Miscellany. In: A Green Leaf Papers in Honour of Professor Jes P. Asmussen. Acta franica 28: Leuven
  3. F. Barth 1969 Introduction, in F. Barth (ed.), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. The Social Organization of Culture Difference. London
  4. E.Dj. Bedir Khan & R. Lescot 1970 Grammaire kurde (dialecte kurmandji). Paris: Maisonneuve
  5. J. Blau 1975 Le kurde de 'Arn~diya et de Djabal Sindiar. Paris: K'incksieck
  6. J. Blau 1989a Le kurde. In Schmitt (ed.) 1989: 327-335
  7. J. Blau 1989b Gurani et Zaza. In Schrnitt (ed.) 1989: 336-340
  8. M.v.Bruinessen 1989a Agha, Shaikh und Staat: Politik und Gesellschaft Kurdistans, new ed. Berlin: Express Editions (New English ed., abbreviated: London, Zed Press 1992)
  9. M.v.Bruinessen 1989b The Ethnic Identity of the Kurds. In Andrews (ed.) 1989: 613-621
  10. P.J. Bumke 1989 The Kurdish Alevis: Boundaries and Perceptions. In Andrews (ed.) 1989
  11. D. Butyka 1892 Das ehemalige Vilajet Dersim. Mitteilungen der geographischen Gesellschaft Wien XXXV no 2-3, no.4
  12. Th. Bynon 1979 The Ergative Construction in Kurdish. BSOAS 42: 211-224
  13. Evliya Celebi 1986 Seyahatname, cild llI-IV [Book of Travels, vol. llI-IV]. T. Temelkuran, N. Aktas (eds.) Istanbul
  14. R. Dankoff (ed.) 1990 Evliya Celebi in Bitlis. Leiden: Brill
  15. M.N. Dersimi 1952 Ku~rdistan tarihinde Dersim [Dersim in the history of Kurdistan]. Aleppo (repr. Cologne 1988)
  16. M. Dorleijn 1992 Will Split-Ergativity survive in Kurmanci Kurdish spoken in Turkey? This volume
  17. C.J. Edmonds 1957 Kurds, Turks and Arabs. London: OUP
  18. C.J. Edmonds 1969 The Beliefs and Practices of the Ahl-e Haqq of fraq. Iran 7: 89-106
  19. J. Fishman 1977 Language and Ethnicity. in H. Giles (ed.) Language, Ethnicity, and Intergroup Relations. New York: Academic Press
  20. A. Hassanpour 1989The Language Factor in National Development: The Standardization of the Kurdish Language, 1918-1985. Diss. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  21. W.W. Isajiv 1974 Definitions of Ethnicity. Ethnicity 1: 111-124
  22. P. Lerch 1857-1858 Forschungen u~ber die Kurden und die iranischen Nordchalda~er. St. Petersburg (reprinted Amsterdam 1979)
  23. D.N. MacKenzie 1956 Bajalani. BSOAS 18: 418-35
  24. D.N. MacKenzie 1961a Kurdish Dialect Studies I. London: OUP
  25. D.N. MacKenzie 1961b The Origins of Kurdish. Transactions of the Philological Society: 68-86
  26. D.N. MacKenzie 1966 The Dialect of Awroman (Hawraman-i Luhon). Copenhagen
  27. MacKenzie 1989 The role of the Kurdish language in ethnicity. In Andrews (ed.) 1989: 541-542
  28. D.N. MacKenzie n.d. Kurds: Language. Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed.
  29. O. Mann 1909 Kurdisch-Persische Forschungen 11.1: Die Ta~ik-Mundarten der Provinz Fars. Berlin
  30. 0. Mann 1910 Mundarten der Lur-Stamme. Berlin
  31. 0. Mann/ K. Hadank 1930 Kurdisch-Persische Forschungen III, 2: Mundarten der Guran. Berlin
  32. 0. MannI K. Hadank 1932 Kurdisch-Persische Forschungen 111.4: Mundarten der Zaza. Berlin
  33. M.M. Mazzaoui 1972 The Origins of the. Safawids, Shi'ism, Sufism, and the Ghulat. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag
  34. I. Melikoff 1975 Le probleme kizilbas. Turcica 6 49-67
  35. I. Melikoff 1982 L'islam heterodoxe en Anatolie. Turcica 14 142-154
  36. V. Minorsky 1920 Notes sur la secte des Ahle'-Haqq. Revue du Monde Musulman 40, 45
  37. V. Minorsky 1943 The Gur an. BSOAS X111: 75-103
  38. L. Molyneux-Seel 1914 A Journey in Dersim. Geographical Journal LXIV: 49-68
  39. M. Moosa 1988 Extremist Shi'ites: The Ghulat Sects. Ithaca: Cornell UP
  40. F. Mu~ller 1864 Zaza-Dialekt der Kurdensprache. Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akademie der Wissenscilaften, phil.-hist.Kl. Bd. 48
  41. C. Niebuhr 1768 Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien, vol.2. Dutch translation: Reize naar Arabie en andere omliggende landen. Dl. 2 1776
  42. B. Nikitine 1922 Les valis d'Erdelan. Revue du monde musulman 49: 70-104
  43. R. Olson 1989 The ShaikIi Said Rebellion and the Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism. Austin: University of Texas Press
  44. I.M. Oranskij 1977 Les lan gues iraniennes (tr. I. Blau). Paris: Klincksieck
  45. C.J. Rich 1836 Narrative of a Residence in Koordistan. Repr. London 1972
  46. R. Schmitt (ed.) 1989 Compendium Linguarum Iran ica rum. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert Verlag
  47. Sheref Khan Bitlisi 1596 Sherefname. (Persian text with French translation and commentary by F.B. Charmoy, St. Petersburg 1868-1875)
  48. A E.B. Soane 1921 A Short Anthology of Guran Poetry. IRAS jan.1921: 57-81
  49. H. Sohrweide 1965 Der Sieg der Safaviden in Persien und seine Rijckwirkungen auf die Schiiten Anatoliens im 16. Jahrhundert. Der Islam 41: 95-223
  50. M Sykes 1908 The Kurdish Tribes of the Ottoman Empire. Journal of the Anthropological Institute 38: 451-486
  51. P. Tedesco 1921 Dialektologie der Westiranischen Turfantexte. Mon de Oriental XV: 184-257
  52. S. G. Thomason & T. Kaufman 1988 Language Contact, Creolization and Genetic Linguistics. Berkeley CA
  53. T. L. Todd 1985 A Grammar of Dimih (also known as Zaza). Diss.
  54. A. Vinogradov 1974 Ethnicity, Cultural Discontinuity and Power Brokers in Northern Iraq: The Case of the Shabak. American Ethnologist 1: 207-218


Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

IT the Dilemma of Kurdish Language

Dilan Roshani, (10/01/2002)

Dilan RoshaniBrívan 7 years old from Northern Kurdistan, Serdar 9 years old from Western Kurdistan, Dara 8 years Old from Centarl Kurdistan, Yawer 10 years old from Southern Kurdistan, Aske 8 years old from Xurasan, and Buhar a Kurdish girl born in Germany share the same faith in their life. They all are Kurds and can not communicate with each other. They learn how to write in at least four different non-standard scripting systems for the same language. Due to the lack of a standard scripting code for the Kurdish language, they learn how to write Kurdish in different non-standard scripting codes. Any word they learn to write will make the gaps in their written communication become larger. They share the same language but they lack a functional bond for communication and that is a common recognized standard scripting system.

They dream in Kurdish, they talk in Kurdish, they communicate in Kurdish, their knowledge of any foreign language is zero, they do not know any scripting system to express their thoughts, still they would like to be seen as global as possible, and communicate with others who share the same language and culture despite the geographical location.

One might struggle to bring changes for a better future. The struggle of making the Kurdish language the primary choice of people in Kurdistan or Kurdish speakers elsewhere need to be based on the most fundamental language technology for today. Parts of these fundamental issues are related to electronic communications and archives, computer related activities and a scripting which follows international recognized codification according to ISO. It is clear that currently the Kurdish language codes and scripting systems keep the language body of Kurdistan fractioned.

While the communication media grows faster than ever, and needs for a standard internationally recognized scripting code is obvious more than ever, the Kurds are still expecting changes in an unexpected future Kurdish stat power. The history of Kurdish language shows that none of the survived Kurdish scripting codes used by Kurdish speakers today was proposed or adapted by any Kurdish state power. However, one may argue the possibility of converting between scripting systems but the language scripting system is not for people with a higher academic degree to learn how to convert different scripts from one system to another. The language scripting codes should answer the users' needs at any level and let them communicate in a holistic sense. The Kurdish language should be modified in a way to serve all the users.

Kurdistan has to overcome the limitation and the barrier of the current scripting codes by adapting a long term plan to a unified alphabet for the "Kurdish language" as one which might as well allow the user to read Kurdish of any dialect or sub-dialect. Today due to the lack of a common education system the majority of Kurds are unlettered in their mother tongue. Due to the high numbers of unlettered Kurdish speakers, Kurdistan has a historical chance to bring the Kurdish language to a stage to play its true communication and literature role as for all users of Kurdish language anywhere by adapting a modified and unified scripting system. Any plan for changes in the codification of the Kurdish Language toward a unified Kurdish alphabet scripting system can only be beneficial historically to represent the Kurdish language with one international accepted standard code. This might as well create a medium where all dialects of the Kurdish language may evolve in a unified common Kurdish language in the future. A unified common Kurdish alphabet scripting system has to be modified out of the existing Kurdish scripting systems and make the best practice use of all the experience of the Kurdish language codification from past. This will help to bring together the fractured language body of the Kurdish together and contribute to a more unified education system through out the Kurdistan.

What is a language?

Language is the principal means used by human beings to communicate with one another. Language is primarily spoken, although it can be transferred to other media, such as writing. If the spoken means of communication is unavailable, as may be the case among the deaf, visual means such as sign language can be used. A prominent characteristic of language is that the relation between a linguistic sign and its meaning is arbitrary: There is no reason other than convention among speakers of Kurdish that a "Seg" Dog should be called "seg", and indeed other languages have different names (for example, Spanish perro, Russian sobaka, Japanese inu). Spoken human language is composed of sounds that do not in themselves have meaning, but that can be combined with other sounds to create entities that do have meaning. Thus p, e, and n do not in themselves have any meaning, but the combination pen does have a meaning. Language also is characterized by complex syntax whereby elements, usually words, are combined into more complex constructions, called phrases, and these constructions in turn play a major role in the structures of sentences.

What is an alphabet?

It is a set of symbols or characters used to represent the sounds of a language. Each character in an alphabet usually represents a simple vowel, a diphthong, or a consonant, rather than a syllable or a group of consonants and vowels. The term alphabet, as used by some, however, also includes the concept of syllabaries (Britannica 2001). An alphabet is a system of representing the sounds of a language by a set of clearly understandable and reproducible symbols. This generally involves assigning to the most common sounds their own individual graphemes, or written forms.

What is the Latin alphabet?

The Latin alphabet (also called Roman alphabet) is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world, the standard script of the English language and the languages of most of Europe. Developed from the Etruscan alphabet at some time before 600 BC, it can be traced through Etruscan, Greek, and Phoenician scripts to the North Semitic alphabet used in Middle East about 1100 BC. The earliest inscription in the Latin alphabet appears on the Praeneste Fibula, a cloak pin dating from about the 7th century BC, which reads, "MANIOS MED FHEFHAKED NUMASIOI" (in Classical Latin: "Manius me fecit Numerio," meaning "Manius made me for Numerius"). Dated not much later than this is a vertical inscription on a small pillar in the Roman Forum, and the Duenos inscription on a vase found near the Quirinal (a hill in Rome) probably dates to the 6th century BC. Although experts disagree on the dating of these objects, the inscriptions are generally considered to be the oldest extant examples of the Latin alphabet (Britannica 2001). Semitic alphabet was the earliest fully developed alphabetic writing system. It was used in Syria as early as the 11th century BC and is probably ancestral, either directly or indirectly, to all subsequent alphabetic scripts, with the possible exception of those scripts classified as South Semitic (e.g., Ethiopic, Sabaean). Apparently related to the earlier writing systems seen in the Canaanite and Siaitic inscriptions, North Semitic gave rise to the Phoenician and Aramaic alphabets, which, in turn, developed into the European, Semitic, and Indian alphabets. North Semitic had 22 letters, all representing consonants, and was written from right to left; these characteristics are typical of most of the later Semitic alphabets (e.g., Hebrew and Arabic).

A practical proposal

The Kurdish dialects divide into three primaries groups: 1) the Northern Kurdish dialects group also called Kurmanjí and Badínaní, 2) Central Kurdish dialects group also called Soraní and 3) the Southern Kurdish dialects group also in some sources called Pehlewaní or "Pahlawanik" group. The three other major branches of Kurdish language are, Dimilí group also called "Zaza", Hewramí group also in some sources called Goraní (Gúrní) and the Lurrí group. These are further divided into scores of dialects and sub-dialects as well (KAL 2001).

Today, Kurds use four different non-standard writing systems. Northern Kurds use a modified Latin-Turkish alphabet; Central Kurds use a modified Arabic alphabet; Kurds in formerly USSR use a modified Cyrillic alphabet; and some Kurds in South-eastern Kurdistan still use the Persian alphabet. The lack of a unified writing system makes publications and media in one part of Kurdistan useless in other parts. Without a unified writing system, it is impossible to develop a national Electronic Documentation Archive. Such communicative dysfunction is of particular concern in the digital age.

The Internet has created an atmosphere that only Kurdish modified and unified scripting can have a chance to survive as a communication mediate. Kurdish Language as a scripting system must serve the people in Kurdistan as one community not deny or prevent them to experience their existence and heritage.

The Kurdish scripting system is not represented in any Instructional standard code under the Kurdish Language code. According to ISO the Kurdish language classifies as KUR for ISO 639-2/B or bibliographic code, KUR for ISO 639-2/T or terminology code and KU for ISO 639-1, which is an alphabetic code (ISO 2001). Today as the result of fast growing electronic communication and archiving system and advance Information Technology many Computer software are developed with bases for existing pre-defined International Scripting codes. Because the Kurdish language remains un-coded and for other reasons like multi scripting coding system representing Kurdish Language, an indirect consumer market for the Kurdish has developed which relies on modified Arabic, Turkish, and/or Persian software to write and archive in Kurdish.

The Kurdish Academy of Language KAL on the Internet is an initiative to lead discussion of a Kurdish language scripting system. By proposing a unified Kurdish scripting system KAL has started to test the ability of the Kurdish language to serve the Kurdish community through the Internet and other media. All characters of this unified alphabet has been chosen carefully among ISO-8859-1 "Latin 1 " for West European languages to keep the Kurdish unified alphabet character to follow only one worldwide standard. Now Kurdish can be practiced on Internet without any limitation no matter the geographical position. A scripting system, which prevents a community from practicing their culture significantly, complicates the bond between generations, and loses focus over time in the rapid growth era of media and IT.

This unified writing system is also geared toward providing users with easy access to publications on the Internet and to electronic mail (e-mail), as well as the capability to create dictionaries, spell-checkers, and keyboard layouts using the most common operating systems and word processors (such as Microsoft products). The unified electronic-friendly alphabet can appear in any browser without limitations. Any publication can be distributed and used in any part of Kurdistan or the world. Any old Kurdish manuscript (in any language, any dialects and any sources) can be easily rewritten in the unified alphabet to be posted on the World Wide Web for public use and research work. The unified Kurdish alphabet will make language learning in an interactive medium with unlimited access more popular among Kurds. Writing in Kurdish has never been so easy!



Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

Komellnasí ziman – Ziman u Komell

Profésor: Peter Trudgill
Wergéran le Inglísiyewe: Hesené Qazí

Hemú kes dezané ci dekré rú bida katék dú kesí Inglísí ke qet péshtir yektiryan nedítuwe le tirénék da rúberúy yekdí dadeníshin – ewan be basí keshuhewa dest be qise kirdin legell yektirí deken – le héndék nimúnanda, ewe renge leber ewe bé babeteke bo herdúkyan xoshe. Egercí, zorbey xelik zor be taybetí mirxyan lewe niye dest be lékdanewey barudoxí hewa biken, ja boye debé hoy díke bo legell yek duwaní lew ceshne hebé.

Yek le shíkirdinewekan eweye zor jar renge tewaw naxosh bé miro be tené hawseferí kesék bé u neynasé u qisey legell neka. Eger herdúk la bédeng bin u ci miteqyan le ber derneye fezake lewaneye be tewawí zorekí u girijh bé. legell eweshda, be qise kirdin legell kesekey díke sebaret be babetékí bélayen, wekú keshuhewa, deretaní ewe pék dé miro dostayetí u péwendiyek dest pébika be bé ewey nacar bé shitékí zor bilé. Qise kirdiní ew jore le tirén da- ke zor jar rú deda, helbet nek ewende zorísh ke efsaney gelí péy waye - nimúney bashe bo joreyek le erkí komelayetí ke zor jar ziman jébejéy deka u raydeperéné. Ziman her tené amrazí péwendí u guwastinewey agadarí niye-, sebaret be awuhewa yan her babetékí díke, belkú amrazékí zor giríngíshe bo damezrandin u pék hénaní péwendí legell xelkí díke. Renge shití here giríng sebaret bew pékewe qise kirdiney ew dú kese Inglísiyey éme ew wushane nebin ke ewan bekaryan dehénin, belkú layení here giríng eweye ewan be yekewe qise deken.

Shíkirdineweyekí duwemísh heye. Tewaw delwé yekem kese Inglísiyeke, renge be anqestísh nebé, biyewé héndék shití díkesh sebaret be ew kesey duwem ke qisey legell deka bizané- bo nimúne karí ciye, yan helkewt u piley komelayetí cilone. Be bé ew jore zanyaríyane ew nazané legell kesí duwem con bijúlétewe, helbet kesí yekem, detuwané be régey jiluberg u serepetí díkey ruwaletí ra héndék guman sebaret be kesí duwem le zeyní xoy da gelale bika – ewe le ser Inglístan raste u péwíst naka le jégay díkesh awa bé – belam boy zor zehmete rastewrast, her nebé lew qonaxey nasiyawída, sebaret be pashxaní komelayetí ew pirsiyarí lé bika, ewey ke ew detuwané bíka – u hemú shitékí ke le doxí awa da dekré be anqest niye - eweye ke we qisey bihéné u legellí bidwé. Duwaye kesí yekem lewaneye be hasaní héndék shití sebaret be kesí duwem bo derkewé. Ew shitaney ziyatir beweyra ke kesekey díke delé cí bo dernakewé belkú ewey ke coní delé, cunkú her katék éme qise dekeyn natuwanín héndék shit bo gwégirí xoman sebaret be recelekí xoman u ewey ke ci jore kesékín nedirkénín. Rawéjh (accent) í éme u qise kirdinman be gishtí níshan deden éme xelkí kweyn, u ci jore pashxanékman heye. Lewaneye éme héndék níshaney bír u ra u bocúní xoshman derbibrín, u gisht ew zaniyaríyane dekré le layen ew xelkey éme qiseyan legell dekeyn bekarbihéndré bo ewey yarmetíyan pébika bírurayek sebaret be éme gelale ken.

Ew dú layeney akarí zimaní le ruwangeyekí komelayetiyewe zor giríngin: yekem, erkí ziman bo damezrandiní péwendí komelayetí, u, duwem, ew dewrey ziman deygéré le guwastinewey zaniyarí sebaret be axéwer. Ewe ashkiraye ke ew her dú layeney akarí zimaní rengdanewey ew rastiyen ke péwendiyekí dú layeney néwxoyí zor nizík heye le néwan ziman u komell da, u lem kitébeda be wurdí le ser herdúkyan jext dekeynewe.

Jaré, ba le ser layení duwem rawestín wate dewrí ziman wekú' helgirí serepet 'clue- bearing’. Kesí yekem be régey geran be duway serepet da sebaret be kesí duwem, lew régeye kelik werdegiré ke xelkí ser be pashxaní jiyawazí komelayetí u jiyawazí jugrafiyayí zimaní jiyawaz bekarí dehénin. Bo nimúne, eger kese duweme Inglísiyeke xelkí dewerí Norfolk bé, ew renge be zimanék qise bika ke xelkí ew beshey wulat be karí dehénin. Eger kesí duwemekesh bazrganékí ser be cíní néwerast bé, ew be 'shéwe zimanék' qise deka ke be í ewan denasrétewe. Ew ' shéwe qise kirdine' zor jar wek lehje, hémay pé dekré, lew nimúnaneda ewey yekemyan lehjey herémí u ewey duwemyan lehjey komelayetí ye. Zarawey lehje, zaraweyekí nasrawe u zorbey xelk péyan waye ewan bash dezanin manay ciye. Egercí, le rastída, be taybetísh zor hasan niye manay ew zaraweye diyarí bikiré – u eme sebaret be dú zarawey díkesh ke péshtir basman kird wate ziman language u rawéjh ‘accent’ ísh her waye.

Ba jaré serinjí xoman le ser zarawegelí ziman ‘language’ u lehje ‘dialect’ ko bikeynewe. Híc kamyan nwénerayetí cemkékí be taybetí diyarí u bé emlawewla naken. Bo nimúne, ta ew jéiyey degerétewe ser lehje ‘dialect’, le Inglístan ewe delwé, ke basí ' lehjey Norfolk ' yan ' lehjey Suffolk' bikré, le layekí díkewe, miro bo nimúne deshtuwané basí lehjey ziyatirí Norfolk bika - wate ' rojhhelatí Norfolk ' u yan ' Bashúrí Norfolk '. Tenanet jiyawazí néwan ' lehjey Norfolk ' u ' lehjey Suffolk ' ísh ewende bederewe u ashkira niye ke miro bírí lé dekatewe. Eger éwe le Norfolkewe berew suffolk sefer biken, ew dewr u berey ke berew Bashúr da péyda decin eger léy bikolnewe gwétan le lehjegelí gundaney xoparéz debé, u be laní kemewe le héndék shwén botan derdekewé, ke xesletekaní zimaní ew lehjane bere bere degordirén le jéyekewe ta shwénékí díke. Le néwan lehjegelí Norfolk u Suffolk da dabiranékí ashkiray zimaní bedí nakiré. Ewe nalwé be régey zarawey zimannasane da diyarí bikré u rabigeyéndiré ke le kwé ídí xelk be lehjey Norfolk qise naken u le kwé dest deken be qise kirdin be lehjey Suffolk. Lére da, zinjíreyekí lehjeyí jugrafiyayí le goré daye, eger éme béyn u ewey ke ew dú lehjane le yektirí dadebiré be sinúrí néwan dú estaneke dabinéyn, biryarekeman le ser binemay komelayetí (lem nimúneye da hukúmetí nawceyí – siyasí) ye ta ewey ke le ser binemay rastiye zimaniyekan bé.

Heman jore gírugirft legell zarawe u kutey ziman déte goré. Bo nimúne, Holendí u Almaní be dú zimaní jiyawaz dadendirén, legell eweshda, le héndék shwén le ser sinúrekaní Holend – Alman ew lehjaney lember u ewberí sinúr qiseyan pé dekré yekjar zor we yektirí decin. Eger éme biléyn ke xelik le berékí sinúr be zimaní Almaní u lew berí be zimaní Holendí qise deken, biryar danekeman dísan le ser binemay komelayetí u siyasiye ta ewey ke be péy hokare zimannasiyekan bé. Ew pinkte ewendey díkesh be hoy ew rastiyewe dadegírétewe ke axéweran le her dúk berí sinúr zor jar zor ziyatir le yektirí tédegen ta ewey ke axéweraní Almaní ew nawceye le axéweraní lehjekaní Almaní shwéne dúrtirekaní Utrísh yan Swís tébigen. Ke wabú, le hewldan bo ewey da ke miro biryar bida kesék be ci zimanék qise deka, éme detuwanín biléyn eger dú axéwerí ke túshí yek dén le yektirí ténegen, ewan be zimaní jiyawaz qise deken. Her awash, detuwanín biléyn eger ewan le yektirí tébigen ewe be heman zimaní wek yek qise deken. Ashkiraye, ewe deman geyénéte akamékí seyr sebaret be Holendí u Almaní, u le rastída, le zor nimúney díkesh da.

Boye, bekar hénaní péwaney ' le yek tégeyshtiní dú layene ', yan péwaney díkey be tewawí zimannasane le hokargelí siyasí u kultúrí kemtir giríngn ke dú xesletí here giríngiyan birítín le otonomí (serbexoyí) u hétronomí (pé bestiranewe). éme dekré biléyn zimaní Holendí u zimaní Almaní otonomin cunkú her dúkyan serbexon, shéwezarí standard kirawí zimanékin, ke her kameyan jhiyaní le mer xoyan heye. Le layekí díkewe lehje standard nekrawekaní Alman, Utrísh, u beshí Almaní axéwerí Swís hemúyan be nísbet Almaní standardewe hétronomin, wate péy bestirawnewe, sereray ew rastiyey ke deshé ewan zor we yektirí necin u renge héndékyan zor we lehje Holendiyekan bicin. Emesh le ber eweye ke axéweraní ew lehje Almaníyane zimaní Almaní wek zimaní standardí xoyan caw lé deken, be Almaní dexwénnewe u denúsn, u le radyo u télévízíon da gwé le Almaní degirn. Axéweraní lehjekan le berí Holendí sinúr, be heman shéwe rojhname Holendiyekan dexwénnewe u be Holendí name denúsn, u her jore goranékí standard kirdin le lehjekanyanda rú bida be arastey Holendí standard da dekré, nek be rébazí Almaní standard da.

Nimúneyekí zor tíjhper ke tebí'etí komelnasízimananey ew dú zaraweye wate ziman u lehje derdexa dekiré le Skandínaviya werbigíré. Norwéjhí, Swédí u Danmarkí gishtyan otonom u zimaní standardin, u her kameyan zimaní sé dewlet netewey jiyawazin. Serbaqí ewesh, xelkí xwéndewar u perwerdedítúy her sékyan detuwanin be hasaní le yektirí tébigen. Belam sereray ew tégeyishtin u le yek halí búney dú layenesh, ci manay niye bigutré Norwéjhí, Swédí u Danmarkí le rastída yek zimanin. cunkú eme nakokiyekí rastewxo le mer rastiye siyasí u kultúríyekan saz deka.

Em léduwan u qise le ser kirdiney tené bekarhénaní péwerí zimannasane bo dabesh kirdiní shéwezare zimaniyekan be zimanan yan lehjegelí jiyawaz, ke éme duwatir dísan lem kitébe da léyan dedwéyn, yekem rúberúhatiní éme legel gírugirftéke ke le lékolínewe u twéjhínewey ziman u komell da zor bawe- ewísh gírugirftí napeywestí u berdewamétí ye, wate daxuda dabeshbúní diyarde zimaní u komelayetiyekan be ser hebúní jiyawaz derasteqaní da ci binaxeyekí heye, yan tené birítiye le efsaneyekí xosh. Lére da bashe hémay pé bikré ewe gírugirftéke cunkú zarawey wekú ' cockney ' , ' Brooklynese ' , ' Yorkshire accent ', Inglísí Awstiraliyayí' Austiralan English ' zor jar bekar dehéndrén wek ewey ke ewan shéwezarí xo selmén u xobesí jwé jwé bin be xesletí be tewawí sinúr diyaríkirawí ashkirawe. Zor jar hasane miro bilé ewe waye, belam miro debé hemíshe le bírí bé ke wéney rasteqíne dekré ta radeyekí bercaw zor lewe aloztir u pécelpéctir bé. Bo nimúne, éme detuwanín basí' Inglísíy Kanadayí' u ' Inglísíy Emríkayí' bikeyn wek ewey ke be tewawí dú hebúní jiyawaz bin, belam le rastí da zor zehmete níshaneyekí taqaney zimannasane peyda bikré ke le gisht shéwezarekaní Inglísí Kanadayí da hawbesh bé u le híc shéwezarékí Inglísí Emríkayí da nebé.

Eger lem nuxteye da tené her badeynewe ser rastiye zimaniyekan, lére da jwé kirdineweyekí díkesh debé bikré. Mebest le zarawey lehje, eger zor be cirí basí léwe bikeyn, amajheye bew shéweye le jiyawazíyan de néwan zimanda ke jiyawaziyekaní wusheyí u réziman u her weha telefuz kirdin weber degiré. Le layekí díkewe zarawey accent (rawéjh) tené hémaye be jiyawazí le telefuz kirdin da, u zor jar girínge ke em duwane be tewawí le yektirí bikrénewe. Ewe be tewawí le basí zimaní Inglísí da raste, sebaret bew lehjeyey ke be Inglísí standard denasré. Le zor layení giríngewe ew lehjeye le lehjekaní díkey Inglísí jiyawaze, u le jéda zor kes lewaneye péyan seyr bé ke wek lehje amajhe be Inglísí standard bikiré. legell eweshda, ta ew jégeyey ke Inglísí standard le rúy réziman u qamúsiyewe le shéwezarekaní díkey Inglísí jiyawaze, tewaw rewaye ke wek lehje le ber caw bigíré: zarawey lehje bo amajhe kirdin be hemú shéwezarekan dekiré bekar bihéndré, nek her tené bo amajhe kirdin be shéwezare nastandardekan. (serinj biden éme zarawey variety (shéwezar) wekú zaraweyekí bélayen bekar dehénín bo amajhe kirdin be her' shéweyekí ziman' ke bimanewé qisey le ser bikeyn.)

Inglísíy standard ew shéwe shéwezareye ke be asayí le cap kirdin da dekar dekirdré, u be asayí le medresan be deris degutrétewe u be ew kesaney ke axéwerí xojéyí zimaneke nín u deyanewé férí bin fér dekiré. Her weha ew shéwezareshe ke be asayí xelkí xwéndewar u perwerde dítú qisey pédeken u le bilaw kirdinewey dengubas u barudoxe haw shubarekanda bekar dehéndiré. Debé ew xale jext bikrétewe, jiyawazí le néwan zimaní standard u nastandard, le pirénsíp da híc péwendí niye be jiyawazí néwan zimaní resmí u zimaní qise pékirdin u zarekiyewe, yan cemkí wek 'zimaní xirap'. Inglísí standard hem shéwey resmí u hem shéwey zarekí heye, u axéweraní Inglísí standard wek axéweraní shéwezarekaní dí jinéw deden. (ewe péwíste amajhey pébikré cunkú wa wédecé héndék kes péyan wabé eger kesék zarawey remekí (slang expressons) yan destewshe u ristey naresmí dekar kird ídí ewe be standardí Inglísí qise naka. )Le rúy méjhúyíewe, shéwezarí standardí zimaní Inglísí le ser binemay ew lehje Inglísíyane péshkewit ke le Lenden u dewr u berí qiseyan pédekra u ew lehjane be dem sedeyanewe be bekar hénanyan le layen axéweranewe le dadgeyan, le layen zanayaní zankokan u núseraní díke alugoryan téda kira, u duwatirísh le xwéndinge gishtiyekan da (public shools) (birwane xwarewetir). Be téperíní zeman, ew Inglísíyey le layen endamaní cíní serewey komell da le sharí pétext dekar dekira be shéweyekí tewaw cawrakésh le zimaní deste komelayetiyekaní díke dúr kewtewe u le rewtí xoyda bú be modél u sermeshqék bo gisht ewaney deyanewíst be "bashí" qise biken u binúsn. Katék capkirdin be berbilawí dahat, ew forme Inglísiyey be berbilawí de kitébanda dekar dekira, u egercí zor goraníshí bexoyewe dí, hemíshe xesletí xoy wek beriztirín símay zimaní Inglísí parastuwe.

De néw Inglísí standard da jhimareyek jiyawazí herémí hen ke serinjí miro berew lay xoyan radekéshin. Bo nimúne Inglísí standardí Skatlendí be híc jor 'eyní heman Inglísí standardí Inglísí niye, u Inglísí standardí Emríkayí le héndék ruwewe tenanet zor le Inglísí standardí Inglísí jiyawaztire. Jiyawaziyekan birítín le jhimareyekí zorí wushey nasraw wek lift (asansor)í Birítanyayí, elevator í Inglísí, u héndék wurderíshalí rézimaní: Birítanyayí: I have got (werim girtuwe). Emríkayí. I have gotten, Inglísí: It needs washing. SkatlendíIt needs washed. Her weha jhimareyekí díkesh jorejoreyí heye ke taybetí heréme picúktirekanin, wekú héndék beshí Bakúr u Néwerastí Inglístan be berawerd kirdin legel shíwezarí Bashúr. Bakúrí ínglístan You need your hair jutting (péwístít be múy ser qule kirdinewe heye). Bashúr:. You need your hair cut, legell ewesh da, be gishtí, Inglísí standard rézimanékí be berbilawí pejhréndiraw u kokirawey heye. Le néw xelkí perwerdedítú u xwéndewar, u be taybetí ew kesaney ke pile u payeyekí pitewyan heye u bedestelatin, - tewafuqékí gishtí heye ke ci Inglísí standarde u ci Inglísí standard niye - Inglísí standard eweye, ke le serewera be ser zinjíreyek lehjegelí herémí dasepawe - zinjírey lehjeyí – u her boyesh dekré be shéwezarékí zimaní leserewera dandiraw néwzed bikiré.

Legell eweshda, ew tewafuqí gishtiye sebaret be telefuzkirdin (pronunciaton) le goré da niye. ci standardékí hemúgirewey didanpédahéndiraw bo rawéjh (accent) í Inglísí standard le ara da niye, u be laní kemewe, be qise, ewe dest deda ke Inglísí standard be her rawéjhékí herémí yan komelayetí qisey pé bikirdré. (le kirdewe da héndék rawéjhgel (accents) hene ke zor nawceyín u í ew jore destanen ke beréjhe kemyan xwénduwe u perwerdeyekí ewtoyan nebuwe, u emesh le Inglísí standard da zor rú nada, belam be péwístí híc péwendiyek le néwan rawéjh yan rawéjhgelékí taybetí da niye. ) Her weha tené rawéjhék heye ke le Inglísí standard da debíndré. Ewísh rawéjhí Inglísí Birítanyayiye, yan zor wurdtirí biléyn rawéjhí Inglísíy Inglísí, ke zimannasan be RP (‘received pronunciaton’) wate (telefuzí wexo kiraw) í denasn. Eme ew rawéjheye ke ta radeyekí zor le 'xwéndinge gishtiye' shew u rojhí u girane Inglísiyekanda pésh xira u eshraf u twéjhí serewey cíne serewekan layengiryan lé dekird, her nebé bo kurekaní xoyan, u her ew rawéjheshe ke ta ew nizíkanesh péwíst bú bo ew kesaney le BBC da béjherí biken. Em rawéjhe le zimaní xelik da néwí jor be jorí heye wek ' Inglísí Aksfordí', ' Inglísíy BBJ 'u héshtash ew rawéjh (accent) ye ke férí ew kesaney dekiré ke zimaní zigmakiyan Inglísí niye u deyanewé telefuzí Birítanyayí fér bin.

RP le rúyekewe be réjhe naasayi ye cunkú jhimareyekí kem lew axéweraney bekarí dehénin xoyan be herémékí jugrafiyayí taybetiyewe debestinewe u xoyaní péwe denasnewe. RP ta radeyekí zor her be Inglístanewe bertenge, egercí le pashmawey durgekaní Birítaniya (British Isles) (u ta radeyekí kemtir, le Australia, Newzealand u Efríqay Xuwarú) sh da be piréstíjhe. Ta ew jégey bigerétewe ser Inglístan, RP rawéjhékí na nawcey ye, legel eweshda, be péwístí qisekirdin be RP be manay qise kirdin be Inglísí standard niye. Inglísí standard dekré be her kam le rawéjhe herémiyekan qisey pé bikirdré, u le jhimareyekí here zorí nimúnanísh da be asayí her awaye.

Le ber ewey ziman diyardeyekí komelayetí ye zor le nizíkewe be binaxey komell u sístmekaní nirx u behay komelewe bestirawetewe, lehje u rawéjhgelí jiyawaz be régey jiyawazewe heldesengéndrén. Bo nimúne, Inglísíy standard pile u piréstíjhí zor le her kam le lehje Inglísiyekaní díke ziyatire. Eme lehjeyeke ke xelkékí zor zor be berzí denirxénin, u héndék berjhewendí abúrí, komelayetí u siyasí bo ew kesane be diyarí dehéné ke bew lehjeye qise deken u denúsn. RP ísh piréstíjhékí yekjar berzí heye, her weha héndék le rawéjh (accent)[s[e Emríkayiyekan. Le rastída ' 'eqlí nerítí' zorbey komele Inglísí axéwerekan zor lewey ziyatir tédeperéné. Inglísíy standard u rawéjhe be piréstíjhekan ewende be pile u paye u shan u shewketin ke ewan be berbilawí be 'durust', 'juwan' , ' xosh', ' pak' u htd. dadendirén. Shéwezarekaní díkey na standard u bé piréstíjh zor jar be 'hele', 'nahez', 'tékcú' u 'naxosh' denirxéndirén. Lewesh ziyatir, Inglísíy standard jar jar her xoy be zimaní Inglísí dadendiré u bes, ewesh bé ewey xoy lé biparézdiré degate ewey ke shéwezarekaní díkey Inglísí be joreyek ladan le péwer bijhmérdrén, u ew laderiyesh be tenbelí, nezaní u nebúní hushyarí u jhírí deqebléndré. Be shéweyekí ewto be mílyonan ínsan ke zimaní daykíyan Inglísiye han dedrén wa bír bikenewe ke ewan' natuwanin be Inglísí qise biken'.

Legell eweshda, rastí eweye, ke Inglísí standard tené shéwezaréke le néw jhimareyekí zor shéwezar da, egercísh yekí be taybetí giríngiyane. Le ruwangey zimannasanewe, ewe nakré rewayetí ewey bidaté ke le shéwezarekaní díke be bashtir da bindiré. Lékolínewey zanistíyaney ziman zanayaní geyanduwete ew bawerey ke gisht zimanan, u peywest be wan gisht lehjekan wekú sístimgelí zimaní be yeksaní 'bash'in. Hemú shéwezarekaní zimanék xawení sístimgelí binaxe daréjhraw, pécelpéc u aloz, u xo beréweberin ke betewawí bejé u lebarin bo raperandiní pédawístiyekaní axéweranyan. Ewe degate ew xaley ke dawerí kirdin sebaret be nirx u behay durustí u pakí shéwezare zimaniyekan komelayetí ye ta ewey ke zimannasane bé. Híc shitékí ewto le zatí shéwezare nastandardekanda niye ke kem nirixtir u picúktiryan katewe. Her jore kem nirxí u picúktir búní ruwaletí yan le ber eweye ke ewan zimaní axéweraní kem ímtiyaz u destey pile nizmin. Be gutinékí dí bocún u dítin sebaret be lehjegelí nastandard ew bocún u dítinanen ke binaxey komelayetí komell téyanda reng dedenewe. Be heman shéwe, nirx u bayexe komelayetiyekan dekiré lew dawerí kirdinaneda reng bidenewe ke sebaret be shéwezare zimaniyekan dekirén. Bo nimúne, le shwénékí wekú Birítaniya ke sharnishíní tewaw téyda péshkewtuwe, rawéjhe gundiyekan, wekú rawéjhekaní Devonshire, Northumberland yan berzayiyekaní Skatlend Scottish Highlands, be le gwéyan xosh, dilgir, sernjrakésh u betam dabindrén. Le layekí díkewe rawéjhgelí sharyane, wekú ewaney Birmingham, Newcastle yan Lenden, zor jar wek nahez, sercil u naxosh deqebiléndrén. Ew jore bocúne sebaret be shéwey qise kirdiní gundiyane le Dewlete Yekgirtuwekaní Emríka zor baw niye, u ew jiyawaziye dekré be bashí lewe da reng bidatewe ke nirxandiní jhiyaní derewey sharí lew dú wulatane da jiyawaze.

Em nimúnaney xuwarewe radey ewey ke daweríkirdin sebaret be durust bún u pakí shéwezar u xeslete zimaniyekan cende komelayetíyanen ta ewey zimannasane bin derdexen. Gisht rawéjhekaní (accents) Inglísí dengékí /r/ yan le wushey wekú rat, rije da heye u zorbeyan le wushey wekú jarry , sorry da /r/ e yekeyan debístiré. Le layekí díkewe, jhimareyek rawéjh hen ke le wushey wekú jart u jar da dengí /r/yan niye. Ew wushane le rabirdú da, wek núsínekeyan níshan deda dengékí /r/ yan hebuwe, belam lew rawéjhaneda ew denge kilor buwe jige lew wushaneda nebé ke ber le vawélék heldekewé. Dengí /r/ le besténí díke da – wekú le kotayí wushey (car) yan ber le konsonant (cart)- dekiré wekú /r/ ékí ' na ber le vokal' basí léwe bikiré. Ew rawéjhaney ke /r/í na – ber le vokal yan niye birítín le héndék le rawéjhan le Dewlete Yekgirtuwekaní Emríka u Héndí rojhawa, zor le rawéjhekaní Inglístan, zor le rawéjhekaní Weylz u Níwzílend, u gisht rawíjhekaní Australiya u Efríqay Xuwarú. Lew rawéjhane da júte wushey wek ma u mar be tewawí wekú yek telefuz dekirén. Ja ésta éme eger rawéjhekaní Inglístan u Emríka lemer ew níshaneye beyekewe berawird bikeyn, rastiyekí cawrakéshman bo rún debétewe. Le Inglístan, legel yeksan búní shitekaní díke, ew rawéjhaney ke /r/í na-ber le vokal yan niye pileyeyan berztire u be 'durust'tir lew rawéjhane dadendirén ke heyane. RP( telefuzí wexo kiraw) wate rawéjhí be piréstíjh ew /r/ey niye, u /r/í na- ber le vokal zor jar le radíyo u télévízíon u tiyatir da be kar dehéndré bo níshandaní ewey ke keseke xelkí derewey shar, perwerdenedítú yan herdúkyane- zor jar miro le zinjírey komédí radíyowe deybísté bo ewey xesletí galteamalí bidrkéndiré. Le layekí díkewe, egercí barudoxí ew denge le Dewlete Yekgirtuwekaní Emríka zor aloztire, le héndék le beshekaní wulat da tewaw be pécewaney raste. Le sharí New York, legell yeksan búní shitekaní díke, ew rawéjhaney ke /r/í na-ber le vokal yan heye zor be piréstíjhtir u 'durust' tir lew rawéjhaney dadendirén ke níyane. Telefuz kirdiní wushey wek jar u jart be bé /r/ le rúy komelayetiyewe be nizmí dezandiré u be gishtí, axéweran ewendey le terazúy komelayetí da le serewetir bé, ewendesh réy tédcé ke ziyatir /r/ na- ber le vokal bekar bihénin. Le sharekaní Inglístanda ke her dú jore telefuz kirdineke dekiré bibístirén, wek le Bristol u Reading, ew nimúneye tewaw be pécewaneye. Be gutinékí dí, daweríkirdiní nirx u beha sebaret be ziman, le ruwangey zimannasanewe, be tewawí xoserane u bé hoye. Le /r/ í na-ber le vokal da shitékí zatí bash yan xirap, durust yan hele, helkewtú yan bé kultúr niye. Dawerí kirdiní ew shéwe ye dawerí kirdiní komelayetín ke le ser binawaní manapédaní komelayetí helnirawin le mer xesletékí zimaní taybetí le nawceyekí berbas da.

Ew rastiyey ke awaye, bew manaye niye zimannasan pé lewe nanén ke komell shéwezare zimaniye jiyawaziyekan be shéwey jiyawaz denrxéné. shékirdinewey zimaní basí lebarbúní shéwezarekan u ('nek durust búnyan) bo helumerjí jiyawaz dehénéte goré, u bernamey férkirdiní zimaní bégane be asayí wa péshxirawe ke shéwezarí standardí zimanék férí férxwazan bika. Le heman katda, zorék le zimannasan lew baweredan ke ew jore bocún u dítiney le serewe da basí léwe kira héndék jar dekré sedeme bigeyéné. Bo nimúne detuwané akamí dilnexwazí derúnnasaney komelayetí u perwerdeyí lé bikewétewe eger ew mamostayaney ke Inglísí standard férí axéweraní shéwezare nastandardekan deken sebaret be shéwey qisekirdiní shagirdekanyan dujhmnayetí binwénin (biruwane bendí 10í em kitébe).

Zimannasan her weha le ber hoy díke serinj dedene ser bocúní zeynísh sebaret be ziman. Ew jore bocúnane giríngn, bo nimúne le lékolínewey goraní zimanda, u zor jar detuwanin yarmetí biken bo shíkirdinewey ewey bocí lehjekan degordirén, kengé u con degordirén. Lékolíneweyek sebaret be shéwey axawtiní sharí New York le layen komelzimannasí pésheng Willam Labov níshan deda le sherí Dinyagirewey Duwem bemlayewe dengí /r/í na-ber le vokal lew share da le qisekirdiní twéjhí serewey cíní mamnéwnjí da yekjar zor ziyadí kirduwe. Ewey búte hoy ew gorane dekré leber hatiní be léshawí axéweran lew jore shwénanewe bé bo shar le mawey sher da ke le qisekirdiní ewanda /r/í na-ber le vokal standard yan níshaneyekí piréstíjh buwe, belam ew gorane zor ashkiratir leber goranékí péwendídare le bocúní zeynída sebaret be telefuzkirdiní ew jore le layen gisht axéweraní sharí New Yorkewe. Be dem lékolínekewe bocúní zeyní zanyaríderekan taqí dekirawe bo ewey bizandiré daxuda ewan /r / í na-ber le vokal be níshaneyekí piréstíjh dadenén yan na. Ewaney ke wulamekanyan níshaní deda ke ew /r / e boyan níshaneyekí piréstíjhe be ' r- pozítív' be néw kiran. Xishtey jhimare 1 le sedí twéjhí serewey axéweraní cíní mamnéwnjí le sé destey temení níshan deda ke 'r – pozítív' bún legell lesedí mamnéwnjí bekarhatiní /r / í na-ber le vokal le qisekirdiní asayí le néw her heman sé deste da. Le xishteke da debíndré bo ew axéweraney ke temenyan le xuwarewey cil salan buwe bekarhénaní /r/ í na-ber le vokal le qisekirdinyan da zéde búnékí zorí péwe diyare. Tenanet be kar hénaní /r / le layen axéweraní jewantiríshewe zor ziyadí kirduwe. Belgekaní díke deyselménin ke goraní bocúní zeyní hoy ew gorane bún ta ewey ke akamí bin. Wate goran le bocún u dítiní zeyní da, geywete goran le nimúney qise kirdin da, egercí le rastída tené ewe twéjhí serewey cíní mamnéwnjí buwe ke goranékí giríngí le qisekirdiní xoyda pék hénawe.

Xishtey 1. bocún sebaret be bekarhénaní / r /í na- ber le vokal: le néw twéjhí serewey
cíní mamnéwnjí le sharí New York da
Le néw 100 zanyaríder da ke temenyan le néwan 8-19 salan buwe 48 kesiyan /r/í ber- le vokalyan bekar hénawe
Le néw 100 zanyaríder da ke temenyan le néwan 29 – 39 salan buwe 34 kesiyan /r/í ber- le vokalyan bekar hénawe
Le néw 62 zanyaríder da ke temenyan le serewey 40 salan buwe 9 kesyan /r/í ber- le vokaliyan bekar hénawe

Bocúní zeyní sebaret be shéwe zimaniyekan hemíshe ew jore kartékeriyey nabé. Nimúney serewe níshan deda eger telefuz kirdinékí taybetí de néw komelgeyekí taybetída be níshaney piréstíjh dabindré, ídí ew demí lasay dekirétewe u gewre dekrétewe. Ew jore pévajhoye dekré berew arastey pécewanesh birwa. Le Vineyardí Martha, ke le rabirdú da durgeyekí terík bú le nizík qeraxí New Zealand le Bakúrí Rojhhelatí Dewlete Yekgirtuwekaní Emríka, le akamí zéde búní serdaní xelk lew durgeye ke le mangekaní hawín da bo hesanewe decúne ewé goraní cawrakéshí komelayetí pék hat. Ew gorane komelayetíyane alugorí zimaníshyan be dú dahat. Ew lékolínewaney ke kirawn, dísan le layen Labovewe, níshan deden dengí vawél le wushekaní wek house, moute, loud da lew durgeye da be dú jorí jiyawaz telefuz dekrén. (ewe le ser telefuz kirdiní wushey wek ride u right ísh her waye.) Yek lew telefuzane kemtir be piréstíjh u telefuzí konebawí taybetí le mer durgekeye u be teqríb awa telefuz dekiré [ hus ] , ke yekem kutí díftongeke , zor we dengí vawélí wushey shirt decé yan yekem vawél le wushey about [ibawt] da. Ew telefuzey duweme le durgekeda zor taze ye, u zor le nizíkewe we shéwey derbiríní vawél le RP (telefuzí wexokiraw) u héndék le rawéjhekaní be piréstíjhí bejhayiyekaní Emríka decé: wek [haws] u [ebawt]. Seyre, ew karaney le salaní 1960 kanda kirawn níshan deden shéwey ' kone baw'í telefuz kirdin le ziyad bún buwe. Telefuzí [aw] gewre dekrayewe u zor ziyatir le axawtiní xelkékí ziyatir da debítsra. Derkewt ke ew alugore zimaniye le ber bocún u dítiní zeyní axéweraní durgeke sebaret be ew shéwe zimaniye buwe. Xelkí xojéyí durgeke hestí bézaríyan beranber hérshí beléshawí xelkí derewe u ew goran u dadoshíne abúriyey le tek xoyda hénabúy téda pék hatbú. Ja boye ew xelkaney ke zor le nizíkewe xoyan be shéwey jhiyaní durgekewe denasiyewe destyan kird be gewre kirdinewey telefuzí taybetí durgeke, bo ewey naséney jiyawazí komelayetí u kultúrí xoyan níshan biden, u bawerí xoyan be nirx u behay kon jext bikenewe. Ewe manay ewe bú ke telefuzkirdiní ' kone baw' le rastída le layen héndék beshí jewantirí komelgeke bújhéndirayewe u we birew xira. Ew meyle zor zeqtir be shéwe qisekirdiní ew jewananewe diyar bú ke le durgekewe bo kar cúbúne sharan u gerabúnewe - be wedwadanewey jhiyan le wanda. Belam ewe le néw ewaney da arezúyan bú le durgeke barken u le bejhayiyekan bijhín laní here kem bú. Ew pévajhoye ta radeyek layení wushyaraney hebú leweyda ke axéweran bew rastiyeyan dezaní ke rawéjhí durgeke jiyawaze, belam ew wushiyariye nedegeyshte nasíní giríngí díftongeke xoy. legell eweshda, axéweran, bé ewey hestí pébiken sebaret be giríngí komelayetí ew telefuz kirdineyan dezaní, u bocúnyan sebaret bew le ber bocún u dítiní komelayetíyan eréyí bú. Be gutinékí dí, goraní zimaní hemíshe be arastey péwerí be piréstíjh da nacé. Be pécewane, hemú jore dítin u bocúní díkey sebaret be ziman debé le ber caw bigírén. Ziman detuwané hokarékí zor giríng bé bo nasínewey desteyí, hawpéwendí desteyí u derbirín u níshandaní jiyawazí, u katék desteyek bikewéte ber hérshí derewey xoy, níshane u derbirí jiyawaziyekan lewaneye giríngiyekí zortir peyda biken u gewretir bikrénewe.

Le bendekaní duwatirí em kitébe da éme héndék le péwendiye aloze néwkoyiyekaní ziman u komell dekolínewe, ke le néw ewanda bocúne zeyniyekan her rehendékyanin. Ew jore péwendiye néwkoyiyane zor shéweyan heye. Le zor nimúnanda éme haw-ceshnawceshní zimaní u diyarde komelayetiyekan bedí dekeyn, bawekú ewe, le héndék nimúne da, zor bejétire péwendiyeke her tené berew arasteyekewe le ber caw bigíré – wate baladestí u karlékerí komell le ser ziman, yan be pécewane. éme léreda dekiré le nimúneyekí ew péwendiye yek layeneyewe dest pébikeyn ke wa dandirawe lemer kardanewey zimane le ser komel. Ruwangeyek heye, ke be shéwey jiyawaz le layen zimannasaní jorbejorewe pésh xirawe, ke zor jar wekú ferziyey sapír- orf ‘ Sapir- Whorf hypothesis ‘ amajhey pédekiré, u néwí dú merdmnas u zimannasí Emríkayí wate édward Sapír u Bényamín Worf í léndrawe, u zor jar péwendí dedrétewe be néwí ew dú zanaye. Ew ferziyeye teqríben delé axéweraní xojéyí ziman zinjíreyek katagorí pék dehénin ke wekú joreyek shebeke heldesúrén u be réy eme da le dinya tédegen, her weha ew shebekeye shéwey polénkirdin u cemkandiní diyarde jiyawazekan le layen ewanewe berteng deka. Zimanék detuwané be régey kartékirdin yan tenanet kontirol kirdinewe form bida be ruwangey jíhaní qisepékeranyewe. Lew bareyewe zorbey zimane be recelek Urúpayiyekan zor weyektirí decin, ewísh renge le ber péwendí hawbeshí jhénétíkíyan u, zor giríngtir lewesh, péwendí u tékelawí dúrudréjhí kultúrí ewan legell yektir u ew komelane da bé ke téyanda qiseyan pédekirdré; renge dítin u ruwangey jíhaní axéweranyan u komelekanyan le ber ew hoye be híc jor zor le yek dúr nebin. Ja, eger, jiyawazí zimaní jiyawazí tégeyshtin u nasín berhem bihéné, éme debé ewe be régey le ber yek ronan u berawurd kirdiní komelék le zimanan lék deynewe ke le rúy kultúriyewe zimananí zor jiyawaz u leyektirí dabirawin.

Bo nimúne, zimane Urúpayiyekan, zeman bekar dehénin. Diyare ew bekarhénane wenebé be tewawí wekú yek bé, belam be asayí zor dijhwar niye, ba biléyn shéweyekí Inglísí werbigérdiréte ser hawtakey be Feranseyí yan Almaní. Le layekí díkewe, héndék le zimanan le beshekaní díkey dinya, zemanyan niye, be laní kemewe bew shéweyey éme deyzanín. legell eweshda, ewan de zimanekanyan da dekré dú shéwey kirdar u shéwey calakiye jiyawazekan le yektirí bikenewe ke axéweraní Urúpayí eme be shéweyekí díke níshan deden u be dewrí da dexulénewe. Bo nimúne, shéwey kirdar, dekré ferq be jiyawazíyan bikré be péy ewey ke axéwer basí barudoxék degérétewe yan caweréy barudoxék deka, yan be péy mewday rúdaweke, xérayí, yan xesletekaní díke. Ja boye, ewe seyr niye, eger téruwaníní ew xelkey ke zimanekeyan 'zemanan' gerdan naka le téruwaníní éme bo jíhan ta radeyek jiyawaz bé: Tégeyishtiní ewan le kat, u tenanet le mer 'ílet u me'lúlísh, lewaneye taradeyek jiyawaz bé.

Nimúneyekí zor be wurderíshaltir ew barudoxe rún dekatewe. Em shéwaney kirdar le xuwarewe le bercaw bigirn le zimaní Hopí da ke yekék le zimane resenekaní Emríkayí ye: jami wate 'shiték' lew ser ew serewe berew néwewe dirawe', jamimita wate 'shiték' 'perawézí léndrawe', hani wate 'shiték' 'be shéwey alqeyí xuwar buwetewe ‘haririta wate ' le ser hélékí pécawpéc helkewtuwe', paji wate 'heldrawe', pajijita wate ' shiték' mishar mishar kirawe', roya wate ' heldegerétewe', royayata wate ' desúrétewe' ber le hemú shit, bo axéweraní zimananí Urúpayí sernjrakéshe , bo nimúne, le zimaní Hopí da: it is bent wate ‘xuwarbuwetewe’ kirdaréke u awelnaw niye. legell ewesh, shití here serinjrakésh, ew shéweyeye ke zimaní Hopí bo derbiríní péwendiyekí rézimaní bekarí dehéné, be régey pévajhoyekí asayí ziman da (wate' dúpate kirdinewey sílabí kotayí u lé ziyad kirdiní ta’) le néwan ew manayane da ke éme debínín péwendíyan beyekewe heye; eger bíryan lé bikeynewe, ke éme be asayí nayanbínín ke péwendíyan beyekewe hebé. Ríshú le rastí da zinjíreyekí lék dabirawe, didane didaneyetí(mishar misharí)le rastída le jhimareyek qelisht pék dé, pécék helbet le berdewamí xuwarbúnewe pék dé. shiteke eweye, le ber ewey zimaní Hopí régeyekí zimaní dehénéte goré bo ewey ew péwendíyane damezréné, éme dekré way danéyn ke axéweraní zimaní Hopí zor ziyatir le axéweraní zimananí dí lew péwendíyane agadarin.

Mebest lem nimúneye eweye níshan bidré ke le héndék nimúnanda jiyawazí néw zimanekan dekré bigate jiyawazí le tégeyishtiní dinya. Ewe derí dexa ke zimaní Hopí be shéwey asayí le péwendí manayí ew ceshne birék be jiyawaz le axéweraní Inglísí tédega, ke héndék boyan dijhware bo sereder kirdin lew péwendiye rézimaniyaney ke le zimaní Hopí da shiyawin. legell eweshda, betewawí bo éme delwé lew péwendíyane ser der bihénín. Lewesh ziyatir, wergéran le néwan zimaní Hopí u zimaní Inglísída be tewawí heldesúré u gunjawe. Ewe níshan dededa ke her jore shéweyekí pitewí ferziyey Sapir- Whorf – le mer ewey - ke, ba biléyn, ziman bír berteng dekatewe- nakré bipejhréndiré u qolí le ser bikéshré. legell eweshda, ew nimúneye dekré awa dabindiré ke bírí 'adetí ta radeyek le layen zimanewe be sinúr dekiré. Axéweraní zimaní Inglísí be shéwey asayí lew péwendiye manayiyaney wa le serewe da níshan dira agadar nín- belam bertengí ewto eger péwíst bé dekré zor be hasaní yekla bikirénewe.

Ferziyey Sapir- Whorf le egerí ewe dedwé ke bocún u téruwaníní ínsanekan sebaret bew dewruberey téyda dejhín dekré be régey zimanekanyanewe sinúrí bo dabindiré. Ewey ke kemtir qise heldegiré péwendí yeklayeneye ke be arasteyekí pécewaneda heldesúré – wate kardanewey komell le ser ziman, u ew shéweyey ke dewr u ber le zimanda reng dedatewe. Yekem, zor nimúne hen bo ew dewrubere fízíkiyey ke komell téyda dejhí ke le zimanekey da rengí dabétewe, be asayí le binawaní henbaney wushaní da- bew shéweyey ke jiyawazí néwan manakan be wushey sadewe derdebirdré. Bo nimúne, le katékda zimaní Inglísí, tené taqe wusheyekí heye bo reindeer, beranekéwí, zimaní Samí (zimaní Laplendí) le Bakúrí Skandínavía cendín wushey bo ew ajhele heye. Hoy eme ashkiraye, bo zimaní samí péwíste bituwané be shéweyekí karíger ceshne jiyawazekaní beranekéwí le yektirí bikatewe. helbet, zimaní Inglísísh, tewaw le wuzey da heye heman le yek kirdineweye bika, bo nimúne bilé ‘immature reindeer’ beranekéwí sawa, ‘two- year-old reindeer’ , berane kéwí dúsale, u htd. Belam le zimaní Samí da ew le yek kirdinewane wushéndrawin lexijalized – wate be wusheyekí sade u takane derdebirdrén.

Nuxtey duwem eweye, ke dewruberí komelayetísh dekré le ziman da reng bidatewe, u detuwané zor jar karlékerí le ser binawaní peyv (vocabulary)ísh da hebé. Bo nimúne, sístimí xizmayetí le komelék da be gishtí le peyvekanída bo diyaríkirdiní xizmekan reng dedatewe, u ewe yek lew hoyaneye ke merdimnasan radekéshé berew ew rehende taybetiyey ziman. Bo nimúne, éme dekré way dabinéyn, ke ew tayaney ke péwendí xizmayetí giríng le komelekaní Inglísí zimanewe beyekewe debestinewe be régey peyví sadey serbexowe níshan dedrén: son kur, daughter kic, grandson newey kur, granddaughter newey kic, brother bira, sister xushk, father bab, mother dayk, mérd husband, wife jhin, grandfather bapír, grandmother nenk, uncle mam, xal, aunt púr, cousin amoza. Helbet, éme detuwanín basí xizmayetí díkesh bikeyn wek eldest son kurí gewre, matenal aunt púr le layení daykewe, great unjle mame gewre u sejond jousin bin amoza, belam jiyawazí néwan púr ' le layen daykewe' u púr ' le layen babewe' le komelí émeda giríng niye, her boyesh le henbaney wushey Inglísí da reng nadatewe u niye.

Ew nuxteye dekré be amajhe kirdin be peyvekaní ke bo xizmayetí le komelgey díke da bekar dehéndirén be wurde ríshaltir shí bikrétewe. Bo nimúne le zimaní xojéyí resení Australiyayí Njhamal (niyamal) da, wekú zimaní Inglísí, pazde wushey wushéndiraw (Lexicalized)bo le yek kirdinewey xizmayetí hen, belam ew shéweyey ke ew zaraweyane legell hawta Inglísiyekanyan berawurd dekrén jiyawaziyekí zor le néwan ew dú komelane da ashkira deken. Zarawey ‘mama’ le zimaní Niyamal da péwendiyekí sadey xizmayetí derdebiré, belam debé be zimaní Inglísí be péy ew cuwar céweyey basí léwe dekré be manay jiyawaz werbigérdiré wekú: bab, mam, amozay néríney daykubab u ítir. Be gutinékí dí, ew zaraweye bo gisht ew nérínane dekar dekirdré ke xizmí babin u ser be wejékn. Bo axéwerí Inglísí, rastí here cawrakésh lére da eweye ke dú wushey Inglísí father bab u unjle mam be zimaní Niyamal dekré wekú yek be zaraweyek werbigérdirén. Ashkiraye ke le yek kirdinewey father bab u father’s brother biray bab le komelí Niyamal da nakré heman giríngí hebé ke le komelí xomanda heyetí. Le layekí díkewe, le katékda zimaní Inglísí zarawey uncle bo biray bab u mérdí xushkí dayk, u her weha biray dayk u mérdí xushkí bab bekar dehéné, zimaní Niyamal bo jútokey yekem, zarawey mama u bo ewí duwemyan ‘karna’ be kar dehéné. Zarawekaní díkey néwlénaní xizman wekú Inglísí wej le yektirí nakatewe, belkú dúrí wejan le yektir dekatewe. Bo nimúne, le zimaní Niyamal da piyawék detuwané heman zarawey maili bo néwhénaní babí babí xoy u xushkí jhiní kurí kicí xoy bekar bihéné, léreda mebest eweye ke kesí ber bas le dú wejaní téperanduwe u boye ew zarawe xizmayetíyane dú layenen – ja eger emin ‘maili’ to bm, etosh maili emní u be pécewane. Le Inglísísh da éme zarawey dú layeneman heye, wekú cousin amoza u brother bira, belam ewane tené le néw 'eyní wej da awan.

Her wek komell bew shéweye le zimanda reng dedatewe, goraní komelayetísh detuwané goraní zimaní lé bizétewe. Bo nimúne, eger binawaní komelí Niyamal be shéweyekí rísheyí goraba u zor ziyatir u nizíktir we komelí Inglísí zimaní Australiyayí cúba, ew demí éme caweruwaní eweman dekird ke sístimí zimaní xizmayetísh her awa goraní be ser dabé. Ewe le mer zimaní Rúsí rúydawe. Le mawey serubendí salaní néwan 1860 ta em rojhgare binawaní sístimí xizmayetí Rúsí le akamí cendín rúdawí giríng da alugorékí rísheyí téda pék hatuwe: rizgarí Sérfekan le salí 1861, sherí Yekemí Dinya girewe, shorshí Komonístí 1917, herwezíkirdiní kishtukal, sherí Duwemí Dinya girewe. shorshékí bercawí komelayetí u her weha siyasí ruwídawe, u ewe goraní péwelkawí zimaníshí legell xoyda hénawe. Bo nimúne, le néwerastí Sedey Nozdehemda, be biray jhinyan degut ‘shurin’, le katék da ésta delén brat zheny wate biray jhin. Her awash péshú be jhiní birayan degut ‘nevestka’, ésta delén zhena brata jhiní bira. Be gutinékí díke, ew le yek kirdinewaney ke le péshú da wushéndrabún (Lexijalized), le ber ewey ke giríng bún, ésta be régey deste wushewe derdebirdirén. Nemaní giríngí ew xizmayetiye taybetíyane, u ew gorane zimaníyaney le tekyan da hatún, le ber ew rastiyen ke goraní komelayetí le Rúsiye akamí geyishte sazbúní binemaley picúkí nawkí.

le Sedey Nozdehemda zorbey Rúsekan le xézaní babmezní gewre da be yekewe dejhyan. Lew serubendí da, dishan(jhinaní birayan) hemuyan ser be xézanék bún, belam ésta be asayí be jiyawazí dejhín u herkes malí xoy heye. Her awash, zarawey ‘yatrov’, ke be manay jhiní biray mérd bú be tewawí kwér buwetewe u bizr buwe. Le zemaní kon da ewe zaraweyekí dú layeney giríng bú, manay, bo jhinék hebú ke bo néwlénaní kesék bekarí bihéné ke le shaní xoyda bú- wate jhinék le derewey rayeley ser be bab mezní xézan ke hatbuwe néw xézanekewe. Le ber ewey ke giríngí ew shan u pileye ídí bizir buwe (helbet xizmayetiyeke xoy na), boye peyve péwelikénekesh nemawe.

Nuxtey séhem eweye, jige le dewruber u binaxey komelayetí, bayex u behakaní komelísh detuwané karlékerí le ser zimanekey hebé. shéwey here serinjrakéshí ke ewe rúdeda be régey diyardeyekeweye ke be taboo (bive) benéwbange. Bive dekré awa binaséndré mebest akaréke ke wa dezandiré be shéweyekí serewey xorskí qedexe bé, yan be naexlaqí u nabejé dabindiré, bive serukarí legell akaréke ke pawane yan be ruwalet kirdeweyekí namentíqí tédaye. Le ziman da, bive bew shitanewe bestirawetewe ke nagutirén u dernabirdirén, be taybetí ew jore wushe u zaraweyaney ke be karnahéndirén. Helbet, le kirdewe da, ewe be sadeyí manay waye ke sebaret be bekarhénaní asayí ew jore shitane qeyd u bend hene- eger ewan her qet negutrén asteme le ziman da biménnewe!

Wushey bive le zorbey zimanekanda hen, u eger zor jar ew résa sinúdiyarí kirawaney ke bekarhénanyan berbest deken recaw nekirén ewe dekré bigate siza diran yan sherm u shúreyí le néw komell da. Zor lexelik qet wushey ew ceshne bekar nahénin, u zor xelkí dísh tené le barudoxí zor besnúr da bekaryan dehénin. legell eweshda, bo ew kesaney wushey bive dekar deken ' shikandiní résayan u pé le berey xo ziyatir rakéshan’ lewaneye narastewxo be níshaney tuwanayí yan azadí dabindiré ke ewan be awatí dexwazin.

Be gishtí, ew jore wusheyey ke le zimanékí taybetí da bivawí ye, rengdaneweyekí bashe be laní kemewe le sístimí ew bayex u baweraney le komelí berbasda hen. Le héndék komelgeyanda, wushey jadúyí dewrékí giríng degéré le dín da, u héndék wushey taybetí ke be behéz dadendirén le efsún u jadú da dekar dekirdirén. Le beshe jiyawazekaní dinya wushegelí bive birítín lew wushaney le mer destí cep, péwendí mé, yan le mer héndék ajhelí kéwí be kar dehéndirén. Héndék wushesh, zor tund bivawítirn le héndék wushey díke. Le dinyaí Inglísí zimanda, zor le wushe here bivawíyekan ésta ew jore wushanen ke péwendíyan be séks, be duway ewda ew jore wushaney ke péwendíyan be písayí u díní mesíhiyewe heye dén. Ewesh rengdanewey ew jexte gewreyeye ke le rúy nerítíyewe le kultúrí éme da le ser exlaqí séksayetí kirawe. Le kultúrekaní díkeda, be taybetí de naw péroyaní Roman – Katolík da bive here behézekan dekré péwendiyan be dínewe hebé, u le Nowéjh u Swédí protéstantíshda, bo nimúne, zarawe u kutey be pitewí bivawí ew jore wushanen ke le ser íbilís degutirén.

Ta em duwayiyane, résay zor tund u tíjh sebaret be bekar hénaní héndék wushey bive le zimaní Inglísída le barí qanúníyewe le goré da bú u le rúy komelayetíshewe pishtí ew jore résayane degíra. Hénde leméjh niye, bekarhénaní wushey wekú ‘fujk’ kirdewey séksí, u ‘cunt’ jéyí shermé, le cap da dekra bigate rawedúniraní qanúní u tenanet zíndaní kiranísh, u ew wushane héshtash le zorék le rojhnamekanda be berbilawí bekar nahéndrén. Helbet, radeyekí zor ' le dísan bír le ser kirdinewe' sebaret be bekarhénaní ew ceshne wushane le goré daye. Egercí bekarhénanyan le rúy tékníkiyewe le héndék nimúnanda qedexe bú u éstash detuwané qedexe bé, belam ew jore wushane le qisekirdiní rojhaney héndék beshí komelgeda be berbilawí dekar dekirdirén. Ewesh ta radeyekí zor le ber eweye ke wushe bivekan zor jar wekú wushey jinéw bekar dehéndirén u her leber ewesh behézin. Zor le xelik le komele modérnekanda ke le rúy téknolojhiyewe péshkewtún ídí'a deken baweryan be síhr u jadú niye. legell eweshda, héshtash, shiték heye ke zor le nizíkewe we dewruberí jadúyí decé be bekarhénaní wushey bivawí le zimaní Inglísída. Bekarhénaní wushey bivawí le bestén u cuwarcéwey mawe pénedraw da, wek le bernamey télévízíoní da, kardanewey zor tund u tíjhí zor xelik dewrújhéné u be ruwalet debéte mayey ratilekan u béz u qézí zor le xelik. Lewesh ziyatir, ew bertek níshandane, bertek níshandanékí najhíraneye le ast wusheyek, nek cemkék. Le bernameyekí télévízíoní da be tewawí mawe dedré bigutiré 'sexual interjourse ' jútbúní séksí’. Ja boye wushey bive be rúní hem rastiyekí zimaní u hem derúnnasaneye. Ewe wushekanin ke hestyan pédekré hele bin u her boyeshe ewende behéz u bekarin.

Tuwanayí u destelatí ew síhre le Birítaniya bew régeye da derdekewé ke BBJ le héndék bonan da ta ew radeye le amadeyí tékníkí da cuwete péshé ke beshdaríy telefoní gwégiran le héndék bernamey zíndúy radyoyí da bibré eger le qisekanyanda wushey bive hebin. U kanale télévízíyoniye serekiyekaní Emríka be shéwey berdewam deng dexene ser wushey bive u kipí deken. Miro detuwané way lé tébiga ke ewan le akamí bekar hénaní héndék wushe yan kardanewey bekarhénanyan peshéwin u tenanet tirsíshyan ré deníshé. Wushey bivey ew ceshne lewaneye le héndék barudox da tewaw le jéy xoyanda bin, belam ewan héshta le zorbey amrazí rageyénerí gishtí bilaw kirdinewe da qoliyan le ser nekéshrawe.

Deste wushey ' héshta jaré na' ew xérayiye níshan deda ke nimúnekaní wushey bivawí dekré bigordirén. Sizay qanúní be dijhí wushegelí herze u qézewen le dinyay Inglísí ziman da xeríke bizir debé u meylékí zor le mer hebúní bocúnékí zor jhíranetir, u kemtir síhrawí le ast wushe bivekan le peresendin daye- ésta' shikandiní résakan'kemtir diramatíke lewey ke hebú, her nebé le héndék barudoxanda. Nimúneyekí Birítaniyayí benéwbangí ewe bekarhénaní awelnawí ‘bloody’ xwénawí, le layen Bernard Shaw raye wekú wusheyekí hejhéner le fílmí Pigmalion da, ke ídí ésta kes léy narewétewe. Léresh da, goraní komelayetí, le goranék le akarí zimanída reng dedatewe. Le layekí díkewe, hawkat legell ewey ke jíhaní Inglísí ziman zor nasktir debé be dijhí ew jore babetaney ke ferq u jiyawazí nayeksanane dexene néw xelik le ser binemay xesletí komelayetí yan fízíkíyan, wushey wekú ‘niger’ quleresh, ’jripple’ seqet, ’poof’ qunder, heta dé ziyatir bivawí debin u bekarhénanyan heta dé ziyatir hejhénerin.

Pinktékí díkey serinjrakésh ew karlékeriye duwemeye ke wushey bive dekré le ser ziman xoy heyanbé. Le ber bémeylí zorí axéweran bo derbiríní wushey bive, yan wushegelí nizík le wan, le héndék barudox da ew wushaney ke le rúy dengsaziyewe we wushe bivekan decin lewaneye le ziman da neménin u derhawéjhrén. Bo nimúne, zor jar degutré le zimaní Inglísí da le ber ew hoye wushey rabit [kerwéshk] jéy wushey joney [ ke wek kení telefuz dekré] girtútewe. Her heman shéwe shíkirdinewe lemer bekarhénaní berbilawí wushey ‘rooster’ keleshér le Inglísíy Emríkayí daye le birí ‘jojk’ keleshér, ke em wusheyey duwem le rúy dengsaziyewe le wushey endamí zayendí piyaw zor nizíke. Sebaret bew takaney ke dú zimanen, be ruwalet ewe dekré le néw dú zimananísh da rú bida. Mamostayan basyan kirduwe ke axéweraní kicí Emríkayí Indiyení zimaní Nútka be tewawí péyan naxoshe u nayanewé wushey Inglísí ‘sujh’ [awa] bekarbhénin le ber we yekcúní dengí ew wusheye legell wushey ‘vagina’ jí shermé le zimaní Nútka da. Her awash, bas dekré xwéndkaraní Taylendí le Inglístan katék be zimaní xoyan be yekewe qise deken eger axéweraní Inglísíyan belawe bé le bekar hénaní héndék wushe xo deparézn wekú [kha:n] ke le zimaní Tayí da be manay'rúxan' e u le Inglísída be jorékí díke debístiré, neka ewe be súkayetí bizandiré.

Emaney bas kiran, héndék lew régeyanen ke péyanda komell kar le ser ziman deka, u deshé péyanda zimanísh kar le ser komell bika. éme wek dítman jhimareyek shéwe u rége hen ke ziman u komell be yektirí debestinewe, u le bendekaní dabéy em kitébe da éme le héndék layení ziyatirí ew be yekdí bestiraneweye dekolínewe. Le mawey cil u kusúr salí rabirdú da, zanín u ferq pékirdiní le zédey giríngí ew péwendí u be yek bestiraneweye geyishte pégeyishtin u peydabúní rébaz u bin- dísíplíní nwé le zimaninasí da: ewísh komelnasíziman e. Ewe renge gishtandinékí berbilaw belam bejé bé eger bigutré ke zorbey beshekaní pékhénerí zimannasí ber le fircik girtin u seqamgírbúní komelnasízimaní be tewawí cawyan le péwendí néwan ziman u komell heldebuward. Le zor nimúnanda ewe le ber hoy bash bún. Jext kirdinewe le ser 'ídíolékt' – qise kirdiní take kesék le katék da u be shéwazék – sade kirdineweyekí péwíst bú ke geyishte peydabúní cendín berewpésh cúní tíyorí. legell eweshda, her wek ta ésta níshanman dawe, ziman zor ziyatir diyardeyekí komelayetí ye. Lékolíneweyek le ser ziman le ser yek be bé amajhe kirdin be cuwarcéwe komelayetiyekey bimanewé u nemanewé degate fit kirdin u derhawíshtiní héndék le rehendekaní zor aloz u serinjrakéshí ziman u le kís daní derfet u deretan bo berewpéshcúní ziyatirí tíyorík. Yek le hokare serekiyekaní ke geywete peregirtin u geshe sendiní lékolínewey komelnasaney ziman tégeyishtin u ferq pékirdiní giríngí ew rastiyeye ke ziman diyardeyekí zor legoranhatú ye, u ewey ke ew legoranhatuwíye dekiré ewendey ke le ber goraní komele awash le ber goraní ziman bé. Ziman her kodékí sade u hasan niye ke be yek shéwe le layen gisht xelkewe le hemú barudoxék da bekar bihéndré, u ésta zimannasan lewe tédegen ke hem heldesúré u hem be qazanje hewil biden bo péwecaran u lék kirdinewey ew pécelpéciye.

Ke wabú, komelnasíziman, ew besheye le zimannasí ke ziman wekú diyardeyekí komelayetí u kultúrí shí dekatewe. Ew zanste buwarí ziman u komell detwéjhétewe u péwendiyekí nizíkí legell zaniste komelayetiyekan heye, be taybetí derúnnasí komelayetí, merdimnasí, jugrafiyay ínsaní, u komelnasí. Lékolínewe lew dítin u bocúnaney ke sebaret be formekaní ziman hen, wekú bekarhénaní /r/ í na-ber le vokal, yek le nimúney ew karane ye ke le bin baní derúnnasí komelayetí ziman da kirawe. Le layekí díkewe, lékolínewe le zarawegelí xizmayetí le zimaní Niyamal da, nimúneyekí bashe ke dekewéte buwarí zimannasí merdmnasane, u lékolínewe lew régeyey ke péyda lehjekan bere bere le herémékewe ta herémékí díke le yek dúr dekenewe, wek le Norfolkewe ta Suffolk, yan le Holendewe bo Alman, dekewéte ber buwarí zimannasí jugrafiyayí, her wek jhimareyek lew babetaney ke éme le bendekaní 8 u 9-í em kitébeda léyan dedwéyn. Bendí 6 ew shéwe u régey bekarhénaní ziman tawtuwé deka, wek ewey le nimúney seferí tirén da basman kird, wate tékelawí u hawkirdeyí komelayetí, lewane héndék layení shíkirdinewey dískors u étnogirafí axaftin. Le bendí 7 da 'netewe u ziman', le bendí 10 da ' ziman u ínsaniyet', u le shwéní dí, éme basí ew babetane dekeyn ke dekewne xaney lékolínewe lemer ziman le ruwangey komelnasiyewe, ewísh birítiye le lékolínewey ewey ke ké be ci zimanék (yan shéwezarék)le gel ké qise deka?, u be dabezandin u péwelkandiní ew dozínewane be gírugirfte komelayetí, siyasí u perwerdeyiyekan. U le gisht kitébekeshda éme xoman bew babeteshewe xerík dekeyn ke héndék le núseran wek 'zimaninasí layík' amajheyan pékirduwe. Emesh lékolínewe zimaniyekan le besténí komelayetíyan da weber degré- ziman bew jorey le layen xelkí asayiyewe le jhiyaní rojhaneyan da qisey pédekiré – ke be shéwey serekí mebestétí wulamí pirsiyarekaní ke bo zimannasan jéy serinjin bidatewe, wek ewey ke ziman con u bocí degordiré (éme her lem bendey éstada be kurtí akamí conétí goraní zimaníman sebaret bew lékolínewaney le New England u New York wedest hatún bas kird) u con éme detuwanín tíyoriyekaní xoman bashtir bikeyn be taybetí sebaret be tebí'etí legoranhatúyi ziman. Renge bashtirín néwlénan bo ew joreye le lékolínewey ziman ceshnawceshní zimaní u goran bé. 


Sercawe: Bendí yekemí kitébí: Sociolinguistics An introduction to language and society, Peter Trudgill, Fourth Editon, Pengun Books, 2000, pp. 1-22

Le mallperrí Ruwange

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Kurdish Language Policy in Turkey

Amir Hassanpour

The policy of Republican Turkey since its establishment in 1923, is a typical case of what has been called "linguicide" or "linguistic genocide" (cf. below). Replacing the loosely integrated Ottoman state, Republican Turkey was established as a highly centralized, secular and westernized nation-state based on Turkish ethnic identity. The practice of centralization and Turkisfication led to a number of Kurdish revolts (in 1925, 1927-31, 1930-38) which were severly repressed (cf. Jwaideh 1960:593-640).

Policy on the Kurdish language was based on a more general and long-term aim of changing the ethnic composition of the Kurds, who formed the most numerous and densely populated non-Turkish people in the country. To achieve this end, the Turkish government deported hundreds of thousands of people from Kurdistan to Turkish-inhabited regions of the country, conducted mass executions after each revolt, the resettled Turkish immigrants from Europe in the Kurdish areas in the 1920s-1940s (documentation is available in Rambout 1947; Kenda 1980a:58-68; Bedr Khan 1928). By the late 1930s, all the Kurdish provinces were effectively controlled by the military who, established a police post in every village of some size (van Bruinessen 1984:8).

Forcing the Kurds to abondon their language and become native speakers of Turkish is the primary goal of the language policy. Various methods have been used in the past seven decades to eliminate the Kurdish language.

A. Proscription of the Spoken Use of Kurdish. The ban on spoken languge in public places, government offices and schools was easy to enforce. In the earlier decades, special government officials were charged with enforcing the ban in urban centers. It is known, for example, that even the peasants who brought their supplies to the urban market were liable to a fine of five piasters for every Kurdish words they uttered. A sheep was worth fifthy piasters at the time (Kendal 1980a:83).

Physicl violence and separation from one's own family were some of the other methods used in Turkish schools to prevent the student from speaking Kurdish. Students were also punished for speaking their language outside the classrooms during the breaks. Boarding schools (Bölge Yatili Okullari) were established in 1964, in order to isolate students for the greater part of the year and to encourage them to forget their mother tongue (skutnabb-Kangas 1981:308-12).

"Symbolic violence" (Ibid., p. 313), e.g., making native speakers ashamed of their language, parents, and origins, has been most intensively carried out against the Kurds. The names "Kurd" and "Kurdistan" were banned and replaced by Dagli Türkler, `mountain Kurd' and Dogu, 'the East'. The existence of a Kurdish nation was denied in innumerable articles, books, and speeches while the Turks were exalted, under the new version of Turkish history, as the most valiant and noble race on earth. Under the "Sun-Language Theory" (Günesh-Dil teorist), adopted in 1935, it was claimed that Central Asia, the ancient homeland of the Turks, was the cradle of human civilisation and Turkish was the mother of all languages. Kurds were considered a tribe of Turanian (Turkish) origin which had forgotten its native tongue due to isolation in accessible mountains and by falling under the influence of its Persian neighbours (for a detailed documentation for the theory and its application to the Kurds, c.f. Beshiçi 1977).

The denial of the existence of a Kurdish nation was carried out through falsification of both the history and language of the Kurds. In this connection, the Iraqi ambassador to Turkey (1958-64), talib Mushtaq 1969:374) recalled, in his memoirs, the Turkish claim that Kurdish was a language with no grammatical rules and with a mixed vocabulary of only 8428 words: 

Old Turkmen 3,080
Arabic words used in Turkish 2,000
Zand language 1,240
Modern POersian 1,030
Old Pahlavi 370
Original Kurdish 300
Armenian 200
Chaldean 108
Circassian 60
Georgian 20
Total No. of words used in Kurdish 8,428

In doctrination has been especially intensive in the educational institutions where Kurds are pictured as "bad," "dirty." and "primitive," (Skutnabb-Kangas 1981:310-12). This view has laready made itself felt in the Turkish language. The third edition of The Oxford Turkish-English Dictionary (1984), for example, provides two meanings for K:rt: (ethn.) Kurd; (pej.) uncivilized person."

The proscription of the spoken language included also government efforts to dissuade the Kurds from listening to foreign broadcasts in Kurdish (Kendal 1980a:75). Numerous radio stations were set up in Kurdish towns, which together with the poerful central transmitters provide round-the-clock programs in Turkish (cf. 7.4.4, on broadcast policy).

B. The Prosciption of Written Kurdish. The suppression of written Kurdish has been more successful than spokn Kurdish since it is much easier to control the possession of print or manuscript material by individuals and groups or their circulation in libraries (c.f. 7.2.9). Not only writing in Kurdish but the writing of the name Kurd and Kurdistan in any language is proscribed (the only exception is the word Kürrtçe `Kurdish` used in census reports).

During "liberalization periods" (1967-71, 1975-80), however, a new generation of intellectuals and political activists undertook the publishing of bilingual periodicals, two Kurdish-Turkish dictionaries, one grammar and even a self-censored edition of Khani's Mem û Zîn. Most of these publications were banned soon after their appearance and their writers and.or publishers were prosecuted on charges of separatism. To cite but one case, an ABC book, Alfabe, published in 1968 (cf. Fig. 30), was banned by courts in Istanbul and Diyabakir two days after its appearance and the writer was imprisoned for four months on charges of separatism and the attempt to form an independent Kurdish state (Xozaslan 1981:3).

Suppression of the language was not limited to the country's territory. One example will suffice. just before the September 1980 coup, thr Nordic Cultural Foundation in Denmark organized a course in Kurdish for training Kurdish teachers from among the emigres in Scandinavian countries. The purpose was to teach writing, vocabulary, and gramamr of Kurdish and prepare them for teaching Kurdish children living in Scandinavia. "The Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen tried to stop the course by pointing out that participants were still Turkish citizens and were thus not entitled to breal Turkish law, whatever country they were in, and in Turkish law Kurdish is a forbidden language" (Skutnabb-Kengas 1981:279-80; cf., also, Bozarslan 1981, for clippimgs from danish press accompanied by English translations).

The 1980 Coup d''etat Regime

The Turkish regime has made no secret of its intention to eliminate Kurdish ethnic distinction (cf., e.g. van Bruinessen 1984; Nezan 1984; Helsinki Watch 1988). The suppression of manifestation of Kurdish, as well as Armenian or Greek, existence has been extended to such places as the Lufthansa airline office in Istanbil and the American Library in Ankara. An old globe, for example, carrying references to Kurdistan and Pontus had been used as part of a publicity photograph in the Istanbul Rotary Club magazine. This led to a demand of a three-year prison sentence for the company's Istanbul deputy manager (London Guardian, march 23, 1984). The Turkish embassies in Europe have regularly used diplomatic and other pressures to prevent the participation of Kurdish groups in cultural programs sponsored by European states. Similar pressure on the broadcast media has been socumented.

Increased militarization and political control of the Kurdish provinces has been accompanied by new assimilation programs: "A general campaign to improve literacy in Turkish, and intensive Turkish-language courses were introduced in primary schools. Provicial commanders had their own programs to stamp out the use of Kurdish, at lease in the towns. Traditional Kurdish cloths, which had reappeared in the 1970s, have been banned again" (van Bruinessen 1984: 12).

The armed resistence led by a leftist Kurdish political party, Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (Kurdistan Workers Party), in the early 1980s has led to massive deplyment of the army in the Kurdish provinces. To prevent the spread of the movement among the rural population, a project of setting up strategic hamlets is being carried out in the rural areas. (14) Another project is the resettlement of thousands of Turkish-speaking Kirghiz refugees from Afghanistan in Kurdistan. The government suggested that the area was chosen because of its similarity to the mountainous homeland of the refugees. Since thee is no shortage of mountainous terrain in the Turkish-speaking regions, the real reason has more to do with Turkification of Kurdistan than considerations of landscape (de Manuelian 1986).

The Impact of Turkey's Language Policy

The all-round attempt to eliminate the Kurdish people and their language has partly succeeded in thinning out the once densely populated Kurdistan, in Turkifying large numbers of Kurds, and bringing Kurdish national culture (oral and wriiem literature, music, and dress) to the verge of extinction. The harsh metthods of repression have made it difficult for the Kurds to reveal their ethnic identity. A Western student of "political elites," for example, found out that few Kurdish deputies "professed (or acknowledges) an ability to speak Kurdish" (Frey 1965:109). Similarly, a Kurdish official involved in taking the 1965 census observed that many Kurds who were not familiar with Turkish preferred to declare themselves as Turkish speakers to avoid trouble (Kendal 1980a:48).

The impact of repression can be seen even in the census figures (cf. table 16). The increase (10%) in the number of native speakers from 1955 to 1960 can be explained by the relaxation of pressure in 1960, while the sudden drop of 23% in 1955, is related to the return of presure rather than assimiliation which requires at least one generation to be affected (Ibid.O. The increase in the number of speakers of Kurdish as a a "second language' apparently reflects the success of Turkification. Since Turks do not learn Kurdish, these figures probably refer toTurkified Kurds who have not yet forgotten their native tongue.

Table 16. Census Figures on the Number of Kurdish Speakers in Turkey
Kurdish declared as 1945 1955 1960 1965
Mother Tongue 1,477 1,680 1,848 1,430
Second Tongue ? 681 712 940
Total 1,477 2,361 2,560 2,370

Sorce: Jafar(1976:86)

Another aspect of forced Turkification is the resistance that it breeds. Complains on the slow pace of Turkification have occasionally been expressed by official sources. To cite one example, quoted in Nezan (1984:56-57), the Turkish deputy from Aydin told the daily Cumhuriyet (July 31, 1966) that 91% of the people of Mardin could not speak a word of Turkish; in other major Kurdish provinces the precentages were 87% in Siirt, 81% in Hakkari, 67% in Diyarbakir, 68% in Bingöl, and 66% in Bitlis.

Although the Kurdish language in Turkey is not dead yet, prospects for its extinction do exist. "Language death" has happened and is happenning in all parts of the world (Dorian 1981:1-2) largely due to non-linguistic reasons (Adler 1977:2). In Turkey, the Armenian people and their language were eliminated largely through physical extinction planned by the Ottoman and Republican regimes.(15) Similar methods have been applied to the much larger Kurdish population and, if regional amd international conditions permi, the Armenian experience may be repeated. (16) President Özal's policy on lifting the ban on spoken Kurdish in January 1991 does not indicate a change in the ideology and politics of the Turkish state. This policy is tactical and is part of the desperate efforts to save the Ataturkist state in the face of a serious economic, political, cultural and ideological crisis. (17)


12. The circumstances under which Be§ikçi conducted and published his research provides insight on Turkish policy. The author, a Turkish sociologist, was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in 1979, for writing this book. In 1971, he was charged and sentences to 13 years imprisonment for "making propoganda for communism and separatism" in his seminars, lectures and publications. A general amnesty led to his release in 1974. Be§ikçi was released again in April 1981, but rearrested in June and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment because of a letter he wrote to the president of the Swiss Writers Union in which he exposed the turkish government's denial of the "reality of the Kurdish nation" (Index on Censorship. Vol. 12, No.1, February, 1983, p. 49; cf., also, "The trial od Ismail Be§ikçi." Kurdish Times. Vol. 1, No. 2, 1986, pp. 5-44). Be/sik/ci was released in 1987. He was arrested again in march 1990, freed on bail in July, tried in September, and was then postponed. After a second case opened against him in 1991 for a new book about the Kurds, Be§ikçi was interrogated, served an arrest warrant, and then incarcerated in Ankara Central Closed Prison. He was released om April 1991 (Helsinki Watch 1991:17).

13-14. Considerable documentation of Turkish government repression of the Kurds in Turkey and abroad is available in the Turkish and international press reports reprinted in Information and Liason Bulletin published by Institute Kurde de Paris since 1983. The first "security village" (önlem paketi), in Dereler in Sirnak, was to accomodate the population of 20 hamlets (Milliyet, April 3, 1986).

15. As early as 1927, the Iranian ambassador to Turkey, Mohammad Ali Foroughi, wrote to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the Turks considered the ethnic heterogeneity of their country "the main reason for their misfortune in the past... and they want to have no element of corruption in their land.. they have exterminated the Armenians in Turkey.... they cannot exterminate the Kurds like Armenians, neither derive them away like the Greek; [the Kurd] is Muslim and Asian and is co-religious with the Turkish citizens and has a numerous population and [thus] has no remedy..." The ambassador, then, proposed measures for Iranian-Turkish cooperation against the Kurdish movement ("Confidential letter," dated November 24, 1927, Yaghmâ, Vol. 11, No. 8, Aban 1337/Oct.-Nov. 1958, p. 346).

16. Turan Günesh, formaer Minister of Foreign Affairs for Turkey, warned the Kurds in a session of the Council of Europe in 1986; "If you have the courage, then claim independence. And we'll fight. If you think you can defeat the most powerful army in Europe - the Turkish Army - go ahead. And allow me to add that if a number of countries like West Germany,France and England exhibit a little tolerance towards us, we won't have any trouble liquidating a few million Kurds" (quoted in Kurdish Times, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1986, p. 10).

17. On January 27, 1991, the cabinet of president Turgut Özal decided to submit a bill to the parliament which would allow "the Kurds, concenterated in 13 provinces, to speak-but not write -- their language" (Reuters report from Ankara in The Globe and mail, Toronto, February 8,1991). The bill would repeal the 1985 Law No. 2987, which banned the use of written and spoken Kurdish ("Ankara considers authorizing use of spoken Kurdish," Information and Liaison Bulletin, No. 70, January 1991, pp. 2-4). In the parliament, the bill ran into stiff opposition ("A Turkish gesture to Kurds falters," The New York Times, March 12, 1991, p. A4). By August 1991, it was still illegal for Kurds "to speak Kurdish in court or at public meetings or to give their children Kurdish names" (letter by L. Whitman, Helsinki Watch, The New York Times, August 21, 1991). A new "Anti-Terror Law" (law No. 3713) enacted by the parliament on April 12, 1991 further extened the official repression of Kurdish language and culture (information on the impact of this law is provided in Helsinki Watch 1991).

The language bill was a partial response to a political and economic crisis that has undermined the ability of the Turkish regime to rule over the Kurds by normal means (as outlined above). The bill pursued several objectives:

  1. Ankara has failed to stem popular dissent and the resurgent and powerful nationalism in Kurdistan; it has alsofailed to suppress the armed struggle led by PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party). The language bill was in part an appeasement of the Kurds; by promising a reform of the repressive state policy, Ankara hoped to deprive PKK and other leftist parties of the increasing popular support they have been enjoying.
  2. The bill was also motivated by the crisis resulting from the regional disorder caused by the Iraq-Iran war and, especially, the U.S.-led war against Iraq. The regional crisis might have led to the disintegration of Iraq, in which case Turkey would have moved to annex the oil-rich Kurdish regions of northern Iraq. Pursuing such a goal, requires a more liberal policy toward the Kurds, at least temporarily. Turkey will have to win the support of the leadership of Iraqi Kurds (which commands considerable guerrilla forces) on the one hand, and to compete with Iran on the other. Another aspect of this policy is Ankara's attempt to rally the support of the Kurdish political parties of Iraq, especially the Kurdosh Democratic party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, against the PKK, which has allegedly used the border areas inside Iraqi Kurdistan as military bases. By early 1992, Turkey had achieved the objectives. This cooperation has been reported in Turkey';s press, e.g., Yesemin Çongar, "Talabani'nin PKK plani," (Talabani's plan for the PKK), Cumhuriyet HAFTA, 1-7 Aralik (December) 1991, and Semih Idiz, "PKK sorunu demokrasiyle Özülr," (The PKK question finds its solution in democracy) Cumhuriyet, 12 Ocak (January) 1992. The leaders of PUK and KDP, have justified their cooperation with the Turkish regime by referring to the language bill as a radical change in policy.
  3. The bill also addressed the concerns of European Community leaders who oppose Turkey's genocidal war against the Kurds and Armenians since the early 1920s is well documented, Western powers, the media and many academics generally ignored it and continue to portray the Turkish regime as a Westen-type semocracy. Since the 1980s, however, the European Community has thwarted Turkey's effort to join the commuinty. This is apparantly due to Turkey's poor economic performance nad Greece's (a member of EC) conflict with Ankara. Under the circumstances, Turkey's stumbling block on road to Europe," Sinday Observer, August 4, 1991, p. 14) for the first time since the late 1920s, when Ankara became one of the West's military and political bases against the USSR. The bill aims at improving Turkey's human rights record. 


Amir Hassanpour, "Nationalism and Language in Kurdistan 1918-1985", Edwin Mellon Press, 1992, pp. 132-136;150-152


Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (5 votes)

Kurdish Language: Power or Resistance?

By Nesrin Uçarlar

The first section of this chapter provides a brief description of Kurdish intellectuals in the European diaspora as an introduction to the following two sections. The approaches of the Kurdish intelligentsia in the European diaspora towards the status planning for the Kurdish language are analysed in the second section within the framework of the relationship between language and power on the one hand, and language and resistance on the other. The third section examines the political and cultural connotations of linguistic rights for the Kurdish intelligentsia in the European diaspora within the framework of a discussion on power and resistance.

The last section is devoted to an analysis of the position of Kurdish intellectuals in Turkey within the context of the binary opposition between power and resistance. The comparison between the approach of the new generation of Kurdish intellectuals in Turkey and that of the earlier generations is also discussed in detail in the last section of this chapter. The last section further addresses the question of the relevance of the democratic experiences and the cultural and linguistic works of Kurdish intellectuals in the European diaspora in the evolution of such a new generation. The overarching question of Kurdish language and literature as a transformative resistance against the hegemony of the majority is also discussed.

Kurdish Intelligentsia in the European Diaspora 

A considerable portion of Kurdish intellectuals in Europe was composed of members of Marxist-led Kurdish movements in Turkey during the 1970s and 1980s. Since the Marxists were aiming at the establishment of an independent socialist Kurdish state, they ignored such ‘lateral’ questions as culture, language, gender, etc. As Bozarslan argues, ‘Kurdish “Marxism” in Turkey, like Turkish Marxism itself, and that throughout the Third World, offered little opportunity for political pluralism’ (1992: 110), whereas the non-pluralist character of those Kurdish Marxists also stemmed from the patriarchal and tribal structure of the Kurdish society. In this respect, the majority of Kurdish migrants who had been socialised within a political culture that was largely traditional/authoritarian, nationalist/secular, totalitarian/ Marxist-Leninist, or a combination of all of these, gradually resocialised and integrated into their new host societies and were influenced by deep-rooted democratic political processes and organisational forms during their years of refuge and exile in different Western European countries (Sheikhmous 2000). For this reason, Sheikhmous argues that ‘a new era of realism, toleration, cooperation and accommodation’ emerged among Kurdish intellectuals in Europe in the late 1980s (ibid). Østergaard-Nielsen also finds that while ‘a Kurdish diaspora political network in Germany … advocated communism/socialism and outright Kurdish independence through organised demonstrations in the 1980s, then [it] increasingly formulated [its] goals in terms of human rights and democracy in Turkey during the 1990s’ (2006). Consequently, freedom of speech and advancement of civil society helped the Kurdish intelligentsia in the European diaspora to develop a diversified approach to the Kurdish question in Turkey. Seemingly, those far from the front lines of conflict and able to access a wider variety of information sources may have a perspective less influenced by sentiments and violent antagonism.
On the other hand, it is not the intention to describe a single shared image or identity of Kurdish intellectuals in the European diaspora. Neither does such an image or identity represent all Kurdish communities in the European diaspora. As Houston notes, Kurdish diaspora
… is firstly produced through the narrative imagination and has an irreducible intersubjective content. It also has an irreducibly plural aspect: as the various, sometimes rival ways of imagining the character and significance of the Kurdish homeland shows, different individuals and groups have different memories, sentiments, and convictions about wherein the vitality of that homeland consists (2005: 113)147.
Alinia (2007: 235) similarly argues that the imaginations and meanings of ‘homeland’ vary among the Kurdish diaspora according to personal experiences and political discourses, which means that the imagination of a common fatherland need not show an agreement on the type of fatherland imagined. In this respect, the de-territorial notion of diaspora discussed above is highly relevant for Kurdish intellectuals in Europe, who mostly regard the wish to return to ‘Kurdistan’ as a notion whereby they express and keep their solidarity and loyalty to Kurdishness, rather than a viable objective of returning to the territory in which they intend to re-settle148. On the other hand, one cannot say that ‘the legal status of Kurdistan is becoming irrelevant; [rather] as a symbol of Kurdish identity it will remain of prime importance to the Kurdish diaspora’ (Bruinessen 1999). ‘The loss of the homeland or the theft of a territory named Kurdistan is facilitated by the actual lost locality of the village’ (Houston 2005: 113). In short, exile ‘brought educated Kurds of different regional backgrounds together and thereby helped them to imagine Kurdistan as their common fatherland. It was exile that transformed Kurdistan from a vaguely defined geographical entity into a political ideal’ (Bruinessen 2000b). Moreover, it is this political ideal which activated Kurdish intellectuals in Europe. As the then-advisor to the Ministry for Migration of Sweden, Lars Gunnar Eriksson (1992: 98) noted in 1989, the Kurds were more successful and active than other migrant groups in utilising the opportunities they have in European countries.
Read more on this topic in the full text of this dissertation, Chapter 7 at


Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

Kurdish Nationalism in Mam u Zin of Ahmad-î Khânî -- Part I

By Farhad Shakely, The Kurdish Globe, Saturday, 22 August 2009

The history of the Kurdish people is full of examples of both oppression and resistance.

I: All those who study and deal with the history, literature and ethnography of the Kurdish people, find out, at an early stage of their work, that their tasks are hard and they have to be equipped with extra capability and patience. 

The difficult political circumstances prevailing in Kurdistan, have affected, negatively, culture and literature of the Kurds as badly as the other aspects of their life. The division of Kurdistan among several different countries, divided, simultaneously, Kurdish culture. Frontiers were drawn also through the language, culture and literature of the Kurds in those parts. The occupying powers have always been hostile to the Kurdish people. They have done their best to subjugate them, suppress their insurrections and eliminate all the appearances of their national character: in short to assimilate the Kurdish people. 

The Kurds, on the other hand, have always resisted occupation and oppression and striven for the sake of freedom and independence. The history of the Kurdish people is full of examples of both oppression and resistance. Insurrections and revolts had previously happened in Kurdistan due to several religious, tribal and ethnic reasons, or as spontaneous acts of reaction to foreign invasion (Xenophon, Islam, Tamerlane, etc). In the modern times, particularly from the middle of the nineteenth century, the Kurdish national-liberation movement took on new aspects. Since then there have been political goals for the Kurdish insurrections. They became parts of the Kurdish national-liberation movement that struggled, and still does, to liberate Kurdistan and establish a political framework: a national-state for the Kurds. 

Kurdish nationalism "Kurdâyatî" has been a motive and a stimulating force in the continuation and development of the Kurdish national-liberation movement. For the firs time, the poet and thinker Ahmad-î Khânî (1651-1707) formed and laid the foundations of Kurdish nationalism. In his epic Mam u Zîn (henceforth M&Z) Khânî analysed, politically, the situation in Kurdistan and called to struggle to liberate Kurdistan and establish a Kurdish national-state. This paper is an attempt to survey the political view-points that Khânî recorded in the epic of M&Z, regarding Kurdish nationalism. 

Several writers and researchers have written about Khânî and his works. Even two dissertations have been written about him. But Khânî's thoughts concerning Kurdish nationalism, to which I devoted this paper, have never been treated sufficiently. This was not because of the inability of those who wrote about him, but because they lived and wrote in countries that regarded Kurdistan an inseparable part of themselves or denied the existence of the Kurds completely. Khânî's thoughts still arouse uneasiness and fear in the powers that occupy Kurdistan. This is a clear sign of the importance and effectiveness of Khâsnî's thoughts, even three centuries after that they were written down. 

II: The primary sources to understand and study Khânî's thoughts are his own writings, especially M&Z. Khânî's writings have been published several times. In this study I depended, mainly, on the editions and translations of M&Z, which I will survey in the following. The manuscripts of his writings were not at my disposition: 

1. M&Z was published for the first time in 1337 A. H. (1334/1335 the Rumi calendar, 1918/1919 A. D.) in Istanbul, with an introduction by Hamza. It is said that the copies of this edition were burnt, but I personally have seen more than one copy of it. There is a copy in the library of The School of Oriental and African Studies in London, that Mr. C. J. Edmonds had brought from Iraqi Kurdistan. There is also a copy in the private library of Professor Marouf Khaznadar, in Hawlêr (Arbil), Iraqi Kurdistan. Moreover, Mr. Tawfiq wahby told me, in July 1982, that he himself did have a copy that he presented, in 1942, to the late Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani. 

In this edition the old Kurdish orthography, that employed Arabic script, has been used. Short vowels and the possessive article for masculine (ê) are, therefore, not distinguishable, and the character (G) is lacking. For both sounds (G) and (K) only the character (K) has been used. 

2. The second edition of M&Z was published in 1947 A. D. in Aleppo, Syria. This is only an offset reprinting of the first edition.

3. The same first edition was published twice more in 1954 and 1968, in Hawlêr, Iraqi Kurdistan, by Gîw-î Mukryanî, with his introduction. These two editions are not very reliable, because the editor changed several words in he text. 

4. In 1962 A. D. a new edition of M&Z was published in Moscow by the late Soviet Kurdologist M. B. Rudenko. This edition consists of the Kurdish text with a Russian translation by Rudenko and introductions by Rudenko herself and Professor Qanatê Kurdo (Kurdoev). It is considered to be the best and the most reliable edition of M&Z, for in addition to the former editions, Rudenko used even the manuscripts of M&Z hat are kept in the library of the Institute of Oriental Studies in Leningrad (today called Petersburg). 

Rudenko too, used Arabic script for writing the Kurdish text of her edition. Short vowels and the possessive article (ê) are, sometimes, lacking. When, in 1962, Rudenko published the book, the new Kurdish orthography based on Arabic-Persian alphabet was in use in Iraqi Kurdistan, but it seems that she was not aware of the development. 

I depended, mainly, on this edition and quoted the examples of Khânî's baits from it. In a few occasions, when I was in doubt of her choice of the right word, I took the other editions into consideration. 

5. Another edition was the one published in 1968 in Istanbul in Turkey by the Kurdish writer Mehmed Emin Bozarslan. This edition consists of the Kurdish text of M&Z with its translation into the Turkish. The Kurdish text is printed in Latin (Turkish) characters. The system used in the writing is the one that was founded by Prince Jaladat Badirkhan and also is known as the Hawar alphabet. 

Bozarslan based his edition, as he told me, on the editions of Istanbul and Aleppo and a manuscript written by his own father, who also, for his part, based it on the Istanbul edition. What attracts one's attention is that in his introduction to this edition, Bozarslan did not mention the Aleppo edition of 1947. He mentioned, instead, a Sham (Damascus) edition of 1958. As far as I know there is not such an edition at all. 

In transcribing the text into Latin characters, many mistakes have occurred. Moreover many sounds that exist in the original text are not represented in the transcribed text, since these phonemes are not represented by own signs in the Latin (Turkish) alphabet. This edition was reprinted in 1975, in Istanbul.

Source: The Kurdish Globe, Saturday, 22 August 2009

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Kurdish language policy of Iran

By Dr. Amir Hasanpour, Kurdish Times NY, 1991.


State Policy of the Kurdish language: The politics of Status Planning

The Pahlavi dynasty, 1925-1979. The first constitution of Iran, adopted in 1906, made Persian the only official language of the multilingual country. Although this may be considered the beginning of an official language policy reflecting the position of Persian nationalists it was not until the coming to power of the Pahlavi dynasty that the central government was in a position to implement the constitutional stipulation effectively.

The Pahlavi dynasty was established by Reza Khan who came to power through a coup d'etat in 1921, and declared himself the King of Persia (1925-41). Like Kemal Ataturk in Turkey, he inherited a loosely integrated state and aimed at setting up a highly centralised system of political rule. The integration of the country's ethnic peoples (numbering about 50% of the total population) was carried out by among other coercive measures, the exclusive use of the Persian language in education, administration, and the mass media.

As early as 1923, the government offices were instructed to use Persian in all their oral and written communication. A circular sent from the Central Office of Education of Azerbaijan Province to the education offices of the region including that of Saujbolagh (later renamed Mahabad) reads: On the orders of the Prime Minister it has been prescribed to introduce the Persian language in all the provinces especially in the schools. You may therefore notify all the schools under your jurisdiction to fully abide by thus and to conduct all their affairs in the Persian language... and the members of your office must follow the same while talking (reprinted in Girzey Kurdistan, Vol. 2, No. 6. 1981, p. 34). With the consolidation of his power, Reza Shah moved to ban all Kurdish cultural traditions, dress, literature, music and dance. The contemporary poet Hemin (1972:6) recalled that "thousands of Kurds in schools and offices and even in the street were arrested, tortured and disgraced on charges of speaking in Kurdish..." The horror of police surveillance had a devastating impact on the language. In bis autobiography, poet Hazhar (1968:154-55) wrote that he and his father had put their few Kurdish books in a metal box and buried it in the courtyard in their village house which was far from the closest city. They read the books only during the night and buried them a8ain. Another poet, Khala Min, read his poems only to his closest friends, and to make sure that it does not appear in writing, the poet himself had to memorise the poem. Greatly affected by one of his poems when read by a friend of Khala Min in a private gathering of the village mosque school, young Hazhar walked a distance of three days to Mahabad to ask for his poetry. The poet denied that he had ever composed any poems (ibid., p. 155f).

To prevent the consolidation of the Kurds as a nation, the new administrative system cut across the Kurdish speech area dividing it into three provinces directly attached to Tehran. Efforts to eliminate the Kurdish ethnic identity were extended beyond the borders of the country. The Lutheran Orient Mission which had been operating in Saujbolaq area (at that time part of Azerbaijan province) was forced to remove the name Kurdistan from its monthly English language journal, Kurdistan Missionary.

The abdication of Reza Shah in 1941 brought some relaxation of coercive assimilation though Persianisation was continued by Mohammed Reza Shah (1941-79). The Kurds were now considered to be "true-born (asil) Aryans," although their language was called a "dialect" in all official pronouncements. Under the favourable conditions of the post-World War 11 years, the Kurds and Turks of north-western Iran established their own autonomous republics in 1946 and made Kurdish and Turkish official languages of their states.

When the Imperial Iranian Army attacked and toppled the republics, all the written records were destroyed. In Tabriz, Turkish books were piled up in front of the Municipality building and set on fire by government officials (Ettela'at, December 18, 1946).

Ideologically, the assimilation of non-Persian nationalities was based on the glorification of Iran's pre-lslamic past and the "Aryan race" to which Iranians were claimed to belong. The political and linguistic aspects of the official Line found immediate support among Persian nationalists who went to extremes in order to legitimise the assimilation policy.

Commenting on the dangers of the independence movement of the Kurds of Turkey, Mahmud Afshar, editor of the magazine Ayanda proposed a program for assimilating the Kurds. "Whenever this course, ie, Persianisation (farsi shudan) of the Iranian Kurds is achieved, there will be no danger to us if Ottoman Kurdistan becomes independent" (Ayanda, Vol. 1, No. 1,1925, p. 62).

Members of the faculty at Tehran University and elsewhere also supported the Persianisation policy by claiming that Persian was the most exalted language of the world and the only language in Iran. M. Moghadam (Tehran University), for example, tried to prove that Turkish was a Persian dialect (Doerfer 1970:224).

When census figures on the languages of Iran were released for the first time in 1960, the Tehran daily Kayhan carried interviews with three philologists one of whom, S. Kiya, claimed that there was only one language in Iran (February 7, 1960). Another authority, Dr. Safa, said that with the exception of some Turkish "dialects" which had "regretfully" become the speech of some Iranians, all other dialects had "Iranian roots" (February 10, 1960).
In the late 1960s, the Ministry of Culture and Arts commissioned three experts, two of them linguists from Tehran University, to pre-pare reports on the "strengthening and spreading (taqviyat va gustarish) of the Persian language." One of them, M.R. Bateni (1970:69-63), considered Persianisation "an important step toward national unity" though he reminded his readers that "material welfare and political and economic development of the country" were equally important factors in pre-venting "secessionism".

While the Ministry of Culture and Arts was engaged in finding out about the linguistic assimilation of non-Persian peoples, there is evidence suggesting that the Iranian regime was considering plans for the transfer of the Kurdish population to non-Kurdish areas of the country.
In spite of the obvious de-ethnisation policy, the last Pahlavi monarch applied his "safety valve" approach to the Kurds whenever the government was weak or threatened. Thus, during the 1941-53 period, when the central government was vulnerable, pressure on the opposition including the Kurds was occasion-ally relaxed. Two Persian language periodicals, weekly Kurdistan (The Highlands, 1945-60) and Mad (Media, 2 issues 1945) launched by Kurdish editors/publishers appeared in Tehran. The former reported on the problems and grievances of the Kurdish provinces and carried articles on Kurdish history and literature including poetry in Kurdish. The latter was a Kurdish studies journal. The government itself published Baghistan (one issue, Azar, 1331/1952, subtitled Historical and Cultural Studies of the Kurdish-inhabited Regions monthly publication of the General Office of Publications and Propaganda, in Persian and Kurdish Languages) under conditions of resurgence of Kurdish nationalism.

Even when the Shah was in firm control of the country in the post-1953 period, potential developments in the region were responded to by, among other things, military and political, measures, the initiation and expansion of Kurdish broadcasting, limited publishing in the Kurdish language and even the offering of two courses on the Kurdish language by the Department of Linguistics of Tehran University.


The Kurds participated in the anti-monarchy revolution of 1978-9 actively and raised demands for autonomy within a federally organised democratic state. A major feature of this proposed system of self-rule would have been the officialisation of the language, ie its use in education, local administration, and the mass media. (2) These demands were not, however, compatible with the centralised theocratic regime that was bein8 established by the new rulers who chose to Islamicise the state system which they had inherited. Thus, within two months after the overthrow of the monarchy, the Islamic Army was mobilised against the autonomy-seeking peoples, the Kurds, Turkomans, and Arabs.

The new constitution adopted in December, 1979, sanctions the centralisation of political, economic, administrative and cultural life of the country as had been practised by the Pahlavi state during the climax of monarchial power. (3) State control of the economy includes oil and other major mineral resources, transportation, large industries, banking, foreign trade, energy, etc. (Article 44). Governors from the highest rank (province) to the lowest (rural areas) are appointed from the center (Article 103). Although political organisations are allowed to operate (Article 26), the ruling Islamic Republic Party was the only one able to function openly. Moreover, the ownership and operation of the influential broadcast media is the prerogative of the state (Article 175).

The more obvious contrasts between the old and the new regimes is in the sphere of ideology. A particular brand of Shiism is the official religion (Articles l and 2), and the state is responsible for propagating this sect and its Persian-based religious culture in Iran and out-side the country (Preamble). The Islamic state's approach to the multilingual and multicultural nature of the country is, with minor differences, a continuation of the old regime's policy. According to Article 19 of the Constitution, 'colour, race, language and the like shall not be cause for privilege." (4) The privilege of official status is, however, granted only to Persian, the native tongue of no more than 50% of the country' s population. According to Article 15, The official and common language and script of the people of Iran is Persian. Official documents, correspondence and statements, as well as textbooks, shall be written in this language and script. However, the use of local and ethnic languages in the press and mass media is allowed. The teaching of ethnic literature in the school, together with Persian language instruction, is also permitted (ibid., pp. 22-23). Thus, education and administration in the native tongue is not allowed for the non-Persians. the teaching of "ethnic literature" in Kurdish or in other languages had not been allowed by the mid-1980s. Broadcasting has, however, continued along the lines drawn by the former regime while publishing, both state sponsored and private, is much more expansive.

The Islamic constitution differs from its predecessor in officialising the "Persian script", which is the Arabic alphabet with the addition of four Persian letters formed by the use of diacritical marks. Reflecting the Islamic bias of the regime, this is apparently aimed at preventing any move towards Romanisation of the alphabet as was carried out in Turkey. It also implies that the Kurds of Iran cannot opt for the unification of the Kurdish alphabet on the basis of the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets which are currently used by Kurds in other countries. The Islamic regime, is however, currently using the Roman Kurdish alphabet for propaganda purposes.

The rather relaxed policy on the use of Kurdish in broadcast and print media can be explained by the political situation prevailing in Kurdistan and the region. The new rulers had virtually no effective control over Kurdistan after they came to power. To win the "hearts and minds" of the secular nationalist Kurds, who were audiences to the media output of the autonomist organisations based in the "liberated areas," the government had to communicate with them in their own language. Another impetus is the regimes, expansionist schemes, the avowed "export of the Islamic revolution", especially to Iraq where an armed autonomist movement was active since 1961. In fact to weaken or, ideally, replace the nationalist forces the government went as far as creating its own "Muslim Kurdish" parties and armed groups (see Van Bruinessen 1986:29-24).

To promote the official brand of Shiism among the predominantly Sunnite Kurds, the Islamic regime has opened government controlled religious schools (eg in Paveh) and has published translations of Shiite religious works into Kurdish. The bimonthly Armanc, organ of the Islamic Propagation Organisation, has even devoted a few pages to propaganda in Kurmanji and in the Roman script for the Kurds of Turkey. Although the Islamic leaders regularly renounce nationalism of any sort as "evil" and "Western", their approach to the non-Persian peoples of Iran has rarely deviated from the Persian "national chauvinism" openly espoused by Pahlavi monarchs. On the strength of the evidence presented in this study, it seems that assimilation has been the cornerstone of the language policy of both monarchical and Islamic regimes. The flexibility demonstrated since the 1950s (in broadcasting and publishing) has, pragmatically, served the overall assimilation policy rather than maintaining the linguistic and ethnic identity of the Kurds.


  1. Even before the fall of the Qajar dynasty (1779-1925), Mohammad Ali Foroughi, representative of Iran at the League of Nations, sent the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Tahran a confidential report (1920) on the discussion of the Kurdish question at the League and presented his own assessment of the 44dangers~<^ of the independence of the Kurds of Ottoman Turkey. To integrate the "minorities, he advised his government to avoid coercion and to propagate the Persian language, literature and culture.He noted that there was no need to make speaking in Persian compulsory "By lucky chance he wrote, "neither Turkish nor Kurdish is a literary language and our minorities do not have literary and cultural capability (maya) and they will be easily absorbed (mustahlak) in the Persian language, literature and culture" (extract of the text in Yaghma, vol. 3, No. 7, Mehr 1329/Sept-Oct 1950, p.266).
  2. Detailed information on the demands of the nationalities of Iran in the post-1979 period is found in the Iranian press of 1979-1980 especially in Baltan-i Showra-yi Hambastasi-yi Khaltl ha-yi Iran (Bulletin of the Solidarity Council of the Peoples of Iran), Tehran, 1979-80 and Azadi, published by the National Democratic Front in Tehran, 1979-80.
  3. For a comparative survey of the two state systems especially in connection with the integration of ethnic and religious minorities of. Higgins (1984).
  4. Constitutions of the Countries of the World, Iran. April 1980. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana Publications, p 24.


Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Kurmanji Kurdish Lexicography

Kurmanji Kurdish Lexicography: a Survey and Discussion

Dr. Michael L. Chyet, 1997

The goal of a dictionary is to reflect accurately the language in question as it is used by native speakers both in speech and in writing. In the case of Kurmanji, the northern dialect of Kurdish, the spoken language is far more developed and varied than the written language, largely due to the fact that the Turkish, Iraqi, Iranian, and Syrian governments have banned the use of Kurdish for all official purposes. In practice, this means that most speakers of Kurmanji are illiterate, at least in Kurdish: if they have any formal education, it is either in Turkish, Arabic, or Persian. Only the Kurdish minority in formerly Soviet Armenia has had the opportunity to be educated in Kurmanji. The situation for Sorani, the central dialect of Kurdish, on the other hand, is more balanced in this respect: many more native speakers of this dialect are also literate in it, and have consequently incorporated a more technical vocabulary into their everyday speech.

Kurmanji lexicographers are faced with a dilemma: when dealing with a language that has yet to develop a technical vocabulary, they have the task of providing what is used by people, and on the other hand feel a duty to provide the missing technical vocabulary. Modern lexicographers strive to present a work which is descriptive, i.e., a realistic reflection of the language as it is used by native speakers. However, when it comes to technical vocabulary known only by a small literate intelligentsia, the imposition of such vocabulary items on a populace unfamiliar with them, in the hope that some day such terms will gain currency and be accepted by the general population, is in danger of making the dictionary into a prescriptive, rather than descriptive, work.

I have been working for the past eight years on the compilation of a comprehensive Kurmanji Kurdish-English dictionary. This mammoth project includes a critical look at the various Kurdish dictionaries already in existence (Kurdish-Russian, Kurdish-Turkish, Kurdish-Arabic, Kurdish-French, Kurdish- German) -- taking care to weed out old errors -- plus additions from my own fieldwork, both abroad and with immigrant communities in this country. Moreover, I have culled many words from my own reading of literary, folkloristic, and journalistic sources.

Besides reflecting modern usage, I am attempting wherever possible to give accurate etymologies for the words in the dictionary, an undertaking which will link Kurdish with the wider field of Iranian linguistics (Iranistics). At UC Berkeley, Professor Martin Schwartz has been of invaluable assistance in this endeavor.

Unfortunately, Kurdish lexicography is not a matter of simply compiling the data from all the existing dictionaries into one big lexicon. Originally, it was my goal to do just this, augmenting the result with my own field notes. I soon learned, however, that all too many of the existing Kurmanji dictionaries are full of inaccuracies and mistakes: by listing entries of such questionable value, one would be running the risk of giving new life to old mistakes. Moreover, the published dictionaries tend to be too limited in scope. Most deal only with the vocabulary of one region -- an aspect of advantage mainly for dialect geography. Only the newer ones have tackled modern journalistic vocabulary. Some dictionaries borrow liberally from earlier dictionaries and works, reviving old errors in the process.

Although Kurdish can be written in three different alphabets -- between which there is a simple one-to-one correspondence -- only one dictionary (Omar) uses both Latin and Arabic script, thereby making the work easily accessible to Kurds from Turkey as well as to those from Iraq and Iran.

Three aspects of Kurdish phonology are rather unevenly treated in the dictionaries: emphatic consonants, gutturals, and aspirated consonants. Regrettably the emphatics (akin to Arabic /ذ/, /ص/, /ض/, /ث/ ) are largely undocumented in the existing dictionaries. The older dictionaries in Arabic script hint at this feature by employing the Arabic letters /ط/ occasionally. My informants from Iraqi Kurdistan generally have an emphatic where the old dictionaries use these Arabic emphatics. In her texts from Amadiya and Jebel Sinjar, Joyce Blau regularly indicates this feature by underscoring the consonant in question (s- t- z). Although this issue has been the subject of detailed study in Arabic, the only work I know of which deals with it in Kurdish is the dissertation of Margaret Kahn, author of "The Children of the Jinn". Some work on the same feature in the neighboring Neo-Aramaic dialects has been done by the late Irene Garbell and Robert Hoberman. This seems to be an areal feature.

As for the gutturals, many Kurds refuse to accept the fact that these "Arabic sounds" exist in their language, and consequently neglect to include them in their writing system. The fact is that not only the Kurdish of this region, but also the Turkish and the Neo-Aramaic dialects spoken here exhibit guttural sounds. What's more, the sounds represented by q and x are also found in Arabic, but are not rejected on the same basis. This entire argument is unscientific at best, and is really a political statement which has no place in a scholarly discussion of phonetics and orthography. These guttural sounds are an integral part of the Kurdish language of today, and should be recognized as such, as they already have been by Soviet scholars, as well as by Margaret Kahn in her doctoral dissertation. Professor Otto Jastrow, a specialist in Neo-Aramaic and Arabic, believes that this feature was borrowed into Kurdish from Aramaic before the Islamic conquests brought Arabic to Kurdistan. In any case, those who write Kurdish in Latin script, with the notable exception of the Soviet-trained scholars, tend to ignore the gutturals for the purposes of writing. The Soviets write these sounds as /ح/, the latter /خ/ borrowed from Bedirxan, the former two created by analogy. Those who write in Arabic script generally have no Problem writing /ق/ in the appropriate places. There is a great deal of regional variation regarding these sounds. The word for 'forehead' is e'nî - enî - henî and even // enî depending on where the speaker hails from. Moreover, it is a shibboleth of both Yezidi speech and the Sorani subdialect of the Arbil region to transpose /e/ and /z/ such that the name // acî 'Alî becomes 'Acî // alî. If these sounds did not exist in Kurdish, how could we explain this very Kurdish dialectal feature?

Finally, the aspirated/non-aspirated consonantal pairs (p'-p/t'-t/k'-k/ç'-ç) are regularly distinguished by the Soviet scholars and in a few works by modern linguists. The Soviet scholars, many of whom also know Armenian, have no doubt been influenced by the existence of this feature in Armenian as well. This distinction is generally ignored in modern Kurdish publications, with the notable exception of Musa Anter's Kurdish-Turkish dictionary -- in which only the pair aspirated k/non-aspirated k is distinguished -- and in Baran Rizgar's Kurdish-English/English-Kurdish dictionary. In the Arabic script, no way has been devised to distinguish these consonantal pairs. Nevertheless, for my informants from Iraqi Kurdistan -- who are most comfortable using the Arabic script -- the distinction is real, and has a phonemic importance. For example, they distinguish kitik = 'dried figs' (with non-aspirated k) from k'itik = 'cat' (with aspirated k).

It should be noted that the earliest collectors of Kurdish texts, among them Oskar Mann, Albert Socin and M. Auguste Jaba, while failing to distinguish these various consonantal niceties, went overboard in trying to record the most infinitesimal gradation of vowel length. The same can be said for contemporary texts in Arabic, Neo-Aramaic, Turkish, and the like.

Another problem with the existing dictionaries (particularly Anter, Gewranî, Torî, Maqdisi, and Îzolî [1st ed.]) is the plethora of misprints in them. Because of this extremely common phenomenon, it is sometimes unclear whether what appears to be a variant form is in fact a typo, or simply due to regional variation. It is, of course, beyond the scope of most dictionaries to bother about indexing typographical errors as if they were real words.

One effective solution to the problems outlined above -- both phonetic inexactitude and the frequent occurrence of misprints -- can be suggested: reliable informants. With the recent influx of refugees from Iraqi Kurdistan, there are more native speakers of Kurdish in this country than ever before. For the dialects of Kurdish spoken in Turkey and Syria, the Kurdish immigrant population in Europe is so numerous that almost every conceivable subdialect is represented there. Not every native speaker is an ideal linguistic informant, but by befriending these people and gaining their trust, a lot of the mistakes of the past (both linguistic and otherwise) can be addressed.

The two earliest dictionaries are Ahmed-i Khani's Nûbara biçûkan (1094 A.H. = 1682-83 A.D.) and Garzoni's Grammatica e vocabolario della lingua kurda (Roma 1787). The former was a rhyming Arabic-Kurdish lexicon for use in Islamic kuttabs, to teach basic Arabic words to Kurdish schoolboys. It is available in a reprint edition through the Philo Press in Amsterdam. The latter was written by an 18th century Italian missionary, Maurizio Garzoni, to enable missionaries to converse with Kurmanji-speakers.

My distinguished colleague Amir Hassanpour has a detailed discussion of Kurdish lexicography in his fine book Nationalism and Language in Kurdistan, 1918-1985 (1992). He deals largely with Sorani, the central dialect of Kurdish, and with monolingual dictionaries. In what follows, I will discuss the Kurmanji dictionaries one by one, beginning with the three most reliable ones.

Jaba, Auguste & Ferdinand Justi. Dictionnaire Kurde-Français(St.- Petersbourg: Eggers et Cie, 1879), xviii, 463 p.

This is the first important early Kurdish-foreign language dictionary. The entries are in Arabic script with a rather unsystematic Latin transcription. Although this work predates the modern orthographies and is of little use for phonological purposes, the definitions are remarkably thorough and reliable, which is all the more praiseworthy considering the limited resources available at the time. Earlier vocabularies, such as those of Garzoni, Rhea, Lerch, and Prym & Socin, are subsumed into this work. The major drawbacks of the work are, in addition to the transcription system already mentioned, that the gender of nouns, as well as the present stem and ± transitivity of verbs, are not regularly given.

Maqdisî, Diyâ' al-Dîn al-Khâlidî (= Ziya al-Din Pasha) Al-Hadîyah al-Hamîdîyah. (Beirut, 1975), 56, 240 p. = Mohammad Mokri. Recherches de Kurdologie: dictionnaire Kurde-Arabe de Dia' Ad-Din Pacha al-Khalidi: introduction et notes linguistiques, notice sur la phonétique et la graphie arabo-persane du dialecte kurmandji, Textes et études religieux, linguistiques et ethnographiques (Langues et civilisation iraniennes), no. 4 (Beyrouth & Paris, 975), 56, 240 p.

First published in 1892, this is a Kurdish-Arabic dictionary based on the dialect of Bitlis, Turkish Kurdistan. Ziya al-Din Pasha, a Palestinian Arab, was a high-ranking Ottoman official, and composed the dictionary while he was kaymakam (governor) of Motkî in the vilayet of Bitlis. It is in Arabic script, and although it predates the modern orthography, it employs a system that corresponds exactly to the later orthographies. Although neither the gender of nouns nor the ± transitivity of verbs is indicated, the present stem of verbs is regularly included. The meanings given are generally quite reliable: almost every word I collected from an informant from Kurtalan/Misirç (town in Siirt province) was faithfully mirrored in this dictionary. We are fortunate to have such a work, in spite of its shortcomings. It was reissued in Turkey in 1978, with Turkish translations rather than the original Arabic, by M. Emin Bozarslan.

Bakaev, Ch.Kh. Kurdsko-Russkii Slovar' ... okolo 14000 slov s prilozheniem grammaticheskogo ocherka kurdskogo iazyka(Moskva: Gosudarstvennoe Izdatel'stvo Inostrannykh i Natsional'nykh Slovarei, 1957), 618 p.

This Kurdish-Russian dictionary was the work of a trained linguist, a native speaker of the language The entries are in the Cyrillic alphabet, distinguishing both aspirated/unaspirated consonant pairs (p/p'; t/t'; k/k'; ç/ç') and differentiating guttural (ع/ح/غ) from (e/h/x). Moreover, the gender of nouns, as well as the ± transitivity and present stem of verbs, are provided. Entries are often illustrated with sample sentences. Although this dictionary is smaller in scope than Kurdoev's work (to be discussed below), it is more reliable and scientifically sounder. It includes a survey of grammar, with tables for verb conjugations and noun inflections.

Although not the trained scholar that Bakaev is, Kurdoev also wrote a good detailed grammar of Kurmanji Kurdish.

Anter, Musa. Ferhenga Khurdî-Tirkî = Kürdçe-Türkçe Sözlük (Istanbul: Yeni Matbaa, 1967), 167 p.

This Kurdish-Turkish dictionary was compiled while the author was in prison in Istanbul. It is little more than a word list, with so many typographical errors thatthe accuracy of the whole work is in question. The only aspirated/unaspirated distinction is for /k/, the aspirated k [elsewhere written k'] indicated by kh, and then only initially. Neither the gender of nouns nor the ± transitivity or present stem of verbs is given. This had been the only dictionary available in Turkey until recently, even though it has long been banned. Although grossly inadequate for scholarly discussion of the language, anti-Kurdish pseudo-scholars in Turkey have used it as a resource in their embarrassingly unscientific attempts to disprove the existence of the Kurdish language, unaware that drawing from such a limited resource undermined their work even more. Although this work is lacking in many of the requisite areas, in the course of reading Kurdish texts I have occasionally come across words that were explained in this dictionary alone, such as çerxî, a silver coin in use during the Ottoman Empire.

Blau, Joyce. Kurdish-French-English Dictionary = Dictionnaire Kurde- Français-Anglais (Bruxelles: Centre pour l'Etude des Problèmes du Monde Musulman Contemporain, 1965), xvii, 263 p.

This was an early attempt by Joyce Blau of the Sorbonne to compile a dictionary of literary Kurmanji. The words which appear in it are largely taken from the Kurdish journals of the 1930's and 1940's, which endeavored to create a vocabulary to deal with modern issues. The English definitions are often rnistranslations of the French definitions, themselves of questionable reliability, since many of the words never became part of the living language. Although the gender of nouns is included, according to Professor MacKenzie the gender is often incorrect, or at least in conflict which what is attested elsewhere. The present stem of verbs is regularly given, but the issue of ± transitivity is not addressed. Neither the aspirated/unaspirated dichotomy nor the guttural sounds are recognized.

This work is basically an early mistake, which even Blau herself will concede. Fortunately, her later work, to be discussed below, makes up for it. I myself originally consulted this dictionary, but soon realized that it was nearly useless and have long since stopped using it, except to check an occasional neologism. Considering the questionable utility of this work, it is particularly unfortunate that it, rather than Jaba & Justi's or Bakaev's work, has been chosen for reissue in Turkey.

Blau, Joyce. Le Kurde de cAmadiya et de Djabal Sindjar: Analyse linguistique, textes folkloriques, glossaires (Paris: C. Klincksieck, 1975), 252 p.

This work by the same person is a much more serious piece of scholarship. It consists of a linguistic analysis, folkloristic texts with French translation, and accompanying glossaries of Southern Kurmanji material she collected in Amadiya and the Yezidi region of Jabal Sinjar, Iraqi Kurdistan in 1967 and 1968. The two glossaries -- one each for Amadiya and Jabal Sinjar -- include the gender of nouns and the present stem of verbs, but fail to indicate ± transitivity. These are the glossaries for the accompanying oral texts, and are therefore reflective of the living spoken language of two particular localities, rather than the artifically devised journalese of her earlier work. These traits, together with the annotated bibliography at the beginning of the book, make this an important contribution to the study of the Kurds and their language.

Îzolî, D. Ferheng: Kurdî-Tirkî, Türkçe-Kürtçe[1st ed.] (Den Haag: Komeley Xwêndkaranî Kurd le Ewrupa, [1987]), 413 p.; [2. ed.] (Istanbul: Deng Yayinlari, 1992), 913 p.

This is a fairly recent Kurdish-Turkish and Turkish-Kurdish dictionary, put together by a Kurd from the Dersim/Tunceli region in Turkey. As with Blau's earlier work, the dichotomy between aspirated and unaspirated consonantal pairs is ignored, as well as the gutturals e'/h/x. The gender of nouns is sporadically given, while both the present stem and + transitivity are indicated. The sources of this dictionary are composite: there is heavy borrowing from Anter's and Blau's less-than-satisfactory dictionaries, thereby often giving new life to definitions of questionable accuracy. On the other hand, there are also borrowings from Ziya al-Din Pasha's fine work. What makes this dictionary unique is the words peculiar to the compilerbs native region, some of which appear in print for the first time, e.g. hîlî = 'mirror' ( < Armenian hayeli), havlêk = 'broom' (< Armenian avel). Several of my informants in California are from this region, so I have independent confirmation of these latter items. The first edition was published in Europe, and was therefore not readily available in Kurdistan itself. The second edition, published in Istanbul, is a considerable improvement on the first. Many of the typos have been corrected, and the entries have been more carefully arranged. The editorial staff of the recently closed Kurdish newspaper Belat made broad use of this second edition.

Another important Soviet dictionary is:

Khamoian, M.U. Kurdsko-Russkii Frazeologicheskii Slovar': soderzhit okolo 8000 frazeologicheskikh statei (Erevan: Izdatel'stvo AN Armianskoi SSR, 1979) 273 p.

This is a Kurdish-Russian phraseological dictionary, in Cyrillic script, preserving both the aspirated/unaspirated dichotomy and the gutturals . This work goes beyond what one can hope to find in standard foreign language dictionaries. It specializes in idioms and expressions, and is essential for the serious student of folk literature. There are frequent illustrative examples, mostly from orally generated texts.

There are three dictionaries from a foreign language to Kurmanji that should be mentioned:

Farizov, I. O. Ferhenga Urisï-Kurmancï = Russko-Kurdskii Slovar' (Moskva: Gosudarstvennoe izd-vo inostrannykh i natsional'nykh slovarei, 1957). 781 P.

In this Russian-Kurdish dictionary, the vocabulary offered is suspiciously Persian in many cases: it seems that when Farizov was in doubt as to the Kurdish equivalent of a particular term, he borrowed the Persian word. For instance, one word for 'turkey' [the fowl] is büqelemün (< Persian büqalamü:n), according to him. No other Kurmanji dictionary has this word, and of the many words for 'turkeyX that exist in Kurmanji (culü; coqcoq; [e'l]e'lok; amî; k'ûrk'ûr, etc.), he only lists kûrkûr. The Kurdish glosses are in Latin characters, lacking the distinction between aspirated and unaspirated consonant pairs, but distinguishing guttural from h/x (although not differentiating e' from e, having e for both). The gender of nouns is indicated. This is a relatively limited dictionary, both in terms of scope and reliability.

S. Siabandov & A. Chachan. Xebernama Ermeni-K'urdî = (Erevan: HayPetHrat, 1957), 352 p.

This is an Armenian-Kurdish dictionary. The Kurdish is in Cyrillic characters, preserving the aspirated and guttural distinctions mentioned above. Neither the gender of the Kurdish nouns, nor the present stems or ± transitivity of verbs is indicated. This work is more reliable than Farizov's dictionary.

Zîlan, Re ,so. Svensk-Kurdiskt Lexikon (Nordkurdiska) = Ferhenga Swêdî-Kurdî (Kurmancî) (Stockholm: Statens Institut for Läromedel, 1989), 311 p.

A Swedish-Kurmanji dictionary in Latin script, intended to help Kurdish immigrants in Sweden to learn Swedish. There is also a Swedish-Sorani dictionary published by the same institute. Because the dictionary is intended for Kurmanji-speaking Kurds from both Turkey and Iraq, the Kurdish definitions for any given Swedish word often list several different equivalents, which has the added benefit of supplying Kurdish synonyms. However, because the intended readership is native speakers, detailed information such as the gender of nouns has been excluded. The dictionary includes an entire section with pictures, featuring the names of various items -- in Swedish only. Although comparable pictorial material for learning other languages exists, none has as yet been developed for Kurdish.

There are two as yet unpublished vocabularies that should be mentioned:

Kahn, Margaret. Kurmanji-English, English-Kurmanji Lexicon (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan, 1974) Typescript .

This is the word list that Margaret Kahn compiled from her native informant who hails from Silvan (Ferqîn), near Diyarbakir, Kurdistan of Turkey. The words are in her own phonetic script, with gender of nouns sometimes provided, but neither ± transitivity nor present stem of verbs regularly provided. There are also some useful comparative notes. Considering how little linguistic work has been done on the Kurdish dialects of Turkey since the founding of the republic, this work is of paramount importance, even though it is based entirely on the speech of one informant.

Nikitine, B. Samdînâî Kurdish. (ed. by D.N. MacKenzie). Unpublished texts .

The glossary that accompanies Nikitine's texts are also from one informant, a native of S,emdinli, Hakkârî province, Kurdistan of Turkey. I have reason to believe that the informant was living in Iran when the texts were collected, as there are many Persian, and even some suspiciously Sorani- looking items here. The (Southern) Kurmanji-English vocabulary, prepared by Professor D. N. MacKenzie, is in Latin phonetic transcription, with comparative notes for Akre and Amadiya in Iraqi Kurdistan. Information on gender of nouns, present stems of verbs, and the like are limited -- as is the vocabulary itself -- to what occurs in the texts of Nikitine's informant; hence, for some nouns the gender is unclear.

I am very grateful to both Margaret Kahn and to D.N. MacKenzie for making these unpublished vocabularies available to me.

The most recent dictionaries include:

Gewranî, Ali Seydo Ali. Ferhenga Kurdî Nûjen: Kurdî - Erebî = al-Qâmûs al-Kurdî al-hadlth : Kuldî - 'Arabî [] ('Ammân: Sharikat al-Sharq al-Awsat, 1985), 670 p.

This Kurmanji-Arabic dictionary is riddled with misprints. Neither the gender of nouns, nor the v± transitivity or present stem of verbs is indicated. Nevertheless, this dictionary by a Jordanian Kurd includes almost the entire vocabulary used in the important Kurdish journals Hawar and Ronahî and the newspaper Roja Nû, all of which appeared in the1930's and 1940's.

Consequently, a good deal of journalistic vocabulary is included. With regard to phonetics, some attempt is made to use the gutturals , although not consistently. Moreover, neither emphatics nor aspirated consonants are indicated.

Torî Ferheng: Kurdî-Tirkî, Türkçe-Kürtçe (Istanbul: Koral, 1992), 496p.

A Kurmanji-Turkish and Turkish-Kurmanji dictionary. Like Gewranî, this dictionary also lacks the basic features of marking the gender of nouns and the ± transitivity and present stem of verbs. In addition to a fairly limited vocabulary, the order of the Latin alphabet is rather peculiar, putting X between G and H. Q between K and L. Kurdoev also follows the latter practice; however, Kurdoev puts X (and ) after H. not before it. Both systems are departures from the normal order, and therefore create confusion that could be avoided.

On the positive side, Torî gives fairly detailed definitions in Turkish, which often illuminates meanings that are rather sparsely covered elsewhere. Being of recent vintage, this dictionary includes several of the most recent neologisms. As far as phonetics go, no attempt whatsoever is made to mark emphatics, gutturals, or aspirated consonants.

Omar, Feryad Fazil. Kurdisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch = Ferhenga Kurdî-Elmanî (Berlin: Verlag fur Wissenschaft und Bildung, Kurdische Studien, 1992), 721 p.

This recent Kurdish-German dictionary by a Kurd living in Germany attests to the fact that with a little formal linguistic training, native speakers can provide the minimal information required for a good dictionary. This is the only Kurmanji dictionary to provide main entries in both Arabic and Latin script, thereby making it accessible to Kurds in Iraq and Iran as well as to those in Turkey. The gender of nouns is regularly provided, as is the ± transitivity and present stem of all verbs. According to the introduction, in addition to culling vocabulary from literary sources, some fieldwork was undertaken, which explains the fairly wide range of vocabulary, including both traditional and modern spheres of usage. Although neither emphatics nor aspirated consonants are indicated, the gutturals are: .

Rizgar, Baran. Kurdish-English English-Kurdish Dictionary = Ferheng Kurdî-Îngîlîzî Îngîlîzî-Kurdî (London: M.F. Onen, 1993), 400 p.

Considering the fact that Mr. Rizgar is not a trained linguist, he has done a very nice job. I particularly like the idea of having an easy to use English- Kurmanji dictionary. However, his emphasis on written sources, while the language is in reality primarily spoken, detracts considerably from its utility.

The gender of nouns, and both the present tense and ± transitivity of verbs are presented. The designation n. is used, indicating that "the noun is neutral [i.e.,] has not a certain gender (the gender may change in different regions), or [that he] could not determine the gender." How can a native speaker of a language, particularly one who is a lexicographer, not know the gender of a noun? Are there no other native speakers to consult about this? I assume this is more of a problem with regard to artificially coined neologisms than with words from the spoken language.

A distinction is made between the paired sounds t/t' - p/p' - k/k' - ç/ç' (unaspirated/aspirated), which is of great value to linguists and phoneticians. However, Mr. Rizgar's choice of designation is unfortunate. Had he availed himself more of the works of the Soviet Kurdologists (particularly Bakaev), he would have seen that by marking the non-aspirated member of each pair, he has deviated from the established practice of marking the aspirated member. For example, 'to do' is generally written kirin (with non-aspirated k which is unmarked), and 'to buy' is k'irîn (with aspirated k which is marked with an apostrophe [k']). Mr. Rizgar has reversed this distinction, writing the former as kirin and the latter as kirîn. For the non-native speaker, much less for the handful of literate Kurmanji speakers, distinguishing between these paired consonants is difficult enough. In switching the system around, Mr. Rizgar has added another confusing dimension which is both unnecessary and avoidable. He is, nonetheless, to be praised for maintaining this distinction where others have not.

Regarding orthography, the guttural sounds (ع/ح/غ) are distinguished from e-h-x by an underscore (, similar to Omer's practice in his Kurmanji-German dictionary.

Because Mr. Rizgar has not differentiated well-entrenched words from newly coined ones, I suspect that his dictionary may be of more use in dealing with a particular type of written Kurmanji than in effectively communicating with the average Kurdish peasant. My most recent students have used Mr. Rizgar's dictionary while preparing for class, and have told me that, while helpful in reading newspaper articles, it was of little help in reading folkloristic materials. Moreover, the Kurdish immigrants from Iraq who have gotten copies of it find that because it is in Latin script, it forces them to accustom themselves to the new alphabet -- important for them primarily in reading English. However, the Kurdish definitions are often unfamiliar to them.

The term "written Kurmanji" must be clarified, for there are two different types which may be encountered. Firstly there is Modern Literary Kurmanji, the type of language one sees in journals and books written by and for literate Kurmanji-speaking Kurds: this includes such early 20th century journals and newspapers as Hawar, Roja Nû, Ronahî, the current journals Hêvî and Rewşen, the magazine Berbang, and the newspaper Begat, as well as literary works such as the poetry of Cegerxwîn and Osman Sebrî. This style includes many newly-coined technical terms which may or may not have caught on among those few who have been fortunate enough to have achieved some smattering of literacy vis-à-vis Kurmanji. Such vocabulary, which is largely unintelligible to the masses of Kurmanji speakers, is the basis of Mr. Rizgar's dictionary.

Secondly, there are collections of folklore which have been committed to writing. Kurdish has an extraordinarily rich repertoire of oral literature: there are folktales, legends, romances and epics, anecdotes, folk songs, ballads, poems, proverbs, and riddles, to name only the more salient ones. European scholars began collecting such materials in Kurdish in the middle of the l9th Century, and in recent times the Soviet Kurdologists have been the most avid collectors and publishers of such materials. It is this latter category that accurately represents the Kurmanji language as it is spoken, and especially as it is used by active bearers of the tradition -- although there is also a special vocabulary used in storytelling which is not part of everyday speech. Though many of the storytellers are illiterate, their grasp of their mother tongue is exemplary in many ways. Considering the fact that at this point in time, Kurmanji is primarily a spoken language, this second category must be a major focus of any comprehensive Kurmanji dictionary. Nevertheless, as long as the modern literary vocabulary is clearly distinguished in some way from this fundamental language, there is no reason why it cannot also be included. In the Kurmanji-English dictionary I am compiling, I have attempted to solve this problem by marking neologisms with the abbreviation (neol).

Those who feel that it is the modern technical vocabulary that should be given the most prominence in a work such as this are, in my opinion, ahead of (or at least out of touch with) where the Kurdish people and their language are today. As mentioned above, the reality is that only a few thousand of the 18-20 million Kurds who speak Kurmanji as their mother tongue are literate in it. This is indeed a very troubling situation: nonetheless, a scientifically sound work must reflect in realistic terms the state of the language as it exists today, distinguishing this clearly from where it "should" be, or where some of its speakers wish it already were. Hence, by flooding a dictionary with technical terminology which is unfamiliar to the bulk of native speakers of the language, the degree to which such a dictionary remains faithful to the reality it purports to represent is brought into question.

The Bedir Khan brothers, early twentieth-century Kurdish intellectuals to whom we owe the invention of the Latin orthography for Kurdish, were unable to brook the notion that Kurdish by its very nature exhibits multiformity and bristled at the thought that it exists in many dialects. For them, any suggestion that the Kurds are not a single, unified people was viewed as a threat. It is in this manner that linguistic inquiry runs the risk of becoming a charged political issue. In the time that I have spent studying Kurdish, I have familiarised myself with the various subdialects of both Kurmanji and Sorani, and although they offer very interesting and illuminating differences, I fail to see how these differences present a threat: even the Kurmanji dialects at the two furthest extremes of Northern Kurdistan (let us take as examples E'frîn in northwestern Syria, and Kars in northeastern Turkey on the border with Soviet Armenia), readily possess a mutually intelligibility. In San Diego, one even hears Kurmanji speakers conversing with Sorani speakers -- each speaking his own dialect and understanding the other. It is not possible to avoid encountering regional variation in the dictionary of a language as rich as Kurmanji, where the same word may assume different forms depending on the region (e.g. the word for bat [the animal, Chiroptera], which has such varied forms as: barç'imok, baçermok, balç'emk, balçermek, balçimk, balç'imk, berçem, [bârcbmik] (JJ), p'erçemk, pirçemek, and pîrçemek), where different regions may employ different words (e.g., to freeze, be cold: qefilîn, but qerim[t]în in Southern Kurmanji, and qerisîn in the Dersim/Tunceli region), or where the same word may have different meanings in different regions (e.g., qefilîn, which means to freeze' in most places, but to be tired in the Dersim/Tunceli region). A factor which complicates matters even more is that in spite of the illiteracy of the majority of the Kurdish populace, there exist three different alphabets in which Kurdish can be written: Latin, Cyrillic, and Arabic.

It is the lexicographer's prerogative to create order out of this 'chaos': for example, in the case of the multiformity of a particular word such as bat, he must choose one form as primary and refer all the others to it. Moreover, he must choose one alphabet and show how the others relate to it. We are fortunate that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the three alphabets in use for Kurdish. A chart of the three alphabets in which Kurdish is written is a common feature in the dictionaries. Your handouts include the one I have drawn up.

In light of my criticisms of the dictionaries which have preceded mine,

the goal is to supply as much information for each entry as possible, including both historical (diachronic) information by supplying linguistically sound etymologies and synchronic information by providing sample sentences for each meaning of a given word, variant forms, and synonyms, as well as inflections for verbs and nouns. My source material consists of textual matter from the spheres of folklore, literature, and journalism, as well as extensive notes from my own fieldwork -- all of this checked against the existing Kurdish dictionaries. In addition, bibliographic references for further study are provided whenever possible. With the information provided on regional variation, it should eventually be possible to map the geographic distribution of dialectal features. In short, the dictionary should be of use not only to Kurds and Kurdologists, but also to scholars in the fields of linguistics -- including dialectology, studies of grammar, and historical Iranian and Indo-European linguistics -- as well as for folklore, history, literature, and journalism. This project, which already exceeds 600 pages of computer printouts, will hopefully be ready for publication within the next five years.



Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

Language and Nation-Building in Kurdistan-Iraq

Jaffer Sheyholislami, PhD, Nov 2009

Language has frequently been considered an integral part of nation building. If nation-building has often meant nation destroying,  it has also meant imposing one language while suppressing others.  Since the birth of the French Republic, most language policies have been informed by the nation-state ideology (henceforth NSI), which is used here to refer to the view that a nation must be congruent politically, culturally and linguistically. This is a powerful myth that needs to be debunked if we want to celebrate diversity and uphold linguistic rights for all. 

Language and Nation-Building in Kurdistan-Iraq

Jaffer Sheyholislami, PhD

School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Carleton University, Canada
Paper presented at the Middle Eastern Studies Association 43th Annual Meeting,
Boston, MA, USA, November 21-24, 2009.

{Please do not quote without permission}


Language has frequently been considered an integral part of nation building. If nation-building has often meant nation destroying,[1] it has also meant imposing one language while suppressing others.[2] Since the birth of the French Republic, most language policies have been informed by the nation-state ideology (henceforth NSI), which is used here to refer to the view that a nation must be congruent politically, culturally and linguistically. Pursuing this policy under the pretext of preventing political disintegration, states have carried out acts of linguicide[3] against non-state/minority languages.  The Kurdish language has been a victim of this policy even though we have noticed some significant changes in the status of Kurdish in recent years.

In Iraq, Kurdish is now an official language.[4] In the Kurdish region, since 1992, Kurdish (the Sorani variety in particular, and Kurmanji in the Duhok province) has been the working language of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), schools and the media.  In addition, languages other than Kurdish are taught in schools and used in the media.  A recent study comparing Kurdish in Iraq and Turkey[5] view such promotion of minority languages such as Turkmani and Syriac in Kurdistan, as a “rare positive example[s]” among nation-building projects in the Middle East, where states have had abysmal records in their treatment of linguistic minorities. For this very reason, the language situation in Kurdistan deserves a more detailed review so that challenges and obstacles to linguistic rights in the region can be identified.

This paper examines some of the language debates that have recently taken place in Kurdistan-Iraq. Most of these debates have been engendered by two petitions submitted to officials in Kurdistan, one was a petition that demanded linguistic rights for Hawrami speakers, and the second was a petition that urged Kurdish officials to declare Sorani Kurdish as the official language.

The paper is informed by theories of nation and nationalism,[6] national identity[7], language policy and planning[8], and linguistic human rights.[9] Methodologically, I draw on the discourse historical approach[10] to analyze over 100 periodical articles, news items, commentaries, interviews, and official documents, produced predominantly in the Kurdish varieties (Hewrami, Kurmanji, Sorani), concerning these debates. I will illustrate that opposing sides of recent debates on the linguistic rights of Hawrami speakers, and the plea for the officialization of Sorani, can be identified as linguistic ideologies that are traceable to language issues occurring in other places and throughout the modern times. At the same time, one can also identify characteristics of the debates that might be unique to Kurdistan. I will conclude that, in spite of KRG’s relatively positive attitude about language diversity and rights, the national state ideology advocated by conservative nationalists remains a potential threat not only to language diversity and rights but also to Kurdistanis’ project of nation building.

Before describing the two petitions and the debates surrounding them, it is important to revisit the importance of language in discourses of Kurdish identity. It is equally important to problematize the myth that there is a single, unified, and standardized Kurdish language. The myth needs to be deconstructed, otherwise its hegemonic dominance in debates over language issues in Kurdistan-Iraq not only supports the erroneous position that Kurdish-Sorani is the only standardized Kurdish variety but it also suppresses critical views on linguistic rights and language diversity in Kurdistan.

Before describing the two petitions and the debates surrounding them, it is important to revisit the importance of language in discourses of Kurdish identity. It is equally important to problematize the myth that there is a single, unified, and standardized Kurdish language. The myth needs to be deconstructed, otherwise its hegemonic dominance in debates over language issues in Kurdistan-Iraq not only supports the erroneous position that Kurdish-Sorani is the only standardized Kurdish variety but it also suppresses critical views on linguistic rights and language diversity in Kurdistan.

Kurdish language and identity

An essentialist view of the connection between a nation and a unique language of its own is not desirable.[11] Kurdistan, as a territorial and cultural nation, has been imagined and defined in terms of a Kurdish language. This is evident in the writings of the poets Haci Qadir Koyi of the late 1800s, Goran of the 1950s and Hemin of the 1970s, as well as in the analysis and research of contemporary scholars of Kurdish studies.[12] It has been suggested that the Kurdish language is arguably the most salient symbol of Kurdish identity, both culturally and politically, because it separates the Kurds from their neighboring nations more readily than any other cultural or physical characteristic. All identities are relational. The discursive construct of a Kurdish language has been one of the most effective ‘othering’ tools in the hands of Kurdish nationalism, cultural or political.[13]

Kurdish diversity

Despite the importance of language as a discursive construct in Kurdish identity, politics, and autonomous movements, the language itself has never been a unifying force in practice. In fact, in recent memories, we do not know of any single Kurdish language per se. What we have is the concept, a discursive construct of such a language that at best refers to a group of speech varieties consisting of Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish), Sorani (Central Kurdish), and Gorani, Hawrami, and Zazaki (Southern Kurdish). These varieties are not mutually intelligible unless there has been considerable prior contact between their speakers.[14] Furthermore, the gulf between Kurdish varieties is widened by the fact that they are written in at least three very distinct scripts: Latin-based alphabet used by Kurds in Turkey (and some Kurds in Syria), Arabic-based alphabet used by Kurds in Iran and Iraq whether speaking Kurdish Sorani, Kurmanji, Gorani or Hawrami.

Despite these differences, until recently, language fragmentations did not pose any problem for Kurdistan’s nationalist movement. Internal differences were hidden away in relation to the sociopolitical and linguistic dominance of “Others”. In Kurdistan-Iraq, until 1992, all Kurdish varieties were almost equally oppressed. They were similar, equal, and united in being non-official and deprived of positive linguistic rights. Linguistic differences, however, started to become a “problem” in Kurdistan South when the “Other,” (i.e. the Baathist regime in Baghdad) no longer threatened the existence of the speakers of all the Kurdish varieties. In the absence of a common enemy, internal differences such as language diversity have started to surface in Hawler, Sulaimaniyeh, Duhok, and Hawraman.

The Case of Hawrami Speakers

The first serious sign of linguistic diversity emerged in a petition submitted by Hawrami speakers to the KRG authorities, which asked that Hawrami speech variety be recognized as a “distinct linguistic minority.” With a population of less than 200,000, and fewer than half of these living in Iraqi Kurdistan, there is justification, by reliable sociolinguistic standards, to consider Hawrami an endangered language.[15] Such a designation should entitle Hawramis to positive linguistic rights[16] granted by the KRG, and this means active promotion of the language through, for example, mother tongue education, providing courses for the teaching and learning of Hawrami, and financial support for the production of dictionaries, grammar books, and other text types in the language. 

In order to grant positive rights, however, it must be determined whether the speech variety in question is a “language” or a “dialect” (of Kurdish).[17] Non-Kurdish researchers such as David MacKenzie[18] believe that Hawrami is not Kurdish and therefore a language in its own right. However, Kurdish scholars, such as Hassanpour[19], have insisted on the Kurdishness of Hawrami not based on linguistic evidence but rather arguing that Hawramis themselves have considered their speech variety to be a dialect of Kurdish.[20] Recently, however, the views of a considerable number of Hawrami speakers have changed.

In 2006, these individuals, who live both in Kurdistan (Iraq and Iran) and diasporas, signed a petition urging the Kurdistan Parliament to recognize Hawrami as a “distinct linguistic minority” and the medium of instruction in the first years of school in the Hawraman region. It is quite interesting to note that although the petition insisted on the Kurdishness of Hawramis as far as national identity was concerned, it referred to Hawrami as a language and not a dialect of Kurdish. The petition seemed to conceive of Kurdistan as a civic as opposed to an ethnic nation, a distinction that is more in line with the conceptualization of those who dismissed outright the demand of Hawramis.[21] Some Sorani writers accused the people behind the petition of being non-Kurdish and un-patriotic, having been encouraged by the enemies of Kurdistan to cause diversity and thus disunity among the “Kurds.”

It would be simplistic to explain these problems in terms of language diversity alone. Most nations are linguistically diverse. The difficulty is conservative Kurdish nationalists do not tolerate linguistic diversity and by extension linguistic rights. They perceive diversity as a prelude to the disintegration of a people and nation. These conservative nationalists who criticize states like Turkey and Syria for suppressing the Kurdish language similar to those states subscribe to the nation-state-ideology. Sometimes the oppressed behaves like the oppressor. This is by no means unique to Kurdistan. It would be almost impossible to find any nation that is not multilingual and in which one group has not made attempts, and sometimes successfully, to impose its own language on the rest of the population. In this day and age, however, it has become more and more difficult, for very good reasons, to insert the hegemony of one single language over other languages or language varieties of the same nation (more on this in the conclusion).

The Case of Sorani Officialization

The Hawrami speakers’ petition triggered the submission of a counter petition, which asked that Sorani Kurdish be declared the official language of Iraqi Kurdistan.[22]  Addressed to Masoud Barzani, the Kurdistan President, the Kurdish Parliament, and the KRG, the petition appeared in the bi-Weekly Hawlatî, Sunday April 20, 2008, and was signed by 53 people who were among the most well-known writers, poets, journalists, and intellectuals of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The petition caused immediate reactions from many parties. The KRG and some other Kurdistan officials, such as Shafiq Qazaz the head of the Akadîmyay Kurdî (Kurdish Academy) in Hewlêr, neither rejected nor endorsed the petition. Instead, they acknowledged the seriousness of the matter and called for more expert studies and deliberation on language planning. In contrast, whereas some officials supported the petition albeit on a personal level[23], there were others, such as the Governor of the Duhok province, a Kurmanji speaker, who dismissed the petition as discriminatory against non-Sorani speakers.

This opposition to the official language petition received additional support from the Union of Kurdish Writers—Duhok,[24] a Kurmanji speaking body, that refused to submit to the demands put forward by the petition.[25] While the Union proposed that there should be a dialogue with all parties concerned, [26] they insisted that children in the Badinan region should continue to study in Kurmanji and that they also should learn Sorani.[27] Similar to Hawrami speakers, Kurmanji speakers of the Badinan region seem to have a democratic and civic picture of the Kurdistan they want to belong to. Not surprisingly, Hawrami speakers also voiced their opposition to the petition for the officialization of Sorani and repeated their own demands for linguistic rights and respect for language diversity in Kurdistan.

Another voice in this debate, pan-Kurdish nationalists, viewed the petition as premature and harmful to the interests of a greater Kurdistan. Adhering to the NSI, they argued that, although Sorani speakers are the majority in Iraqi Kurdistan, they would not be the majority in a greater Kurdistan. The pan-Kurdish nationalists believe that the official language of Kurdistan should be a “unified Kurdish language” based on all Kurdish varieties. Finally, linguistic rights and diversity advocates argued that, as it stands, there are two standardized Kurdish speech varieties: Kurmanji and Sorani.[28] Declaring only one of these varieties as official would mean empowering that variety while disempowering the other. Such a policy would most likely further divide Kurdistan instead of promoting unity. Therefore, rather than declare any speech variety as official, it would be best if attempts were made to foster and celebrate linguistic diversity.

The current situation

Currently the Kurdish Academy, funded by the KRG and headed by Shefiq Qezaz, is studying this issue, whether the Sorani variety should be declared the official language of Kurdistan-Iraq. In 2008, after several meetings, the academy published the views of several well-known linguists and Kurdish academics.  However, there was no consensus on a clear language policy. In preparation for a conference on language matters to be held, the Kurdish Academy has recently been encouraging various linguists and informed observers to document their views for consideration at the conference in the hope that it will be possible to reach some consensus on recommendations for an informed language policy for Kurdistan-Iraq. 

What will the Kurdish Academy recommend? It is doubtful that the Academy or the KRG will find the submissions by pan-Kurdish nationalists realistic, that a language policy should not be designed for only one part but all parts of Kurdistan.  The officials in Hewlêr have demonstrated that the interests of Hewlêr and nation-building in Iraqi Kurdistan take precedence over concerns for a greater Kurdistan.

Moving beyond the pan-nationalist submissions, there are two possibilities. One is that the Academy may accept the petition for the officialization of Sorani. In this case the Academy will be following in the footsteps of the Ankara and Tehran of the 1920s, pursuing the myth that one nation must have only one official language. The second possibility, which is much more realistic and should be welcomed, is that the Academy may suggest that there is no need to declare any Kurdish variety as the official language for at least two reasons. First, Kurdistan does have a relatively common code of communication which satisfies, to some extent, the instrumental function that Ernest Gellner[29] perceived for language in the life of a modern nation. Sorani, for various historical and political reasons, has become that common code without being explicitly and forcefully imposed by KRG. The Academy may realize that the absence of an official language does not make a people less of a nation or political unity less possible (as is the case with the United States). Secondly, they may remind themselves and the KRG that recognizing positive linguistic rights could only strengthen Kurdistan and look to places like Canada where the recognition of linguistic rights of French speakers and Aboriginal peoples (and even new immigrants) have only made the country stronger as a multicultural, multilingual, and civic nation.[30] Finally, the Academy may also realize that, if the first instances of nation-building, such as France and Britain, were successful in ignoring the linguistic rights of minorities, such a strategy is no longer feasible in the age of satellite TV and the Internet. Compared to a few decades ago, let alone centuries ago when the first nation-states emerged, minorities are much more aware of their rights and they have much more means to amplify their voices and concerns.[31]


In conclusion, the KRG has respected the rights of Syriac and Turkomani languages. However, they seem to be reluctant to do the same for other language varieties that have been traditionally called Kurdish. They fear that once Kurdish is considered a group of languages rather than several dialects, the Kurdish people will be divided into different linguistic groups, and the Kurdish nation, as they know it, will no longer exist. This, of course, is not true. First, these language groups have always been separate. Secondly, there is hardly any nation in the world that is culturally and linguistically homogeneous. The concept of homogeneity is, in fact, better suited to ethnic groups than nations. All nations are heterogeneous. Kurdistan is not, and should not be, an exception. Kurdistan has never been a linguistic nation in the sense of German Romantics.[32] Rather, it is a nation built on shared oppression and the will to live together, to borrow from Ernest Renan.[33] Iraqi Kurdistan may no longer experience the ethno-national oppression that it used to, and its existence may depend on the desire and will to live together more than ever. A nation cannot exist in harmony in the absence of a desire or will to live together.

To continue a successful nation-building project, it would be in the best interest of Kurdistan and its citizens if the officials respected the rights of all citizens and groups in Kurdistan-Iraq regardless of how the conservative nationalism defines them (i.e. as Kurdish or non-Kurdish). The recognition of Hawrami speakers’ linguistic rights and the refusal of declaring Sorani as the only official language of Kurdistan-Iraq will be another important factor making the Herêm a truly “rare positive example” in the region where nation-building also means nation destroying. This may only happen if the KRG and the rest of Kurdistan citizens make serious efforts to disassociate themselves from the nation state ideology and instead embrace linguistic diversity. 


  1. Anderson, B. (1991 [1983]). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (Rev. ed.). London: Verso.
  2. Billig, M. (1995). Banal nationalism. London: Sage.
  3. Blommaert, J. (2006). Language policy and national identity. In Thomas Ricento (Ed.), Language policy (pp. 238-254). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
  4. Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and symbolic power. J. Thompson (Ed.), (G. Raymond & M. Adamson, Trans.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  5. Connor, W. (1994). Ethnonationalism: The quest for understanding. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  6. Cooper, R. (1989). Language planning and social change. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  7. Eriksen, T. H. (1992). Linguistic hegemony and minority resistance. Journal of Peace Research, 29(3), 313-332.
  8. Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge.
  9. Fishman, J. (1989). Language and ethnicity in minority sociolinguistic perspective. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.
  10. Ghazi, H. (2009). Language standardisation and the question of the Kurdish dialects: the language debate in Iraqi Kurdistan. Paper presented at the International Conference, The Kurds and Kurdistan: Identity, Politics, History. 2nd and 3rd April, 2009, Exeter, UK.
  11. Gellner, E. (1983). Nations and nationalism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  12. Hassanpour, A. (2008). Kurdî wek zimanêkî cut-standard: Têbînî sebaret be gellalley daxwazîname bo resmî kirdinî Soranî [Kurdish as a bi-standard language: View on the petition for the officialization of Sorani]. Retrieved April 25, 2008, from http://www.kurdistanan.net/cat200.php?sid=9231
  13. Hassanpour, A. (2003). The making of Kurdish identity: Pre-20th century historical and literary discourses. In A. Vali (Ed.), Essays on the origins of Kurdish nationalism. Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers Inc.
  14. Hassanpour, A. (1992). Nationalism and language in Kurdistan. San Francisco: Mellon Press.
  15. Hassanpour, A. (1998). The identity of Hewrami speakers: Reflections on the theory and ideology of comparative philology. In A. Soltani (Ed.), Anthology of Gorani Kurdish Poetry, (pp. 35-49). London: Soane Trust for Kurdistan.
  16. Heller, M. (1999) Linguistic minorities and modernity: A sociolinguistic ethnography. London: Longman.
  17. Holmberg, A., & Odden, D. (?). The noun phrase in Hawrami. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from http://www.kurdishacademy.org/?q=node/407 
  18. Ignatieff, M. (1993). Blood and belonging: Journeys into the new nationalism. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  19. Joseph, J. E. (2006). Language and politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  20. Joseph, J. E. (2004). Language and identity: National, ethnic, religious. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  21. Kymlicka, W., & Patten, A. (2003). Language rights and political theory. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 23, 3-21.
  22. May, S. (2001). Language and minority rights: Ethnicity, nationalism and the politics of language. Harlow: Longman.
  23. MacKenzie, D. N. (1961). The origin of Kurdish. Transactions of the Philological Society, pp. 68-86.
  24. Olson, R. (2009). Blood, Beliefs and Ballots: The Management of Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey, 2007-2009. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda.
  25. Pennycook, A. (2006). Postmoderrnism in language policy.  In T. Ricento (Ed.),  An introduction to language and policy: Theory and method (pp. 60-76). UK: Blackwell Publishing.
  26. Renan, E. (1990 [1882]). What is a nation? In H. K. Bhabha (Ed.), Nation and narration (pp. 8-22). London: Routledge.
  27. Sheyholislami, J. (2008). Identity, discourse and media: The case of the Kurds. Doctoral dissertation. Carleton University.
  28. Shêxulîslamî, C. (Sheyholislami, J.). (2008). Zimanî Standard, Zimanî Yekgirtû [Official Language, Unified Language]. Mahabad: Cultural and Literary Magazine, 88, 16-19.
  29. _____________. (2008, July 7). Zimanî Standard, Zimanî Yekgirtû, Zimanî Resmî, Mafî Zimanî: Be Biyanûy Dialogêk le gell Witarekey Cemal Nebez da [Standard Language, Unified Language, Official Language, Linguistic Rights: A Dialogue with Jamal Nabaz’s Paper]. Hawlatî, 436, 17 & 19.
  30. Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2007). Language planning and language rights. In Hellinger, Marlis and Pauwels, Anne (eds.) Handbook of language and communication: Diversity and change (pp. 365-400). New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  31. Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2000). Linguistic Genocide in Education—Or Worlwide Diversity and Human Rights? Mahwah, NJ and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
  32. Skutnabb-Kangas, T., Fernandes, D. (2008). Kurds in Turkey and in (Iraqi) Kurdistan: A comparison of Kurdish educational language policy in two situations of occupation. Genocide Studies and Prevention 3 (1), 43–73.
  33. Skutnabb-Kangas, T. & Bucak, S. (1995). Killing a mother tongue — how the Kurds are deprived of linguistic human rights. In Tove Skutnabb-Kangas & Robert Phillipson (Eds.), Linguistic human rights: Overcoming linguistic discrimination (pp. 347-370). New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  34. Smith, A. (1998). Nationalism and modernism. London: Routledge.
  35. Smith, A. (1991). National identity. Reno: University of Nevada Press.
  36. Spencer, P., & Wollman, H. (2002). Nationalism: A critical introduction. London: Sage Publication.
  37. Vali, A. (2003). Genealogies of the Kurds: Constructions of nation and national identity in Kurdish historical writing. In A. Vali (Ed.), Essays on the origins of Kurdish nationalism (pp. 58-105). Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers Inc.
  38. van Bruinessen, M. (2003). Ehmedî Xanî’s Mem û Zîn and its role in the emergence of Kurdish national awareness. In A. Vali (Ed.), Essays on the origins of Kurdish nationalism (pp. 40-57). Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers Inc.
  39. van Bruinessen, M.(2000). Kurdish ethno-nationalism versus nation-building states: Collected articles. Istanbul: The ISIS Press.
  40. Wodak, R., de Cillia, R., Reisigl, M., & Mitten, R. (1999). The discursive construction of national identities. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  41. Wright, S. (2007).  The right to speak one’s own language: Reflections on theory and practice, Language Policy, 6, 203–224.
  42. Wright, S. (2004). Language policy and language planning: From nationalism to globalization. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

My memoris: The Kurdish Language


by Musa Anter
Translated by Iskender Ozden



As year followed year, times changed and people changed. "Dinya bu hukumet, Kurmanci rabu" (Ehmede Xane), which means in English: "The world became ruled ! by Government, and being Kurdish has disappeared". The new Turkish Republic was ,' organising itself. They were founding new villages, towns and cities. It became easier for the gendarmes, tax-inspectors and other Government officials to penetrate villages. The end of the war meant that the Government could deploy more of its armed forces to reach and tyrannise the population of the areas which they had been unable to reach.

One such village was ours, my father was dead and with no elder male family member, my mother was in charge and was the village mayoress. None in our village or in the surrounding region could speak Turkish. It was easy to communicate with the tax-collectors as they were from our region, but the gendarmes when they came, presented problems, because we did not know what they wanted. We did not know if they wanted eggs, chickens, lamb, money or just wood for their army station.

This inability to communicate caused them to get angry and beat up the poor village people. We were prepared to give them whatever the government asked for, but we had no idea what they wanted and so, because of the language problem we suffered. My mother was especially worried about it all. She decided that if she sent me to school, I could learn Turkish and communicate with the soldiers. This was the only reason she had for sending me to school.

There were no telephones, motor vehicles or cavalrymen in those days, so every other day two soldiers would come to the village from Nusaybin with their documents to replace the two soldiers already there who came from our small town Akarsu. In Arabic, their change over was called 'Telakki'. This exchange often took place in our melon fields. When we saw the soldiers, we children were fi-ightened. So we would quietly hide and watch them. Sometimes we watched the four soldiers destroy as many as 15-20 melons in our field. They were trying to find the ripe ones and imagined the big melons to be the ripe ones. But when they cut them open and found they were green, they would kick the melons and swear at the melon and its owner. Even the children in the village could tell which melons were ripe but because we could not speak Turkish we were unable to tell the soldiers. We were frightened of the soldiers especially because they never treated us as human beings.

When the soldiers had left the field, the older folk from the village would come and remove the destroyed melons to feed them to the animals. We would tell them that it was the soldiers who had done it, but the villagers kept quiet and showed no anger which surprised us. I think the villagers believed the soldiers were allowed to do anything, beat them or swear at them, because they were under orders from the Government. We called the soldiers 'Romi' and even today they are called by the same name. When I grew up I decided to investigate the word 'Romi'. Our famous poet Ehmede Xane, in the preface to his brilliant classic novel "Mem u Zin" says, "Rum u, Ereb u, Ecem", which means 'Turks, Arabs and Fars'. The nations which continuously and barbarously occupied Kurdistan were the Romans and Byzantines. These were people who came to our land without families and as soldiers did nothing but dishonourable things, and oppression. During the period when the Turks were converting to the Muslim faith, the Kurds allowed them unhindered access across Kurdistan so that they could travel from the East to West Anatolia where they settled. This access was ordered by edict of the supreme Islamic ruler, the Caliph.

In later years, when the Turks came to Kurdistan and behaved tyrannically towards the Kurdish people, it was felt they were no different from the Romans and Byzantines of the past who had shown such disrespect for Kurdish traditions and customs, they (the Turks) were called 'Romi' and even today, when such things happen, the Kurds' say: "Bexte Rome tune ye" which means 'Romi - Turks - have no mercy'.

It was events such as these which forced me to go to school to learn Turkish. Curiously, the general public of this region looked down not only on manual labour such as blacksmithing, cotton picking but also on scholars who went to state schools feeling that scholars taught locally at theological schools would gain a greater understanding of their Kurdish heritage.

I recollect that when I was at school many people would say to me in a friendly way "Isn't it a shame that you go to school. You are going to become a Government official tomorrow and make problems for us." In a way of course they were right as most of the Government officials or educated people they came in contact with had been liars, cowards, bribe takers or collaborators with the enemy - the Turks.

In February 1927 my mother sent me to a primary school in Kercows (renamed Gercus). The headmaster, Ibrahim teacher (he later took the surname Oguz) took me on as a guest student.

During holidays, I would return to my village. At first I learnt words such as "bread, water, wood, come and go, what is your name?, cockerel. chicken. egg and turkey". My mother was overwhelmed by my knowledge. That summer we had no problems with the soldiers, so no-one was beaten up. and all because of my Turkish, which proved we had not wanted to give the soldiers any trouble, it was just that we could not communicate.

The following year, I was registered for a primary school in Nusaybin town. It was for five years. The school had two teachers, Tahar Halebiye and Deaf Hamdi. Deaf Hamdi, taught classes 1-2 and 3 where the children would be noisy and swear at the teacher and each other, but being deaf, he could not hear what was going on! After two months, I could no longer put up with the situation and I returned home devastated never to return. A malaria epidemic broke out in he town of Nusaybin and most days you would see one or two coffins pass by. According to the Law, you were not allowed to plant rice within 5 km of the town. But from the Pirincioglu family, Nedim Beg and Mahmut Advan (he later took the surname Deveci) would come from Diyarbakir and bribe the Government officials and get a 5 km authorisation certificate, but would none-the-less plant rice even inside the town. This caused smells and disease and because of this my mother agreed not to force me to go back to school.

At this time the Government (Turkish) started to open boarding schools in villages in Kurdistan to help with assimilation. One was started in Mardin city called 'The Mardin Village Boarding School'. It was not meant tor ordinary poor children but tor the children of rich landowners and tribal leaders. Amongst the children at the school were: the Omeriyan tribe leader Ahmed Suleyman's son, his brother's two sons and his cousins; from thc Sulguci, tribe the leader Isa's three sons: from Avena's two children; from Kercews Ekmen's two children, from Kikan tribe the leader Mahmut's two sons, from Semirax (renamed by the Turks Mazidagi) village. two children; from Derik, Kiziltepe, Mahserte (Omerli) four children. Altogether there were 90 children which included me. The Government hoped that once the tribal leaders were assimilated, the rest of the tribe would be as well. I am pleased to say that this just did not happen. Neither myself nor any of the others betrayed our identity. We as children did not realise the government's intention any more than the elders did. Finally the Government realised that their policy was not successful, so in 1935 they closed all the boarding schools in Kurdistan.

In reality what they had tried to do was a continuation of the practice of the Hamidiye Regiments by which, during period of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottomans trained the Kurds to be soldiers and used them to fight the Ottoman Empire' s enemies (the Ottomans did this to Christian nations as well). For example, boys as young as five years old, who were children of Christians, would be taken from their families and sent to special military establishments to be trained as soldiers (Janissaries). During the Armenian genocide the Turks killed most of the Armenians (1.5 million). From the city of Mardin, some managed to escape to the city of Allepo in Syria. The building in Mardin city where we attended school had belonged to one such Armenian but, when the Turks took it over it became our school. The house had been made of the famous Mardin stone and was even more beautiful than the small mosque in Topkapi (Istanbul) museum or the Baghdad Villa.


There were five primary schools in Mardin city but only one music teacher. He was a fiddler from the city of Mus, called Tevfik Beg. His nickname was 'Domiro' and he was the first teacher to play music on his violin. On finishing, he asked us if we knew what it was that he had just played. Although I recognised the music, I was too frightened to admit it because it was a Kurdish melody.

The Kurdish language was banned inside and outside the city and if anyone was caught speaking Kurdish, they were fined 1 TL (Turkish lira) for each word spoken. This struck Mardin city dumb because unable to speak Kurdish in public meant people used sign language.

I started to raise my hand but frightened, lowered it. But the teacher having seen me asked me not to be afraid but tell him what the song was called. Feeling a little braver now I told him it was 'Berde, Berde, lawik deste min berde' (release, release, young man release my hand) and my teacher praised me.

To help you understand the situation, I will give you another example of the difficulties arising from the prohibition of speaking Kurdish.

The villagers used to take wood to the city to sell. They transported it by donkey. They would sell the firewood for about 5060 kurus (pennies). If the donkey and the saddle was in good condition, they could sell it for 5-6 lira. To make the donkey go while riding it, a Kurd would say 'Co'. Villagers speaking nothing but Kurdish when they arrived at the city would say 'Co' and the soldiers would stop them and fine them on the spot for speaking Kurdish. Unable to speak Turkish, the Kurdish villager would attempt to explain to the soldiers in Kurdish and thus the fine built up and up.

A relative of my mothers was set up by the soldiers and in order to pay the fine he sold his firewood and donkey. He received five Turkish lira for them but his fine was 12 lira so he was beaten up and put in a cell for two days. Three and a half months later. when the tax collectors came to our village, they demanded the remaining seven lira outstanding on the fine. If he did not pay up, they would seize his house and belongings. My uncle managed to pay the fine by selling some of his sheep. Such incidents were part of our ordinary, normal daily life. If records of fines had been kept in Mardin city, it would be possible to find many such cases as this. I have many memories of those five years. But the one that really impressed me was this: In our school were the sons of Eliye Ehmed tribal leaders called Ehmed and Senanik. In 1932 in Omeriyan town, there had been an incident and a squad of soldiers arrived in the town from Diyarbakir city. They had been sent on a clean up operation against the Kurds. Most of the men of the village ran away to the mountains. Eli agha, his two brothers and 14 men were confronted by the soldiers in Tuxip mountain. The soldiers opened fire and at the end of the conflict had killed and wounded the Kurds. The soldiers then proceeded (regardless oi whether they were dead or alive) to chop off the Kurds' heads leaving the bodies.

The story goes that when Ehmede Drei was arrested and then his head was chopped off, he managed to run a short distance without his head!

The soldiers put all seventeen heads into a bag and proceeded to display them to the people as if they were melons. The heads were finally taken to Stelile (Akarsu) where a priest (imam) washed all the heads and put the landowner with his two brothers into one bag and the rest of the 14 heads in another bag and buried them in the graveyard next to our garden.

This was just one of many similar incidents that took place all over Kurdistan. After this particular incident the two brothers whose fathers and uncles had been killed were still at our school. But you could imagine how frightened and upset they were. As a result of this incident the atmosphere at school was very upsetting for a long time.

Everything seemed to be going wrong and in the end they used the excuse that I was underage, to expel me. I was registered as being born in 1924 but later I was to dispute my date of birth in court and it was altered to 1920. Neither of these dates appear to be correct because my mother told me: "Pisti Fermane Fileya tu hati dinyaye" which when translated from Kurdish means "Your were born just after the genocide of the Armenians by the Turks". The Armenian genocide started in 1915 and finished in 1917, so my date of birth must be 1917 or 1918.

This article is the second instalment of "My MEMOIRS" by Musa Anter

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Nation State building or language planning

By Dilan Roshani, 1st Intl. KAES Conference, UCLA, CA, USA, 5th Nov 2010

This year marks nearly 20 years of the Kurdish near-independent political rule over Iraqi Kurdistan. This region is home to an estimated 4-5 million Kurds who share a common identity and culture but who also speak a great variety of dialects.

In the northernmost area of the Kurdistan Region, people speak a Northern Kurdish variety which they variously call Behdíní, Surcí, Hekarí, Shengarí and Sinjarí. In the more southerly areas, one will find a Central Kurdish variety referred to by the names of the sub-regions or a tribe, such as Mukrí/Mukriyani, Erdelaní, Germíyaní, Soraní, Xushnaw, Píjhder, Píraní, Wermawe, and Hewlérí.

Further to the south of this region, a South Kurdish variety dubbed as Bajelaní, Kelhirí, Guraní, Zengene, and Kakayí is spoken. Furthermore, Hewramí – believed to be the most ancient form of dialects presently spoken by the Kurds – is spoken along the Iran-Iraq border with its subdialects known locally as Bésaraní, Textí, Shéxaní and Hellebjeyí, in addition to Shabaki in Mosul area. [1] [2] [3] In view of this linguistic diversity, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is facing an enormous problem relating to language planning and education. In this paper I provide a concise overview of various common approach to the language issues and then offer a solution for creation of a standard Kurdish writing system to bridge the Kurdish varieties.

The question of language became critical in the aftermath of WWI, when the double process of 'nation destroying' and 'nation-building' started  simultaneously. The European philosophy of  “One nation, One People and One language” reshaped the whole Middle East regions with nearly a dozens of new states. The Kurds needed quickly shape up their divers multidialectal language and religious community to be able to gain the right for self determination as one of dozens nations freed from the Ottoman Empire. As a political argument the Kurdish political elites and pro-Kurdish voices such as C.J. Edmonds used the language factor to justify for the Kurdish cause [4]. The main focus was to mobilise single subdialect monopoly of Babaní (Silémaní) to represent the official language of a Kurdish state.

Now the history repeated itself as on 20 April 2008 in a solely Kurdish prepared formula a new round of controversy on the state of the Kurdish language began when the Kurdish weekly Hawlati (issue No. 415) published a petition signed by a group of 53 of some well known Kurdish writers, authors and academics calling for the Mid Kurdish sub-dialect of Babaní "Soraní" to become the “Official language” of Kurdistan region in Iraq. The petition was presented to the various bodies of KRG, and to the leaderships of the main Kurdish political parties. Yet again recently in a similar attempt on 21 Dec 2009 the KRG body of Kurdistan Academy in Hewlér (Erbil) organised a conference on "Official Language of Iraqi Kurdistan". The organisers had selected and invited gussets to discuss a possible statement to formally announce the Mid Kurdish Dialect (Soraní) as the official language of KRG. Both of these recent attempts share a single outcome where both failed to achieve their goals. Once again the déjà vu scenarios of the aftermath of WWI reoccurred and turned the future of the Kurdish language into a political agenda rather than a linguistic debate for an original solution where the multidialectal nature of Kurdish could be celebrated and fundamental long-term solution could be sought. The story of Kurdish nation and battle for addressing the real issue will continue. 

Indeed, no nation needs to have an exclusive language much less a standard language in order to exist as a nation. This includes the Kurds. The Kurdish nation with its diversity in culture, history, environment, literature and dialects has existed as long as the history has been recorded. The Kurdish nation includes all those who call themselves Kurds whether or not they can presently speak the Kurdish language in one or more of its present dialects. Due to various natural or coercive measures employed by the states that presently administer the regions to which the Kurds are indigenous, a large portion of the Kurdish population no longer speak their once native language. However, a language can be one of the most important factors to bring a nation together, and therefore, requires careful preservation and fostering.

In the meantime, those who maintain sentiments for or against nation-state building sentiments are politicising the Kurdish language issue too far and unjustifiably so. Rather than a never-ending political discourse and disagreement, the aspiration of building a nation-state should be addressed by a popular referendum, a body of laws, and by the composition of a constitution and an enactment of the people's will. Whether the reform of Kurdish language to better serve its speakers helps the disparate segments of the Kurdish nation converge, is independent from the logistics of physically constructing and legitimately establishing the geographical boundaries for a country named Kurdistan.

The Kurdish language is in need of a practical language policy that allows for a proper time to develop a structure for wider communication cross its dialects. Such a mission would encompass the establishment of certain standards in writing the language and expressing it in its rich cluster of dialects. One way to achieve this is by promoting all dialects of Kurdish but using a single unified writing system. A strong, workable, feasible and popular one will naturally find its way to become a link for all of them. The Kurdish nation has unique character and it needs to find a unique language planning which suits a nation with a pluricentric language and demographic diversities.

This is the first time in the recent history that Kurds are running their own affairs. The KRG needs to take time, debate and establish a strong and capable institute to explore all the practical solutions. One shall not be afraid to reform and undo the past mistakes found in the relatively short time of Kurdish language planning experience. Kurds can learn from the history and experiences of other nations in the modern world by studying their mistakes and successes in the development of various languages planning. The Kurds can develop a viable solution of their own to celebrate their multidialectal language. The Kurdish language planning needs to cover a measured effort to influence the function of Kurdish language-variety within its speech community. The goals of such a language planning should include planning for effective unlimited communication whilst preserving the Kurdish nature.

If I as someone who received no education in my mother tongue —South Kurdish-- and a native of south Kurdistan can read a specific article written in Mid Kurdish or North Kurdish and understand it 100% then where should the debate for language planning put its real effort to create a feasible and workable inter links between Kurdish speakers? If the whole Kurdish witting systems for any dialects were forced to shape based on political circumstance in the aftermath of WWI rather than real field work of social and linguistic research, then where should we make effort to create an inter link between Kurdish dialects? If the whole issue is solved by educating a generation in writing Kurdish with single unified alphabet and promote common vocabularies in any dialects (despite their grammatical differences), then why should we have a battle filed of superiority of this dialect or that dialect?

A reformed unified writing system is a feasible approach

As the language appears as one of the most controversial issues among Kurds the anti- and pro-reform of Kurdish writing systems are using variety of arguments against each other. Some have gone as far as calling Perso-Arabic based Kurdish writing system as holey script based on religious domination [5], and others have build a national identity around Turkish-Latin based Kurdish writing system and call that a national symbol for Kurdish nation [6]. Both side are looking into this issue as a closed case and dismiss any reform attempts based on personal ambition for Kurdish codification championship. After all an alphabet is the symbol for functional communication not national identity. Now one shall identify that as a holy national identity and deny its shortcoming in wider perspective. Here, there is no race to national codification championship. It is not the question of which idea or individual "should win," as long as the Kurdish nation wins at the end.

However; many renowned Kurdish and non-Kurdish scholars have already expressed their views for suitability of a Latin-based Kurdish writing system for the Kurdish language at large. The elite literati such as Tawfiq Wehbi, C. J. Edmonds, D. N. Makenzie, J. A. Bedir Khan, A.R. Haji Marif, V. Minorsky were and A. Hassanpour and J. Nebez today are among those who advocated/advocating for a Latin based writing system.  Professor Nebez states that "So much more important is the matter of a single, unified alphabet. I was, and still am, of the opinion that the Latin alphabet must be reformed and promoted. The promotion of the writing of the Kurdish language in the Latin alphabet does not mean that its writing in the Arabic-based scripts should be completely ignored." The history of Kurdish codification shows that Latin has been the premier choice of many pioneers [7] and if it were not for the political pressures in the aftermath of WWI, Kurds would have started an era of writing in a Latin based Kurdish.

There are many shortcomings with current Kurdish writing systems being used. These include workability, cross-dialectal usage, and a lack of International IT-based Standards and representation for Kurdish [8]. To avoid the communication obstacles presented by the existence of various Kurdish writing systems, a standard Kurdish Unified Alphabet (Yekgirtú) has been developed by this writer’s organization that is based on International ISO-8859-1 Standards code making and enabled by most common Unicode code presenting. This modern Kurdish (IS) alphabet contained some minor changes in the existing Latin based alphabet and adopting new signs. The new signs were introduced to improve the flexibility of the writing system in Kurdish. This effort was undertaken as part of KAL's broad endeavour to revive and promote the use of the Kurdish language for the benefit of new generation of Kurds. The system devised and presented by KAL is simple and adequate for the purpose of communicating via the Internet and any electronic media [9].

The unified electronic-friendly alphabet can appear in any browser without limitations. The users of the unified alphabet will simply write in their own Kurdish dialect and bridge the diverse Kurdish dialects. The articles will be noted by the name of the used dialect. This will serve to increase curiosity among Kurds to follow a range of expressions in different Kurdish dialects. The unified alphabet will serve the Kurdish community to better understand and appreciate its own complexity. A common unified alphabet will also foster increased understanding of Kurdish national interests. Such an approach needs responsible media to choose words wisely and make an effort to not alienate other Kurdish dialects. The media at this stage of Kurdistan's history plays a great role in public education. Kurdish media shall work towards a more flexible usage of language and common vocabularies for a better common understanding rather than isolated dialectal based.

Dr. Dilan Roshani is the founder and director of the Kurdish Academy of Language Network, a non-governmental e-organization that is dedicated to research of the Kurdish language.


  1. Ebdu Rehmaní Zebíhí, Qamúsí zimaní Kurdí, Republished Edition of 1988
  2. M. Izady, The Kurds: A Concise Handbook, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilization Harvard University, USA, 1992
  3. The Kurdish Language, Kurdish Academy of Language (kurdishacademy.org)
  4. Liora Lukitz, "C. J. Edmonds and the Invention of Modern Iraq", Routledge, 2003
  5. Farhad Shakeli, Zimaní Kurdí le astaney serdemékí taze da, Mellbendí Kurdolojí, 2009
  6. Newzad Hirorî, Alfabeya Celadet Bedirxanî bûye sîmboleka neteweyî, Kulturname.com 5/10/2009
  7. Dilan Roshani, The Kurdish Orthography time-line, Kurdish Academy of Language (forth coming)
  8. Dilan Roshani, IT the Dilemma of Kurdish language, Kurdish Academy of Language 10/01/2002
  9. The Kurdish Unified Alphabet, Kurdish Academy of Language (kurdishacademy.org)


NOTE: This article was presented at "The First KAES Conference On the Kurdish Language", at UCL, CA, USA on 5th Nov 2010


Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

Notes on Kurdish Culture, Literature and Art Conference in Diyarbakir

Prepared by Amir Sharifi and Luqman Barwari, 14/01/2011

As 2010 was coming to an end, one could make a forceful argument that the year was an intriguing and fruitful one when it came to the long neglected Kurdish language, art, and literature. Kurdish intellectuals, politicians, and activists in the homeland and Diaspora for the first time discussed their shared interests and aspirations to ensure that they re-discover, reassert and regain their role in studying, safeguarding, and representing their cultural legacy and ethnic and linguistic identity.

From Dec 11 to Dec 12, 2010, many well known Kurdish intellectuals, artists, and performers met in one of the cultural capitals of Kurdistan, Diayarbakir or Amed, an old city on the plains of Tigris River to discuss Kurdish history, both ancient and contemporary, the current situation, and future directions and perspectives on the Kurdish culture. This was the first Kurdish Culture, Literature and Art Conference organized by the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), Mesopotamia Cultural Centers (MKM) and Diyarbakir Municipality. This pioneering initiative had received the support of Kurdish politicians, activists, intellectuals and artists from different parts of the land. The conference organizers deserve congratulations for two days of stimulating and inspiring talks on the issues that the Kurdish nation faces in these difficult but promising times. Indeed, the conference promoters deserve the immense success that their conference enjoyed. For the conferees it was a great joy and privilege to have met many fellow Kurds from different parts of our land. Kurds from Western, Southern, Northern, Central and Eastern Kurdistan had converged on Amed as had Kurds in Diaspora: from Russia, European countries, and the U.S. Some participants, particularly women organizers were dressed in the brightly colorful Kurdish dresses, giving the event a festive mood, accentuated by podium sized floral designs made of colorful fabric, emblematic of the Kurdish flag. The stage in the Gegerxwin Cultural Hall was decorated with iconic images of Kurdish prominent literary and historical figures such as Ahmad Khani, Baba Tahir e Oryan, Malaye Jaziri, Hemin, Fatma Isa, Musa Anter, Cegerxwin, Osman Sebri, Aysha Shan, Ibrahim Ahmad, Hejar, and Qanate Kurdo on a backdrop. The organizers were very earthbound, offering their guests; more than 250 delegates the legendary Kurdish hospitality. To facilitate communication among speakers of different dialects of Kurdish and non-Kurdish speakers, simultaneous interpretations were provided in Sorani, Kurmanji, English, and Turkish. Through the efforts of the organizers, scores of well known participants from different domains of knowledge and academic disciplines exchanged ideas and debated their perspectives on a variety of topics. Community leaders and associations such as The Kurdish Institute in Istanbul, Mesopotamia Cultural Centers were represented. Browsing through the program schedule, one could see many prominent figures such as Ozkan Kuchuk, Kurdologist, Jalile Jalil, Kurdologist, historian, and writer., Hashem Ahmadzadeh, author and director of Kurdish studies Sami Tan, the Director of Kurdish Institute in Istanbul, Mikail Aslan, composer and musician, and Mushin Osman, film director.

The conference organizers had also brought together a great many Kurdish politicians and parliamentarians and officials such as Ahmet Turk, co-president of the Peace and Democracy Party, Osman Baydemir, the mayor of Diayarbakir. A delegation from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) was also present throughout the conference as there were several panelists from KRG. As noted by the organizers “For the first time in the history of our people, Kurdish intellectuals, writers and artists had the opportunity to discuss the historical resources, current situation and future perspective of the Kurdish culture”.

Ahmet Turk, in inaugurating the conference spoke of the rich history of Kurdish people and its colorful culture. He called for improving conditions for Kurdish people and the major dialects. He stressed the need for the unwavering participation of politicians and the internalization of the democratization process. He described the Kurdish people as friendly and peace loving but resistant to discrimination. He concluded by emphasizing the right to education in the mother tongue as an inalienable right.

One of the underlying themes in the panel on the ancient history of the land and its culture was the originality of Kurdistan geography and its autochthonous people. The Kurdish contribution to the Neolithic era was acknowledged, particularly the distinct role of women in the evolution of communal life, language, and culture. It was stated that archeologists have established based on their findings in Kurdistan that Mesopotamia has long been a haven for human life and one of the loci of human civilization in the beginning of sedentary life, agriculture, and invention of tools, a history traceable to 8000 years B.C.E.an evolutionary process that originated in what is now the Kurdish ancestral land and then spread to other parts. Kurds were defined as creators of culture, institutions, animal domestication, and agriculture. Ahmet Yildrim referred to the Diyarbakir basin and Hasankeyf as key sites for many civilizations. It was argued that the ancestors of Kurds have made tremendous contributions to the material conditions for the emergence of civil structures and that Middle Eastern people should be indebted to the Kurds for their preservation of and respect for nature. The panelists bemoaned the fact that Kurds are now suffering and derided by forces of tyranny and subjected to “two hundred years of genocide and assimilation”.

The panels on culture and literature discussed the development processes, the problems that the Kurdish literature confronts along with the Kurdish language itself. A broad concern was how to develop Kurdish literature and art in the absence of the most fundamental rights, literacy, and channels of communication and dissemination of literature in the face of restrictions, linguistic, political and cultural divisions that Kurds are grappling with. Hashem Ahamadzadeh spoke about the relation between language and political power, the modern legacies and historiography of state making, dialectal variations and conditions of repression as impediments to communication among Kurdish literates. Abas Wali focused on the interdependency of literacy and socio-political processes and the role of intelligentsia in defining culture. A considerable amount of time was devoted to delineating the roles and responsibilities of the intellectuals and artists. Jalile Jalil, a Kurdologist and historian observed “ Our language is wounded; we have yet to understand the richness of our language… that terminological and literary niceties are all great, but how can literature grow if Kurdish children can not read what we write? We do not understand the language of our Denbejs (traditional Kurdish singers or bards) our neighbors.” Film makers, actors, and playwrights stressed the need for exploring and producing films and plays on local and universal themes; however, As Shirin Jihani, the first Kurdish woman film director pointed out, in the absence of such a culture and independent institutions, film makers face major difficulties in producing, presenting, and promoting their work.

The panelists in discussing the state of Kurdish music, argued that despite customary celebration of music in Kurdish daily, ethnic, social and political life and its lofty and sacred position, particularly in religious practices and cultural rituals and the distinct place of musicians and vocalists in Kurdish culture, we do not really know what an original and varied treasure we have. They stressed the need for ethno musicological research to identify different types of genres, compositions and their aesthetic modes in different areas, particularly those rich in musical traditions such as Hakkari... It was pointed out that our musical tradition has been threatened and now is lending itself to imitation. Mikail Aslan, composer, musician, and vocalist spoke about the deplorable condition in which Zaza speakers and their music once lived and how they had become alienated and removed from themselves once the language was colonized and conquered. “If one is separated from language, one loses himself or herself. This is how our music was seized’ then they humiliated us by saying that this is the language of peasants; many lost their psychological balance by subjecting themselves to self-censorship. He argued that the youth fall prey to this ideology easily and we have to fight against this ruthless assimilation.

The importance of language standardization on the basis of the common features of the different dialects was discussed. At the end a flexible linguistic identity inclusive of all dialects was what many panelists and members of the audience called for instead of a fixed, homogeneous linguistic identity.

It was noted that although Kurds face similar problems in neighboring countries, the Kurds in Turkey have faced frightening discrimination, a belligerent nationalism and a ruthless repression of their language and identity. Some of the presenters highlighted the dogmatic and assimilationist ideology that has penetrated the very fabric of the Turkish society and the media. It was pointed out that despite some positive developments; the Turkish media continues to portray Kurds in a negative light as an affront to Kurdish ideals. The presenters stressed the need for debunking these misguided and dangerous images by reclaiming the rich and colorful life and traditions of the Kurdish people through creating and expanding Kurdish media for self-representations.

The Kurdish intellectuals were called upon to be ready to take up new and dynamic challenges to reexamine and adapt to their conceptions of their identities. They were urged to develop new paradigms which would illuminate their political and social responsibilities towards freedom, peace and justice. “to stop cultural genocide and recreate ourselves” Kurdish women were described as the main bearers of the struggle of Kurdishness.”

We should register our regret at the absence of the term language in the very title of this conference, on which depends the very foundation and existence of the other categories that the conference discussed. Needless to say that relentless repression of the Kurdish language in Turkey would have merited special attention, particularly in a country that to this day, the public use of the language in what it has been termed a liberal milieu is still frowned upon and its educational use as a mother tongue continues to be forbidden. Although the conference was attended by several prominent novelists, writers and poets, issues of language and ideology, and language discrimination could have been constructively and effectively discussed by linguists and anthropologists; there were many occasions that linguists could have made informative contributions to the discussions. Although Dillan Roshani, was given a few minutes to present a proposal for unifying the various dialects, linguistics, not to be confused with general notions of language, was peripheral to the conference.

Likewise, although all the experts in attendance made a tremendous contribution to the conference, the relative absence of anthropological and sociological expertise may have left some unanswered questions. Experts in these fields would have been able to provide both theoretical and methodological insights and outlooks into the broad sociocultural and linguistic issues by presenting their research and identifying and setting goals for new research in anthropological and sociological investigations.

One issue that received the wide presence of the Turkish media was the signing of a resolution by Ahmed Turk and DTP representatives. The resolution stressed the importance of the peace process and the need to put an end to repression and urged the Turkish government to recognize the sociocultural and political rights of the Kurdish people with particular emphasis on the right to education in the mother tongue.

One of the highlights of the conference was a tribute paid to Aram Tigran, the famous Armenian singer, musician, and composer, who has created a vast and varied musical repertoire in Kurdish, thus contributing to the preservation of musical and oral traditions of Kurds. His wife related the passion Aram had for singing in Kurdish and celebrating Kurdishness to the last moment of his life.

The conference ended with a resolution formulated by a working committee and endorsed by the attendees. It was agreed that the working committee would plan the second conference to be held next year in Hawler (Erbil). The overall proceedings can be summarized as follows: increasing pressure on the Turkish government to allow public education in Kurdish, creating the contexts for and increasing dialogue among different Kurdish intellectuals and artists, pursuing the objectives of the conference persistently, working on overcoming the challenges of reclaiming and reconstructing Kurdish cultural heritage, resources, and past, recognizing diversity among Kurdish communities as a historical and political reality ,working on the challenges of connecting with the general public, setting objectives and pathways relevant to future conferences. The working committee will be publishing the proceedings and the presentations. A cursory search of the main stream media both Turkish and Western media shows fragmentary and sporadic coverage of the conference. Perhaps the conference organizers should launch the official website of the conference as soon as possible to post the conference proceedings and start blogging and tweeting to communicate the ideas discussed in the conference to other Kurdish intellectuals, artists, and the general public. This conference’s best practices in general and more specifically the contributions of the Kurdish intellectuals and artists to cultural preservation and promotion of Kurdish cultural values that embrace democracy and diversity, could serve as a platform for other Kurdish communities to exchange, debate and share their experiences, proposals, practices and processes for the development of Kurdish national aspirations.

The conference culminated in a dinner reception where the mayor of Diyarbakir, Osman Baydemir, once again highlighted the significance of the conference in the resurgence of Kurdish identity and the quest for fundamental rights and freedoms; he thanked the participants for contributing to one of the greatest events in the contemporary history of Kurds. Then an array of famous and popular musicians, vocalists, and composers from different parts of Kurdistan performed multiple pieces of authentic Kurdish music in different genres such as dengbeji, loosely, bards’ tradition, stranbeji, minstrels , heyrans, and love songs as the audience sang and danced along to the accompaniment of musical instruments all night.

No votes yet

Núsíní cend zarawey Kurdí le rojhnamey Kurdistan da

Namey zanay dillsoz u meziní Kurd "Jhiniral Ihsan Núrí Pasha" le barey bír u ray núseraní rojhnamey Kurdistan u Komellí Xiwéndkaraní Kurd le Urúpa sebaret be yekyetíy zimaní Kurdí

Núsíní cend zarawey Kurdí le rojhnamey Kurdistan da

Bír u ra u endíshey jewananí tégeyíshtoy Kurd be jé ya., bellam wellamí rojhnamey Kurdistanísh héjha (benirx) u mentíqí ye, we tenanet bo yekyetí hemú shéwekan súdmentir ebé, we damezirandiní du ziman "Kurmanjí bakúrí u Soraní" bo núsíní Kurdí bash níye. 

Her neteweyí péwíste be tenya yek ziman bixiwénit u binúsét, we bo geyíshtin bew amanje ke damezirandiní zimanékí wéjheyí Kurdí ye, péwíste le núsíní zarawey hemú nawcekan le rojhname kelk wer bigirin. 

Le dahatúda bo asan kirdin u pékhénaní yekyetí zarawekan le katí núsínda, wushey ew shéwekan ke le nawí shéwey wéjheyí danín, kem kem ebé tékillawí shéwey wéjheyí bikirén, we bem jore wushey hemú shéwekan tekell ebin. We ellbet ebé wushey Lurrí u Bextyarísh le ber caw dúr negirin. Eger wusheyékí bégane le shéwekanda hebé, we le beranberewe wusheyékí Kurdí le her shéweyékda dest kewé ebé ew Kurdíye wegirin u béganeke derxen, weku: ew le batí "Teyare" ellén: ballafirr ya firroke, we le batí "milet" billén: newtewe. Katé shéwekan bem jorepékewe nizík bútewe, ebé heyeté ferhengí zana le niwéneraní shéwe jor be jorekan pék bén, we ewan hemú ew kem u kestey ke mawetewe, le néwí biben, we bo sertaserí Kurdistan yenya yek zimaní wéjheyí damezirénin. 

Min eme be cak ezanim, ta qisey zanayaní Kurd cí bé. 

Ihsan Nurí

----------- kotahí nameke -----------

Sercawe: Hewtenamey Kurdistan, capí Taran, Jhimarey 31, sallí séhem, jhimarey shiwények 134, 15y sermawezí 1340, 6y Désambirí 1961


Tébíní: eme batete le rúpelí "facebook"í kak Hédí wergirawe.

No votes yet

Oral Tradition to Written Language

The Kurdish Language
from Oral Tradition to Written Language

Berlin - Germany, 2000

It is a great pleasure for me, and certainly for all others who are truly interested in the emancipation of the suppressed Kurdish language, that this international conference is taking place. It will shed light on some practical implications and the future perspectives of the Kurdish language. As an orientelist, respectively as an iridologist, and as a person who has dealt for around forty years with the multi-faceted problematic of Kurdish language, history, and culture, I know the meaning, value, and necessity of events such as this, and treasure them. Let me therefore take the opportunity to thank the Institute Kurd in Paris and the Sorbonne University for their efforts in making this meeting possible. I hope very much indeed that this gathering will not be both a first and final occasion but rather a starting point on the long road towards the serious nurturing and research of the Kurdish language, spoken by some forty million stateless and endangered people.

The unprejudiced academics that study Kurdish history are united in the view that the Kurds are an ancient race (1). The Kurds have lived for many thousands of year's -even longer than written documentation can reflect-in a land that has been described as the 'cradle of human civilisation'. We need only think of Jewish and Islamic mythology, which designates Mount Judi (Cudi) in Kurdistan as the resting place of Noah's ark (2); we know from history that in the land of the Kurds and its surrounding territories numerous advanced civilisations existed, such as that of Mesopotamia, of the Hittites, the Hurrites; the Karduchi, the Mittanis, the Parthians, and the Sassanids. Additionally, many of the world's major religions have found their place in the land of' the Kurds, such as, for example, Mithraism (the Cult of the Sun), Mazdaism (Zoroastrianism), mystery religions, Judaism, Christianity, Manichaeism, and Islam. Even today in Kurdistan one finds a large number of Kurdo-syncretic religious communities (3) such as the Ezidi, Kakayi (Yarsan or Ali-Haqq, or 'People of Truth'), Alevi, Shabak, Sarayi, Bajwan, Haqqa, etc., all of whom bear witness to the fact that the Kurds are the heirs of a vastly rich cultural heritage.

The Kurds have played a remarkable role in the history of the Orient, both before and after the rise of Islam in the seventh century. After the partial islamification of the Kurds, Moslem Kurds participated in the foundation of the Arabian, Persian, and Turkish Dynasties with a degree of selflessness seldom seen in any other people. To cite just a few examples: The founding of the Abbasid Dynasty on the part of the revolutionary Kurd Abu Muslim Khorasani in the year 750 C.E., Saladin (1137--1193) and his reversal of the conquest of Palestine by the Crusaders in the twelfth century; the foundation of the Safavid Dynasty (1501/ 2-1736) at the start of the 16th century by Ismail Shah Safi, son of the Kurd Sheikh Safi, leader of an order of Dervishes, and last, but not least the foundation of the Ottoman Empire, which was supported by the majority of the independent Kurdish principalities. They formally united with the Ottoman Dynasty in 1515, after the famous battle of Chaldiran, in which the Ottomans, with the help of the Kurds, defeated the Persians. Thus the Ottoman Empire began.

The military and political achievements of the Kurds on behalf of their neighbours were not all; the outstanding contributions of Kurdish scholars and artists in enriching Arabic, Persian, and Turkish culture (4), and their contribution to the wealth of Islam was so great, that of the four people designated by the famous Moslem scholar Ghazzali as 'pillars of the Islamic culture', three are Kurds (5). The fact that the Kurds for centuries didn't concentrate their efforts on the foundation of their own State, or the cultivation of their own language and culture, drew the attention of outsiders. The Ottoman Turk chronicler Shamsaddin Sami wrote in the last century in his lexicon 'Qamus EI-Aalam' (Dictionary of Names):

'All of the educated Kurds occupied themselves with the Arabic and Persian language, while ignoring their own language'(6).

Just one example: The Kurdish Moslem scholar Sheikh Marifi Node (yi) Barzinji (1733-1838) was the author of more than 46 considerable works in Arabic and Persian language (7). These works were on jurisprudence, ethics, theology, astronomy, philology and literature. Node (yi) Barzinji lived to the age of 85 and wrote only one book in Kurdish. It was a small Arabic-Kurdish glossary of some hundred words. In the introduction to this work, Barzinji tells us in Persian language why he wrote it. I cite him: "In order that my son Ahmad will be able to learn Arabic vocabulary more easily. Therefore, I have named the book Ahmadia."(8).

It is very interesting to notice that within those Kurdish principalities that were governed by independent Kurdish dynasties such as, for example, Hasnavi (founded 959)(9), Dostaki (990 - 1096)(10), etc., the Kurdish language was not used as the official written language. It remained however, the language of the people and was the main means of communication between the people and their rulers. This neglect and lack of concern caused negative repercussions for the Kurds, which can still be felt today. It is not entirely clear why the educated Kurds invested their intellectual 'capital' on others' soil, so to speak. We only want to expound briefly on this theme, as it belongs to another chapter, to which as well, belongs the question of why educated Kurds were not able (or not willing) to import others' capital into Kurdistan in order to make their own people more 'Arabic' or 'Persian'. In any case, if one doesn't speak about one's self, or doesn't pursue one's own interests, others will do it for you and often incorrectly. Thus were created since the dawn of time the phantasmagorias explanations for the origin of the Kurds, and the diminishing opinions of the value of the Kurdish language. We only want to expound briefly on this theme:

For over a thousand years Arab historians, such as, for example, El Masudi (died 956/7)(11), bn-Hawqal (died circa 977), etc., have asserted that the Kurds are descended from spirits. The Persian epic poet Firdosi (932? -1020) regarded the Kurds in his epic poem 'Shahname' (The King's Book) as the descendants of those young people who were saved from being decapitated by the tyrant Zohak ( Ajdahak), and managed to flee into the mountains (12). Khoja Saddadin (1537-1599) the Turkish Mufti of the Ottoman Empire wrote in his book 'Taj ül-Tawarikh' (The Crown of Histories):

"It has been decreed by God that the Kurds cannot found a state because, once upon a time, a very ugly and frightening man visited the prophet Mohammed. The prophet was scared, and asked the man from whence he came. The guest answered in a friendly and respectful manner that he was a Kurd. The prophet lifted his head to the sky and said, 'Thou, God, must not allow the Kurds to unify; their unification would cause the destruction of the world".(13)

The disparagement of the Kurdish identity and language goes so far as to be reflected such in the following popular rhyme (translated from Persian):

'Arabic is the Alpha and Omega,

 Persian is (as sweet as) sugar,

 Turkish is a work of art,

 Kurdish is a donkey's fart.'

The neglect of the Kurdish language by Kurdish intellectuals is a fact, and so is the abundance of myths and legends generated on the subject. Just one more example to make the point. The founder of the Bahai religion, Bahaullah (1817-1892), who lived two years in Kurdistan (1854-56) disguised under the assumed name of 'Dervesh Mohammed', called the Kurdish language 'the language of Adam'. He asserted that Adam spoke Kurdish because, in his opinion, Kurdish had 'no grammar'(14). Bahaulla didn't voice an opinion as to which language Adam used when he spoke to his bride Eve. It would also be interesting to know in what language Eve spoke; the prophet Bahaullah didn't tell us.

Language is an intellectual product of mankind. Every language (Esperanto excepted) began orally, as a medium for trade and communication. Historical circumstances allowing, such an oral language can develop into a written language. These circumstances are socially limited. Sometimes religious factors play part, sometimes political factors, at other times economic or psychological factors or indeed a combination of all these elements. It appears to us that religious factors played a decisive role in ancient times, first in the development of spoken to written language, and then in its standardisation. The Kurds need only to look at their neighbours to see this. The Christian missionary Mesrop Mashthotz, for example, created Armenian script, in the year 406, in order to document religious texts in Armenian. The Islamic religion, respectively the holy book of Islam, the Quran (Koran), which was revealed in the Quraish dialect, turned this dialect into the written language of all Arabs.

As previously stated Kurdistan has been throughout history, and still is today, the land of the most varied religions. Research into the already mentioned Kurdo-syncretic religious communities gives us prolific evidence that in ancient times the Mazdaistic religion above all other religions was the most widespread among the Kurds in Kurdistan. As everyone who is familiar with Zoroastrianism knows, this religion is written in Avesta. ln my opinion, Avesta is a source of ancient Kurdish. I know that there are those who disagree with me on this. ln my opinion they have not studied the Kurdish language with the intensity and impartiality required, and not in its entirety. When they do, they will share my conviction that at one time Avestan must have been spoken in Kurdistan, otherwise they must find another explanation for the origin of the Kurdish language and there is absolutely no such explanation. Thus, if we can agree that the Kurds, in contrast to the 'researches' of the early Arabic and Persian 'scholars', cannot be descendants from spirits, and didn't fall from the sky like angels, we have to admit that they are the descendants of those people who since time immemorial lived in the ancient country of the Medes, and respectively, in the earliest times practised the Mazdaistic religion, and spoke the Avestan language. Fortunately recent efforts have been aimed in this direction, which support our long held opinion, notably the researches of Kirmashan, East-Kurdistan-born scholar, Imadaddin Dolatshahi on unidentified mountains, the names of which were handed-down in the Avestan language. This author has shown, with the aid of philological explanations that these mountains are none other than those to be identified in today's Kurdistan. I strongly recommend a study of this book, which is written in the Persian language(15).

Only a small part of the Kurdish language has been researched. ln order to research Kurdish, we need to establish an Institute for Kurdological Studies. Nowhere in the world is there any sort of Institute which is really dedicated to Kurdology, not even the three Universities of South-Kurdistan (Dihok, Hawler, and Suleymani), which were established and are administrated by the Kurdish government in the so called 'Kurdish Zone', contain neither a Kurdological Institute nor a Department of 'Kurdology'. There, as well as in many European universities (amongst others, in Paris), Kurdish language, literature, and, sometimes, history courses are taught. This is not, however, Kurdology. Kurdology is the study of the Kurdish language in its historical dimensions, conducted along scientific principles. Without a thorough and systematic comparison of Kurdish to Old Iranian, Middle-Iranian, and Modern-Iranian languages, there exists no true Kurdology.

It is important to know that Kurd logy in Iraq, particularly under the Baath regime, is forbidden. It was permitted to study the Kurdish language at the University of Baghdad and Suleymani (later Hawler), but to consider the Kurdish language an Iranian language or to compare Kurdish philologically to other Iranian languages was not allowed and is not allowed to this day. To do that meant and means 'separatism' and 'Shuoubia'(16) for lraq. But now there are three universities under the control of the Kurdish government (in the Kurdish zone) and I is sure that there are possibilities at least at the Saladin University to have Kurdology. I would ask the Education Minister of Kurdistan to do his best to disjoin the Department of Kurdish Studies from the Faculty of Literature and to establish an independent Faculty or University for Kurdological Studies (17). The difference between what "Kurdish Studies" are and what "Kurdological Studies" must be clear to anyone concerned.

Let us come back to our subject who is to trace the Kurdish language from oral tradition to written language. The movement of the Arab warriors under the banner of Islam, shortly after the death of the prophet Mohammed, which aimed to overthrow the Sassanid and' Byzantine Empires, placed the Kurds who lived between these territories in the centre of this theatre of war. The resistance of the Kurds against the new religion lasted centuries, but bit-by-bit the majority of the Kurdish people became gradually islamified. As we have already mentioned, in that era the Kurdish language and culture had been neglected by Kurdish intellectuals, so much so that the great Kurdish poet and philosopher Ahmadi Khanie (1650/51--1706/7), the 'Shakespeare of the Kurds', wrote 300 years ago his novel 'Mam and Zin'. He criticized in it the educated Kurds and bitterly complained that the Kurds had become 'orphans', and that the neglected Kurdish language was 'copper' (in comparison to 'gold' for the reigning language).

Those Kurds who did not accept Islam as their religion had a different view of Kurdish language and culture. The following fact is worthy of mention: the Islamic Arab rulers who occupied Kurdistan and recognised Zoroastrianism as a 'Book Religion' for a short time, rallied against this Mazdaic faith, branding it as 'heresy'. Those Kurds who remained faithful to their old religious ideas were forced underground and had to practice their beliefs in secret. There then came into being in Kurdistan those Kurdo-syncretic religions already mentioned (Ezidi, Yarsan, etc.).

The Islamic Kurds adopted Arabic as their religious language while continuing to use Kurdish in their daily life as the main means of social communication. On the other hand, the non-Islamic Kurds, who practised their various faiths, still hung onto the Kurdish language for their religious cults and traditions. As to the setting-down of a written script, the Ezidi developed their own secret script in which they wrote their holy books, the 'Jalwa' (Revelation), and 'Mahaf-Rash' ( Black Book).

The other religious communities, such as the Yarsan, for example used Arabic script in its Persian form when they transcribed their Kurdish language religious psalms.

The non-Islamic Kurds were also successful in finding a basis in which to connect dogmatically their origins, language and country. Here are a few examples:

ln the imagination of the Ezidis, they themselves were created from the seed of Adam, as Adam was androgynous (simultaneously male and female), while all other peoples are the product of the marriage between Adam and Eve (18). The village of 'Lalish', on top of the eponymous mountain (in the district of Shekhan, Central-Kurdistan) is holy to the Ezidis because this mountain is believed to be the first dwelling place of God, after which God tarried three thousand years in a ship at sea (19). According to Ezidi imagination, God visits their religious community once a year, in the spring, to correspond with their New Year's festival 'Sarsal', which is always celebrated on the first Wednesday 'of April. He visits them in order to discuss the fate of the coming year, that is, to give them the New Year news of the earth and all that dwells upon it' and to close a 'Customs' or 'Pay-toll' contract with them. God speaks to them in Kurdish (20).

The devotees of Yarsan see themselves in a somewhat similar light. They believe that their religious community is the only one in possession of the 'unspeakable secret of God'. The Islamic prophet Mohammed would have withheld this 'secret' from them, but the angel Pir Binyamen, chief of the 'Seven Angels' of Yarsan, who functions as "alter ego" for God, was given this 'secret' by God himself and He gave it to the Yarsan devotees in the Kurdish language(21), thus making Kurdish a holy language. Aside from this, there are many mythical figures in the Yarsan religious beliefs, such as Baba-Nawus, Sultan Sahak (both incarnations of the divine being), and the Kurdistan-born mother of God Dayirak. The mother of God, who brought Soltan Sahak into the world through 'immaculate conception', is identified with a Kurdish maiden belonging to the Jaf-Tribe.

Hannelore Küchler, who has scientifically researched the way the Kurds view themselves, has shown in her remarkable analysis conducted for her doctoral dissertation for the Freie Universität Berlin, that the Ezidis, Yarsan, and similar religious communities in Kurdistan are 'Kurdish groups with a high degree of self-centeredness"(22). She contends that the above-mentioned dogmatic representations depict a possible 'unconscious reaction to the derogative (disparaging) hypothesis held by Arabs regarding the origins of the Kurds'(23), who, as already mentioned, employ phantasmagorial explanations when they ascribe to the Kurds and'their language the status of "second-class citizens" and "second-class language".

The foundation of Islam and its expansion in Kurdistan in the seventh century after Christ caused a decisive turning point in Kurdish history. At this time the Kurdish syncretism religious communities first seized the initiative thus, before their Moslem fellow countrymen - to create a written language out of purely spoken Kurdish. Because amongst the Kurds there were many syncretism religious communities and no unifying institution, each religious community transcribed its orally transmitted religious tradition in its own local dialect and script. Thus developed various written traditions. The Gorani dialect played a special part in this; the oldest Kurdish texts from the Islamic time are from documents handed-down to us- those very religious texts, which were written in that dialect. They were, namely, the holy psalms of the Yarsan, such as 'Dawra-i Bahloul (Bahloul Period), documented approximately eight hundred years after the death of Christ (24). The writing- down of the religious texts of the Yarsan started around that time and continued until the sixteenth century. These texts represent independent books, of which the most important is considered to be 'Daftar-i Pirdivari' (Pirdivari Text), because it was supposedly written by the above-mentioned Sultan Sohak. Most of these texts are written in rhyming prose, and all are gathered in a single book under the title 'Saranjam'. Saranjam contains as weIl some prose texts, which report on the history of the Creation and the religious cult of the Yarsan. The section in rhyming prose is known as 'Klam'. The rhyming prose verses are to be recited to set melodies. Some sections of the "Saranjam" have been published by the Teheran-based Kurdish scholar Sadiq Safi-Zadeh Borakayi, who examined them and partially provided a Persian translation(25).

The Yarsan religion had, over many centuries, a period of flourishing in Kurdistan, in particular in the principality of Ardalan. This principality was founded in the fourteenth century by Bawa Ardalan. The territories of Zardiawa (Karadagh), Khanaqin, Kirkuk, and Kifri, which were already the homelands of the Goran-Kurds, all belonged to this principality. The capital city of the principality was Sharazour, the population of which today speaks Middle-Kurmanji-Kurdish (the so-called Sorani). Because the official religion of this great principality was Yarsan, and because this religion was tied to the Gorani dialect, Gorani became the official language of the Kurds throughout a rather large region in Kurdistan. The fact that Yarsani was a social religion also played a part. As a result, its devotees consisted of some of the poorest in the Kurdish social strata. For this reason som Middle-Kurmanji speaking Kurds also used this dialect. The above-mentioned Soltan Sahak, God of the Yarsan, is supposed to hail from the town of Barzinja, the population of which spoke, and still speaks to this day Middle-Kurmanji (Sorani). Although the Barzinja population stuck to this dialect, they were an exception. Via the Yarsan religious teachings,the Gorani dialect was spread intensively, especially among the poor segments of the population. ln addition, many of the intellectual Kurds living outside the Gorani dialect territories adopted Gorani for their written language. If we treat as an exception the great Sufi poet Baba Tahiri Hamadani (935-1010), whose well-known (Rubaiyat) poems are written in a mixture of Laki, Luri, and Gorani, we see that the most famous poets of the Yarsan down through the centuries wrote solely in Gorani dialect. These include Bawa Yadigar (born in Sharazour in the eighth century), Yal-Bagi Jaff (1493-1554), and Khan Almas Khani Luristani (1662-1728). The latter two are renowned for their interesting prophecies concerning the future of Iran, the Orient, and the world(26). Many other famous Kurdish-Muslim poets have, down the centuries, written in Gorani, such as Mala Pareshani Kurd (still living in 1398/99). He was a Shiite Muslim who was much opposed to the Yarsan beliefs and the Dervishes. Other poets such as Saidi Hawrami (1784-1842), and Mala Abdul-Rahimi Mawlawi Tavgozi (1806-1882) are also worthy of mention. The latter two were famous Kurdish poets and Sunni Muslims. It is worth pointing out that the Sunni Muslims and the Kurdish Dervishes were deeply hostile to the Yarsan religion. The existence of a large Sunni population amongst the Kurds -next to many Dervish sects- couldn't detract from the flourishing of the Gorani dialect. The blossoming of literature in the Ardalan principality was accompanied by an intense cultivation of music. Music is an essential element of the cultural tradition of the Yarsan religious community. ln connection with this, it is interesting that the Kurds in East and South Kurdistan, where to the Gorani culture was spread, call songs 'Gorani'. Naturally,the Gorani induced linguistic and cultural renaissance filled all Kurdish intellectuals with pride. Thus says the great Kurdish poet Khanai Qubadi (1700-1759), who was, incidentally, a master of Persian language and literature, in a poem thematicising the Kurdish language:

'Although it's said that Persian's sweet as sugar,

For me is Kurdish sweeter still. 

Clearly, in this perfidious world, 

Everyone is happiest with his own mother tongue.'(27)

Thanks to the mighty Kurdish principality of Ardalan, the Yarsan religion and its 'holy' language Gorani-Kurdish advanced in all directions within Kurdistan. Although there were other powerful Kurdish principalities that adhered to the Sunni faith, and were opposed to that of the Yarsan, many Kurds turned to the Yarsan religion.

In the sixteenth century, violent and radical religious and political upheaval occurred in Kurdistan, which decided the fate of the Yarsan religion, the Kurdish language, and the Kurdish people. We know that the Ottoman Dynasty which was founded at the end of the twelfth century and professed the Sunni Muslim faith waged war in the name of that faith against all other faiths, the Christians and Shiite Muslims included. In the early sixteenth century, the previously mentioned Ismail Safavi founded a Shiite Dynasty in Iran and raised himself to the position of chief warrior of this faith. Both Dynasties (the Ottoman and Safavid) brutally punished the followers of their opponents. As most of the Kurdish principalities were of the Sunni faith, and the Safavid Shiites were, in turn their professed enemies, the Ottomans had little difficulty in making allies of the Kurds. With military assistance from the Kurds, the Ottomans attacked the Safavid state and captured and destroyed its capital Tabriz. The Kurdish-Turkish 'brotherhood of arms' led to a political alliance. On 9 August 1515 the Ottomans and the Kurdish princes signed a treaty, which agreed on the union of their regions of influence. Thus was the foundation stone for the later Ottoman Empire laid. The treaty contained a passage in which the internal independence of the Kurdish regions was guaranteed, a passage that was not adhered to by the Ottoman sultans. It is interesting to know that, despite their religious mutual animosity, the Ottomans and the Safavids later collaborated in order to destroy the internal sovereignty of the Kurdish principalities, into which they (the Ottomans and Safvid) installed their own representatives to hold positions of power. ln 1639, the Ottomans and Safvid united, and, in accordance with the Treaty of Zahaw (Zuhab), divided Kurdistan up amongst themselves. Additionally, both sides made efforts to set the Kurdish princes off against one another.

The principality of Ardalan, which in view of religion was neither Sunni nor Shiite, was placed in a very precarious position. In order to protect itself it had, an the one hand, to come to an arrangement with the king of 'Iran', then, on the other, with the Ottoman Sultan. In such a situation, the further expansion of the Yarsan religion and Gorani Kurdish within Kurdistan was unthinkable.

It is worth mentioning that the Ottoman and Iranian pressure on the Kurds had other consequences. The intellectual Kurds within the Kurdish principalities who were now dependent upon the Ottoman Sultan developed a great sense of nationalism. That was accompanied by a contribution to Kurdish language and culture. In the sixteenth century the North-Kurmanji dialect became a written language. This process started in the northern principality of Botan, and expanded gradually into the northern part of Kurdistan. The educated Kurds there then began to concern themselves with the Kurdish language and culture, to nurture both, and to spread their national traditions. This is significant in relation to the work 'Sharafname' (1596/97), written by the Kurdish prince and scholar Sharafaddin Bitlisi (1543--1603)(28). Although he wrote this work in Persian, it has interesting and novel contents. It deals with the history of the Kurdish principalities and gives an insight into Kurdish traditions and customs. In it, many Kurdish lineages are named, and the mythical heroes of the Kurds - such as Rostam and Gorgin are mentioned. What is remarkable is that 'Sharafname' defines the borders of Kurdistan, and it does so as if it were one united land(29). When 'Sharafname' discusses Kurdish language, literature, and lineages of heritage, differences are also reported.

That Bitlisi's work was written in Persian is evidence that, for the Islamic Kurds at that time, there was no tradition of using the Kurdish language in writing. Despite that, from the sixteenth century on there were further efforts: Ali Taramakhi wrote the first Arabic grammar book in Kurdish in the year 1000 H. (1591/2), as he saw it, in order to allow Kurdish pupils who up to then had no materials with which to study Arabic, to possess such a text book(30). This work was later expanded by Male Younis Halkataini (died 1785). Halkataini wrote three essays in Kurdish on Arabic syntax(31). The Kurdish Muslim cleric Mele Jaziri (1570-1640) carried the torch of this linguistic and literary blossoming. He considered his Kurdish poems of the same value as those of the famous Persian poet Hafizi Shirazi. I cite:

'If thou longest 

For the beautifully opened pearl of rhyming prose,

Look but at the poems of Male,

Wherefore neediest thou then Shirazi'?'(32).

The national consciousness of Male Jaziri and his pride in his belonging to Kurdistan is also evident in the following verses:

'I am a rose in the heavenly garden of Botan,

I am a candle light in the dark nights of Kurdistan'(33).

The poets Faqe Tayran (1590-1660), Male Ahmade Batayi (1414-1495), and Ali Hariri (1425-1541?) payed a great service to the Kurdish language through their art. Those efforts reached their apogee when the Kurdish poet, national thinker, and Gnostic Ahmadi Khani (1650 / 51-1707) produced his epic 'Mam and Zin' (a counterpart to 'Romeo and Juliet') in 1694/5(34). Following the death of Khani, the Kurdish cleric Mele Mahmoude Bayazidi (born in 1791) continued the intellectual fight in Northern Kurdistan. Bayazidi is best known for his work 'Customs and Traditions of Kurdish Tribes and the Norms of Kurdish Society'.(35)

Thus existed in Kurdistan two written languages: Gorani in the east and south, and Kurmanji in the north. Taken as a whole, the disunity of Kurdistan, and its division into many principalities, the lack of a unifying state or central power, the absence of a unifying religion, the politics of the Ottomans and the Iranian rulers who propagated animosity amongst the Kurdish princes, all allowed for no opportunity for the Kurds to forge one official written language out of one of the two main dialects. Apart from that fact, a new power walked onto the stage of Kurdistan in the nineteenth century, which reduced the Gorani dialect once again to the status of a purely oral mode of language. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the principality of Ardalan allied itself with the kings of Kajars in order to free itself from Ottoman influence. Thereafter, the Ottomans called upon their ally, the Prince of Baban, to support them against the Ardalani princes. The Babanis could easily take over the Ardalan territory and enlarge their own principality. Because the Babanis spoke Central-Kurmanji-Kurdish (Sorani), this dialect now received the opportunity for great expansion, particularly after the Babani Prince Ibrahim Pasha built the city of Suleymani in 1784 and made it his capital. The eighteenth century saw the rise of the Sulaimani-variation of the Central--Kurmanji dialect. Of the greatest poets and writers who worked in this form of Kurdish, which had been newly--elevated to the status of a written language, the following are notable: Mahwee (1830--1904); Kurdi (1812-1851?); Salim (180-1869); Nali (1800-1857/58); Sheikh Raza Talabani (1837-1909); Wafayi (1844-1914); Koyi (1817--1896/96); and Salmi Sina (1845-1909) (36).

Although the Sulaimani-variation of the Central-Kurmanji dialect became a multi-regional written language the conclusion can clearly be drawn that the 'Mother Dialect' of most of the great Kurdish poets was in fact the Gorani dialect. Important regions of the Gorani Kurds, such as Kirkuk, Kifri, the Sirvan River region, Khanakin, Zardiawa (Karadagh), and various Goran tribes such as the Jabari, Talabani and Zangana have as well abandoned their original Gorani dialect. Of the Gorani dialect, only a few poets remain. Among them, however, there is an outstanding exception: Mawlawi Tawgozi (1806-1882). With the absorption of the Arladan principality into the Kajar dynasty in 1867, no great sphere of activity in Gorani dialect remained. Thus, this beautiful and rich dialect lost its place as a literary language in East and Central Kurdistan, and became the 'language of old women in the corners and alleyways of Sanandaj', as the Kurdish academic and researcher Said Khani Kurdistani reported(37).

The new Sulaimani dialect-variation was created as a consequence of the mixture of the Sharazour dialect, which was the dialect of the Ardalani Kurds, with the Kalatshwalan dialect. Kalatshwalan was the early capital of the Babani princes. The Sulaimani Kurds' tendency to expand continued. Nowadays, the best writers and poets of the Goran region write in Sulaimani dialect; amongst them, the famous Muslim cleric Mala Abdulkarim Mudarris and both his sons, Mohammed and Fatih. It is further worth noting that the greatest innovator of Kurdish poetry, the greatest poet of the Kurdish modern times, Abdulla Goran (1904/5? -18 November 1962) wrote in the Sulaimani dialect.

As a consequence of the suppression of the Kurdish national uprisings against the centralist power of the Ottoman Empire in the middle of the nineteenth century and the dissolution of all of the Kurdish principalities such as the mighty principality of Botan, the North-Kurmanji dialect could not assert itself in either East or South Kurdistan. The above-mentioned dialect remained the written language of the North Kurmanji-speaking Kurds, and was promoted by the Kurdish intellectuals and those cultural institutions, which, at the end of the nineteenth century, were founded by 'North-Kurmanji-speaking Kurds'. Including that first Kurdish newspaper 'Kurdistan' which first appeared in 1898 (38).

After the violent division of Kurdistan as a result of the First World War, the Kurdish language was confronted with the new colonial circumstances and conditions. The Kurds were prevented by the allies (Great Britain, France and Italy) from establishing their own state. Kurdistan was divided amongst five new colonial states created or consented to by super- powers in accordance with their strategic and economic interests: Turkey, Iran, lraq, Syria, and the USSR/ Azerbaijan.

The new national states in the hands of the Turks, the Arabs and the Persians, artificially set up with the help of the European `victors´ have attempted to assimilate the Kurds culturally, where they have not been able to eradicate them militarily. Since language is one of the strongest factors in national identity, all these states which had and still have without exception military or other forms of un-democratic governments, have either completely banned spoken or written Kurdish, or have only barely tolerated its usage under stringent controls. Turkey has from the outset, as part of its so-called 'Turkification-Politics', consequently forbidden the use of the Kurdish language, and punished its usage vigorously. The seventy years of constant, burdensome oppression have rather empowered the national conscience of the Kurds but have impaired the cultivation and development of the Kurdish language. The North Kumanji dialect (Jazira dialect), which despite all these difficult circumstances is used as the written language of the northern Kurds, has encountered and still encounters, many internal-linguistic problems.

ln Syria the intellectual Kurds, particularly the members of the Bedirkhani family, took advantage of the presence of the French mandate of power in Syria and Lebanon to serve the Kurdish language. ln addition to the publication of some magazines in Kurdish, such as Hawar, Stér, Roja Nu, and Ronahi, Jeladet Bedir Khan (1897-1951) has developed a sort of Latin script for the Kurdish language (North-Kurmanji dialect), which is still used amongst the North-Kurmanji speaking Kurds.This alphabet shows various flaws, particularly regarding certain sounds that exist in other dialects, but which have no written counterpart in the alphabet of Bedir Khan. So, for example, the rolled 'r' and 'e', in order to be able to differentiate 'Ker' (donkey) from 'Ker' (deaf), and 'Gel' (people) from 'Gel' (distance between the legs). ln any case, all these publications and activities were forbidden when the French left the territory. The French left Southwest Kurdistan without any particular guarantees for the Kurds, from the newly founded Arab national state of Syria.

ln lraq, the Kurds were more active regarding the cultivation of their language than their fellow countrymen in their neighbour states. They had a better chance and position. After the First World War the Kurds of South Kurdistan were able to found a kingdom under Sheikh Mahmoud Barzinji (1882-9 October 1956). At first Sheikh Mahmoud was recognised as the governor of South Kurdistan by the British occupational powers in Baghdad. When the Kurdish people elected Sheikh Mahmoud King of Kurdistan, it led to clashes between the British and Kurdish forces, and South-Kurdistan was annexed with British military power into one of the newly founded Arab national states, lraq. During the approximately five years that the Kurdish state existed under Sheikh Mahmoud, the educated Kurds served the Kurdish language. The 'Kurdish government published some Kurdish newspapers(39), and established some Kurdish schools for boys and girls. The occupying British power published, as well, their own Kurdish-language newspapers: 'Tegeyishtini Rasti' (The Comprehension of Truth) and 'Peshkawtin' (Progress)(40). Two Englishmen, Major Soane and Major Noel, who were members of the British occupational forces, contributed to the cultivation of the Kurdish language. Major Soane wrote a Kurdish grammar book(41) as well as a textbook in Kurdish(42). He even gave 'reward money' to any person amongst the Kurds who could write an article for the newspaper 'Peshkawtin' in Kurdish that was equally understandable to all its readers, whilst using proper Kurdish vocabulary. The official Kurdish was the Suleymani dialect. Following the establishment of the 'Kingdom of Iraq', the 'Law of Local Languages of 1931' allowed the population of the annexed South Kurdistan some cultural rights which, however, were not completely practised. Despite this, Kurdish intellectuals attempted to nurture and further develop the Kurdish language. The first step was the modification of the so-called Arab-Persian alphabet, with the aim of producing a modern phonetic alphabet system for the Kurdish language, which could express in writing all the language's sounds. ln order to do this it was necessary to add to the Arabic lettering certain accents and diacritics in order to take into account certain Kurdish sounds that don't exist in the Arabic language. The champion of this cause was the Kurdish philologist and army officer, Colonel Tofiq Wahby (1891-1984). His scientific and highly remarkable efforts were soon met with refusal when confronted with the Arab rule nationalistically oriented lraqi Ministry of Culture. The reason given was that no 'foreign accents' or Kurdish "caps" could be placed on the 'holy Arabic letters', the letters in which the Qur'an (Koran) is written. It is worth mentioning that the so-called Arabic letters originally were neither Arabic nor Islamic. They already existed in pre-Islamic times, and were derived from the Old Aramaic script, i.e. from the ancient language of the Jews. Despite of the fact that the Kurdish press, and the schoolbooks which were printed for Kurdish primary schools by the lraqi government could not employ this alphabet until the end of the 1950's, this alphabet, which was modernised and adapted for the Kurdish language, was nevertheless known amongst the Kurds.

There was something else the abovementioned Wahby at his time heal endeavored to do. It was in the early 1920's when he enlisted the Latin alphabet for the use of Kurdish in a form that leaned heavily an English linguistic usage. His efforts then were also unsuccessful, because the lraqi government, using Islamic religious arguments likewise forbade the dissemination of a "European-Christian" script in Muslim Iraq. ln connection with this, it should be pointed out that Wahby held eight ministerial posts in the lraqi government. It should be noted that Wahby's Latin alphabet, like that of Bedir Khan (whose alphabet relied less on English linguistic use than on that of the French and Turkish alphabets), displayed several flaws. Had these two scholars collaborated, the Kurdish people today would in all probability have a better Latin alphabet.

In Iraq, all Kurdish press, radio, and publications were, until the collapse of the monarchy on 14 July 1958, solely in Sulaimani dialect, which is called, erroneously, "Sorani Kurdish". As a consequence of the carelessness of the "Sorani Kurds" with regard to the North Kurmanji dialect (called 'Badinani' in lraq), the North Kurmanji-speaking Kurds remained weIl isolated from the teaching of the Kurdish language and the Kurdish press. The lraqi government had, for its part, supported this unhappy circumstance, in order to divide the Kurds, and, thus tighten its reign over them.

It should be mentioned at this point that the Kurds in Iran were influenced by the development of the Kurdish language in lraq. The cause of this lies in the fact that, from the beginning, the Kurds in Iran had a strong political relationship with their lraqi Kurdish fellow men. Apart from that fact, there is a very close relationship between the dialects spoken in Iranian Kurdistan (Mukri, Ardalani, Laki and Kirmashani) and the "Sorani dialect" of Iraq. In addition, the Iranian Kurds use the same alphabet, as the lraqi Kurds. As to the modified Kurdish-Oriental alphabet, it was first brought into print in the year 1345 H. (1966/67)(43), when an anthology of poetry was printed using these modified letters. It did not happen earlier because political pressure against it was too great, and also because the economic costs were too high. Because the Iraqi Kurds, who write in the so-called Sorani Kurdish, make much use of the vocabulary, idioms, and terminology of the Iranian Kurds, and especially of the Mukriyani dialect, some kind of standardised written language has come into being in Iran and lraq, which one may refer to as "Middle Kurmanji".

The situation regarding the Kurdish language at the time of the Soviet Union must not, in addition, be overlooked. Under Lenin, and until the end of the 1920's, the area of Kurdish settlement had the status of an autonomous region, and was known as "Red Kurdistan". For purposes of writing in this region, Armenian script was first used, followed by Latin script. Afterwards the autonomous status of "Red Kurdistan" was revoked, and it was annexed to Azarbaijan, and the Stalin regime and the power-brokers of Azarbaijan persecuted the Kurds. The very word "Kurd", and, correspondingly, the speaking of the Kurdish language were banned in Azarbaijan. Among the eight Soviet republics in which Kurds lived at that time, only Russia and Armenia allowed the Kurdish language to be cultivated. Educated Kurds in both these republics tried to promote the Kurdish language, although in both republics they were forced to use the Cyrillic script when writing in Kurdish. None the less, one can say that Kurdish written both in Latin and Oriental script was not alien to them. Through their contacts with Kurds from Iran, lraq, and Syria, as weIl as from neighbouring Turkey, the 'Red Kurds' were able to bring into being a beautiful written language based an North Kurmanji dialect, but also containing many traits of Middle Kurmanji dialect.

ln order to share ideas and conclusions I have arrived at during my life, at this point l would like to expound several ideas and practices derived from personal experience.

When I studied physics, mathematics, and pedagogy at the University of Baghdad in the first half of the 1950's, I already knew that, in all probability, one day I would teach in secondary schools in Kurdistan. I correspondingly wanted to create possibilities to help Kurdish pupils who, in regard to the teaching of their mother tongue were completely disadvantaged. I already had some qualifications for this purpose. I came into this world as the son of a Muslim scholar who raised me in many languages and who put me on intimate terms with the cultures of the neighbouring peoples. I had the opportunity to study Islamic law, philosophy and theology with him and other scholars of the country. This study demanded a very good knowledge of the Arabic and Persian languages and their respective literature. I very soon noticed, while still a student, that the Kurdish language is very problematical, and has remained so to this day:

  1. There is no single, unified alphabet for Kurdish. Instead, there are three varying alphabets, namely, the Oriental (modified Arabic-Persian) alphabet, the Latin alphabet, and the Cyrillic alphabet. The Cyrillic alphabet suits the Kurdish language the least, and today, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, is no longer relevant for Kurdish and can accordingly be ignored. On the other hand, the Oriental script is relevant and alive, but it is old-fashioned, uneconomical, very difficult to learn and only of limited suitability for Kurdish. The Latin alphabet is best suited for the writing of Kurdish, but there are political and religious hindrances, which stand in the way of its unrestricted installation. Aside from that, the Latin alphabet of Bedirkhan is in need of reform. Because the Kurds write in various scripts this causes an obstacle for the exchange of their linguistic products. As a student, I was already of the conviction - which I have held to this day - that the lack of a single, unified alphabet constitutes a great calamity for the Kurdish people. The introduction of a mutual alphabet would lead to better communication amongst Kurds and contribute to a convergence of the various dialects and modes of expression. I am talking here of convergence and not of absolute unification. A unified Language needs a unified grammar of which there is none today. So much more important is the matter of a single, unified alphabet. I was, and still am, of the opinion that the Latin alphabet must be reformed and promoted. The promotion of the writing of the Kurdish language in the Latin alphabet does not mean that its writing in the Oriental script should be completely ignored. ln any case, the political and religious situation will not allow this. Saddam Hussein's regime executed our colleague Dilshad Marivani because he taught his pupils in Latin rather than Arabic script. Apart from that fact, a volatile change is not recommended; far from it if you think of the great treasure of written and, respectively, printed culture in the Kurdish language which the lraqi and Iranian Kurds have accomplished in the last seventy years.

  2. There is no one written language, but rather, two, of which neither is completely standardised. This was the case in the 1950's and remains so today. I will return to this theme shortly.

  3. When I was a student in Baghdad, Kurdish had no scientific and technical specialist terms. Without such terminology it is impossible to write scientific books in Kurdish. For one single person it is possible to make a start to create such terminology, but the specialists from various disciplines must work together and come to agreement. Therefore - and l saw and promoted this idea while l was also still a student - the establishment of an 'Academy of Kurdish Language' is necessary. Together with some friends who were also university students in other academic fields, we founded a 'Committee for the Promotion of the Kurdish Language'(44). I would like to mention that my presentation of points 1 to 3 was expounded in an essay in the Kurdish language bearing the title, 'Education in the Kurdish Language' which appeared in Baghdad in 1957(45).

ln October 1955 I was a teacher of physics and maths in two secondary schools in Kirkuk (South Kurdistan). From the beginning I tried to help my Kurdish pupils by teaching them in their mother tongue. Since at this time the Kurdish language was banned in Kurdistan's secondary schools, measures were taken against me both politically, and within the schools, disciplinary system, culminating in my being sent into exile in Basrah southern-Iraq. During the two years I taught in Kirkuk, I created the basis for the first physics and mathematics book in the Kurdish language. ln 1960, I was able to publish the first physics book in Kurdish under the title, 'Introduction to the Mechanics and the Properties of Matter'(46).

In the summer of 1956, l travelled to Syria and Lebanon, where l met many Kurdish intellectuals; poets and writers who worked in North Kurmanji dialect. Amongst them were Osman Sebri (7 January 1905-11 October 1993), Qadrijan (1916-1972), Madame Rawshan Bedirkhan (11 July 1909-1 June 1992), Ahmad Nami, and others. We talked about the establishment of an 'Academy of Kurdish Language' and the work for, and introduction of a unified alphabet for the Kurdish language. One protocol of our meeting, in the handwriting of Osman Sebri, who has since died, was printed in my book, 'Kurdish in Latin Script`, which was published in Baghdad in 1957. I undertook a similar journey in the summer of 1957 to East Kurdistan and Teheran. ln Kirmashan I met among others, the Kurdish writer, Fath Ali Haidari Zebajoui and in Sanandaj I met the famous Kurdish cleric and writer, Ayatollah Mohammed Mardokh-i Kurdistani (1885-1975). Both wished to lend their services to the Kurdish language.

Because, as already stated, the teaching of the Kurdish language was forbidden in secondary schools in lraqi Kurdistan, I had to pursue my work in private. Through private lessons, I was able to bring numerous pupils, teachers, and others, closer to Kurdish in Latin script with the aid of my above-mentioned text book ('Kurdish in Latin Script'). Over many years of hard work - in Kirkuk, as weIl as my place of exile in Basrah, and later in Baghdad - I was able to create expressions in Kurdish for numerous technical words in the fields of physics, mathematics, and some other sciences. These technical words have been collected in two dictionaries of which I published the first one in 1960 in Sulaimani, and the second one in Hawler in 1961, while I was teaching Kurdish language and literature at the Pedagogic Technical College there(47). This was only possible because of the coup d'état of General Kassem on 14 July 1958 and the foundation of the Republic of lraq, which allowed the use of the Kurdish language in pedagogic establishments in Kurdistan and lraq. Since the end of the 1960's, my colleague the Kurdish chemist Kamal Jalal Gharib, who, regretfully is not among us today, continued this work with great success(48).

As far as a unified written Kurdish language is concerned and I already knew this in Kurdistan - there can be no unified language without first conducting a thorough study and comparison of the grammar of the various dialects and modes of expression. To this end, I have studied Oriental Studies and, respectively, Oriental Philology in Europe, including a sequence of ancient, Middle, and New Iranian languages. The result of my research concerning the comparison of Kurdish dialects (North and Middle Kurmanji and the possibilities of their approachment) is published in two works: 1.'The Written Language of the Kurds' in Acta Iranica, 1975(49), and 2.'Towards a Unified Kurdish Language', 1976(50). In this book I have made suggestions in order to help the speakers of both dialects to come to a better understanding of each other. Many writers and authors in the meantime complied with these suggestions. The methodology of my work was also taken into account with regard to the problematic of the standardisation of the Belochi language, i.e. by Belochologist Mrs. Carina Johani, in her dissertation 'Standardisation and Orthography in the Belochi Language', Uppsala, 1989.

What is to be done?

I hereby propose:

  1. The creation of a comprehensive 'Kurdish-Kurdish' dictionary, which catalogues all words used in Kurdish, inclusive of foreign words and relevant neologisms, in all dialects and idiomatic expressions. Given today's electro-technological possibilities this can be achieved, even under present circumstances.

  2. This international conference should be repeated every year, or at the very least, every second year.

  3. Institutes of Kurdology should be established, and they should concentrate on Kurdish dialectological researches, driving a rearranged tandem with Kurdo-Iranian philology. Until now the case has been that the study of the Kurdish language, when done professionally, has always been carried out as a part of the larger framework of Iranian studies. Kurdish philologists must now bring the Kurdish language to the centre of the stage, and relegate Iranian studies to be the larger scheme of Kurdology. The relationship of Iranian studies and Kurdology is like that of maths and physics. In the study of physics, mathematics is only used as an adjunct aid. ln this case, mathematics cannot subordinate physics, and yet, that does not devalue mathematics. A similar situation applies to Kurdology and Iranian studies. If Kurdology is the aim of our knowledge, Iranian studies are an adjunct. If Iranian studies are the centre of our interest, Kurdology plays a servant's role. Kurdology, however, will not materialise in this manner. Kurdology can only develop from and for itself. It is part of the task of Kurdology to research intensively the disadvantaged Kurdish dialects, such as Zaza, Gorani, Faili, Laki, Luri, Kalhuri, etc. ln addition, the dialects similar to the Kurdish dialects, such as the as yet-unresearched Iranian dialects like Mazandarani, Naini, etc; must be examined thoroughly. I am of the opinion that the 'frequency range' of the Kurdish language is larger than is assumed today.

  4. A project for the creation of an 'Etymological Dictionary of the Kurdish Language' is long overdue.

  5. There should be a scientific relationship with the Kurdish Academy of Science and Art, founded in Stockholm in 1985, to give Kurdological research an extra drive.

  6. In the foreseeable future there will be no sovereign country for the Kurdish people, which itself can fully deal with the problematic of the Kurdish language and its further development. In view of this, there is only one solution - a foundation for the promotion of the Kurdish language must be created. This foundation could, for example, create academic posts for Kurdology in many universities. Probably, under these circumstances there would be more interest in Kurdology not only in Kurdistan and among the Kurds, but also in Europe, America, Canada, Israel and Australia.

How does the Kurdish proverb go? 'When the money starts to glitter and clink, even a Mullah (Islamic cleric) will leave the mosque.


* Lecture given on 28 November 1993 in Paris at the Conference " The Kurdish language toward the year 2000". Sorbonne University and the Kurdish Institute in Paris organized the conference.

  1. (1) For a fundamental knowledge of the early history of the Kurds, the following works are recommended:
    1. Minorsky, V. : The Kurds, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Leiden, 1927.
    2. Driver, G.K.: The Dispersion of the Kurds in Ancient Times, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (JRAS), 1921, Part Four, pp. 563-572. 
    3. Driver, G.K.: The Name Kurd and its Philological Connections; JRAS, 1923.
    4. Ahmad, Jemal Rashid: Tarikh el-Kurd el-Qadim (`The Ancient History of the Kurds') -- in Arabic - publication of the Saladin University, Hawler, 1990.
    5. Ahmad, J. R. : Dirasat Kurdiyah fi bilad Subartu ('Kurdish Studies in the Country of Subartu') -- in Arabic - Baghdad, 1984.
    6. Nikitine, Basil: Les Kurdes, Paris, 1956.
  2. (2) Koran (The Holy Scripture of Islam), Chapter 'HUD' No. 11, Verse 44. There it states: 'The ark came to rest upon AI-Judi.'
  3. (3) Syncretism is the coalescence of several religions into a new one. Here a differentiation must be drawn between a syncretic religion and a mixed religion. I would like to compare a syneretic religion to a musical ensemble in which every musician plays a different instrument and sounds notes which are individually distinct, but which, taken as a whole, produce a unified musical piece.
  4. (4) Abdul Karim Mohammad el-Modarris: Ulamauna fi Khidmat el-'lim wa-l din ('Our Scholars in the Service of Science and Religion') -- in Arabic -- edited by Mohammad Ali el-Qaradaghi, Baghdad, 1983.
  5. (5) The three Kurdish scholars were: Dinawari, Sha(h)razouri, Amedi (Imadi), c.f. Morteza Motahari: Khadamat-e motaghabel Islam o Iran ('The Mutual Service between Islam and Iran') -- in Persian.
  6. (6) Shamsaddin Sami: Qamus ul-Aalam ('Index of Proper Names') in Turkish-Osmanian - Volume 5, Istanbul 1314, p. 3842.
  7. (7) Sheikh Mohammad Khal: el-Sheikh Maaruf el-Nudahi el-Barzinji ('Sheikh Maaruf Nudahi el-Barzinji') --in Arabic - Baghdad, 1961.
  8. (8) Sheikh Marifi Node: Ahmadi , 2nd edition, Sulaimani, Jiyan Printing Press, 1935.
  9. (9) Mohammad Amin Zaki: Tarikh el-Duwal wa-l imarat el-Kurdiyyah ('History of the Kurdish States and Principalities') -- Arabic translation by Mohammad Ali Awni, Cairo 1367h. 1948.
  10. (10) Abdulraqib Youssuf: Hidarat el-Dawlah el-Dostakiyah fi Kurdistan el-Wusta ('The Civilisation of the Dostaki State in Middle Kurdistan) in Arabic volume 2.
  11. (11) El-Masudi, Abu el-Hasan: Muruj el Dahab wa ma'adin el-jawahar, Les Prairies d'Or. Edition: Barbier de Meynard et Pavet de Caurteille, révue et corrigée par Charles Pallet, Töme Sécond, Beyrouth, 166, p. 249.
  12. (12) Firdosi, Abolqasem: Shahname. Edition by Joannes Augustus Vullers, 1st Volume, Leiden, 1873, p. 36, Verses 37-38.
  13. (13) Khuja Sadaddin: Taj ül-Tawarikh (The Crown of the History). Istanbul, 1279/80 h. (1862/3), p. 26, c.f. also: Salnama-i Vilayat-i Djyarbekir (Yearbook of the Province of Diyarbekir) - in Turkish-Osmanian - 1301 h. (1884), p. 138.
  14. (14) E. G. Brown: Material for the Study of the Bahai Religion Canbridge, 1961.
  15. (15) Emadaddin Dolatshahi: Joghrafiya-ye Gharb-e Iran (the Geography of West Iran) - in Persian -Teheran 1363 h. (1984).
  16. (16) El-Shuoubia: An Arabic word that literally means 'people-ism', a term which the Arabs created in the early Islamic time to signify any person or group who were not Arab, whose homelands were conquered by Arab-Moslem warriors, but who nevertheless had equal rights with the Arabs. This term is still used by usurpers and nationalists today for Kurds who want their own identity and do not want to become Arabs.
  17. (17) The Kurdish writer Ibrahim Ahmad (1914-2000) was at the conference, as was the Minister for Education in the 'Kurdish Zone', Dr. Naseh Ghafour. They both suggested that the foundation of a Kurdological Faculty at an existing University in Kurdistan or the foundation of a University for Kurdological Studies should be supervised by Jemal Nebez.
  18. (18) Theodor Menzel: 'Yazidi' in the Handwörterbuch des Islam, Leiden, 1941, S.808.
  19. (19) Die Heiligen Bücher der Jeziden oder Teufelsanbeter (Kurdisch und Arabisch), Hrsg. von Maximilian Bittner, Wien 1913,S.26.
  20. (20) Carl Brockelmann: Das Neujahrsfest der Jezidis, in der Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 1901, Bd., 55, S. 388-89.
  21. (21) Häji Nématollah Mojrem Mokri: Shah-Nama-ye Haqiqat. Le Livre des Rois de Vérité, publié par Mohammad Mokri, Tome ler, Paris 1988, p. 202, vers 3841.
  22. (22) Hannelore Küchler: Öffentliche Meinung. Eine theoretisch-methodolgische Betrachtung und eine exemplarische Untersuchung zum Selbstverständnis der Kurden. Inaugural Dissertation der FU-Berlin, 1978, S. 116-146.
  23. (23) Ibid.
  24. (24) Sadiq Safizade Borakayi: Dawra-i Bahloul, Teheran 1363h. (1984/5).
  25. (25) Sadiq Safizade Borakayi: Dawra-i Haftwana - in Persian -- Teheran, 1982.
  26. (26) Sadiq Safizade Borakayi: Pishgouyiha-ye lI-Begi Jaff ('The Prophecies of Il-Begi Jaff') -- in Persian--, Teheran, Summer 1369h. (1991). Sadiq Safizade Borakayi:Pishgouyiha-ye Khan Almas Khan ('The Prophecies of Khan Almas Khan') - in Persian, Teheran, Spring 1369h. (1990).
  27. (27) Jemal Nebez: Pêwendarêtî Kurdî ('Kurdish Affiliation') in Kurdish, Stockholm 1986, p. 78; Translated into German by the author, Publication of the Kurdish Academy of Science and Art, Stockholm, 1987.
  28. (28) Scheref-Nameh ou Histoire des Kurdes par Scheref, Prince des Bidlis -- publié par V. Veliaminof-Zernov, Texte Persan, Vol. I-II (1860:1862), St. Petersbourg,1860~1862.
  29. (29) Ibid.
  30. (30) Jemal Nebez: Die Schriftsprache der Kurden, Acta Iranica, Memorandum H.S. Nyberg, Leiden, 1975, pp. 97-122. p. 99.
  31. (31) Ibid.
  32. (32) EI-Mulla Ahmad bin el-Mulla Muhammad eI-Buhti el-Zivinki: EI-'Iqd el-Jawhari fi Sharh diwan el-Sheikh el-Jizri ('The Interpretation of the Poetry Book of Jaziri'),VoI.2 Kamishli, 1959,
  33. (33) Ibid., P. 824.
  34. (34) The artwork 'Mam and Zin' has been translated into numerous European and non-European languages. The only German translation of the drama is the abridged version made by myself and published in 1969 by the National Union of Kurdish Students in Europe (NUKSE). A second edition of this translation will appear this year in connection with the tricentenary of 'Mam and Zin'. This new edition of the text will include a lecture I gave on 'Mam and Zin' and its author Ahmad-i Khani in October 1993 in the Vienna Literaturhaus.
  35. (35) Male Mahmoude Bayazidi: Nravi i obicay Kurdov ('Customs and Traditions of the Kurds´), edited by Margarette B. Rudenko, Moscow, 1963.
  36. (36) Ala-addin Sajadi: Meju-i Adeb-i Kurdi ('History of Kurdish Literature') Baghdad, 1952.
  37. (37) Said Khani Kurdistani: Nizani/Mizgani (Glad Tidings) Teheran 1309h. (1930/31).
  38. (38) Hannelore KüchIer: Ibid., Footnote 21, P. 417.
  39. (39) These newspapers are: Umed-i lstiqlal (Hope far Independence); Roji Kurdistan (Kurdistan Appeal); and Bang-i Heq (Appeal for Justice). c.f. Hannelare Küchler, ibid., p. 418.
  40. (40) Ibid.
  41. (41) Major E. B. Soane,CBE: Elementary Kurmanji Grammar Baghdad, 1919.
  42. (42) E.B. Soane: Kitabi Awalamin Qiraati Kurdi ('The Elementary Kurdish Reading Book'), Baghdad, 1920.
  43. (43) Hasan Salah Soran: Chap-i Yakamin Kiteb-i Kurdi la Eran ('The Publication of the First Kurdish Book in Iran'), in the Kurdish magazine 'Sirwe', Wurmé, May 1993, p.62.
  44. (44) Jemal Nebez: Ziman-i Yekgirtû-i Kurdi ('Towards a Unified Kurdish Language), publication of NUKSE, in Kurdish, Bamberg, 1976, pp.15-18.
  45. (45) Jemal Nebez'. Xwéndewari be Ziman-i Kurdi ('Education in the Kurdish language'), in Kurdish, Baghdad 1957.
  46. (46) Jemal Nebez: Sereta-i Mikanik u Khomalekni-Madde (introduction to the Mechanics and properties of Matter'), Baghdad. 1960.
  47. (47) Jemal Nebez: Farhangok-i Zanisti ('A Small Scientific Dctionary`), in Kurdish, Hawler,1961. Jemal Nebez: Handek Zarawa-i Zanisti ('Some Scientific Terms') Sulaymani,1960.
  48. (48) Kamal Jalal Gharib: El'Qamus E'lmi (The Scientific Dictionary') Kurdish Arabic, English, 1:st Volume 1975, 2nd Volume 1979, 3rd Volume 1983.
  49. (49) Jemal Nebez: Die Schriftsprache der Kurden. Ibid.
  50. (50) Jemal Nebez: See footnote 44.


Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

Report on The Sulaimania District of Kurdistan (1910)

THE following report, insomuch as it touches upon the life, language, and tribal history of the Kurds and the geographical features of the district, is the result of information gained during a stay of six months there. During this period the writer was disguised as a Persian for various reasons, mainly that of insuring easy access to every class of Kurd and unhampered passage through their country. In addition, the close intercourse, which alone confers familiarity with a people's language, all of which were essential to the completion of knowledge of southern Kurdish, and the acquisition of several more dialects, which were my principal aims.

The greater part of my stay in Kurdistān, was in Sulaimānia, but before settling there, I went to Halabja, where 'Adela Khānum Jāf was staying, and being accepted at my own valuation of a Persian "mirza and merchant," was entertained by her, for some four weeks. During which I became acquainted with Othman Pasha, Mahmud Pasha, Tahir Beg and Majid Beg of the ruling families. In addition, I had nearly arranged to remain there as a writer of Persian to Uthman Pasha when the sudden arrival of an individual from Biāra - a refugee from Sina of Persian Kurdistān, whom I had seen in Constantinople (Istanbul) and who was evilly disposed towards me, rendered (made) my departure advisable.

I therefore, made a journey to Aorāmān, Merivān, and Panjwin, taking with me the small merchandize of the country as a reasonable excuse for making a tour. I also went into partnership with a Kurd of the Mukrĩ who taught me his language very completely besides assisting in the innumerable and harassing pettiness (small details) that go to make up the life of a trader in Kurdistān.

During this tour, I made the acquaintance of the two chiefs of Turkish and Persian Aorāmān - Ja'far Sultan and 'Ali Shāh - and was involved in a fight between the latter and the Beg of Merivān, with whom he is at feud. By a long detour, we came to Sulaimānia, where for a short time I stayed, to make an excursion to Bāna for gum tragacanth, coming back by Marga, Keui Sanjāq and Sardasht to Sulaimānia. Here I settled, making friends with people of every class, including the Turkish officials.

When, in August, I left Sulaimānia, I stayed one week at Kirkūk - having passed through the deserted country of the Hamāvand, where, some months before, I had stayed three days with their chief. In approaching Sulaimānia in the early spring, I had already stayed three weeks in Kirkūk. From there I now went to Altūn Keuprĩ, where I took raft down the lower Zāb and so to the Tigris and to Baghdad.

In the compilation of the historical matter relating to the frontier, I have consulted the treaties between Persia and Turkey, Lynch's Armenia, Sir John Malcolm's History, Curzon, and for the recent events (since 1907), notes made by myself when in Persia, and Tehrān newspapers of the time. Since then, 1909, I have been on the spot, and have confirmed the accuracy of notes and papers alike, besides gleaning more information. Tribal history (except for that of the Hasanānlū) which was one of the objects of my visit, is compiled from my own notes and certain documents of which I was able to obtain a view in Halabja and Panjwin. When it was possible to check it, I have used the Gazetteer of Persia (Part III) for geographical matter outside the scope of the report, and for the Kirmānshāh province, the Kirmānshāh Gazetteer, which covers some ground mentioned in the frontier chapter. If the report is lacking in certain particulars it is because I went to Kurdistān with no ideas of writing a report; my sole object being linguistic, ethnological and historical information. I have to acknowledge the very kind assistance of Lieutenant A. T. Wilson, J.A. his Britannic Majesty's Consul at Mohammerah who arranged the report in a coherent form, and assisted greatly in the correction of the typescript.

MOHAMMARAH: The 4th June 1910, E.B.SOANE


Report on The Sulaimānia District of Kurdistān (1910)

By E.B. Soane

Kurdology Center, Sulaimani, 2008

Please view the full report as attached, in particular in language section on page 17.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Speaking to the World: the Poetry of Jalal Barzanji

Sabah A. Salih, 28 June 2010

Even when he was little, his parents could tell that their shy and somewhat reclusive boy was different from the rest of the village boys.  They were mostly the rough type, climbing trees and rocks and chasing the animals and often bringing their parents a great deal of trouble.  He, by contrast, kept mostly to himself. For prolonged periods of time he would gaze intensely at the sky, the rain, and the surrounding mountains.  And the stories the men told by the fire or on the rooftop under a crisp, starry summer night made the youngster dream of things he had never seen.

This is just one chapter among many in a life lived in Kurdistan that continues to define the Kurdish-Canadian poet Jalal Barzanji, the recipient of Edmonton’s first Writer-in-Exile Award; Mr. Barzanji’s memoir is to be published in English in February 2011 by the University of Alberta Press.  Kurdish readers, however, need not wait this long to learn what this poet has been up to lately.  A good size volume of his recent and not-so recent poems has just been published in Kurdish.   As soon as you start reading the memoir, you learn why Barzanji had decided to go for royal blue for this volume’s cover. The color became a favorite of his because, in a Kurdistan defined daily by poverty, war, and crippling social mores, the color, symbolically, was his only means of escape.

The most refreshing feature of this collection is that Jalal Barzanji seems to have decided that it is necessary to put the interest of poetry above all the others.  Self-pity, obscurity and advocacy are not allowed to intrude.  For him the language of poetry is too dear to be debased by politics and the troubles of a wounded nation.  Words and images matter a great deal to him, as do clarity and precision, but definitely not tear for tear’s sake or propaganda.  Above all else, it is important that poetry say something, and say it clearly, effectively, and precisely. The message can be mixed, to use a phrase of W.H. Auden’s, but it must have staying power—something that can speak to more than a generation, something that can bypass, and with ease, the crippling limitations of both culture and geography. As Barzanji says in one of his early poems, “Writing has turned me into /  a child.” Why? Because, “I want to color the whole world with pencils as tall as myself.”  The lines “Don’t shoot at me / while I am dreaming,” and “The Freedom I saw in a dream / has no counterpart even in writing” treat the specificity of one’s roots as a minor thing; poetry for Barzanji is not simply a matter of giving voice to the Kurdishess or Canadianness in him; poetry for him is a means by which humans everywhere can connect. Similarly, The lines “I saw god, / He was frightened / He was running away from humans” and the lines “The beautiful heart / And the ugly mouth / have been fighting for ages” solicit everyone’s attention, because they do not dependant on cultural boundaries for their effect.

All this is not to say that Barzanji has made a conscious effort to sever his ties with the Kurdish side of his identity as far as poetry is concerned.  Not at all.  This is simply to say that Barzanji the poet, rather than considering the Kurdish situation in isolation, expands it into a human situation.  The laudable thing about this effort is that it prevents his poetry from falling prey to provinciality.

Exile, understandably, is a major theme of Barzanji’s poetry, considering that Canada has been his second home for nearly two decades, but here too the rewards and pains of exile are determined not by where a person came from but by the circumstances of exile itself. The possibilities suggested by the following image cross all boundaries:

Between the two oceans,

A woman was wielding a club,

She was hunting for dreams.

If exile is a condition that comes with a price, it is also a condition that comes with rewards, and it is a condition towards which the world is rapidly heading.

Dr. Sabah A. Salih is Professor of English at Bloomsburg University, USA.

 Kurdish-Canadian poet Jalal Barzanji


Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Standardisation Beyond States

G. ReershemiusUntil some centuries ago, literary standards in many communities throughout the world were predominantly the sum of codified religious texts. Their style and grammar were memorized and reproduced and finally copied and transferred into further literary activities.


Yaron Matras and Gertrud Reershemius

University of Hamburg

1. Introduction

Y. MatrasUntil some centuries ago, literary standards in many communities throughout the world were predominantly the sum of codified religious texts. Their style and grammar were memorized and reproduced and finally copied and transferred into further literary activities.

The language variety of prayer, law and chronicles thus became an important cultural asset in its own right. In our modern era, endeavors to set a standard norm for a national language code have often accompanied the emergence of national states. Determiningwhat the norm is became a privilege of state institutions using the unified code as a medium for regulated mass communication. A standardized "national language" is still considered to be an important identity card of a sovereign national community. It reflects and transmits what people regard as their "national heritage" or "national culture". But what is the role of modern standardization other than to cater as a medium for state institutions, and how can a "national language" emerge without being able to rely upon the authority of government organs?

We shall deal with this question, comparing three ethnic minority languages: Yiddish – a language of Medieval German origin spoken by Eastem-European Jews; Kurdish a Northwest Iranian language spoken by some 20 million people in the region of Kurdistan, within the state boundaries of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and the Soviet Union; and Romani - a language of Northwest Indian origin spoken by an estimated number of 10-15 million Roma (Gypsies? in Europe and in the Americas. We shall look at the way standardization becomes a function of the speakers' own initiative after generations of intensive contact with several different administration and state languages used when dealing with the population and institutions of various host-countries or occupying forces, respectively.

We shall also consider some essential differences between several background factors: For example, Yiddish and Romani have never been centred in one geographic area, except at the very beginning of their existence. They are therefore typically "diaspora languages".Kurdish, on the other hand, is one of the most important languages of the Middle East, and despite various attempts on the part of the occupiers to assimilate and deport the indigenous population of Kurdistan, it is still the majority language of the region. Its dialects are dispersed along a language-geographical continuum, merging ultimately with related languages such as Luri and Farsi. It is due to political circumstances during the last century that standardizes of one of the main Kurdish varieties, Kurmanji, have been reluctant to achieve their goals within their country and that the canter of literary activity has been shifted into exile communities in Western Europe.

As a further example for the diversity of the three standardization processes consider the degree of literacy in the cultures involved. Y-i6 - h manifests the development of a standard literary variety in a highly literate culture, in which the bulk of institutionalized cultural activity consisted of studying and transmitting the scriptures. Kurdish and Romani each show a predominantly oral tradition of a population the greater part of which is still illiterate, i.e. not at all familiar with the techniques of a written codification of language. Thus, the majority lacks both literary documents of collective or cultural knowledge and written records of their own personal history.

2. What is a "standard" ?

Ferguson (1961) defines a standard as a single, widely accepted norm, used with only minor modifications or variation for all purposes of language use. He explicitly distinguishes between this general notion of "standard" and the degree of native literacy ("writing") in a speech community. The maximum degree of native literacy is manifested within a speech community when original scientific research is published regularly, while at the top of the standardization scale we find communities in which there is minimal variation of form in both the spoken and the written language. Following Ferguson's definition, standardization should thus be regarded as the process of language unification in a given community, affecting written as well as oral communication. Ray (1963) is not as strict with respect to the possibility of a co-existence of varieties or different vernaculars within the speech community, alongside the "standard". The standard itself, however, is considered to be a language variety the use of which is unified in writing, grammar and the lexicon.

The need for a normative language usage correlates according to Haugen (1966 [1972], 1969 [1972] and elsewhere) with the function of writing as the medium of communication between speakers separated in time and space and unable to rely upon prosodic, extra-linguistic or even plain linguistic explanatory strategies in order to smooth out misinterpretation. Language standardization and planning involves preparing normative rules for the guidance of writers and speakers especially in none homogeneous speech communities. A "standard" is thus a set of widely accepted rules serving as a norm primarily in writing. Its emergence and distribution is dependent upon several phases, the first of which is defined as "norm selection" or the choice of the variety that is to become the standard. The second, "codification" (developing a writing system), presupposes norm selection. Once both these steps are fulfilled, the "stabilization" of the norm can begin. Most unification efforts may actually be inserted into this slot for it is during this phase that the production of dictionaries, grammars, style manuals and other normative instruments is most important. Finally, the future of the standard will depend on its "implementation", i.e. its acceptance by institutions, writers, publications and especially mass-media communication (Haugen 1969 [1972]; see also Cobarrubias 1983). In the following we shall look at the emergence of written varieties of Yiddish, Kurdish and Romani and compare the motivations underlying literary initiatives in the native language, the choice of variety, codification, stabilization and the extent to which the written variety developed is implemented. Standardization will be regarded as the sum of these phases. Owing to the distinct circumstances of emergent ethnic minority languages with no government agencies behind them, we shall pay special attention to the role played by the initiators of each of the processes.

3. The standardization of Yiddish: Extending traditional literacy

Our following description is by necessity historical: Due to the Nazi genocide committed on European Jews during World War II there are now only few Yiddish speakers and hardly any Yiddish-speaking communities left in Europe. Worldwide, the largest Yiddish-speaking communities are found among first-generation Jewish immigrants in North as well as South America and in Israel. The Orthodox communities in Israel, the United States and elsewhere partly use Yiddish as the primary language of cross-generation family communication; they may be said to be the only communities to do so nowadays. Yiddish had been the spoken language of Eastern-European Jewry for many centuries. During the Middle Ages, persecution of Jews led to a mass exodus from the German- -speaking areas of the Lower Rhine into Slavic-speaking Eastern Europe. The refugees took their languages with them: Hebrew, their traditional sacral language, and Yiddish, which at the time was still the Jewish variety of Middle High German, containing a great number of words of Hebrew origin. Cut apart from the German speech community, Yiddish continued to develop independently. Until the beginning of the 20th century Eastern European Jews used both languages, Hebrew and Yiddish, in a stable diglossia.

Each language had its established functions: Hebrew was the written language of religion and philosophy, of learned correspondence, documents and contracts. Yiddish was the spoken language of daily conversation. But Yiddish had also quite soon developed into the written language of the uneducated, especially women. Uneducated in the sense of the Jewish educational hierarchy were those who were unable to read or write Hebrew. Since practice of the Jewish religion had always been connected to reading and discussing the scriptures, an educational system was created that taught every boy to read the "holy language". However, the language in which lessons were conducted was Yiddish, and girls were taught to read and write in Yiddish only. Thus even the so-called uneducated were able to read and write. Early documents of written Yiddish consist of private letters, translations of the Old Testament or collections of fairy-tales, to name but a few examples. Yiddish was written from the very beginning using those characters that served the medium for written communication within the Jewish community - the characters of the Hebrew alphabet. For this purpose the Hebrew alphabet underwent certain changes and was transformed from a basically consonant representation to a lineary phonemic system, as was the case with Judeo-Persian and Judeo-Spanish (Ladino).

The diglossic situation began to dissolve towards the end of the 18th century. Following the impoverishment of the Jewish population in Eastern Europe the number of the uneducated increased. More and more people could read and write only in Yiddish. The Yiddish language became the subject of ideological discussions. Chassidism, a religious movement based on Jewish mysticism, regarded Yiddish as an authentic expression of the simple people and therefore also as the appropriate language for religious practice. For the Jewish enlightenment, the Haskala, Yiddish was a spoiled jargon which was to be abolished. The Jewish labor movement, especially the "Bund", made the promotion of Yiddish language and culture part of its platform. Zionism regarded Yiddish as a stigma of the despised diaspora culture which had to be replaced by modern Hebrew. Language awareness arose, combined with religious and political opinions.

The expansion of the press during the l9th century played a most significant role in the development of the literary Yiddish language Eastern Europe's first Yiddish periodical appeared in Warsaw in 1823. In -18i7 the first Yiddish daily newspaper appeared in Bucharest and by 1912 as many as 100 Yiddish periodicals were being published across Europe, including 20 dailies (cf. Jüdisches Lexicon, "Judische Presse"). A Yiddish literature emerged and was oriented from its very beginning towards a popular medium, the press. The novels of the most famous Yiddish writers such as Mendele, Sholem Aleichem and Sholem Ash first appeared as serialized novels in newspapers.

Thus, a modern Yiddish written language already existed when the efforts to establish a unified standard began. From the very beginning, standardizes were confronted with the problem of dialect diversity.We distinguish the North-Eastern Yiddish dialect (NEY) centred around Vilna in Lithuania, the South-Eastern Yiddish dialect (SEY) spoken in Wolhynia, Podolia, Bessarabia and Romania and the Central-Eastern Yiddish dialect (CEY), concentrated in Poland (the western Yiddish dialects spoken in the German-speaking areas underwent a gradual assimilation process which led to the emergence of Jewish-German varieties, cf. Weinberg 1969). The three dialects differ in certain aspects of their phonology and lexicon, but also in morphology. Modern written Yiddish emerged in all three dialects, though each dialect acquired its specific institutional use: In the 20th century, SEY was the language of the theater, NEY dominated the press, and prose was written in a combination of SEY and CEY. These functions were connected to the geographic distribution of the centres of cultural activity and, of course, to the native dialects of the respective authors (cf. Schaechter 1977:38-39). Which variety was to be given priority for standardization and unification? Judging by the majority, the use of SEY seemed to dominate. In- 1925 teachers and scholars established the Jewish Scientific Institute YIVO (yidiwser visensaftlixer institut). Based in Vilna, its explicit program was to standardize and unify the use of the Yiddish language Most YIVO members, e.g. Max Weinreich, spoke NEY and intended to establish the NEY-dialect, as spoken by the intellectuals of Vilna, as a norm (Schaechter 1977). YIVO made important contributions to the standardization process It drafted a standard orthography and was successful in promoting the development or "Ausbau" (see Kloss 1967) of the Yiddish language in relation to German. German influences on Yiddish orthography - such as marking the etymological correspondence to a German long vowel by h following the vowel – were to be abolished. Yiddish orthography was to follow pronunciation, though Hebrew words within the Yiddish vocabulary maintained their Hebrew spelling, despite their different pronunciation in Yiddish. Diglossia was thus preserved within the system of orthography. However, YIVO's standard orthography disregarded the existing modern Yiddish literary language, which was based predominantly on SEY and CEY. Despite its status among many scholars, the Y I V O-standard did not succeed in drawing wide acceptance. Schaechter (1977:36) estimates that it is probably less than 1% of the native speakers – no statistics are available - who actually use the Standard Variety in everyday situation. In the Soviet Union efforts were made during the 1920's to reform Yiddish orthograph y. These were the only efforts to standardize Yiddish carned out with the support of state agencies. The Soviet reform attempted to apply phonetic principles throughout the spelling system. Thus, Hebrew words were no longer to be written following Hebrew orthographic rules, but according to their pronunciation in Yiddish.

Traditional circles resisted this reform which ultimately failed owing to changed language policies in the USSR, sacrificing the promotion of minority languages in favour of assimilation into the Russian-speaking majority.

4. The Kurdish experience: The diversity of standards

As a result of migration, Kurdish is not only spoken in the region of Kurdistan, divided between Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and the Soviet Union, but it is also the language of some half a million Kurdish immigrants in Western Europe. The process of standardization of the Kurdish language is still very young. In fact, the majority of Kurds in Iran, Syria and Turkey are illiterate in their native tongue. In these countries official policy has prevented the autonomous development of a literary variety by denying Kurds education in their own language as well as the right to distribute printed material in Kurdish. Linguistic and literary projects have thus been restricted to clandestine activities of opposition movements.

In the Soviet Union and in Iraq Kurdish did enjoy, at least for some years, the status of a minority language, and standardization has enjoyed official support. Considerable dialect differences between the varieties spoken in South and North Kurdistan and the cultural pressure exerted by the respective state administrations led to seperate standardization processes. We may thus distinguish three literary varieties of the Kurdish language:

a. The Suleimaniye variety. A well-established literary standard, this variety is based on the Sorani dialect of the southern parts of Kurdistan in Iraq and Iran, as spoken in the city of Suleimaniye. First literary activities in the dialect included poetry published in the l9th century, while the first periodicals appeared at the turn of the century. Standardization was encouraged by the British administration, most notably by the British governor and researcher E. Soane, and it was due to British pressure that Sorani was recognized as the second official language of the Kurds in Iraq in 1931. It is written in a modified form of the Arab-Persian alphabet, turning the consonantal script into a lineary phonemic system in much the same way as Yiddish modifies the Hebrew alphabet. Sorani was the language of Kurdish schools, an extensive literature, media and even universities in the Kurdish parts of Iraq, until Kurdish cultural autonomy was abolished by the government in the 1970's.

b. Standard Kurdish in the Soviet Union. Based on the northern Kurmanji dialect as spoken in the southern part of the Armenian Republic, around the city of Ye r e v a n , written Kurdish in the Soviet Union uses the Cyrillic alphabet introduced in the 1940's. The Soviet-Kurdish alphabet was drafted by a circle of linguists working at the Leningrad Institute of Iranian Studies, based on intensive research of dialect material. It is thus characterized by a fairly exact orthographical representation of phonological oppositions. However, its use is largely restricted to the linguists and intellectuals among the estimated 100.000 Kurds in the Soviet Union. Publications include prose, several school books as well as Kurdish dictionaries and grammars. A number of publications deals explicitly with orthography and standardization (Kurdoev 1957, E'vdal 1958, Bakaev 1983). One might go as far as concluding that there is a distorted proportion between the work done in the Soviet Union on describing Kurdish varieties and adopting an orthographical standard, and the popular attention this work has received both in and outside the country. Kurdologists, of course, owe a great debt to this Soviet enterprise.

c. The Bedir Xan variety. Also known as the "Hawar' variety, this written standard was first introduced by Mir Celadet Bedir Xan in the Kurdish-language periodical "Hawar", published in Damascus and Beirut between 1932 and 1943. It is based on the Kurmanji dialect as spoken in the districts of Cizre and Hakkari, along the Turkish-Syrian and the Turkish-Iraqi border. The dialect itself has a long tradition as a written medium ranging back to the epics of the 11th century. Its emergence as a modern literary vehicle can be traced back to the appearence in 1898 of the periodical "Kurdistan", published by Kurdish exile intellectuals in Cairo and Istanbul, using Arabic characters. Bedir Xan's modern alphabet uses the Latin script as adapted for Turkish by the Turkish language reform of 1928, with some additional characters. It was spread among Kurds in Turkey and Syria by a number of periodicals published in these countries and in exile, and was later adopted by clandestine Kurdish organizations challenging the official ban on Kurdish publications. Since the military coup d'etat in Turkey in 1980 there has been a halt even of such clandestine literary activities. The further development of the Kurmanji written language has since been restricted to exile movements in Western Europe, mainly in Sweden, West-Germany, Belgium, France and The Netherlands. Several dozen periodicals based on the "Hawar" norm now appear regularly in these countries. Most of them are published by exile nationalist organisations and usually only reach their member population. Due to the restricted possibilities of spreading literacy in the mother tongue among migrants in exile, lack of official support and of recognized as well as qualified language institutions, Kurdish journalists, writers and readers are confronted with a series of orthographic dilemmas not solved by the "Hawar" variety. Dialect diversity and the intensive influence of the languages of literacy in the respective countries of origin and in the countries of migration lead to irregularities, to an arbitrary spelling in many cases and to the lack of unified orthographic conventions among Kurds living and writing in Westem Europe. Forms affected by irregularities of spelling include both phoneme representation and word boundaries (c£ Matras 1989). Confusion often arises as lexical innovations are introduced by single authors. The lack of unity may be said to have been a handicap in the emergence of modern Kurdish literacy, since it severely restricts any exchange of experiences and literary material among the different literary varieties. Nevertheless, considering the circumstances of its emergence in the various countries, one must acknowledge the efforts made by language planners to adapt the respective literary variety to its sociopolitical and linguistic surroundings. Kurdish literacy inevitably correlates with bilingualism and biliteracy: Kurdish is never the primary literary language and Kurdish literacy is rather a luxury. There are therefore no monolingual Kurds who are literate in Kurdish, nor are there monolingual Kurds who are literate in any other language. Kurdish literacy is acquired through literacy in the official state language and literary varieties differ according to their states of origin, both historically (the choice of a dialect to be used as the standard variety and the choice of a writing system) and synchronically (the use of loan words).

Future perspectives are not likely to disentangle especially the "Hawar" variety, which never enjoyed any form of government support, from such factors. In the long term exile literary activities may give rise to a political Cultural elite, which, given the chance to establish a cultural autonomy in Kurdistan, will probably re-import the literary language and establish institutions needed to regulate spelling and lexical problems. In the shorter term Kurdish immigrant organisations aim at spreading literacy among the younger generation living in Europe. However, there are only few such projects, little cooperation on the part of the authorities in the migrant countries and little interest on the part of Kurds who are already caught between literacy loyalties to the state languages of their country of origin on the one hand, and to those of the migration countries on the other.

5. Romani: Challenging the odds
Romani arrived in Europe as an Indic dialect as the Romani people were deported from their original homeland and transported as slaves to the Byzantine Empire in the early Middle Ages. It has retained the basic morphological and lexical structure common to the North-Indic languages, though experiencing some unique innovations and considerable syntactic and lexical influence form the Balkan languages. For centuries the Roma have remained a persecuted, discriminated and impoverished people throughout the European continent. Literacy was, until this century, unknown to Romani culture, and oral tradition was the only cultural bind for Europe's largest non-territorial minority. First attempts to use Romani as a written language began in the Soviet Union during the 1920's and 1930's, as part of a general policy promoting minority language use. Upon state initiative an educational institute was established in order to qualify teachers, and phonetic research was intended to help unify orthographic norms for school usage. A number of publications appeared and there was a growing language movement active in education, film, theatre and translations (cf. Puxon 1981). However, Romani standardization in the Soviet Union remained isolated and unknown outside the country. The Romani language movement in the Soviet Union perished as a result of the Romani Holocaust during World War II. After the war, written Romani emerged again as a poetic language of Romani intellectuals mostly in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Hungary. A coordinated language movement was not established until 1971, when the International Romani Union was founded in London. For the last two decades, until very recently, written Romani was used exclusively by a circle of several dozen linguists, intellectuals and activists connected to the International Romani Union. Some of them, such as Ian Hancock, Marcel Cortiade, Jusuf Saip and others, have been engaged both in descriptive and in normative linguistic activity. At its conferences, the International Romani Union discussed drafts for a unified alphabet to be used in correspondence, in literature, dictionaries, grammars and bible translations. The journal "Roma" connected with the International Union has only occasionally published poems and several summaries of contributions in Romani since its establishment in 1974. There are only several dozen publications in Romani, contrasting with many hundred works about the language.

In Yugoslavia there is a somewhat more extensive use of written Romani, partly inspired by weekly radio and television broadcasts. There is also a number of school books and child as well as adult literacy programs in Sweden, Norway and recently also in Hungary. A new phase in the standardization of the Romani language is currently beginning with the emergence of Romani political and civil rights organizations in both Eastern and Western Europe. Since 1989 there has been more extensive correspondence between the unions as attempts to coordinate and unify Romani civil rights activities across Europe increase.

There is a number of periodicals and news bulletins published partly in Romani and an increasing number of leaflets and letters addressed to the member population of Romani unions in their mother tongue. On the whole, conventions for orthography are based on those of the respective state language. This fact often imposes great efforts on the part of addressees in order to follow international correspondence and it tends to restrict the distribution of publications to the national level.

All Roma are bilingual, but only a minority among European Roma are actively literate. Romani culture has until now been strictly oral. In fact, many Romani communities fear language standardization as it might facilitate access to the community on the part of non-Roma, especially on the part of administration officials aiming to continue traditional supervision and harassment measures against the Roma. Indeed, Romani literacy is now emerging as a function of changing attitudes toward cultural and political needs, trying to promote political and cultural self-organization in the various countries and in Europe as a whole (cf. Hancock, forthcoming). As is the case for Kurdish, Romani literacy is thus based on active literacy in at least one other language (and therefore restricted to intellectuals) and it correlates with nationalist or rather with civil rights activities. Spreading Romani literacy among the majority of European Roma might at the moment seem illusory, given that this majority is still often denied access to the very basic forms of education and qualifications. The political and social situation of the Roma at present hardly enables the majority of them to approach the institutional frameworks needed to acquire literacy, and the existing Romani institutions lack the means and resources needed in order to expand their activities. Further development is dependent upon the chance the intellectual elite will have to establish its own cultural autonomy as non-territorial minorities in Europe. It seems that many years of tiring and frustrating agitation aimed at the non-Romani majority population and its administration will be required in order to achieve basic recognition as a cultural and linguistic minority.

6. Towards a typology of non-official standardisation

6.1 Why standardize ? Shifting from oral to literate tradition

Fishman (1989) points out the close connection between the standardization of ethnic minority languages and the need or motivation for authenticating linguistic heritage and linguistic behavior. Standardization is connected to the process of modernization which is often pursued by nationalism, given the change in social structures and identification patterns and the need to consolidate a broader common denominator in society. Now, this process is in a certain sense circular, since nationalism, once triggered by modernization, often aims at returning to the origin or to ethno-c u l t u r a l "purity". Its linguistic or sociolinguistic correlative is in this case language maintenance, at least in those instances, in which modernization threatens to promote language shift and consequent language loss, and Me language maintenance must be secured through organized initiative.

In all three languages examined there seems to be no direct "danger" of complete language loss. Before the Holocaust, Yiddish had survived many centuries of language contact since its function within the Jewish community was well defined. Industrialization and migration into the urban centres established a Jewish migrant working class which was not yet sufficiently familiar with the majority, non-Jewish language - Polish, Russian, Hungarian, etc. - to be able to participate actively in daily social and political affairs. With the emergence of this Yiddish-speaking, urban, Jewish working class there arose a need for a secular press in Yiddish. It was the deeply rooted literary tradition of European Jewish communities that motivated the first initiatives in this domain, for it seemed unacceptable not to have a written communication medium serving the alienated first generation of urban migrants. Hebrew, the traditional written medium, could no longer assume this function, as proletarization changed educational structures: Workers did not have the time other resources to afford many years of intensive religious schooling needed in order to acquire literary competence in the sacral language.

The Roma, whose social segregation continues until this very day, have retained their language as the main vehicle carrying cultural experience, though certain dialects have been subject to extensive influence and borrowings from contact languages. Formal education, however, has always been conducted in the state language and the domains relating to it have not entered Romani. Written communication within the Romani community is rare or practically non-existant. Literacy is rather restricted to interaction with the majority administration and the majority culture, using the majority language. Literate Roma thus practice their literacy only outside their own speech and cultural group. They may have not assimilated, but much of their experience is made and "stored" in the second language (cf. Hancock, forthcoming). Linguistic assimilation in Kurdistan - we will restrict the following evaluation to the Kurmanji variety spoken in Turkish and Syrian Kurdistan, since it is the Kurdish written language of these areas (the "Hawar" variety) which never received official recognition - is common among second-generation immigrants into the non-Kurdish cities, both in the western parts of Turkey and in Europe. In Turkey and in Syria, adopting the state language as the primary language is thought to be approved of by the majority and its institutions and is thus connected with improving one's chances for success. In Europe, many immigrant families from Turkish-Kurdistan adopt Turkish as the primary family language in order to enable their children to interact with the official authorities of their country of origin, should they wish to or be forced to return. Linguistic assimilation also partly affects intellectuals who have widened their educational horizons in a second language and are unable to discuss, to transmit or to develop their new ideas in their native vernacular. Kurdish students, for example, usually code-switch into Turkish as soon as the subject of conversation involves knowledge or techniques acquired within majority institutions (cf. Redder & Rehbein 1987). Rather than preserve the oral language from being lost to the community as a whole, standardisation in the cases examined is intended to broaden the domains of native language use to include those functions occupied traditionally by the state or majority language. In this sense standardization aims at integrating the creativity of literate intellectuals into the native community, rather than "losing" them to the majority. At the same time it also attempts to introduce new cultural activities and attitudes into the speech community itself, Introducing literacy into a language with only an oral tradition involves a certain shift in cultural values and an extension of cultural activity. In the case of Yiddish this meant challenging traditional rabbinical authority and its rigid educational structures restricting written communication within the community to religious affairs. In the case of Romani the notion of a "secret language" protecting the community from outside control is gradually giving way to a new form of overt, institutionalized community protection. Civil rights activists are trying to promote the use of Romani as a written language in order to facilitate and elaborate international communication between their unions. Along with this process there is a tendency to reject the traditional authority of community leaders whose power consisted of the oral recognition granted by the non-Romani administration, and to elect a new political leadership whose authority is based on popular support for a formulated political platform. For example, a ten-page document - one of the first programatic: documents written in Romani - was presented as a motion at the first conference of the European Romani Federation "EUROM" in November 1990. The Kurmanji-Kurdish experience provides a parallel case, manifesting efforts on the part of the elite of exile intellectuals to establish a new cultural dialog with their community on the basis of new social and political ideas which the elite itself acquired outside its native community. In the following section we shall look more closely at the tasks assumed by bicultural intellectuals in language standardisation processes beyond state institutions.

6.2 The task facing bilingual literates

On August 30th, 1908 the famous Conference on the Status and Standardisation of the Yiddish Language began in Chernovitz, the capital of Bukovina (now USSR). The meeting's initiator was Nathan Birnbaum (1864-1937). Born and raised in Vienna, his native language was German. After completing law school in Vienna in 1887, Birnbaum became an active journalist. In the early years of his career he was a devoted Zionist; it was Birnbaum who introduced the (German) term "Zionism" ("Zionismus") to designate the young movement. During the 1880~s and 1890's he published the periodical "Selbst-Emanzipation" in Vienna. He finally parted with Zionism because of its rejection of Jewish diaspora-culture. Birnbaum regarded Eastern European Judaism and especially its language, Yi d d i s h , as an authentic expression of Jewishness. A modernized Yiddish language, he believed, would provide protection from assimilation pressures. The Yiddish language ought therefore to be expanded and standardized. Bimbaum himself first had to learn Yiddish. In 1904 he began publishing articles in Yiddish, and between 19()8 and 1911 he lived in Chernovitz, where he edited the periodicals "Dos Folk" and "Dokter Birnboyms Voxnblat". He held his talk at the Chernovitz conference in Yiddish, but welcomed the guests to the banquet in German (see Fishman 1980:53). Birnbaum (who taught himself the Central-Eastern Yiddish dialect! ) was not the only " Yiddishist" who had to study the language. Another example is Vladimir Medem  (1879-1923), a prominent politician in the "Bund" movement (cf. Encyclopaedia Judaica 1972:1175-1 176).

The biographies of Birnbaum and Medem may be extreme with regard to their command of the Yiddish language and their motivation for acquiring it and promoting its use. Nevertheless, modern education attained outside the Yiddish-speaking environment can almost be considered as the common denominator of many of the activists of the Yiddish language movement. Max Weinreich, co-founder of the YIVO, received his degree at the German University of Marburg; Mordkhe Schaechter, a prominent representative of YIVO's younger generation, submitted his dissertation at the German-speaking University of Vienna. These are only a few examples for the way standardization emerges as a function relating modern education, science and thinking to "authentic" or native tradition, applying to the native vernacular the tasks normally restricted to recognized national standards. Individuals who are familiar with both the native and the outside environment form an intellectual elite which is capable of transmitting and transferring experience and knowledge. The Kurdish language reformer Celadet Ali Bedir Xan was born in Istanbul in 1893 into a respected family originating from Cizre in the district of Botan on the Turkish Syrian border. The Bedir Xan family had led several uprisings against the Ottoman rule in their region in the middle of the l9th century. When the Ottoman emperor Sultan Abdul Hamid II took power, he introduced a new reconciliation and integration policy toward the Kurdish notables. Members of the most influencial Kurdish families were educated in Istanbul and assumed important positions within the Ottoman administration (cf. Kendal 1984). In exchange for their loyalty to the Islamic-Ottoman state, they were granted greater freedom of cultural activity. Living in the diaspora, either as students or as civil servants, the Bedir Xans were introduced to the ideas of European national movements and to the concepts of modern national and cultural self-determination. They began to publish bilingual Turkish-Kurdish periodicals in which they tried to encourage their countrymen to apply some of these ideas to their own native land, Kurdistan.

This family enterprise was passed on to the brothers Celadet and Kamuran, who were driven into exile after the establishment of the new nationalist Turkish Republic in 1922. During the following decades Celadet and Kamuran both published a number of periodicals as well as grammars of the Kurdish language (Celadet's main work, "Grammaire Kurde", was published in Paris after his death by Roger Lescot; see Bedir Khan & Lescot 1970), based on their own Ceziri or Botani dialect and introducing a new alphabet using Latin characters. Its close affinity to the modern Turkish alphabet ensured at least its passive comprehensibility to Kurdish intellectuals educated in the only official language of the republic, Turkish.

The Kurdish language was thus experiencing a growing inventory of both structural descriptions based on modern linguistic methods and a political press operating as an informative as well as agitating medium. It was not until the mid 1960's that such media were imported back into Turkish Kurdistan itself by an elite of political activists who were inspired by and involved in the emergence of a left-wing opposition movement in Tu r k e y. Reluctant to draw the attention of the larger Turkish opposition groups to the specific cultural and social oppression in Kurdistan, a number of activists left their organizations and established their own Kurdish federations and political parties. Still following similar agitation strategies, they began to distribute printed material in Kurdish, hoping to mobilize popular resistance to government measures. Clandestine political mass media also inspired cultural creativity, and a small number of literary works, grammars, dictionaries as well as traditional prose was printed (see Badilli 1965, Anter 1967, demo 1977, inter alia). The distribution of such material became more difficult after the military seized power in March 1971, and was stopped altogether after the second coup d'etat in September 1980. Now based in Western European exile, distribution of such popular printed material in Kurdish mainly follows the same pattern. Nearly all of it is published by political federations aiming at mobilizing the Kurdish immigrant population for its cause. The editorial staffs of the periodicals involved consist of bilinguals, who have usually become engaged in opposition activity while studying either at a Turkish (or Syrian) university, or abroad, and who were politicized - at least the older generation - in a non-Kurdish environment. Courses in Kurdish literacy are offered almost exclusively as part of the political activities of these exile federations, which is also the case with regard to any distribution of printed material in Kurdish: Books and periodicals, whether strictly political or literary, are introduced and sold at political gatherings.

In most European countries Kurdish immigrant federations have so far not been successful in persuading authorities to grant Kurdish immigrant children the opportunity to enjoy native language instruction within the official school network. Only in Sweden, where native language instruction is a constitutional right, do such programs exist. But even there, instruction material is very scarce. Most of it is therefore a product of the personal initiative of bilingual teachers prepared to translate or at least to adapt the concepts of existing majority-language textbooks in order to teach Kurdish. The small number of "professional!' Kurdish authors, i.e. those who have been engaged in extensive literary activity for some years now and whose works are both original and reflect a rather "authentic" Kurdish tradition and way of life, are usually only known to Kurdish intellectuals already engaged in cultural or political activities. Thus, there is an intellectual group "translating" educational and political norms and methods of the literate societies they have met with into Kurdish for popular distribution, and there is a much smaller group catering for the first one and furnishing it with new and "authentic" products of native literacy.

To conclude this section let us briefly look at the role of Romani intellectuals in promoting literacy in this language. On the whole we encounter a similar pattern: Romani culture being strictly oral, the first to write Romani are those who attempt to transfer their experience made in a non-Romani environment in order to enrich their own community culture. Again, the context is that of political or civil rights activities. The first intensive use of written Romani involved the beginning of what Hancock (1988) terms "reunification" attempts on the part of the founders of the International Romani Union. Curiously, most work done on the problems of Romani standardisation was not directed toward the Romani population itself, but rather distributed among linguists and interested persons outside the community It was not until the beginning of the restructuring period in the Eastern European states that the Roma were able to establish their own unions. These unions now publish periodicals circulated among their member population. Those containing contributions in Romani are all bilingual and most of their material appears in the state language. Authors are, as in the case of Kurdish, intellectuals many of whom have attended state schools or universities and become politically active within the popular movement for democracy, before turning to establishing a Romani civil rights movement. Romani literacy is still not spread to the Roma as a whole, but mostly to the activists among the unions' members. In some Westem European countries, civil rights work among Roma immigrants and refugees from different Eastern European countries relies on Romani as the only common language. Leaflets and news bulletins distributed to the members by the union activists are therefore occasionally written in Romani. Romani unions seeking contact with one another correspond in English or German, sometimes in French, provided translators are available. In many cases, however, union activists choose to write in Romani. Written Romani is thus a minority medium of correspondence even among literate, intellectual Romani activists.

However minor the influence of the International Romani Union is among the general Romani population, there is no doubt about the fact that its literary activities reach and inspire union activists across Europe and encourage them to write in their native language.

Looking at the cases discussed, we see that there is a circle of bilingual, bicultural and literate members of non-literate speech communities who have been inspired bill techniques of mass distribution of ideas which they have acquired while coming into contact with certain institutions and ideological movements of the majority society. Acknowledging their specific group interests, they try to transmit some of these ideas to their own people, turning to the use of similar means of agitation. The first task after solving some of the most preliminary technical questions such as the choice of a writing system - we will deal with those questions further below - is to allow for the emergence of a permanent circle of individuals promoting native literacy. Members of this circle will then enrich one another's scopes of interests, ultimately establishing a varied inventory of printed material available in the language: press, political literature and manifestoes, and translations. A minority within this circle will try to create a synthesis between literacy and oral native traditions, writing down such cultural assets as folk tales or songs for printed distribution. It is at this point that native literacy becomes qualitatively more firmly installed within the community culture, although we are still dealing with a very small group of actively native literate persons. Throughout this process, the bilingual activists involved are concerned both with spreading specific ideas which have to do with community identity, and with spreading the feeling or consciousness of community identity itself via the use of native literacy as a medium. Thus, they face both the challenge of finding the adequate contents to arouse public interest and the task of establishing a distribution network for written material. In this regard the extent to which institutional structures are already available proves to be very significant.

6.3 The role of institutions

One must consider two main types of institutionalized promotion of emergent written minority languages. The first involves attaining access to a wide "consumer" or reader population, the second aims at unifying the use of forms in the written variety. Ty p i c a l l y, periodicals and radio programs (setting a spoken standard) will show a higher distribution than scientific instruction manuals published by language academies, though the latter will probably involve more careful planning of language use by professionals. To what degree does popular distribution combine with academic research and unification attempts in the cases we are examining?

We shall begin with Romani, which shows the youngest and still least developed standardisation process. Many - perhaps most - activists who publish in written Romani also participate in the conferences of the International Romani Union and in its debates on unifying Romani orthography, grammar and lexical use. However, they all continue to use a state language-based orthography for Romani in their periodicals because of practical considerations: Since they usually distribute their material on the national level, state language orthography is more accessible to the reader population. A unified Romani orthography is still a hobby shared and practiced by the linguists among the members of the International Union. It cannot be implemented since the International Union does not have any access to mass-communication media. We already mentioned the role assumed by the Yiddish press and the Yiddish literature in establishing a modern literary Yiddish language. The distribution of written Yiddish in Europe had one main advantage, compared with the case of Romani: Yiddish was the popular medium of instruction in traditional Jewish schools - the "xeyder" (elementary school), the "talmed-toyre" (secondary school) and the "yesive" (institute of religious higher education). However, Yiddish in such schools was only an instrument for transmitting knowledge, not a subject of classes, and it did not receive much attention.

Modern Yiddish schools were established in Eastern Europe following initiatives on the part of the labour movement, especially "Bund" activists. After the First World War the Yiddish educational system of Eastern Europe had its flourishing period: In Ukraine and White Russia there were 1165 Yiddish-speaking schools in the years 1921-1931. As a result of changing language policies in the USSR during the 1930's, the majority of these schools were closed down.-In Poland 60 Yiddish elementary schools and 35 nursery schools existed in 1921 in 44 towns. In the same year the Central Jewish School Organization ("Tsentrale yidise sul-organizatsie" or "Tsiso") was established. By 1929 the organization ran 219 institutions, including 114 elementary schools, 46 nursery schools, 52 evening schools, three secondary schools and a seminar for teachers. Another organization in Poland, the Association for School and Culture ("Sul- un kulturfarband"), ran seven elementary schools. Several dozen schools also provided instruction in Yiddish in the Baltic regions in the early 1930's (cf. Encyclopaedia Judaica 1972:433-437). It is unknown whether these schools followed a standard language norm, either that of YIVO or that of the Soviet reform. The Yiddish school movement was dissolved either by changing state policy in the Soviet Union, or else by Nazism and war in the other parts of Eastern Europe. Today, there are several Yiddish schools in the United States, Argentina and Israel. Most of them are traditional schools which provide instruction via Yiddish, but do not teach Yiddish as a subject. Generally, such institutions ignore endeavors to standardize Yiddish orthography. Normative efforts based on the YIVO-norm are still carried out by the Committee for the Implementation of Standardized Yiddish Orthography (CISYO), established in the United States in 1958 (cf. Gold 1977:318-319).

Kurdish already possesses three written varieties based on dialectal differences, each adopting the alphabet of its main contact language. Within the Bedir Xan-b a s e d "Hawar" norm there is still a considerable degree of orthographic and lexical variety, though adopting Bedir Xan's Cizre dialect solves many morphological and lexical problems. It is interesting to note that several orthographic conventions have emerged and have been widely used within the Bedir Xan-based variety in Europe during the past two decades, although they contradict Bedir Xan's own usage (for details see Matras 1989).

This is obviously a result of spontaneous exchange between writers and editors over a certain period of time, rather than the implementation of rules offered by an academy, which does not exist. With the basic decision to follow "Hawar", periodicals narrow the scope of possible variation or ambiguity while at the same time distributing and introducing the norm to potential readers and writers. With more detailed problems, however, unification is a gradual and non-systematic process. The Kurdish Institute in Paris is considered to be the most competent authority on language matters, but its suggestions and recommendations usually do not reach the majority of editors in the more widely distributed periodicals. Returning to Haugen's (1969 [1972]) language planning phases, one may conclude that in standardisation processes beyond state institutions there is a disturbance of the logical order of steps taken elsewhere by centralized and publicly authorized agencies. First, norm selection often differs within the speech community, since the implementing institutions - periodicals, publishers and, in the case of Yiddish, the popular school system - do not necessarily wait for a central decision to be taken concerning the choice of a standard variety. Ad hoc codification and implementation thus precedes collective norm selection, stabilization often being neglected altogether. Only later does a small group of Standardizes" meet on their own individual initiative. Its proposals may or may not enrich the process already in progress, but they will certainly not return it to an elementary stage and will therefore not succeed in attaining control over its development.

Second, the authority of groups or institutions assuming the task of norm selection, codification and stabilization on behalf of an entire community does not necessarily rank higher than that of the respective implementing institutions. This results in a constant, rather free and unresolved competition between all sides involved in the standardization process. Academic authority is certainly a respected resource in this competition, but access to a wide public of consumers is likely to have a definite advantage. Thus, YIVO's norms for Yiddish were largely ignored by authors writing and publishing in the central and southern dialects. The school system was usually run by social and political federations which had their own cultural and academic elite, and there was no place reserved for YIVO in this hierarchy either. In Romani, the diversity of written forms runs almost parallel to the number of authors, assuming each author adopts his or her own regular convention, which is not always the case. Paradoxically, Kurdish, a language manifesting a non-reconcilable gap between three basic literary varieties, also shows greater consistency within the respective norms implemented. This undoubtedly results from the fact that norm selection and codification actually preceded implementation. Variability within the "Hawar" variety is mostly due to the lack of stabilization measures, a phase that was "skipped", since neither clandestine nor exile activity could provide for adequate access to normative guidance. Throughout non-governmental standardisation processes, lack of authority restricts the exchange between implementing and stabilizing institutions to a rather peripheral position.

6.4 Codifying speech: Some technical problems

The diversity of what we term "basic Kurdish literary varieties" reduces grammatical and morphological variability within each of these varieties. Exile authors aiming at the Bedir Xan norm will nevertheless occasionally deviate from the Cizre dialect while using words uncommon in "Hawar" itself, deriving their spelling from the phonological patterns of the author's own Kurmanji-Kurdish dialect. Thus, even after basic norm selection, writing still involves ad hoc coding of the spoken language, with its implications for the unification versus diversity of linguistic forms. While diversity in written Yiddish is due to the selec -tion of different norms, written Romani entirely follows the pattern of coding the spoken language. Adopting a norm variety versus coding (individual) spoken language is therefore the preliminary essential upon which the development of standardisation depends. Beyond the question of norm selection, languages vary with regard to the extent to which they show dialect diversity. Of our three cases, Yiddish ranks as the lowest on the dialect diversity scale. All its dialects are mutually intelligible; they differ especially in vowel phonology, occasionally in gender and case assignment, in some lexical items and in the use of loanwords borrowed from the various European contact languages. The Kurdish dialects spoken in Turkey and Syria all belong to the northwest Kurdish or west Kurmanji group (with the exception of Zaza, which we regard, however, as a separate language closely related to Kurdish). Despite considerable dialect variation, the Ceziri dialect used in "Hawar" seems intelligible to all speakers. Dialect diversity alone should therefore not pose a serious obstacle to readers not yet familiar with it. Again we have Romani ranking fairly low on the scale of factors influencing the efficiency of standardization: Dialect diversity in Romani can be extreme in just about all domains of grammar (phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon). There is also an extensive use of loanwords, especially in the written language, due to cultural borrowing in the domains discussed in writing. Considering that there are also very different contact languages serving as a source for lexical borrowing, diversity of written forms reaches a maximum. We find the choice of a script correlating with the practical factor of accessibility. The alphabet serving the most accessible form of existing literacy is thus adopted. The most obvious example is that of the different Kurdish written varieties, adopting the alphabet of the respective state languages. Yiddish uses the Hebrew alphabet common in the written tradition of all Jewish communities around the world, regardless of their spoken language.

Since education and literacy were internal institutions of the Jewish communities, the Hebrew script was the most accessible writing system. Romani uses different orthographic conventions, but in international correspondence it is always the Roman script that is chosen due do its wide distribution in Europe and the Americas.

The relationship of phoneme and grapheme is subject to greater creativity on the part of individual authors. Regardless of the orthographic conventions they use as an orientation, Romani writers mark the aspirated counterparts of non-aspirated voiceless stops by adding the grapheme h. Since no other European language, with the exception of Albanian, possesses such a phonological distinction, we may consider this to be an original Romani innovation based on the writers' intuition of phonological structure and graphic availabilities. Kurdish exile authors have added to the Bedir Xan norm the characters / r r / , marking a rolled (as opposed to a flapped) phoneme /r/, and /'/, representing a voiced pharyngal fricative. On the other hand, retaining diglossia in the writing system of Yiddish by keeping to the Hebrew spelling of words of Hebrew origin runs contrary to phonological intuition. Nevertheless, it is grammatical (lexical) knowledge and consciousness of literary tradition and etymology that stimulate authors in this case.

Finally, the conflicts around the issue of lexical innovation symbolize more than any other debates the way in which language movements are caught between modernization and nationalism, between importing techniques and cultural values from a contact environment and maintaining purity or authenticity. For the Yiddish language movement, asserting the independence of Yiddish from the closely related German language was at the top of its agitation priorities. Nevertheless, modern terms were borrowed from German as Yiddish became the language of mass-communication media. This process may have been compensated for to a certain extent by the presence of an "authentic" Hebrew vocabulary, which avails Yiddish of a permanent special inventory for lexical borrowings.

Kurdish authors from the Turkish part of Kurdistan attempt to resist Turkish lexical borrowings common in their spoken language. This often results in an increase in the presence of Arabic or Persian loanwords, which are felt to be more "authentic" since their presence in Kurdish preceded intensive language contact with modern Turkish. Taking a decision for a potential inventory of loanwords is thus affected by emotional attitudes and personal experience with the respective contact language. In Romani, building abstract nouns from adjectives and compound nouns through complex genitive constructions uncommon in the spoken language gradually renders a distinct literary style. Such innovations are usually spontaneous, i.e. not planned, and intelligible to all readers. In debates on lexical borrowings proposals range from simply regulating the orthography of European loanwords to consciously introducing "authentic" Sanskrit terminology (cf. Joshi 1991).

6.5 Comparing background conditions, motivation and outcome

In the previous section we showed that a comparison of codification procedures should take into account the following factors: dialect variety and mutual intelligibility in the language concerned, norm selection versus coding the spoken language as the adopted procedure, the accessibillity of writing systems, the relationship between phonological intuition and graphic availabilities, and finally the status of contact languages in the conflict between "modern" and "authentic" language usage. In this section we summarize some of the most important background factors influencing the process of standardisation beyond state agencies by relating them to a comparative scale for standardisation assessment:

1. Dispersion of the speech community

Yiddish: Diaspora
Kurdish: Oppressed majority, exile
Romani: Diaspora

2. Presence of literacy in the cultural tradition

Yiddish: Widely spread
Kurdish: Only the religious elite
Romani: Non-existent

3. Degree of non-native literacy

Yiddish: In the religious-sacral language
Kurdish: Only young generation
Romani: Minority among young generation

4. Role of modernization in promoting native literacy

Yiddish: Urbanization and need for secular mass-communication
Kurdish: Contact with European nationalist movements and with opposition
Romani: Democratization and institutionalized self-organization

5. Role of nationalism in promoting native literacy

Yiddish: National workers' movement
Kurdish: Clandestine and exile resistence
Romani: Coordinated civil rights movement

6. Institutional use of native literacy

Yiddish: Press, political parties, schools, theater
Kurdish: Exile federations
Romani: Civil rights unions

7. School instruction

Yiddish: Partly exstent
Kurdish: Non-existent (except individual projects)
Romani: Non-existent (except individual projects)

8. Unification initiatives
Yiddish: YIVO
Kurdish: Personal initiative (Bedir Xan)
Romani: International Romani Union

9. Interaction between academic language unification initiative and implementing institutions

Yiddish: Partly existent within the press
Kurdish: Within "Hawar" both instances unite; later - weak interaction
Romani: Regular interaction, but with weak effect

10. Main linguistic domains of variability in the written language

Yiddish: Vowel notation, borrowings from contact languages other than Hebrew
Kurdish: Phonology, word-boundaries, borrowings, lexical innovations
Romani: Phonology, morphology, lexicon, borrowings, innovations, syntax
7. Summary

In standardisation beyond state institutions, language planning deviates from the sequence of steps which can be taken in coordinated standardisation processes in order to ensure the effectiveness of normative measures. It is therefore questionable whether one may speak of "language planning" in such cases at all. The popular (non-g o v e r nmental) emergence of native literacy in non-literate speech communities rather involves parallel interaction and, to a certain extent, even competition between implementing institutions on the one hand and normative institutions on the other. Whereas implementing institutions are concerned with a wide distribution of both native literacy and specific ideas in order to promote new form of community consolidation, normative institutions attempt to unify writing conventions. Although there is no apparent contradiction between their respective goals, implementing the drafted norm requires a hierarchical relationship which allows a normative authority to direct the implementing institutions. Such a stable hierarchy, however, does not exist when standardisation is a popular enterprise.

The course of the specific standardisation process and its outcome are thus largely dependent upon a set of background factors determining its starting position. A careful analysis of such factors may enable us to make at least some general predictions as to the character and the effectiveness of both features of the process spreading native literacy and implementing a unified norm. Among those factors we have looked at the dispersion of the speech community, the presence of literacy in the cultural tradition, and the degree and function of non-native literacy in diglossic communities. We mentioned the shift in social structures and opportunities (modernization) and the emergence of new institutions and community authorities as factors triggering and promoting the use of native literacy. Political and nationalist movements often turn out to be the carriers of institutional use of a written form of the native language. Upon their initiative, school instruction may be conducted in the language, in which case the distribution of native literacy acquires new dimensions.

The success of unification initiatives is found to depend on the degree of interaction between academic, normative agencies and the implementing institutions. Here too, one must pay attention to linguistic and sociolinguistic conditions: Normative variety selection will provide greater consistency in the written language than simply coding spoken language, though in cases of mutual incomprehensibility and extreme dialect variety in the language concerned access to such a norm may be more difficult. Apart from the "technical" problems of codification - norm selection, the choice of a writing system, orthography and lexical innovation - popular standardisation faces a special challenge trying to spread native

literacy. Conditions being those of a non territorial minority or a majority denied the right to promote its own culture and language, spreading native literacy is most difficult to coordinate.

Again we must point to the status literacy and especially institutionalized literacy enjoys in the community. The Jewish communities always cultivated a literary tradition based on the role of the Hebrew scriptures in everyday community life. Literacy as such was not a luxury, but rather a convention. This convention was retained, but following social changes, a growing number of people could no longer afford to master the grammar and the entire lexicon of a second language in order to acquire literacy. This led to the choice of the Hebrew script to represent the spoken language. In the non-literate cultures discussed, Kurdish and Romani, the acquisition of literacy is connected to the acquisition of the state language and

thus dependent upon access to the majority culture and its institutions. Native language literacy is promoted by a small elite operating at first within the cultural framework of the majority society. Spreading native literacy therefore involves transmitting at least certain elements of a foreign culture. As the institutional conditions for doing so are usually not available, native literacy is restricted to the context of nationalist or civil rights activities.

8. References

Anter, Musa (1967) Kdrlce-Turk,ce Sozluk. Istanbv,Yeni Matbaa.
Badllll, Kemal (1965) Turkce izahll Kurtce grameri (KurmanS,ca lehJcesi). Ankara: Ankara Baslm ve Ciltevi.
Bakaev, Cerkez X. (1983) Osnovy kurdskoj orfograffi. Moscow: Akademia Nauk.
Bedir Khan, Emir Djeladet & Roger Lescot (1970) Grammaire Kurde (Dialecle kurr - nandji). Paris: Maisonneuve.
Cobarrubias, Juan (1983) "Language planning: The state of the art." Cobarrubias, Juan and
Joshua A. Fishman (eds.) Progress in Language Planning. International Perspectives. Berlin/New York/Amsterdam: Mouton. 3-26.
E'vdal, Emin (1958) Xebernerna k'ordiye r'astnvisandine. Yerevan: Akademia Olmi ya R'SS Ermenie.
Encyclopaedia Judaica. (1972) Vol. 1-16. Jerusalem: Keter.
Ferguson, Charles A. (1961) "The language factor in national development."
Anthropological Linguistics, 4:1, 23-27.
Fishman, Joshua A. (1977) "The phenomenological and linguistic pilgrimage of Yiddish:
Some examples of functional and structural pidginization and depidginization." Fishman,
Joshua A. (ed.) Advances in the C'reation and Revising of Writing Systems. The Hague:

Mouton. 293-305.

______(1980) "Attracting a following to high-culture functions for a language of everyday

life: The role of the Tshernovits Language Conference in the 'Rise of Yiddish'."
Internstional joarnsl of the Sociology of Language, 24, 43-73

______(1989) Language and Ethnicity in Minority Sociolinguistic Perspective.

Clevedon/Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.
Gold, David (1977) "Successes and failures in the standardization and implementation of
Yiddish spelling and romanization." Fishman, Joshua A. (ed.) Advances in the Creation
and Revising of Writing Systerns. The Hague: Mouton. 307-369.
Hancock, Ian (1988) "Reunification and the role of tne International Romani Union." Roma, 29, 9-17.

______(forthcoming) "Standardization and ethnic defence in emergent non-literate societies:

The Gypsy and Caribbean cases." To appear in: Acton, Thomas and Morgan Dalphinis
(eds.) Language, Blacks and Gypsies. London: Karia Press.
Haugen, Einar (1966 [1972]) "Linguistics and language planning." The E:cology of Language, ed. by E. Haugen. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 159-186.


_ _ _ _ _ _(1969 [1972]) "Language planning, theory and practice." The Ecology of

Language, ed. by E. Haugen. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 287-295.
Joshi, Anirudh (1991) "Some suggestions for the standardization of the Romani language." In: Roma, 33/34, 38-42.
Judisches Lexikon.(1927-1930) Vol. 1-4. Berlin: Judischer Verlag.
Kendal (19g4) "Die Kurden unter der osmanischen Herrschaft." Chaliand, Gerard (ed.) Kurdistan und die Kurden. Vol. 1. Gotıingen: Gesellschaft fur Bedrohte Volker. 37-79.
Kloss, Heinz (1967) "'Abstand Languages' and 'Ausbau Languages4." Anthropological Linguistics, 9, 29-41.
Kurdoev, Kanat (1957) Grammatika kurdskogo jazyka (kurmandzi). Moscow: Akademija Nauk.
Matras, Yaron (1989) Probleme der Sprachstandard i s i e rung am Beispiel der Orthographie des Kurdischen. M.A. Thesis. University of Hamburg.
Puxon, Grattan (1981) "Romanes und die Romani Sprachbewegung". Zeitschrift fur Kulturaustausch, 31:4, 455-459.
Ray, Punya Sloka (1963) Language Standardization. The Hague: Mouton & Co. R e d d e r, Angelika and Jochen Rehbein (eds.) (1987) "Dokumentation: Kurdische Studenten unterhalten sich uber Kultur." Redder, A. and J. Rehbein (eds.) Arbeiten zur interkulturellen Kommunikation (Osnabrucker Beitrage zur Sprachtheorie 38). 2226.
Schaechter, Mordkhe (1977) "Four schools of thought in Yiddish language planning." Michigan Germanic Studies, 3:2, 34-65.
Uemo, Ereb (1977) fIvane kurd. Istanbul: Ozgurluk Yolu.
Weinberg, Werner (1969) Die Reste des Judischdeutschen. Stuttgart/Berlin/ Koln/Mainz: Kohlhammer.


2-3 February 1991

edited by

Utta von Gleich and Ekkehard Wolff Under the auspices of the Graduate Program for the Study of Langage Contact and Multilingualism, University of Hamburg and the Unesco Institute for Education, Hamburg

© Unesco Institute for Education (UIE) and Graduiertenkolleg Mehrsprachigkeit und Sprachkontakte Joint publication with the Research Centre for Multilingualism and Language Contact, University of Hamburg
Ref. AZM 42/1991 ISSN 0176-559X


Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Standardizing the Modern Journalistic

Standardizing the Modern Journalistic
Language in Kurdish

By Dr Michael L. Chyet
Washington D.C., MESA November 1996

Because the Kurdish homeland is divided between the four countries of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. the Kurds in each of these countries have come under different linguistic and cultural influences, which renders the promotion of a unified written language a formidable task. Without even realizing it, Iraqi and Syrian Kurds -- products of an Arabic educational system -- have incorporated Arabic vocabulary and patterns into their Kurdish speech, and similarly for the Kurds of Turkey and those of Iran. One area In which this is most evident is the realm of geography. Renderings of place names -- particularly non-Middle Eastern place names -- often differ from region to region, depending on the language of the educational system in the country in question. So for instance, there are three ways to render the name of the country Austria; Nemsa, Otrîş, or Awistirye. Nemsa is Arabic, Otriîş is the French name adopted by modern Farsi, and Awistirye is from the modern Turkish form Avusturya . Another example is Poland. In Farsi, and consequently among the Kurds of Iran, the name Lehistan is common, In Arabic, the name is Bulanda, which Iraqi Kurds often render as Polenda. The modern Turks call it Polonya, and the Kurds of Turkey have rendered this as Poloniye. It should be obvious that for a radio station such as the Voice of America's Kurdish service, it is not acceptable to allow for such variation in geographical names. Instead, we are encouraged to choose one standardized form, and stick with it. Because the Kurds of Turkey are most numerous, the forms Awistirye and Poloniye have been chosen, although theoretically any one of the forms could have been selected. To ensure that the largest possible number of listeners understand our terminology, we often add explanatory comments, such as "Poloniye, i,e, Lehistan" or `Awistirye, i.e. Nemsa' with the standardized form first, followed by an explanatory word. It is hoped that eventually the standardized form will catch on, and that it will not always be necessary to have such long, time consuming tags. Within one text, the explanatory tag is only used the first time, after which exclusively the standardized form is to be used.

Until there is a unified educational system and a unified government body to support such divisions, our linguistic choices at the Kurdish Service of the Voice of America must be seen as little more than suggestions. To the extent possible, by keeping up on the usage in Kurdish publications, we try to reinforce and standardize on the radio the vocabulary appearing in these written sources.

Other examples include modern journalistic vocabulary, such as words for 'interview' and 'candidate'. If we try to take a scientific view of word coinage, it is desirable to look at the other Middle Eastern languages -- particularly Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish, but also Hebrew and Armenian -- to see if there is a clear pattern which they all use, which can then be reflected in the new Kurdish word. In the case of 'interview', this is in fact what has happened. The Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish words for 'interview' all follow a clear pattern. The Arabic word is muqâbalah while Farsi uses another Arabic word, musâhabah, and Turkish features an old Arabic word -- mûlâkat (from Arabic mulâqâh) -- as well as a neologism, söyleşi, and a French borrowing, röportaj. If we look at the three Arabic words muqâbalah, musâhabah, and mulâqâh, it is apparent that all these belong to the same triliteral pattern -- mufâ3alah, verbal noun of the third form -- which indicates that the action involves two people. In essence, muqâbalah is one person meeting face to face with another; musâhabah is befriending or having a friendly conversation with another; while mulâqâh denotes one Person meeting another. Likewise, the Turkish neoligism söyleşi, with the infix -ş- also refers to speaking between two people: while söylemek is `to tell', söyleşmek is 'to tell one another', and is a derivative nominal form.

Having established that there is a clear pattern here which can be described as 'one person doing something to another', in this case one person speaking with another -- the next question is: How can this be rendered in Kurdish? Fortunately, the most common word in use in modern written Kurmanji provides an appropriate answer. While Farsi often uses a prefix ham- to express an action shared by two people, e.g. hamvatan for compatriot, the Kurdish equivalent is hev- in Kurmanji (and haw- in Sorani). The new coinage for interview is hevpeyvîn, which consists of the aforementioned prefix hev- plus the verb peyivîn, meaning 'to speak' This word can be readily found in any modern Kurmanji newspaper or journal.

Another word commonly in use for 'interview' is çavpêkeftin in Badinani or the Kurmanji of Iraq, and its equivalent çawpêkewtin in Sorani. This word is a compound, consisting of the words çav or çaw ='`eye'; pê = 'to him' or perhaps pêk = 'to one another'; and keftin or kewtin 'to fall'. In other words, someone on whom one's eye falls. The argument then usually ensues that such a word must be limited to interviews conducted in person, because in a phone interview one doesn't see the other person, so one's eye does not fall on him. If we were to extend this logic to the English word interview, which consists of the Latin prefix = 'between' or 'among' and view, from French vue = 'sight', we would have to find another word for phone interviews. Whereas this seems unnecessary in English, at least in Sorani Kurdish, there are two words commonly used for an interview conducted over the telephone: wut-û-wêj and gift-û-go, both of which originally meant only 'negotiation', and still retain this meaning as well as the more recently acquired added meaning of 'phone interview'.

I would like to invite comments from you the reader on two points. First of all, do you know of other Middle Eastern languages in which one word does duty for both 'negotiation' and 'interview'. And secondly, do you know of other languages which make a distinction between an interview conducted face-to-face as opposed to one over the telephone. When I noticed that there were four Kurmanji equivalents for 'candidate' or 'nominee' floating around, I realized that this was indicative of a fairly common phenomenon. Namely, a lack of coordination between the words in use in print -- largely by Kurds from Turkey using the Latin alphabet -- and words being coined by my colleagues at the Voice of America -- mostly Iraqi Kurds more comfortable with the Arabic alphabet. This is in addition to the Sorani coinings for the same thing. It seems to me that when four words have been coined for a particular item, it is time to stop coining new words and to try to reduce the inventory, perhaps teasing out helpful distinctions in the process. The four Kurmanji coinages in question are: berendam; berbijar; navkirî, and namzet. They can conveniently be divided into two sub-groups: both berendam and berbijar, which manifest the prefix ber-; and both navkirî and namzet include a word meaning 'name'. The prefix ber- is equivalent to English pre-: hence, berendam is literally a 'pre-member': this is a word proposed by Kurds from Turkey. Likewise, berbijar -- proposed by my Iraqi Kurdish colleagues at the Voice of America -- is literally a 'pre-elect'. The other two words, navkirî and namzet, share with the Turkish neologism aday a derivation from words meaning 'name'. Namzet is the Farsi word, and navkirî is 'one who is named', not unlike the Latin-derived English word nominee My colleagues at the VOA reject berendam, or 'pre-member', with the argument that it is only applicable if the candidate in question is hoping to be a member of parliament. For a presidential candidate, they argue -- and I think rightly so -- the idea of 'membership' has no basis. Even if we sweep aside this proposed coinage, we are still left with three others. Moreover, there is no guarantee that Kurds in Europe and the Middle East will hear our comments and stop using that word in solidarity with us.

The Sorani words for candidate include nawlêndraw - 'one who has been named', or 'nominee', and paLêwraw = 'one who has been filtered', a literal translation of the Arabic term murashsha.h, itself patterned on the original Latin meaning of candidatus, one whose purity is symbolized by his white gown. The word kandîdat is also occasionally heard. I would like to suggest that it is desirable, whenever possible, to use the same word for Kurmanji and Sorani, or at least to bring them closer together. With this in mind, I would point out that Kurmanji navkirî and Sorani nawlêndraw are the closest to each other of the proposals for 'candidate'.

Other challenges include the need to come up with a Kurdish term for an English one, when no Kurdish term has as yet been coined. An example is the English term American Indian or Native American. In Turkish the original inhabitants of the Americas are known as KIzIl Derililer, literally 'redskins' -- rendered in Farsi as sorkhpûst, similar to the Arabic term al-Hunûd al-.humr, literally 'red Indians', all three reflecting an outdated conception that these people had red skin. This terminology runs the risk of being labelled as racist. Moreover, many Kurds would argue that out of respect for the struggle of the Amerinds, which they see as parallel with their own plight, it is politically untenable to give this outdated Western terminology new life in modern Journalistic Kurdish. This is a sensitive issue which needs to be treated with care. However, to my knowledge, a viable alternative has yet to be proposed, although at the Kurdish Service of the Voice of America we have recently agreed on using the term Emrîkîyên Resen, i.e., Native Americans.

Another example that came up of late is how to render in Kurdish the English word Gypsy. The term Gypsy itself is being questioned nowadays, and there seems to be movement in favor of adopting the word Rom, which is what the Gypsies call themselves. In Kurdish there are numerous words for the Gypsies indigenous to Kurdistan, but not one of them is neutral-- much less positive -- in connotation. Moreover, certain Kurdish names seem to refer specifically to Gypsy musicians, while other designate only Gypsy artisans. There seems to be no single over-arching term for this ethnic group. Nor is there one term uniformly understood across Kurdistan, an issue which we will return to. In attempting to solve this problem, I have pointed out that the word Dome is undoubtedly derived from the Romany word Rom, and hence perhaps we should go with this word.

On a meta-linguistic level, perhaps it will interest this audience to know that while our Kurdish radio announcer from Turkey immediately understood the need to proceed cautiously in finding a politically correct Kurdish equivalent for the term, several of our Iraqi Kurdish colleagues seemed not to grasp the concept, clinging stubbornly to the rather biased term Qereç instead.

As alluded to just now, yet another issue is the existence of different regional words for the same thing. For example, 'to teach' is usually rendered as hîn kirin by the Kurds of Turkey, and as fêr kirin by Iraqi Kurds, the latter both in Kurmanji and in Sorani. A unifying term would be e'limanidin. understood by both, however its clear Arabic derivation makes some Kurds hesitant to use it. At the VOA, we have combined the first two terms, creating the form hîn û fêr kirin, particularly with the meaning of 'to train'. At an earlier stage in the development of English, such doublets were not uncommon. This is supposedly how the term 'last will and testament' came about, the logic being that those elements of the population who did not understand the Anglo-Saxon word 'will' would understand the Norman French word 'testament' and vice versa.

Other examples of terms for which there are a plethora of regionalisms but no single term understood by all include words for spider and bat, as well as the names for certain diseases. This issue is particularly evident when attempting to translate radio scripts of a scientific nature into Kurdish. When speaking of spiders, for instance, it is necessary at the beginning of the piece to give several different names for that creature, although thereafter only one name will be used for the duration of that discussion. For the time being, I have left it to the discretion of the radio announcer assigned that script to decide which term to use for the duration. On the Kurdish language program of the Voice of America. I have initiated a language program on Saturdays, Zimanê Me (i.e., Our Language), in which I openly present these and other linguistic issues to our Kurdish listening audience, and encourage them to share their views with us. As of today we are still waiting for responses to trickle in.

The aforementioned examples are intended to be a mere sampling of the types of issues being hotly debated in Kurdish circles today. Until such time as the Kurds have an educational system and government services which function on a regular basis in the Kurdish language, there can be no unilaterally reliable source to confer with when linguistic questions of this nature come up. As much as possible, the Kurdish Service of the Voice of America will continue to strive to keep up with the language used in Kurdish written journalistic sources, and to deliberate with Kurdish intellectuals regarding usage.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

The Achaemenian and Sassanian Inscriptions

Prods Oktor Skjœrvø

A comparison of the Achaemenian and Sassanian inscriptions reveals some close thematic and linguistic parallels. In the absence of any West Iranian literary records from the time between the Old Persian and the Middle Iranian inscriptions we cannot tell whether the similarities are to be ascribed to some local (oral) literary tradition, or to some exterior influence; however, it seems we have to accept as a fact that there must have been some kind of connection between the older and the younger inscriptions.

This will become clear from the text passages presented in the following. I have selected for comparison certain themes common to the Achaemenian and Sassanian inscriptions.

A. Presentation of the king, his descent, and his realm

Many inscriptions contain no more than this. In the longer inscriptions it usually serves as an introduction. In the Sassanian inscriptions the royal generalogies all conform to the same pattern, but in the Old Persian ones the patterns vary from king to king.



Prods Oktor Skjœrvø

Please view the attached PDF file to read more!

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

The Identity of Hewrami Speakers

Reflections on the Theory and Ideology of Comparative Philology

By Dr. Amir Hasanpour
The European authorities generally maintain that Gorani [Hewrami] 
is not Kurdish and that the people who speak it are not Kurds; but 
the people themselves feel themselves as Kurds in every way. 
(Edmonds 1957:10)

This observation by C.J. Edmonds, a European who was quite familiar with the language, culture and politics of the Kurds, has become a cliché of Kurdish studies. Until the 1960s, however, few Kurds know about the European constructions of the genealogy of Gorani or, as many Kurds call it, Hewrami. For one thing, the Western literature on the Kurdish language was generally not available in Kurdistan. Another limitation was the ban on debating Kurdish issues especially in Turkey, Iran, and Syria. When Kurdish intellectuals gradually learned about the identification of "Gorani" as a non-Kurdish speech, the response was, generally, resentment and resistance. Such a spirit pervades the publication, in this volume, of the manuscript of "Gorani" poems acquired by the British Museum in the mid-nineteenth century. The editor of the book, Anwar Soltani, unequivocally treats the Hewrami poems as genuine Kurdish literature.

Although European or Western1 claims that Hewrami is not Kurdish are rooted in "scholarly" or academic traditions of historical and comparative philology, they cannot be, like all other knowledge forms, but social constructions. Thus, far from being objective, they are influenced by the political, ideological, epistemological, and cultural contexts in which academic disciplines emerge and live. Moreover, under the political conditions of Kurdistan, almost any claim, by Kurds and non-Kurds, on the status of the language acquires a political dimension. This is in part because the Kurds today are a stateless nation subjected to harsh measures of linguicide and ethnocide (see, e.g., Skutnabb-Kangas and Bucak 1994). One justification for the assimilation of the Kurds in Turkey, Iran and Syria has been the official denial of a single Kurdish language. The ideologists of Middle Eastern states reduce Kurdish to a conglomerate of unrelated dialects obscurely mixed with Turkish, Persian or Arabic. Even when Kurdish is considered a "purer form of Persian," it still remains a dialect of this language without any right to official status as a medium of administration or education. To many Kurdish nationalists, genealogies which assign Hewrami, Dimili (Zaza) or, for that matter, Luri, a non-Kurdish identity serve the interests of the Middle Eastern states.

Kurdish Constructions of their Language Genealogy. The first history of Kurdistan, Sharaf-nameh, composed by a Kurdish prince in 1597, identified the Gorans as one of the four constituting elements of the Kurdish people, which are different in "language and manners" (Chèref-ou'ddîne 1870:27). Three centuries later, Haji Qadiri Koyi (1817?-1898), in one of his poems extolling the great literary figures of Kurdistan, did not hesitate to include Hewrami poets among them (Koyi 1986:219-27). During the twentieth century, Hewrami poetry has been indisputably presented as Kurdish literature in both the print and broadcast media.

Written sources aside, neither the speakers of Hawrami nor their neighbouring speakers of Central (Sorani) and Southern Kurdish have ever doubted the Kurdish identity of the people and their dialect and culture. Many Sorani speakers do, in fact, regard Hewrami as a purer and older form of Kurdish. It is important to emphasize that this indigenous construction of Kurdish language genealogy was not based on any grammatical or structural analysis of the dialects concerned. It was, rather, rooted in the lived experience of speech communities that have communicated mostly through the oral, rather than written, medium.

Western Constructions of Hewrami Genealogy. The non-Kurdish identity of Hewrami was first problematized by European philologists in the nineteenth century. An early major Western work on Hewrami was apparently the short grammatical survey of the dialect written by Rieu in his Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum (1881). This pioneering work compared Hewrami (called the "Guran dialect" by the author) with Persian and classed it, without hesitation, as a Persian dialect. Interestingly, Rieu, "Keeper of the Oriental MSS." in the British Museum, noted that C.J. Rich, the buyer of one of the Hewrami manuscripts, had identified the work as Kurdish: "Two poems in the Guran dialect of the Courdish Language; purchased at Sine, August 1820." Rieu added, however, that "[A]lthough spoken in Kurdistan, the dialect is essentially Persian. In its vocabulary and grammatical structure it agrees in the main with the language of Iran, from which it differs, however, by certain phonetical changes, by its verbal inflexions, its prepositions, and some other peculiar words" (Rieu 1881:728). Using Persian grammar as a touchstone, Rieu recorded Hewrami phonetic and morphological features as variations or transformations of their Persian counterparts. Almost all the brief grammatical descriptions are stated in the following ideologically slanted rules, in which Persian is the standard and Hewrami its dialectal deviation or derivation (Ibid., pp. 729, 730):

Persian /gh/ is often replaced by /kh/, as in /dagh/ 'burn' (/dakh/..
Most Persian words beginning with /khu/have in Guran a /w/ alone...
The Guran word has still less declension than Persian...
The past adds, as in Persian, u or a to the root...
In a few words /l/ appears to have taken the place of Persian /r/ ...

It is remarkable that, more than a century later, the construction of Hewrami genealogy by Western linguists was no more than a reiteration of Rieu, which MacKenzie (1965:255) assessed as a "masterly grammatical sketch."2

Unlike Major E.B. Soane, another contributor to Hewrami studies, Rieu had not experienced the linguistic and cultural life of Hewrami and its neighbouring communities. Much like Rieu, however, Soane declared categorically in 1921 that Hewrami was a non-Kurdish language, a "Persian variant":

The Gûrânî language itself has been termed a Kurdish dialect. It is, however, not so at all. Kurmânjî has its characteristic grammatical forms, vocabulary, and idiom which have nothing in common with Gûrânî. The latter, however, shows in its grammatical forms that it is but a Persian variant, long separated from the mother tongue, and having borrowed widely in more recent times both from Kurmânjî and from Persian. It is the most northerly of the group of Persian dialects represented by Luristân and comes very close to the Lur languages of extreme northern Luristân. At the same time it is the least affected by later Modern Persian, or else split earlier from the original mother tongue (Soane 1921:59).

Soane was writing these words in Sulemani (Sulaymaniyah) while working on a photographic reproduction of the British Museum manuscript of Hewrami poems published in this volume. At the time, he was an official of the British Mandate over Iraq. Before his assignment to Kurdistan during the last stages of the First World War, Soane had lived in Kirmashan (Kirmanshah) where he learned Kurdish. In 1907, he disguised himself as a Persian merchant and travelled to Halabja, a small town close to the foothills of the Hewraman mountains. There, he became the scribe of Adila Khan, whose court was a centre of Kurdish literature in both Hewrami and Sorani Kurdish (see Edmonds 1957:139-182, on life in Halabja and Hewraman). The story is narrated in his To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in Disguise (Soane 1912; 1926). Having lived at Halabja for at least six months, he had not depicted a Hewrami identity problem or an ethno-linguitic conflict in the mixed Sorani-Hewrami environment. In fact, the two sons of Adila Khan, Tahir Beg and Ahmed Mukhtar Beg, who were in close contact with Soane, composed poetry in both Hewrami and Sorani (Tahir Beg 1966).

Next came Vladmir Minorsky, a diplomat and a brilliant scholar who made significant contributions to the study of Kurdish history. He, too, was quite certain, in his major work on "The Guran," about the identity of Hewrami: "That Gûrânî is very distinct from Kurdish there cannot be any doubt..." (1943:88-89). Like other students of Kurdish society, he was familiar with the inseparability, in the minds of the native speakers, of Hewrami and Kurdish. Still, he tried to correct those who use the two names interchangeably. He wrote, for instance: 

In prose we know only the religious tracts of the Ahl-i Haqq. The copy of their religious book Saranjâm, of which in 1911 I published a Russian translation, is in Persian... Hâjjî Ni'mat-all âh, author of the Firq ân al-akhbâr, says that he wrote in "Kurdish" a Ris â la-yi tahqîq, and by "Kurdish" he most probably means Gûrânî, for elsewhere (p. 3) he writes that "Kurdish" was the language (zabâ n-i z â hirî) of Sultan Soh âk, whom we know to have spoken Gûrânî. The "Kurdish" quotations in the Firqân prove also to be in Gûrânî (Ibid, p. 89).

Elsewhere, he notes that "[T]he same MS. contains a "Kurdish" (i.e. Gûrânî ) alphabet in 20 verses" (p. 92, note 4).

The most important refinement of Rieu's discovery can be found in the work of D.N. MacKenzie who, since the 1960s, has emphasized the non-Kurdish character of Hewrami. His Kurdish Dialect Studies, a comparative and descriptive survey of the Northern (Kurmanji) and Central (Sorani) dialects, is based on field work in Iraqi Kurdistan. Although an excellent descriptive study, it has been criticized by some descriptive linguists for its preoccupation with philological considerations (Paper 1962; McCarus 1964). While other philologists generally mention, at least in passing, the Hewrami speakers' self-identification as Kurds, MacKenzie consistently rejects it as an error. For instance, in his very brief note on the "Iranian dialects" spoken in Iraq, he wrote: "Two other Iranian languages, often erroneously classed as Kurdish, are Gûrânî and Lurî " (MacKenzie 1971:1261).

MacKenzie's major work on the genealogy of Kurdish (1961a) is summarized in his article on Kurdish in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, where he denies the existence of a single Kurdish language:

The many forms of speech known to outsiders as Kurdish do not constitute a single, unified language. Instead it can be said that the various Kurdish dialects, which are clearly interrelated and at the same time distinguishable from neighbouring but more distantly Western Iranian languages, fall into three main groups (MacKenzie 1986:479).3

Underlying this statement we find a view of language as a (dialectally) unified speech, and a strong comparativist bias (to qualify as a language, Kurdish must be clearly distinguishable from other "Iranian languages"). After presenting a geographical distribution of the northern, central and southern dialects, and identifying Hewrami as a "non-Kurdish speech," MacKenzie presents the dialects in historical-comparativist terms. A few examples will suffice.

Northern Kurdish is more archaic than the other dialects in both its phonetic and morphological structure, and it may be inferred that the greater development of the Central and Southern dialects has been caused by their closer contact with other (Iranian) languages... The common "Iranian" inventory of Northern Kurdish is: a i u, â î ô û, ... In Central and Southern Kurdish the distinction between v and w is lost, in favour of w. A new distinction is made, however, between palatal l and velarized l (Í)... (Ibid.).

What makes a "form of speech" Kurdish? According to MacKenzie, "historical sound change" is the main distinguishing feature:

There is no single early historical sound change which characterises Kurdish but a combination of two later changes and one conservative feature serves to identify a dialect as Kurdish, viz. (i) -m-, -$m-, -xm- > -v- (-w-), e.g. nâv/w "name", P[ersian] nâm; çâv/w "eye", P çašm; tov/w "seed", P tuxm; (ii) Iranian initial x- > k-, e.g. kar "donkey", P xar; kânî "spring, source", P xânî; ki^rîn "to buy", P xarîdan; (iii) Ir çy- > ç (other West. Ir. > s-), e.g. çûn "to go", P $udan (Ibid).4

Even if we accept "historical sound changes" as relevant indicators of Kurdishness, one may ask if these three features are adequate yardsticks. In his more detailed study of the features, MacKenzie (1961a:72) writes:

In short, apart from this ç -, and the treatment of -$m and -xm, I can find no feature which is both common to all the dialects of Kurdish and unmatched outside them. To isolate Kurdish convincingly, therefore, would seem to entail comparing it with at least each West Ir. dialect, listing the common and divergent features. For practical purposes, however, taking Kurdish as 'that which is generally recognized, by Iranists, as Kurdish', it is necessary to consider for comparison only its immediate neighbours, past and present.

When the comparison is done (mostly for Central and Northern dialects), he finds out that Kurdish does not lend itself to a neat genetic classification. MacKenzie admits that "every feature of Kd. has its counterpart in at least one other Ir. dialect" (p. 70). It seems, therefore, that if Kurdish dialects do not fit the phonetic spaces created by comparative reconstructionists, they cannot belong to the same language. Not surprisingly, MacKenzie identifies Zaza and Hewrami as non-Kurdish languages, and argues that the remaining dialects "do not constitute a single, unified language" (1986:479). He has also looked at the non-linguistic, i.e. historical and geographical, evidence, which to a large extent corroborates his genealogy. This is Minorsky's hypothesis of a Gorani and Zaza migration from the Caspian regions of Gilan to Kurdistan (MacKenzie 1989; 1961a:86).

Resentment and Resistance. The most detailed linguistic counter argument was offered by Hewramani (1981), who rejected the historical and linguistic accounts of Soane, Minorsky, MacKenzie and others. By the mid-1990s, many researchers referred to the controversy and, quite often, decisively rejected the philological account (see, e.g., the Kurdish version of Muhemmed's 1990 doctoral dissertation). The Kurdish cultural and literary journals also cover the debates on the status of Hewrami, Zaza and Luri extensively. Part of this effort is the translation of some of the academic research which treats Hewrami as Kurdish, e.g., Osip [Yusupova] (1990) and Smîrnova and Eyûbî (1989). Another instance of resistance is the publication, as genuine Kurdish literature, of this volume, which is based on one of the manuscripts Rieu identified as the Gorani dialect of Persian.

The case of Dimili is more complicated than Hewrami. The formation of identity (cultural, linguistic, political, gender, etc.) is a complex and ever changing process of social and historical development. For instance, under the conditions of political conflict since the 1980s, some Dimili speaking intellectuals have formed a non-Kurdish ethnic and linguistic awareness. This is best seen in the active Dimili publishing and cultural effort, especially in Europe. Although the number of activists is not significant, the development and the struggle is important. To the disappointment of many Kurds, including Dimili intellectuals, there is, thus, some resistance to the Kurdish nationalist construction of a unified nation based on a single language.

One relevant question is the political role of linguistics, which enjoys the credibility of the academy and the authority of a science. The philologists' position on Hewrami was, for example, consciously used by the Pahlavi regime in the 1960s and 1970s for the denial of the language rights of the Kurds (Hassanpour 1992:287-88).

According to Todd (1985:vi), "Dimili speakers today consider themselves to be Kurds and resent scholarly conclusions which indicate that their language is not Kurdish. Speakers of Dimili are Kurds psychologically, socially, culturally, economically, and politically."5 Leezenberg (1993:13) notes that the "growing acquaintance with the work of Western authors seems to have been instrumental in the rise of a specifically Zaza nationalism among educated expatriates in recent years." Obviously, no one can predict how a ceratin body of knowledge will be used. However, it is not difficult to discern from the Hewrami case that the kind of knowledge in which the expert does not exercise a monopoly of power is more likely to meet the requirements of democratic scholarship. A discipline of linguistics which treats the speakers' knowledge as valid or relevant as the linguist's judgment would probably be less likely to be used against the wishes of the speakers.6

In our times, the upsurge of nationalism among the Kurds is an important factor behind rejections of the philologists' genealogies. Nationalists in Kurdistan, as elsewhere in the world, envision their people as a linguistically, culturally, ideologically and politically united entity. This nationalism emphasizes language as a major indicator of Kurdishness (a Kurd is one who speaks Kurdish, according to Haji Qadiri Koyi). It is well known that the idea of "one nation, one language" is an ideological, clearly nationalist, position.7 Equally ideological is the rejection of Kurdish linguistic unity when the speakers of Kurmanji, Sorani, Southern, Hewrami, and most of the Dimili identify themselves as Kurds. On the non-academic front, a diverse group of journalists, army generals, parliamentarians, judges, politicians and many others in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria have declared Kurdish a non-language.8

Issues in Theory, Ideology and Epistemology. The philologists' claims about Hewrami invite criticism on different levels. Theoretically, one may raise questions about the contribution of genetic classification to our understanding of language in general and Kurdish in particular. Why is the placement of a language on a family tree so central in comparative philology?9 How can such placements, whether based on a few phonetic isoglosses or even an extensive grammatical reconstruction, decide the status of Hewrami either as a dialect of Kurdish or an independent language? Admitting that knowledge about the world's language families is useful, why is genetic classification used as the main or only explanatory framework in presenting a living language like Kurdish (e.g., in MacKenzie 1986)? Are official or state languages like Persian, Arabic, Danish or English treated in a similar manner?

All knowledge forms including "the exact sciences" are ideologically constructed and utilized; in other words, it is not possible to create objective or neutral knowledge. There is a growing literature on linguistics as an ideological and mythical body of knowledge.10 Research has also been conducted on the mythical and ideological roots of comparative philology (see, e.g., Crowley 1990; Cunningham 1994).

Epistemologically, one may look at the relationship between the philologist/linguist, the "informant" or "native speaker," and the object of research, i.e., the language itself. Who problematizes? Who conceptualizes? Who decides the method of research? Whose knowledge counts? What is the subjectivity of the linguist? Is the native speakers' construction of their own genealogies considered to be as valid as the philologist's comparative reconstruction?11 In this unequal distribution of symbolic-political power, who exercises "authority?"

The conflict between the linguist and the native speakers of Hewrami is by no means unique to the Kurdish case.12 While Kurdish nationalists criticize the philologist's claims from a primarily political perspective (its negative implications for Kurdish nation-building), this paper is concerned with theoretical and epistemological issues. From this perspective, the conflict is, in part, related to the cleavage between expert and indigenous knowledge systems, i.e. the distribution of power in the production of knowledge and its democratization. The struggle for the democratization of knowledge, which inspires this paper, has been going on in the West since the Renaissance, taking numerous forms from the secularization of learning to today's efforts aimed at the feminization of social theory and methodology.

Resolving the Conflict: A few Probes. How can the conflict over the genealogy of Hewrami be resolved? One alternative is a statement of the theoretical-methodological limitations of the approach, knowing that all disciplines have their own constraints. For instance, one may state that the data generated by the theory and the method (i.e., the placement of Hewrami or Dimili on a family tree) are not relevant bases for making claims about the ethnic, cultural or national identity of the speakers of the two speech forms. That such claims cannot be made is further corroborated by the findings of other branches of linguistics. Neither structural criteria (Hudson 1980:30-37) nor mutual intelligibility (Simpson 1994) is an appropriate basis for distinguishing between language and dialect. The speakers of Hewrami alone are in a firm position to decide whether their speech is a dialect of Kurdish or an independent language.13 Indeed, some students of the language (e.g. Blau,Kreyenbroek, Leezenberg) distinguish, to varying degrees, between indigenous and expert (philological) genealogies.14 Leezenberg (1993:7), for instance, has pointed to the web of conflicting interpretations, and has given equal space (symbolic rather than physical) to indigenous perceptions of their language:

The nomenclature of this group (or these groups) of dialects is rather confusing, as are the precise relations between the ethnic groups speaking them. Western authors use 'Gorani' as a generic term for all of these dialects, but none of my informants (save those familiar with European writings on the subject) ever used it in that way; instead, the expression 'Hawrami' or 'Hewramani' is used as a collective term by Iraqi Kurds (as well as by Hassanpour 1989:139-51), but also more specifically, to indicate the dialects spoken near the border with Iran... here, I will be conservative, and stick (albeit reluctantly) to 'Gorani' as a generic label, while keeping in mind that few locals use it in that way, and that no conclusions as to the ethnic affiliation can be drawn from it.15 At present, the Gorani speakers think of themselves as Kurds, even though they are aware of speaking dialects which are not mutually comprehensible with Kurmanci or Sorani...(emphasis added).

The lines are carefully drawn here; as a result, a much more complex picture of the situation is provided by stating the limitations of the method, the genealogical claims of native speakers, and at least one element in the subjectivity of the linguist (reluctant preference for a potentially inappropriate label).16 Leezenberg's approach leaves little room for the political use of his findings against the aspirations of the native speakers.

Hewrami and Dimili provide ideal contexts for a critical examination of the state of the politics of linguistic theory in general and comparative philology in particular. I have tried to highlight aspects of a conflict which is well known but not adequately discussed. I suggest that the philologist's construction of Hewrami genealogies is no less ideological than the native genealogy.17 Such a claim does not detract from the value of comparative philology as a source of knowledge. Indeed, an appreciation of the social construction of our disciplines will put us on a much firmer ground in the challenging task of knowledge creation.18


1. By "Western," I do not mean a geographic or racial division of linguists. Iranian linguists ofa nationalist persuasion, for example, use and create philological evidence, to deny the existence of a distinct Kurdish or Baluchi language. "Western" implies, here, the theoretical and methodological claims of "historical and comparative philology" and its various forms and practices that originated in the West and has been institutionalized in the academy throughout the world. My own critique of Western constructions of Hewrami is rooted in the equally Western traditions of critical social theory,ethnomethodology, qualitative methodology and research ethics.

2. It is beyond the scope of this paper to examine the work of all linguists who have studied thedialect (e.g., O. Mann, A. Christensen, and K. Hadank).

3. Compare, also, the following statement: "Kurdish has -- or, more precisely, certain dialects ofKurdish have -- a literary tradition. Nevertheless the language has achieved no unity and, since the literature has been somewhat neglected, most work on Kurdish has been on a dialectal basis..." (MacKenzie 1969:460-61).

4.Compare this quotation with the examples from Rieu's grammatical study quoted on page 2,above.

5. Todd's study was based on work with Dimili speakers living in Europe, mostly in Germany.

6. The question of power in the production, transmission and utilization of knowledge has beenincreasingly examined since the 1960s. A body of research critically examines the androcentric, ethnocentric and ideological nature of knowledge. While these studies are mostly focused on Western societies, it is obvious that all knowledge, Eastern, Western or Indigenous, is socially conditioned. Research on the political and ideological components of linguistics has also appeared in recent years (see, e.g., Newmeyer 1986; Joseph and Taylor 1990). Taylor (1990), for instance, examines an episode in the history of the "institutionalization of authority in the science of language."

7. In a review of the literature on this issue, Woolard and Schieffelin (1994:60) write: " It is atruism that the equation of language and nation is a historical, ideological construct, conventionally dated to Herder and eighteenth century German romanticism, although the famous characterization of language as the genius of a people can be traced to the French Enlightenment and specifically Condillac. Exported through colonialism to become a dominant model around the world today, the nationalist ideology of language structures state politics, challenges multilingual states, and underpins ethnic struggles to such an extent that the absence of a distinct language can cast doubt on the legitimacy of claims to nationhood." In the case of Kurdistan, the perception of the unity of various dialects under the common name of Kurdish was formed before the age of colonialism, when feudal disunity was rampant in Kurdish society.

8. For a survey of the "Turkish scientific and political discourse" on the Kurdish language see Akin(1995).

9. See, e.g., Bichakjian (1992) and Ruhlen (1994) and Cunningham (1994) for different assessmentsof the assumptions and methodology of this area of language studies.

10. Risking oversimplification, ideology refers, here, to beliefs, views, and consciousness whichreflect the experience or interests of particular groups; ideology legitimizes social power, often through intellectual practices involving mystification or rationalization. For a recent review of the research on ideological construction of linguistic knowledge, see Joseph and Taylor (1990), Woolard (1992), Woolard and Schieffelin (1994). In recent years, there is renewed debate on the "scientific" status of linguistics. See, for example, the contributions under the rubrics of "on moving linguistics into science" in Communications of the Workshop for Scientific Linguistics (Chicago), 1992. See, e.g., Di Pietro (1990),Hagman (1992), Levin (1992), Read (1992), Sullivan (1992), Yngve (1992a; 1992b).

11. In recent years, linguistics has made some progress in democratising the relationship bypromoting, conceptually at least, the status of the "informant" to "native speaker" (Yngve 1981). At least one linguist has suggested a "colleague" role for "informants, the unsung heroes of so much linguistic research." But, even in this case, informants can become colleagues only if they attain some expertise: the informants, according to Nida (1981:169), can "make a much greater contribution if only their latent capacities are adequately developed through sufficient informal training by collaborating linguists."

12. Such conflicts have come into the open especially in the theory and practice of "economicdevelopment" in the developing world (see, among others, the special issue of IDRC Reports on"Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge," Vol. 21, No. 1, April 1993, published by International Development Research Centre of Canada). In fact, a "participatory research" methodology has been developed to deal with the researcher's monopoly of power in the creation of knowledge (see, e.g., Hallet al 1982). In the positivist, "scientific" tradition of knowledge production, "ordinary people are rarelyconsidered knowledgeable, in the scientific sense, or capable of knowing about their own reality... Experts' assessment of common people's inability to 'know' becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy" (Maguire 1987:36).

13. Hewrami and Zaza are not the only bones of contention in the world of comparative philology. Brukman (1970:1165), in his review of the genealogy of Koya (spoken in India), critiqued the classification of the dialect according to linguistic criteria, and wrote: "[Native speakers'] judgements may be purely political or cultural; but these are in fact the only relevant judgements that can be made about the relation of Koya to either Gondi or Telugu, since we have no clearly established linguistic criteria that serve to differentiate languages from dialects. Such considerations may produce an embarrassing proliferation of 'languages,' but they are the only basis for realistic evaluation we have. Non-native-speaking linguists are in general much more arbitrary about their decisions in this regard than native speakers."

14. In the latest major reference work on "Iranian languages," Compendium Linguarum Iranicum(R diger Schmitt 1989), Kurdish and Gur nî/Z z appear under two separate sections. According to Blau (1989:336), "in spite of the linguistic proximity and the speakers' profound feeling of belonging to the Kurdish national entity, these two languages cannot be linked to Kurdish because they have not undergone the typical transformations of Kurdish." According to Kreyenbroek (1992:70), "[B]oth Zaza and Guran are normally identified as Kurds, and regard themselves as such. From a purely historical and linguistic perspective, this is probably incorrect, but such considerations seem insignificant in comparison with the feelings of the people concerned." However, in dealing with Kurmanji and Sorani, he notes that it "may be somewhat misleading to speak of 'the main dialects of Kurdish'. Firstly, the only obvious reasons for describing Sorani and Kurmanji as 'dialects' of one language, are their common origin, and the fact that this usage reflects the sense of ethnic identity and unity of the Kurds. From a linguistic, or at least grammatical point of view, however, Sorani and Kurmanji differ as much from each other as English and German, and it would seem more appropriate to refer to them as 'languages'..." (p. 71). 

15. This is a refreshing statement about yet another conflict between native speakers and thephilologists. Hewrami is the name used by most of the Sorani and Hewrami speakers to refer to the speech and culture of Hewraman. Different ethnic and religious names (Kakeyi, Bajalani, Shabak, etc) are used for small groups who speak varieties of the dialect and are widely dispersed outside Hewraman (see Leezenberg, n.d., on some of these groups and the shifting politics of their ethnic affiliation). 

16. By contrast, the author of a relatively long encyclopedia article about Dimili does not mention,even as myth or controversy, the native speakers' identification of their speech as Kurdish (Asatrian 1995). 

17. I have provided further detail about the ideological constraints on philological constructions ofHewrami genealogy in an unpublished paper (Hassanpour 1996). 

18. The ethical dimensions of research have received increasing attention in recent years (see, e.g.,Kidder 1981). It would be useful to examine ethical issues in philological approaches to Kurdish language in general and Hewrami and Dimili in particular.


  1. Akin, Salih, 1995 Désignation du peuple, du territoire et de la langue kurdes dans le discours scientifique et politique turc. Thèse du Doctorat en Sciences du Langage, Département des Science du Langage et de la Communication, École doctorale de Lettres, Université de Rouen, France.
  2. Asatrian, Garnik, 1995 "Dim(i)l î," Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. VII, Fascicle 4, pp. 405-11.
  3. Bichakjian, Bernard, 1992 "Genealogical linguistics: Progress and pitfalls," Word, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 85-96.
  4. Blau, Joyce, 1989 "Gurânî et Zâzâ," in Schmitt, R. (ed.), pp. 336-40.
  5. Brukman, Jan, 1970 Review of "Koya: An Outline Grammar, Gommu Dialect, by Stephen Tyler" in American Anthropologist, Vol. 72, pp. 1165-66.
  6. Chèref-ou'ddîne 1870 Chèref-Nâmeh ou Fastes de la Nation kourde. Tranduit par François Bernard Charmoy, Tom I, seconde partie. St. Petersbourg, Académie Impériale des sciences.
  7. Crowley, Tony 1990 "That obscure object of desire: A science of language," in Joseph, John & Taylor, Talbot (eds.), pp. 27-50.
  8. Coulmas, Florian (ed.) 1981 A Festschrift for Native Speaker, The Hague, Mouton Publishers.
  9. Cunningham, A. 1994 "Myths about language," The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Oxford, Pergamon Press, Vol. 5, pp. 2660-63.
  10. Di Pietro, Robert 1990 "Metalinguistic awareness and the nature of linguistic inquiry," The LACUS Forum (Lake Bluff, Illinois), 16, 1989 (1990), pp. 105-12.
  11. Edmonds, C. J. 1957 Kurds, Turks and Arabs. London, Oxford University Press.
  12. Hagman, Roy 1992 "Linguistics a natural science?," Communications of the Workshop for Scientific Linguistics, 8, pp. 41-43.
  13. Hall, Budd, Gillette, A. and Tandon, R. 1982 Creating Knowledge: A Monopoly? New Delhi: Society for Participatory Research in Asia.
  14. Hassanpour, Amir, 1992 Nationalism and Language in Kurdistan, 1918-1985. San Francisco, Mellen Research University Press.
  15. 1996 "Disciplining the speakers of Hewrami: Notes on the ideology and epistemology of genetic linguistics," unpublished paper.
  16. Hewramanî, Mihemed Emîn, 1981 Zarî Zimanî Kurdî le Terazû y Berawurd da. Baghdad, Dezgay Ro $ inbîrî w Bi Í awkirdinewey Kurdî.
  17. Hudson, R.A., 1980 Sociolinguistics. London, Cambridge University Press.
  18. Joseph, John and Taylor, Talbot (eds.) 1990 Ideologies of Language. London, Routledge.
  19. Kidder, L. H. 1981 "Ethical implications," in Kidder, L. H. (ed.), Research Methods and Social Relations (4th edition). New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, pp. 365-417.
  20. Koyi, Haji Qadir, 1986 Dîwanî Hacî Qadirî Koyî. Emîndarêtî Gi Õ tî Ro Õ inbîrî w Lawanî Nawçey Kurdistan.
  21. Kreyenbroek, Philip 1992 "On the Kurdish language," in Kreyenbroek, Philip and Sperl, Stefan (eds.), The Kurds: A Contemporary Overview, London, Routledge, pp. 68-83.
  22. Leezenberg, Michiel, 1993 Gorani Influence on Central Kurdish: Substratum or Prestige Borrowing? Amsterdam, Institute for Logic, Language and Computation, University of Amsterdam, ILLC Prepublication Series X--93-03.
  23. n.d. "The Shabak and the Kakais: Historical and linguistic notes," unpublished paper.
  24. Levin, Saul, 1992 "A linguist's compromise between scientific objectivity and full participation in a speech-community," Communications of the Workshop for Scientific Linguistics, 9, pp. 8-13.
  25. MacKenzie, D. N., 1961a "The origin of Kurdish," Transactions of the Philological Society, pp. 68-86.
  26. 1961 b Kurdish Dialect Studies-I. London, Oxford University Press.
  27. 1965 "Some Gor â n î lyric verse," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. XXVIII, Part 2, pp. 255-83.
  28. 1969 "Iranian languages," in Sebeok, Thomas (ed.), Current Trends in Linguistics, Vol. 5, pp. 450-77.
  29. 1971 " 'Ir â k. iv. Languages. (b) Iranian dialects," The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. 3, pp. 1260-61.
  30. 1986 "Kurds, Kurdistan. v. -- language," The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. V, pp. 479-80.
  31. 1989 "The role of the Kurdish language in ethnicity," in Peter A. Andrews (ed.), Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey, Wiesbaden, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, pp. 451-52.
  32. McCarus, Ernest, 1964 Review of "D.N. MacKenzie, Kurdish Dialect Studies" in Journal of American Oriental Society, Vol. 84, No. 3, July-Sep., pp. 305-10.
  33. Maguire, Patricia, 1987 Doing Participatory Research: A Feminist Approach. Amherst, Massachusetts, The Center for International Education.
  34. Minorsky, Vladmir, 1943 "The G û r â n," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. 11, Part I, pp. 75-103..
  35. Muhemmed, Enwer Qadir, 1990 Lîrîkay $ a'irî Gewrey Kurd Mewlewî 1806-1882. Stockholm, n.p.
  36. Newmeyer, Frederick, 1986 The Politics of Linguistics. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
  37. Nida, Eugene, 1981 "Informants or colleagues," in Coulmas, Florian (ed.), pp. 169-74.
  38. Osip, Zarê, 1992 "'Derbarey pêkhatinî dyalêktekanî zimanî Kurdî,'" translated by E. Q. Muhemmed, Runakbiry [Rûnakbîrî], No. 2, pp. 56-74.
  39. Paper, Herbert, 1962 Review of "D.N. MacKenzie, Kurdish Dialect Studies" in The Middle East Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 108-9.
  40. Read, Allen, 1992 "A critique of Yngve's 'human linguistics," Communications of the Workshop for Scientific Linguistics, 7, pp. 26-30.
  41. Rieu, Charles,1881 Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum. Vol. II, London.
  42. Ruhlen, Merritt,1994 On the Origin of Languages: Studies in Linguistic Taxonomy. Stanford, Stanford University Press.
  43. Schmitt, Rüdiger (ed.), 1989 Compendium Linguarum Iranicum. Wiesbaden, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag.
  44. Simpson, J.M.Y., 1994 "Mutual intelligibility," International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Vol. 5, pp. 2659-2660.
  45. Skutnabb-Kangas, T. and Bucak, S., 1994 "Killing a mother tongue -- How the Kurds are deprived of linguistic human rights," in Skutnabb-Kangas, T and Phillipson, R. (eds.), Linguistic Human Rights: Overcoming Linguistic Discrimination, Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 347-71.
  46. Smîrnova and Eyûbî, 1989 "Dar barey diyalêktekanî zimanî Kurdî," in Enwer Qadir Muhemmed (editor and translator, Çend Witarêkî Kurdnasî. Sweden, Komelî Hunerî Kurdî, pp. 15-25.
  47. Soane, E. B., 1912 To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in Disguise. London, J. Murray. Second Edition, 1926.
  48. 1921 "A short anthology of Guran poetry," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Part I, January, pp. 57-81.
  49. Sullivan, William, 1992 "On moving linguistics into science 4: the use and limitations of logic in scientific linguistics," Communications of the Workshop for Scientific Linguistics, 9, pp. 1-3.
  50. Tahir Beg î Caf, 1966 D î wan î Tahir Beg î Caf. Hewlêr, Çapxaney Hewlêr
  51. Taylor, Talbot,1990 "Which is to be master? The institutionalization of authority in the science of language," in Joseph and Taylor (eds.), pp. 9-26.
  52. Todd, Terry Lynn, 1985 A Grammar of Dimili (also known as Zaza). Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  53. Woolard, Kathryn, 1992 "Language ideology: Issues and approaches," Pragmatics, Vol. 2, No. 3, September, pp. 235-249.
  54. Woolard, K. and Schieffelin, B., 1994 "Language ideology," Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 23, pp. 55-82.
  55. Yngve, Victor, 1981 "The struggle for a theory of native speaker," in Coulmas, Florian (ed.), pp. 29-49.
  56. 1992 a "On moving linguistics into science 1: the scientific foundations of human linguistics," Communications of the Workshop for Scientific Linguistics, 8, pp. 54-58.
  57. 1992 b "Philosophy or science?," Communications of the Workshop for Scientific Linguistics, 6, pp. 2-4.

Published in: Anthology of Gorani Kurdish Poetry
Compiled by A.M. Mardoukhi, Edited by Anwar Soltani
London, 1998, ISBN 0 9529050 00

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

The Kurdish Question: Whose Question, Whose Answers?

The Kurdish Question: Whose Question, Whose Answers?


Martin van Bruinessen


Jwaideh and Kurdish studies

The invitation to deliver the Wadie Jwaideh memorial lecture, here in Bloomington, where so many of you have your own dear memories of Professor Jwaideh as a teacher, a colleague, and a friend, is a great honor to me. Unlike most of you, I never met Professor Jwaideh in person; yet, I consider him in some way my teacher, a vital link in my own silsila - the reason for which will soon become clear. Wadie Jwaideh's major feat of scholarship, his magnum opus on the history of Kurdish nationalism, has long remained a hidden treasure because he declined publishing it - I suspect due to a combination of perfectionism and modesty - so that it only was available in a University Microfilm version. It is probably due to the fact that his widow, Mrs. Alice Jwaideh, has decided to see this important book through the press for posthumous publication that I am standing here today. I had some involvement with the publication of a Turkish translation of Wadie Jwaideh's study a few years ago (in 1999), and Mrs. Jwaideh somehow found me and we began corresponding. Through her letters, the man whose work I had always admired but of whom I knew nothing gradually became an acquaintance and I began to understand how intimately connected biography and subject matter were. 'Uncle Wadie,' as some of you called him, became a man of flesh and blood, and I came to regret even more never having met him.

Let me begin with the Jwaideh that I have known for a long time, consisting of two thick volumes in the dark blue University Microfilm format. [1] This is the pre-Bloomington Jwaideh; the thesis was submitted to Syracuse University in 1960 and because it was never published I suspect few of you are familiar with it. Among specialists of the Kurds, however, it has come to be recognized as one of the few essential studies on Kurdish history. I still remember the strong impression it made on me when I first encountered it. That must have been in 1976 or 1977. I had recently completed two years of anthropological fieldwork in various parts of Kurdistan, including a stay in the Kurdish 'liberated areas' of Northern Iraq during the final months of Mulla Mustafa Barzani's uprising and a period in Syria, where I had met with the last surviving participants of Kurdish rebellions in Turkey in the 1920s and 1930s. I also had done some work in Turkish newspaper archives and the British public records office on these early rebellions. When I chanced upon Jwaideh's study, I discovered to my surprise that it not only was insightful on these rebellions but also helped me to make sense of developments in the 1970s. Although it is a historical study, Jwaideh's analysis showed that he must have known the region very well and must have known many individual Kurdish personalities.

That the contemporary relevance of Jwaideh's work had not diminished by the turn of the century is shown by the fact that the recent Turkish translation was banned almost upon appearance. [2] In a situation where many other books on the Kurds, including some more overtly political ones, were and remained freely available, this can only be considered as a mark of distinction, based on the recognition of some dangerous quality. It was no the subject matter as such that caused the ban but rather, I imagine, the way in which Jwaideh framed what was usually called the Kurdish 'issue' or 'question'. Reflection on the ban of Jwaideh's book in Turkey provided me with the subject for this memorial lecture: the various ways in which the Kurds' neighbors, and especially the scholarly inclined among them, have defined the Kurdish 'issue'. Jwaideh looked at the Kurds and their history from the perspective of an Iraqi, whose own identity necessitated some engagement with the Kurds. So did the other authors about whom I shall be speaking.

One thing that must have bothered the Turkish prosecutor and that may have contributed to the attention that the book drew from a relatively large and educated readership in Turkey was that Jwaideh showed convincingly how strong and how deep the historical roots of contemporary Kurdish movements were, and how old their grievances and demands. The various Kurdish uprisings of the nineteenth and early twentieth century were not simply isolated incidents caused by economic decline or political dissatisfaction. In his conclusion, Jwaideh cautioned the reader that, whatever the economic and social causes of discontent, "it must be kept in mind that nationalism, which lies at the root of the Kurdish question, is largely political and psychological in nature."

The nationalist ferment that had come to the surface in Iraq following the military takeover of 1958 had to be taken seriously precisely because it was rooted in a historical process of considerable depth, of which its actors were very much aware. Although the study ends in 1959, the developments of the following decade appear almost inevitable to the careful reader of Jwaideh's study.

It is not just chronologically that Jwaideh's study stands at a turning point; it also represents a transition in scholarship on the Kurds not unlike that from colonial to postcolonial scholarship in other parts of the world. While in England for his research in the mid-1950s, Jwaideh still met the grand old men of the earlier phase of Kurdish studies, Vladimir Minorsky and Cecil J. Edmonds. Both had been trained as Orientalists and had become acquainted with the Kurds when serving their governments, Imperial Russia in the case of Minorsky, the British administration of Iraq in that of Edmonds. Both had become great friends of the Kurds (though not necessarily of Kurdish nationalists: Shaykh Mahmud of Sulaymaniya had been one of Edmonds' headaches), and both published extensively and sympathetically on them. Minorsky's long and erudite articles on 'Kurdistan' and 'Kurds' in the first edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam constitute the most competent summary of Orientalist knowledge of their subject. Edmonds laid down his observations and experiences as a political officer in Iraqi Kurdistan between 1920 and 1925 in his Kurds, Turks and Arabs, which provides painstakingly detailed notes on social and political conditions, personalities and local practices in the districts where he served. [3] Both authors showed an especially great interest in the various heterodox religious communities that they had encountered while serving in Kurdistan, notably the Ahl-i Haqq and the Yezidis, perhaps at the expense of mainstream Islam and of the major political issues faced by the Kurds as a people. [4]

Jwaideh's view of the Kurds

Wadie Jwaideh's relationship with the Kurds was a different one, and so was his approach to his subject. He was born in Basra in South Iraq to an Arabic-speaking Christian (Chaldaean) family and later moved to Baghdad where he studied at the university and obtained his Licentiate in Law in 1942. During the war years that followed, he served in the Ministry of the Interior as Inspector of Supplies for the Northern Provinces. It was in this position that he traveled extensively in Iraqi Kurdistan and came to know personally numerous Kurdish personalities. The direct personal acquaintance with the land and its people must have been of great use in his later historical research, and the shrewd insight in Kurdish society and politics that is apparent throughout this book no doubt owes much to this experience. Jwaideh identified himself strongly as an Iraqi Arab but was also acutely aware of belonging to a (religious) minority and as such occasionally facing discrimination. This no doubt contributed to his appreciation of the position of the Kurds in the states in which they live and of their relations with their various neighbors. Whereas earlier authors writing on Kurdish nationalism tended to analyze it from the viewpoint of the administration or the dominant groups in the state, Jwaideh made a deliberate effort to present the Kurdish viewpoint. His is one of the more sympathetic studies of the subject and one of the most judicious in its understanding of what moves the Kurds. It was the first serious study that focused on Kurdish nationalism as a movement in its own right and not just a reaction to the process of modernization and administrative reform.

British policy makers and administrators had the habit of speaking of 'questions': there had been 'the Eastern Question' (concerning Greek aspirations for independence from Ottoman rule), 'the Armenian Question', and the Kurds were the next to become a 'question.' Speaking of 'the Kurdish question' suggested that somehow the existence of the Kurds caused a certain type of problems that needed to be resolved. A long series of studies on the Kurds have the word 'question' or 'problem' in their titles; Jwaideh, significantly, speaks of Kurdish nationalism without defining this as a problem. He occasionally uses the terms 'Kurdish question' or 'Kurdish problem,' but it is mostly when he is reviewing other authors writing about the Kurds, most of whom fail or refuse to recognize the nature of this 'question.' Here are some fragments of his discussion, in the conclusion of the thesis:

"There is no doubt that the Kurdish question is one of the most vexed and dangerous problems confronting the Middle East today. It has . increasingly engaged the attention of interested governments as well as students of Middle Eastern affairs." He then summarizes the insights of some of these interested parties:

All of these authors define the Kurdish problem as a social and economic question, against which Jwaideh asserts that "it must be kept in mind that nationalism, which lies at the root of the Kurdish question, is largely political and psychological in nature." [5]

These quotations from British authors that Jwaideh criticizes can easily be supplemented by similar quotations from authors in Turkey, Iran or Iraq. Many of the Kurds' neighbors, of a wide range of political persuasions, have attempted to define the matter of Kurdish nationalism out of existence, either by completely denying it or by reducing it to more basic underlying factors, such as, precisely, tribalism, feudalism or social banditry, which ultimately will have to disappear with the advent of modernization. Kurdish nationalism has not uncommonly been seen as a form of false consciousness, and their more developed neighbors have often felt the urge to educate the Kurds towards a proper understanding of their question and help them fighting backwardness, exploitation by reactionary religious and tribal leaders, and manipulation by foreign powers, ..

Jwaideh does not appear to perceive Kurdish nationalism as a 'question', a threat to Iraq or to the Arab world, but as a natural and understandable phenomenon, tragic because as a movement it arrived late in history and perhaps at the wrong place in the world. Turks, Persians and Arabs had preceded the Kurds, and the regimes of the states that incorporated parts of Kurdistan after the First World War had embarked upon programs of nation building. The Kurds had become citizens, though never fully equal, of Turkey, Iran, Iraq or Syria, and any effort on their part to establish a nation state of their own would necessarily bring them up against more numerous Turks, Persians and Arabs and the armies of modernizing states. This gave rise to frustration and anger at perceived injustice and inequality, causing Kurdish nationalism to become, at the time of Jwaideh's writing, "increasingly radical and uncompromising." Torn between dreams and pragmatism, Kurdish politicians have had to navigate a course between the struggle for full independence and accommodation with central governments. The radicalization that Jwaideh refers to was very noticeable in Iraq after the 1958 coup, and the demands of ordinary Kurdish people were probably more radical than those then voiced by the political leaders. Even though the odds were against them, increasingly many ordinary Kurds just wanted to be in control of their own destiny. Jwaideh, more candidly than most Kurdish politicians, states the odds and the ambitions: 'Separated by unsurpassable mountain barriers, divided by linguistic and sectarian differences, rent by narrow tribal loyalties, and split up by international frontiers, they now yearn to be what other more fortunate peoples are - a nation state.'

The developments of the past forty-five years have borne out Jwaideh's assessments. Mass literacy and mass education, increased mobility and the communications revolution have drawn ever-larger numbers to the nationalist movement. Kurdish nationalism has become a force with which the governments of the region have to reckon, not only internally but also increasingly in the international arena. The tribal, linguistic and religious divisions to which Jwaideh refers have not been overcome, however; some have even spawned distinct identity movements within the larger Kurdish movement, such as those of the Yezidis, the Alevis or the Zaza-speakers, among whom some leaders even claimed the status of being a separate nation. Among the Iraqi Kurds, regional identities have remained strong and the major political parties have distinct regional bases. To a lesser extent this was also true of Iranian Kurdistan during the brief period that overt party activity was possible there. Urbanization and the settlement of nomadic tribes have resulted in a certain degree of detribalization, but tribalism was boosted by the government policies, most systematic in Iraq and Turkey, of recruiting tribal militias to fight the Kurdish nationalist movement. The borders between the Iranian, Iraqi, Turkish and Syrian parts of Kurdistan have if anything become more significant, even though it may have become easier to cross them. In each of these countries the Kurds have engaged with the state and with other political forces. Their distinct political cultures and socio-economic and cultural policies have given the Kurdish movement in each of them a distinct character.

An Iranian view

Another neighbor who had close dealings with the Kurds and wrote a useful study of the early phases of the Kurdish movement was the Iranian general Hassan Arfa, who had personally taken part in the suppression of Kurdish tribal uprisings in the 1920s. [6] Arfa was a loyal servant of the Peacock throne, but as an Azerbaijani he was sensitive to the tensions between ethnic identity and citizenship. He rejected Azerbaijani as well as Kurdish separatism but understood the sentiments behind it and wrote sympathetically on the Kurds at the time that the first modern armed Kurdish nationalist uprising was in progress in Iraq.

"Although the Kurds have always lived under two - or, as at present, three Powers - by their speech, customs and costume, as well as by their own consciousness of being Kurds and thus different from [their non-Kurdish neighbors], they have always formed an entity and for the same reasons they consider themselves now entitled to be counted as a nation even if in the past this conception was alien to them." [7]

There are, however, practical reasons why the Kurds' understandable desire for self-government cannot be realized, the Cold War being one of the most important:

"The tribal chiefs and the traditionally-minded Kurds realize that in the present conditions the attainment of complete independence is impossible, as the three states on which the Kurds depend would certainly unite to prevent it by force. The political union of all Kurds, therefore, presupposes the complete disruption of the existing order of things in the Middle East, and this could be brought about only by the intrusion of Soviet Russia and the disintegration of Turkey, Iran and the Arab states." [8]

Arfa assures the reader that most Kurds would object more to communist rule than to their present domination by the existing states. Only some intellectuals, Arfa believes - he mentions specifically Ibrahim Ahmad, the left-leaning former secretary-general of the Iraqi KDP, and the Kurds' representative in Europe, Parez Vanly - will be happy to bring about a sort of Kurdish Soviet state, even if this only includes a small part of the Kurdish lands. [9] Arfa did not consider these intellectuals as a serious factor. He saw, moreover, several other practical difficulties preventing the Kurds from achieving their hoped-for united nation. The geography of the region caused great difficulties of communication; most of the fertile valleys were situated on the outer edges of Kurdistan and were partly inhabited by non-Kurds; the economically important oilfield were also found in regions with mixed population. And, perhaps most importantly, the governments and peoples of Turkey, Iran and Iraq were vehemently opposed to Kurdish 'separatism.' He sums up the attitudes of these three Powers in these words:

"The Turks say: 'you are Turks not Kurds; there are no Kurds in Turkey.' (..) They do not allow that there is any Kurdish question in Turkey.
The Iranians accept the Kurds as such but they say that, as the Kurds belong to a group of the Iranian race they form the Kurdish branch of that race and are therefore part of Iran, and in any case Iran is a multiracial empire based on history, tradition and a common fealty to the Shahinshah. So for Iranians too, no Kurdish question exists. The Iraqis say: 'you are Kurds we are Arabs, but together we are Iraqis. Iraq is a part of the Arab nation, but as you are not Arabs we agree to granting you autonomy on our terms, on condition that you continue to be sort of Iraq, without the right or the power of secession.'" [10]

Arfa notes that most of the Kurds have adapted themselves to the realities of the countries in which they live and are willing to compromise, but he predicts that increased access to education and the declining influence of tribal chiefs and landowners, with a corresponding increase of that of what he calls 'a sophisticated and leftist-inclined intelligentsia' will strengthen the demand of self-determination. The Kurds living abroad are out of touch with the practical realities of the region and tend to dream of nothing less than a united and fully independent Kurdish state - which may, Arfa seems to suggest, in the long run create great problems for the states concerned. He concludes his book with the prophetic warning that "even if the existence of a Kurdish question is denied, the Kurdish problem remains." [11]

The struggle of the Iraqi Kurds resulted in a peace settlement with the central government, under which they were granted a significant degree of autonomy. Nine years of armed confrontation had also had a significant effect on the Kurds' national awareness. The settlement did not end the conflict but constituted the prelude to a new phase, which saw a major new insurrection, supported openly by Iran and covertly by the USA and Israel (1974-75); a collapse of that insurrection when the Shah and the Iraqi regime reached an agreement, followed by a mass exodus; the resumption of low-intensity guerrilla warfare (1976-80), participation in the Iraq-Iran war and ultimately genocide (1988). And even then, the Kurdish 'problem' did not go away. Whatever the definition and perception of this 'problem.'

Views from Baghdad

Sa`ad Jawad, who wrote on the Kurdish movement of the 1960s in Iraq more than a decade after Hassan Arfa, brings a more specifically Iraqi perspective to the analysis of this 'question.' [12] Jawad was born in Baghdad, had studied in the United Kingdom and was back in Baghdad teaching at the university there when his book was published. He cautiously avoids adopting strong views and opinions himself and gives no hint as to his own ethnic background (Kurdish or Arab) but rather reports on the views of Kurdish and especially Arab nationalist politicians. He quotes the interesting complaint of a former secretary-general of the Ba`th party, who had negotiated with Kurdish representatives in 1963, that "except for Talabani the Kurdish leadership never wanted to discuss the Kurdish question in terms of Iraqi politics, always treating it as a purely Kurdish one." [13] However, Jawad continues, "there was general agreement within the Ba`th leadership that the problem existed and required some sort of solution." Judging, however, that the Kurds exaggerated their own importance, they deliberately began to ignore them. [14]

The heart of the problem, in the Ba`thist perception, was the very existence of the Kurds as a non-assimilable, non-Arab community. Arab nationalists, as Jawad observed, saw all of Iraq as part of the Arab nation, whose northern frontier they defined as the border with Turkey. Only the parts of Kurdistan in Turkey and Iran were considered as Kurdish land, those in Iraq were seen as Arab land occupied by the Kurdish 'minority.' Egypt's Nasser, who tended to be more sympathetic to the Kurds than many Arab nationalists in Iraq, once told Ibrahim Ahmad that he "had no objection to the Iranian and Turkish Kurds having independence, but thought that no such right should be accorded to the Iraqi Kurds." [15] Ultimately, the Kurds succeeded in having their recognition raised from the level of a 'minority' to that of a 'nationality,' and the Kurdish problem became enshrined in the Iraqi Constitution, which declares Iraq a country of two nationalities, Arabs and Kurds, but simultaneously maintains it is integrally part of the Arab nation. [16]

In a study that appeared in the same year as Jawad's but also covered the crucial years 1970 to 1975, the originally Lebanese scholar Edmund Ghareeb emphasized especially one dimension of the problem that was to become the Ba`thists' primary preoccupation: foreign involvement in the Kurds' struggle. [17] Ghareeb reports that Iraqi politicians, at least since Nuri al-Sa`id, repeatedly voiced concern that foreign powers might "exploit the Kurdish problem for their own interests," and that it was such considerations that persuaded the Ba`th party from 1968 onwards to seek accommodation with the Kurds rather than repress the uprising. Party documents of 1969 still speak of Kurdish nationalism as a progressive force of liberation, which is part of the global struggle against all forms of oppression and a natural ally of Arab nationalism. Soon after the peace agreement, however, Barzani obtained promises of covert US support, the Mossad was training his intelligence service, and Iranian arms were flowing into northern Iraq. This happened at a time when Iraq was nationalizing its oil and moving closer to the Soviet Union, with which it concluded a treaty of friendship. The Kurdish conflict in Iraq became a sideshow in the Cold War. Only a few prominent Kurds decided not to be part of it and deserted Barzani. Ghareeb presents a picture of an anti-imperialist and revolutionary regime in Baghdad with a basically benign attitude towards the Kurds, and an 'entrenched' Kurdish leadership whose desire for self-expression, however justified, was easily exploited by foreign interests bent on destabilizing the Ba`th regime. The Kurds themselves have a different narrative, but many agree in retrospect that the high degree of foreign involvement seen in 1972-1975 had not been in the Kurds' best interest.

The Kurds' man in Europe

A Kurdish narrative of the events leading up to the war of 1974-75 is given by Ismet Chériff Vanly, the Europe-based intellectual mentioned by Arfa. His contribution to an edited volume that became the best-known Kurdish self-representation gives a less benevolent reading of Ba`thist policies and provides details of Arabization measures, massive deportations, and economic discrimination against the Kurds. At the same time, Vanly is highly critical of Barzani's extreme reliance on the Shah and on American support, as well as of the decision to take refuge in Iran when foreign support was suddenly withdrawn in March 1975, which amounted to 'the liquidation of the revolution by its own leadership.' [18]

Vanly, who in Arfa's view was out of touch with the realities of Kurdistan, was in fact in regular communication with Kurdish nationalist politicians in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. He hailed from Syria and was Arabic-educated, learning some Kurdish at an advanced age only, but his commitment to the Kurdish cause was total. He published extensively on political aspects of the Kurdish question - including an academic study that he submitted as a dissertation to the University of Lausanne in 1970. [19] In the dissertation, Vanly describes the ongoing 'revolution' of the Kurdish bourgeoisie, peasantry and workers under the leadership of 'general' Barzani and the revolutionary council and the KDP. He had been, and continued to be, the European spokesperson for that movement, but by no means an uncritical supporter, for he believed that the political struggle carried on by this movement rested on incorrect suppositions and that its stated objective - autonomy for the Kurds within Iraq - was misguided. In Vanly's view, about which he did munch words, such compromises were self-defeating. Even if the context would be a democratized Iraq, the Kurdish question would not be solved. A pan-Kurdish, independent state, Vanly claimed, is the only real solution.

The solution implies a different definition of the question: the Kurds are a nation, divided by historical accident and then dominated by neighboring peoples and their governments. Vanly untiringly made efforts to persuade politicians to adopt this view. Kurdish leaders in Iran and Iraq, whatever their innermost views on the subject, always rejected this as unrealistic. In Turkey, several radical Kurdish groups, among which the PKK, came to embrace varieties of this view and to proclaim the anti-colonial struggle of national liberation against all occupying states and their Kurdish collaborators. [20] In practice, the PKK soon found out that it could not oppose four states simultaneously and concentrated its efforts on Turkey, while cultivating relations with the intelligence services of its neighbors.

From modernization to self-determination in Turkey

Turkey experienced its second military coup (since the establishment of the Republic) in 1971. The generals intervened to save the country from the gradually radicalizing labor movement, the largely conservative Islamic resurgence, left and right student radicalism, and the emerging Kurdish movement. Parties were banned; numerous activists but also journalists and writers arrested and put on trial. One trial that made a deep impression on me (and that may have been the decisive influence that later made me choose Kurdistan as my first area of academic specialization) concerned a Turkish sociologist, who was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for an academic study he had published. This was Ismail Besikçi, and the offending book was innocuously titled 'The social organization of East Anatolia.' [21]

The book and its title look innocent; the Kurds are not even mentioned, and the common euphemism of 'East Anatolia' is used instead of the then still unmentionable 'Kurdistan.' It is an empirically rich study of the political economy of Turkish Kurdistan, an attempt to understand the transformation of a partly tribal, partly feudal society under the impact of state policies and capitalist market forces and to explain the emergence of Kurdish nationalism in this context. As such, it was a contribution to an ongoing debate on political and economic development in which bureaucratic technocrats, academics and the left opposition in Turkey were engaged. Besikçi's offense was that he wrote on phenomena that had been abolished by decree, Kurdish ethnicity and Kurdish nationalism, and that adding insult to injury he did so with undeniable sympathy.

Besikçi was born in the province of Çorum in western Turkey, a province that is predominantly Turkish but has also some Kurdish and Circassian (Çerkes) villages. In such mixed regions, it was quite common to refer to villages and individuals by ethnic labels, even while at the same time interiorizing the official discourse of Turkey's ethnic homogeneity. Besikçi must have grown up with an awareness of diversity, but he claims he first became conscious of the Kurds' separate identity during a study tour to Elazig, and even more so when he did his military service in Bitlis and Hakkari. Besikçi completed his higher education at one of the country's elite institutions, the Faculty of Political Science at Ankara University. This is where the country's social engineers (as well as diplomats) are trained; especially in the 1960s the intellectual climate here was strongly positivist and development-oriented. Many of the teaching staff and students felt they had the moral duty to elevate the country's rural population socially and economically.

Besikçi's earliest studies very much reflected the general attitude of Turkish engaged social science of those years. The problems of 'the East,' (the euphemism consistently used for the Kurdish-inhabited provinces) were perceived as problems of social and economic backwardness: tribalism, a pervasive influence of popular Sufism, and archaic relations of production, all of which were believed to fade away with modernization from above. His field research made him discover the importance of ethnic identity and the demand of recognition, which became major themes of his work. While on the one hand he completed some articles on the modernization of nomadic tribes, in which ethnicity is hardly mentioned, [22] in The social organization of East Anatolia he asserted that the problems of the region could not be understood without taking account of the ethnic factor and the state's policies of suppressing Kurdish identity. In his writings of the 1970s and 1980s, Besikçi was to focus more and more on a critical analysis of state policies vis-à-vis the Kurds. [23]

The years of Besikçi's research were, like the second half of the 1960s elsewhere, a period of intense political debate and mobilization. There had been sporadic Kurdish uprisings in the past but those had been localized and dominated by tribes. This time Kurdish nationalism was emerging as a modern social movement, with two distinct wings. The military and political successes of the Kurdish struggle in Iraq could not but make a great impression on the Turkish Kurds. In 1965, a sister party to Barzani's KDP was established in Turkey; its founding members belonged to the educated tribal elite, and its platform was nationalist, initially without a further social agenda. Another, socialist-inspired, wing of the Kurdish movement emerged in the ranks of the Workers' Party of Turkey and the left student movement. Here, the debate was on how to describe Kurdish society in Marxist terms and how to determine the correct revolutionary strategy. Was Kurdish society feudal? Was a transition to capitalism taking place, a transition to socialism possible? Did a Kurdish proletariat exist? What were the causes of the region's backwardness?

A series of Kurdish protest meetings took place in Ankara and Istanbul during the years 1967 and 1968, where such issues were publicly debated. The complaints and demands put forward at these meetings (analyzed by Besikçi) were of two kinds: economic development and recognition. The former demand could count on support from progressive Turks. The backwardness of 'the East' was attributed not only to geographical factors and the uneven development inherent in capitalist economies, but also to the deliberate withholding of infrastructural investments by previous governments. The second demand was more controversial: the Kurds demanded the recognition of themselves as a distinct people with a distinct language and culture, and they demanded the right to maintain and develop that culture. (In the 1970s, the demand for recognition furthermore came to imply the demand of the right to self-determination.)

After the 1971 coup, the first semi-legal Kurdish associations, DDKO ('Revolutionary Cultural Associations of the East'), which had organized the protest meetings of 1967-68, were banned and their leaders put on trial. Their defense pleas were densely footnoted essays on Kurdish history and linguistics, demonstrating that Kurdish is a distinct, Iranian language and that the existence of people called Kurds is well documented for many centuries. These defense pleas were published by sympathizers in European exile under a telling title: "Listen you fascist prosecutor! Kurds exist in this world!" [24]

Defining the Kurdish question in Turkey: between denial and recognition

More so than in the neighboring countries, the very concept of a Kurdish question is highly contested in Turkey. The positions that the major relevant actors have adopted on this issue are so far apart that a proper debate between them has hardly been possible. The official position that all 'so-called Kurds' are Turks and that therefore there cannot be a Kurdish question has been significantly eroded, but many in the army and the bureaucracy as well as many journalists and other opinion leaders still adhere to one or other variety of this thesis. The Kurds' demand for recognition, that became louder and more radical during the 1970s, was answered with a barrage of books purporting to prove that the tribes of Eastern Turkey were essentially Turkish in race, history and culture. Purges of lecturers following the military coup of 1980 ensured that dissident voices on the Kurdish question were not heard in academic circles and opened the way for the appointment of ultra-nationalist ideologists who 'scientifically' proved the non-existence of the Kurds. [25] The sheer volume of these writings and the aggressiveness with which this view was marketed shows that in spite of denial, there was the conviction that Turkey faced a serious Kurdish problem. Rather than attributing the roots of this problem to the non-existing Kurds, however, the representatives of this type of argument attributed it to the machinations of external enemies. I shall return to this particular spin below.

Among those who recognize that there is a Kurdish question in Turkey, three types of arguments are made about the nature of the question:

(Most people, of course, consider it as a problem with economic and cultural as well as political aspects but for the sake of analysis I shall keep these separate. Historically, the demands of the Kurdish movement moved from the economic and cultural to the political.)

On the nature of the economic aspects of the question there is a broad range of agreement between Kurds and non-Kurds. The former may be more inclined to stress the effect of policies deliberately withholding development and the latter the effects of traditional social structure in inhibiting modernization. For Kurds, however, the economic problems are closely linked to other aspects of the question. Many Turkish leftists and Kemalists are inclined to reduce the Kurdish question to matters of regional underdevelopment and pre-capitalist social formations. Ethnicity is not denied but declared irrelevant; the solution is exclusively sought in economic measures.

The arguments of Kurdish nationalists and their opponents about culture are very different in kind. For the former, the denial of cultural rights (such as the use of Kurdish in the media and in education) constitutes the core of the problem. To the latter, Kurdish culture itself is the problem, and a civilizing mission is needed to change its backward social practices. Through Turkish official culture, everyone has access to the universal values of the Enlightenment; the recognition of Kurdish culture, in their view, is fraught with the danger of a relapse into the dark ages. These opposite culturalist views remind me very much of the debates between the defenders of multiculturalism and of the Enlightenment and 'Leitkultur' in European countries today.

The arguments about the political nature of the conflict are so diverse that a debate between their proponents cannot even be imagined. Many in Turkey say that the Kurdish question is imposed on Turkey by foreign enemies desiring to weaken or destroy it. Some authors go to the extent of claiming that the Kurds were invented for this purpose. The abortive Treaty of Sèvres (1920), according to which Turkey should have ceded two thirds of its present territory to Greece, Italy, France, Britain and an independent Armenia and in which the possibility of a Kurdish state was explicitly mentioned, still looms large in the imagination of Turkish military and political leaders. The Kurds are suspected as the willing tools of foreigners who seek to dominate Turkey. The external enemies in this representation changed with shifts in the global political constellation, but the Kurds were consistently cast in the role of puppets.

A typical example of this argument is made in a book by pro-Turkish author Mahmut Risvanoglu, The tribes of the East and imperialism. It is one of the more sophisticated works of the type purporting to show that the Kurds are of authentic Turkish origin. In an analysis somewhat resembling critiques of Orientalism, the author attempts to show that Kurdish identity is a construct of Orientalist scholarship in the service of Russian and British imperial interests. The Kurdish uprisings in the late Ottoman Empire and in Turkey were fomented by Russian and British agents. The Russian scholars Minorsky and Nikitine settled after the Revolution in Britain and France, where they served these countries' interests in inciting the Kurds. [26] More recently, the Kurds have been analyzed as a tool of the Soviet Union, of Greece, of the USA, of the European Union and of Israel. There are frequent references to Israel and 'Jewish circles' in this type of literature, which freely borrows from the rich stock of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. [27]

Kurdistan as a colony, anti-colonial struggle

The Kurdish movement in Turkey - if one may generalize about a diverse movement within which many ideological divisions occurred -shifted the emphasis of its discourse during the 1970s from economic and cultural demands to the political one of national self-determination. Most of the parties came to adhere to the thesis that Kurdistan was a colony of (the ruling classes of) Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria and began to look towards the anti-colonial liberation struggles in Asia and Africa as models. Ismail Besikçi, who in his long years in prison increasingly identified himself with the Kurdish struggle, later wrote an elaborate statement of the 'colonial thesis' that was accepted as authoritative by many Kurdish activists: Kurdistan, a colony of many states. [28]

Of the various Kurdish parties in Turkey, the most radical in its analysis and corresponding strategy was the PKK, which was the first to openly strive for the full independence of a united Kurdistan and a social revolution against its ruling classes. It declared the tribal and land-holding elites to be collaborators of the colonial oppressor and directed its first armed actions (as many other anti-colonial movements did) against these 'collaborators.' Especially in the first years of its existence, the PKK indulged in a cult of violence, in which one is inclined to recognize the influence of Frantz Fanon, the ideologist of the Algerian revolution (although he is not quoted directly). The PKK's extremely violent mode of operation antagonized many Kurds, but its military successes in the second half of the 1980s and the early 1990s won over many former opponents. Many of its critics recognized that it was the PKK that placed the Kurdish question prominently on the Turkish agenda.

This also forced the Turkish left to rethink the Kurdish question and it own increasing marginalization. The PKK had emerged from the Turkish left, and it was the only political movement of that ancestry that had acquired a genuine mass following. Several icons of the left, such party leaders and thinkers as Dogu Perinçek, Yalçin Küçük and Ertugrul Kürkçü, sought a dialogue with the PKK, visited its leader Öcalan in Lebanon, and attempted to offer a master narrative in which the Kurdish struggle was part of a larger political struggle - rather unsuccessfully, for the PKK began to believe that its struggle was itself an example for the rest of the world. Their awareness of the importance of the Kurdish question for Turkey's future is expressed well in the catchy title of Perinçek's collection of short essays on the Kurds, The Turkish question.[29] Perinçek was later to revert to a Turkish nationalist standpoint, but in the early 1990s he commented that the real separatist in Turkey was the Turkish state itself, which treated it Kurdish subjects differently from the rest and had allowed the rule of law to lapse in the Kurdish provinces. The Kurdish question was a problem for all Turks, created to a large extent by Turks.

Unity and diversity

As Barzani's guerrilla struggle had done in Iraq in the 1960s, the even bloodier struggle waged by the PKK in the 1980s and 1990s made many Kurds more aware of their Kurdish identity and led to a broad mobilization of nationalist sentiment. At the same time, however, this mobilization made people more aware of cultural diversity. As Jwaideh had observed, linguistic and sectarian differences, narrow tribal loyalties as well as international boundaries stood in the way of national unity. People who adhered to minority religions or sects such as Yezidism, Ahl-i Haqq and Alevism, or who spoke dialects of Zaza or Gurani instead of Kurdish proper could identify themselves as Kurds - and many actually did so and became active in the Kurdish movement - but they could also opt for narrower identities or prefer assimilating to the dominant Turkish, Arabic or Persian cultures. In the 1980s, identity movements of Zaza speakers and of Alevis in Turkey and in the European diaspora drew parts of those communities of ambiguous identity away from Kurdish ethnicity. Kurdish nationalist suspected the state of creating and manipulating these identity movements. In Iraqi Kurdistan, a division into two sub-regions, controlled by the KDP and the PUK respectively, and more or less coinciding with the two major dialect groups, consolidated during the 1990s. [30]

The international boundaries cutting through Kurdistan have also contributed to increasing distance between the Kurds of different countries, especially with the advent of mass education and of television, which made them take part in different communities of discourse. In the 1970s, Iraq evacuated a broad corridor along the Iranian and Turkish borders of all inhabitants, preventing or at least significantly limiting the movement of people and goods across the border. Syria had in the early 1960s embarked on a similar project to physically separate its Kurds from their northern neighbors. The Kurds of any one country do tend to consider those of the other countries as 'different' and hard to understand. The PKK, which had planned to overcome all sub-cultural divisions and unite Kurds from all of Kurdistan in a common struggle did find some supporters among Iraqi and Iranian Kurds but focused exclusively on Turkey once the armed struggle had begun. This was, however, less due to division of the Kurds than to the fact that the PKK needed the support of Syria, and occasionally Iraq and Iran as well.

With all this diversity among the Kurds, one might be tempted to ask what would make them a single people. The division among the Kurds is an undeniable fact but it is easily overstated. There are common memories and symbols of Kurdish identity that have an emotional appeal to Kurdish people across all religious and linguistic divisions. The most powerful symbol and the most dramatic shared memory were bestowed upon them by Saddam Hussein and his cousin, 'Chemical' Ali Hassan al-Majid. Halabja, the town bombarded with poison gas on 16 March 1988, has become perhaps the most powerful symbol of Kurdish identity, of Kurdish suffering, and the determination to prevent such events from ever happening again. Strongly emotive visual images of victims and the moving lament for Halabja by the singer Sivan keep the memory of this event vivid in the minds of Kurds everywhere. The fate of Halabja, to many Kurds, changed the definition of the Kurdish question and the way they related to Kurdish identity.


Today, as at the time when Wadie Jwaideh was completing his history of Kurdish nationalism, Iraq is passing through dramatic changes. The old regime has been brought down, but the contours of the new political order that will emerge are as yet elusive. The Iraqi Kurds are in a stronger position than ever; they have for the past thirteen years administered a large part of the Kurdish region, they have the strongest military units of the country, and they are relatively united since the end of the fratricidal war of the mid-1990s. And yet, Jwaideh's comments of 45 years ago sound strangely relevant again:

"Today the Kurds occupy an extremely important region in the heart of the Middle East. They constitute the most important single national minority in that area, forming a substantial proportion of the populations of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Despite the failure of numerous Kurdish rebellions over the past thirty years in Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, Kurdish nationalism continues to be a source of deep concern to the governments of these countries. Aroused by the success of the surrounding nationalisms - Turkish, Persian, and Arab - and goaded into desperation by its own failure, Kurdish nationalism has in recent years become increasingly radical and uncompromising. For these reasons, the Kurds have come to play an increasingly significant role in Middle Eastern affairs. Their behavior is one of the important factors in the future stability and security not only of the Kurdish-inhabited countries but of the entire Middle East. Thus it is important to know the Kurds and to understand their aims, their political orientation, and the course they are likely to pursue." [31]

One can only agree with this assessment, and add that it is even more true today than when Jwaideh wrote these lines.



Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

The Politics of A-political Linguistics: Linguists and Linguicide

By Amir Hassanpour

Writing in early 1999, I feel it is fairly superfluous to question the neutrslity of linguistics or, even, 'exact sciences' such as a physics and chemistry. However, the claim to a value-free, neutral or 'autonomous' linguistics is still a powerfull one, rooted not only in the positivist-empericist tradition but also maintained by the linguists' political and ideological preferences, the interests of the discipline, and the historical context under which this area of knowledge is (re)produced and utilized. It may be useful, therfore, to examine the ways in which linguists try to de-politicize their study of languge, and, by doing so, engage in highly partisan politics.

I begin by examining a case - the linguistic study of Kurdish, a language that has been subjected to harsh measures of linguicide. The majority of linguistics who have studied the language have kept silent about the deliberate killing of the 'object' of their research by the Turkish, Iranian, and Syrian states. The policy of linguicide, enshrined in the constitutions and laws of these states, has not only denied the Kurds linguistic rights but also seriously violated the academic freedom of linguists in and out of the countries where the language is spoken. An integral element of the policy has been the suppression of academic study of the language, its dialects, geography, and history. However, linguistic studies of Kurdish avoid documenting, let alone protesting, the ways in which this linguicide not only has destroyed the life of a people but also suppressed the descipline of linguistics. It is not difficult to see that this silence allows the machinery of linguicide to operate freely in its killing fields.

Ranking fortieth in the world in terms of the number of speakers (25 to 30 million), Kurdish has been forcibly divided, since 1918, among the neighbouring states of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. It is also spoken by old and new exilic and refugee communities in Central and Western Asia, Europe, Australia and North America. Linguicide, the deliberate killing of languge - Turkey since 1925, Iran especially in 1925-1941, and Syria especially since 1960s. Even in Iraq, where the language was tolerated as an official 'local language,' a policy of Arabization was practised as a means of containing Kurdish nationalism.

The harshest policy of linguicide in our times is probably practised in Turkey, where the entire state machinery is mobilized in order to eliminate the language in both speaking and writing. Under pressure from the European Union, which is reluctant to accept Turkey's application for full membership of the union, the Turkish government introduced, in 1991, a bill into the parliament in order to legalize the speaking of the language. Today, Kurds are legally free to speak in their native tongue in private spaces, but it would be considered a crime against the 'territorial integrity' of the state if a member of the parliament or a political party uses the language in political campaigns, or if the language is used in education or broadcasting. Turkey has also used its network of embassies in order to extend its linguicidal policy to the Kurdish immigrants and refugees in Europe and North America. Turkish embassies in Denmark and Sweden have interfered in the internal affairs of these countries by demanding that Kurdish should not be taught to immigrants and children in schools and day care centres. These practices and the policy of behind them violate European and international covenants such as the Charter of the United Nations(1945), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948),the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(1966), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (in force since 1976), the Convention on the Rights of the child (1989), and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1995), some of which have been signed or ratified by Turkey.

'De-politicized' descriptions of Kurdish

The two major works, in English, on Kurdish language, McCarus (1958) and MacKenzie (1961), do not refer to the suppression of the language in any of the countries where it is spoken. Both were excellent doctoral dissertations based on field work conducted in Iraq. The former is a study of the grammar of the Sorani standard in Iraq. The latter was intended to be a descriptive study of the Kurdish dialects of Iraq and Turkey. Since the Republic of Turkey does not allow linguists to conduct field research on the language, MacKenzie was denied a research permit. However, there is no information in the book about the suppression of the language in Turkey, although the author refers to the closure of the 'field' in depoliticized language that reduces it to an accident, a technical problem of communication: 'It was originally intended to spend an equal period of time in the Kurdish-speaking areas of Turkey and Iraq. In the event, permission not being forthcoming from the Turkish authorities, some ten months were spent in northern Iraq' (MacKenzie, 1961: xvii). The author notes, later, '[a]s it was found impossible to visit eastern Turkey no new material could be obtained concerning the Kurdish dialects of that area'(ibid, xxi).

A significant case of silence is the suppression of an internal study by the Turkish Army. In 1959, the Army, the U.S.A.I.D., and Georgetown University initiated a large-scale program of adult literacy training for recruits in Turkey's armed services. The rate of failure was high among non-Turkish, especially Kurdish, speakers. In order to investigate the problem, the American educationalists on the team asked for permission 'to investigate the range of Kurdish dialectsat twenty training sites throughout Turkey' with the objective stated as 'the identification of major dialect types, their geographic location, and their relative proportions within the Kurdish-speaking population' (Bordie, 1978: 207). Data were collected through interviews and by mail. The latter included approximately 5000 short forms sent to teachers at the military literacy centres throughout the country. However, before the researchers were able to process all the collected data, the army confiscated the entire material. Only a few items at the home and office of one of the researchers were spared. Bordie is the only one, to my knowledge (my information derives from correspondence with one of the members of the research team, 20 March 1984), who has written about this event, although in a most ambiguous way. Refering to the 5000 short forms, he writes:'Approximately 1500 forms were ultimately collected. Unfortunately, due to national difficulties, the remainder of the questionnaires ramain unavailable' (Brodie, 1978, 209). One of the consulatants on the research project, a well-known specialist in Kurdish language, has never written about the event, even in one of his published papers, which is a rather detailed survey of his career as a linguist.

Reference works are expected to provide a general picture of the structure of a language, its genealogy, number of speakers, geographical distribution, history, and status. The articles on Kurdish in The Encyclopaedia of Islam(MacKenzie, 1986) and the Compendium of the World's Languages(Campbell, 1991) make no mention of the violence against the language. The article in The Encyclopedia of language and Linguistics, noted that the 'Republic of Turkey untill the late 1980s banned the use of written Kurdish.' (Kreyenbroek, 1994). This information is not accurate however. Although Kurdish is now used in book and print journalism in Turkey, it is still illegal to write in the language. Most publications in Kurdish and about it are regularly banned and confesticated, and authors, translators, publishers, distributers, and even readers are punished by the state. The article in The International Encyclopedia of Linguistics notes that Kurdish is written and used in education and media in Iraq, but in 'other countries with a Kurdish populations, publication is eaither negligible or suppressed - except in Soviet Armenia, where it has been encouraged by the state' (McCarus, 1992, 289).

Linguicide, experience, and theorisation

I have experienced linguicide as a native speaker of Kurdish. Born into a Kurdish family in a Kurdish town, I had to get my education in Persian, the only official language in Iran, a multilingual country where Persian was the native tongue of only half the population. It was illegal to speak in Kurdish in the school environment or to own any writing in my native tongue. Fearing prison and torture of her children, my mother burnt, four times during my life, the few Kurdish books and records we had acquired candesinely. At Tehran University, where I studied linguistics (1968-1972), my professors rarely referred to Kurdish, and when they did, it was always called a 'dialect' of Persian. Calling Kurdish a 'language' would be considered 'secessionism.' By contrast, in the United States where I continued my studies ans wrote a doctoral dissertation on Kurdish. I enjoyed unlimite political and acdemic freedom to conduct research on the language. This freedom was, however, constrained by the conceptual and theoretical limitations of the discipline of linguistics.

While linguists and others had recorded cases of the repression of individual languges, the practice was not yet conceptualised and theorised as an aspect of the unequal distribution of social, political, and cultural power. No introductory linguistics textbook dealt with what I had experienced as a native speaker of a language subjected to state violence. I had to axhaust the excellent resources of the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in order to find, in the literature on particular languages, the use of concepts such as 'linguistic genocide,' 'language death,' 'dying language,' or 'language suicide.' Indeed, I discovered that the 'Association pour le d'efense des langues et cultures menac'ees' located in Brussels, Belgium, had, in 1976, presented to the Iraqi government about its Arabization policy in Kurdistan. However, these ideas were not yet integrated, theoretically, into the 'sciences of language.'

The question of language repression was integral to the topic of my dissertation, 'The language factor in national development: The standardisation of the Kurdish language, 1918-1985', which was later published (Hassanpour, 1992). I found a rather obscure publication, Rudnyckyj's essay Language Rights and Linguicide, published in Munich by Ukrainisches Rechnisch-Wirtschaftliches Institut in 1967. 'Linguicide' was the right concept for interpreting the experience of Kurdish under the modernising and centralising states formed in the aftermath of World War I in Western Asia. Cobarrubias (1983) elaborated a taxonomy of 'official attitudes' toward minority languages, which included 'attempting to kill a language' and 'letting a language die' as official policies. This still marginal but evolving conceptual repertoire allowed me to organise my abundant data about decades of repression and resistance. At the same time, Kurdish provided ample evidence for the indispensability of the concept 'linguicide' and the need for further conceptual refinement and theoretical advances.

Emotions and science

This opening in the rather closed conceptual space could, however, be slammed shut by academic requirements of 'neutrality' and 'objectivity.' While the members of my dissertation committee did not complain about 'researcher bias,' I was myself concerned. I sent the draft of the first five chapters to a friend, a non-Kurd who had finished a dissertation on the Kurdish language, particularly inviting comments about political overtones in my writing. Some of the comments were (private correspondence, April 10, 1985): ... it isn't 'dissertation style', which made what you wrote hard to read. There is anger in what you write. Anger against what happened to the Kurds. Although I suspect this anger gives you the energy to do what you are doing, I wish you could find a way to keep it from dedening and flattening your discussions and analyses... It is so difficult to write about things you care about deeply in that bloodless, academic style. If you have those strong feelings and then you try to push them out of your writing, they sneak in somehow. If it was a problem for me to detach myself from feelings due to having experienced oppression as a native speaker of Kurdish, I think the problem for non-native researchers is for them to access at least some degree of emotional involvment in relation to a repressive system which they never experienced, but one which had killed the 'object' of their study, violated their academic freedom in many ways, constrained the development of the discipline of linguistics, and violated the dignity and freedom of millions of human beings.

Soon after receiving the comments from my friend, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see Tove Skutnabb-Kangas's book, Bilingualism or Not: The Education of Minorities (1984a). The book had just been catalogued and put on the 'new books' shelf at the Modern Languages Library of the university. I did not expect any reference to Kurdish in a book on the topic, although I was intersted in knowing what it had to say about standardisation, minority education and minority languages. Literature on such topics was rarely if ever used by theorists or testbook writers in linguistics, and most studies of Kurdish were written by the philologists and linguists intersted in the Middle East. I had never seen any reference to Kurdish in any linguistics textbook, except those dealing in some detail with the Indo-European language family.

In her book, Tove briefly recounted the story of how the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen had tried to prevent the teaching of Kurdish to Kurdish immigrants in Denmark. She referred to the language as 'oppressed' and 'forbidden,' and made a useful distinction between 'physical violence' and 'symbolic and structural violence' against languages and their users. Tove's work encouraged me to dig more deeply into all forms of violence committed by the state against a language and its speakers, writers, readers, and, researchers. I was, at the same time, able to record extensive resistance against physical, symbolic, and structural forms of violence in every arae of language use.

Our knowledge of linguicide and language death has made a great leap forward since the early 1980s. Tove;s work has been indispensable here. She and Robert Philipson contributed the first article on linguicide in a reference work on language (The Encyclopedia of language and Linguistics, Pergamon, 1994). She makes effective use of the Kurdish case in her flourishing work on language policy, language rights, and linguistic human rights. Her writings are permeated by a deep commitment to justice, equality, freedom, and democracy. In an evolving 'world linguistic order' which kills one language every two weeks, Tove's works contribute to our knowledge about the life and death of the miracle of language. Her academic research is inseprarable from her practice of campaigning to save threatened languges, democratise the highly unequal and opressive world linguistic order, and promote and egalitarian distribution of linguistic power. Tove's life is thus in the tradition of intellectuals such as Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Noam Chmsky who resist the status quo.

Globization, the market, linguicide, and linguists

Language death, an ancient phenomenon, is complex and of multiple origins. In our times the dynamics of decline and eventual extinction is distinguished from previous periods by, among other things, the formation of a 'world linguistic order,' the increasing proliferation of new communication technologies, and unceasing globalization. I find it necessary, however, to distinguish, theoretically, between the killing of language by the state and the market, although the two rarely operate independently. The killer is, in the case of Kurdish, clearly the institutions of the state, and the international order that allows it to happen in Turkey, Iran, and Syria. By contrast, the contemporary killer of hundreds of small languages in North America or Australia is primarily the market. While the state, for instance in Canada or the Unted States, does not and cannot prevent a First nation from publishing an encyclopedia or daily paper in its native tongue, the market does so, and always invisibly but ruthlessly. The political and legal freedom to teach in the native tongue or use it in media is almost completly constrained by the dialects of the market.

If Kurdish is killed by the institutions of the state in the killing fields of Kurdistan, the forces of the state and the market combine to constrain its study in the West. I focus here on the academic environment where the theoretical and methodological ilimitations of the discipline enter into complex relationships with the market and the state. The closure of the Kurdish speech area to field researchers discourage students from conducting research on the languagae; it deters, in turn, faculty members from supervising student research not based on field work; in like fashion, research grants cannot be obtained for such topics, nor is the resulting dearth of research conductive to course oferrings; this environment prevents publishers from investing in books and journals on the topic; library collections for Kurdish material are, therfore, necessarily poor. With a few exceptions. none of the Middle Eastern studies departments in European and North American universities offers any Kurdish langauge courses. The majority teach only the four state languages of the region, i.e. Arabic, Turkish, Persian and Hebrew. It is not easy to break out of this vicious circle, which is sustained by the highly unequal distribution of power between a non-state people, the Kurds, and the nation-state system. The Turkish state, one of the worst language killers, is a NATO member, and an indispensable ally of the United States and other Western powers. Linguists are, however, in a good position, theoretically and ethically, to resist the policy and practice of linguicide. Some students of genocide already treat linguicide and ethnocide as subcategories of genocide (Charny, 1994). Silence about the linguicide of Kurdish or other languages is, I contend, a political position which cannot be justified by claims to the neutrality or autonomy of linguistics.


  1. Bordei,John (1978). Kurdish dialects in Eastern Turkey. in Jazayery, Mohammad Ali et al (eds.), Linguistic and Literary Studies in Honour of Archibald A. Hill, Vol. II, Descriptive Linguistics. The Hague:Mouton, 205-212.
  2. Campbell,George(1991). Kurdish. Compendium of the World's Languages. Vol. 1.London: Routledge, 769-773.
  3. Cobarrubias,Juan(1983)Ethical issues in languge planning. In Cobarrubias, Juan & Fishman, Joshua A.(eds.) Progress in Language Planning: International Perspectives. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 41-85.
  4. Hassanpour, Amir(1992).Natinalism and Language in Kurdistan, 1918-1985.San Francisco: Mellon Research University Press.
  5. Kreyenbroek,Philip G. (1994). Kurdish. The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1880-1881.
  6. MacKenzie,David N.(1986). Kurds, Kurdistan. V. Language. The Encyclopedia of Islam. New Edition, Vol. 5. Leiden: E. J. Brill. 475-480.
  7. McCarus,Ernest(1958).A Kurdish Grammar: Descriptive Analysis of the Kurdish of Sulaimaniya, Iraq. New York: American Council of Learned Societies.
  8. McCarus,Ernest(1992). Kurdish. International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Vol. 2. New York: Oxford University Press, 289-94.

Source: In Rights to Language, Equity, Power, and Education, Celebrating the 60th Birthday of Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Edited by Robert Phillipson, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, publishers, 2000, pp 33-39.


Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

The Shabak and the Kakais

The Shabak and the Kakais:
Dynamics of Ethnicity in Iraqi Kurdistan

By Dr. Michiel Leezenberg

ILLC - Department of Humanities, University of Amsterdam
Website: the official home page


The Shabak and the Kakais are two of the many heterodox communities in Iraqi Kurdistan. They probably emerged as distinct ethnic groups around the 16th century, against the background of Ottornan-Safavid rivalries in the region. Recently, they have had an ambiguous position amidst the ethnic diversity of the region. Special attention is paid to the destructive policies of ethnic homogeneization and assimilation carried out by the Iraqi government in the 1970s and 1980s. The paper concludes with some dialect samples, which show their vernaculars to be varieties of the Gorani or Hawrami dialects.


Very little is known as of yet about the small pockets of heterodox groups scattered along the fringes of Iraqi Kurdistan, stretching all the way from Tell 'Afar and Mosul over Kirkuk to Khanaqin and beyond. These communities, such as the Shabak, the Bajalan, the Sarli, the Kakais or Ahl-i-Haqq, and the Yezidis all have a hereditary class of religious specialists of different ranks; the laymen are associated with such religious specialists, who thus have an important role in maintaining group cohesion. In this, these groups resemble orthodox Sufi orders or tariqats, but their religious beliefs and practices form a mixture of heterodox Islam and pre-Islamic elements. Except for the Yezidis, who speak Kurmanci or Badinani Kurdish, they are also marked off by their dialect: many (though by no means all) of their members speak a variety of Gorani, or Hawrami or Macho as it is usually called by locals. However, the local varieties in religious doctrine and dialect, and the relations between these groups, have hardly received the attention they deserve. The present paper deals with some of the characteristics of two of them: the Shabak and the Kakais. A third, the Sarli, will appear to constitute an interesting area of contact between these two. Little new ethnographic information will be presented here; the focus lies rather on some recent developments in their social structure (especially the dramatic influence of recent policies of the Iraqi government), and on the dialect varieties they speak. The new data I have been able to gather are still preliminary and limited in scope, but I believe that they may be of interest even in their present state. Nonetheless, it is to be hoped that these notes will be supplemented, if not rendered superfluous, by more detailed future investigations.

1. Historical background

Much of the history of the groups under consideration remains unclear, as they largely developed outside the major centers of the Islamic world. It has repeatedly been attempted to trace the origins of the heterodox communities in present-day Eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, and Western Iran back to pre-Islamic times, but their emergence as distinct ethnic groups should primarily be seen against the background of the turbulent period between the Mongol invasions and the consolidation of the Ottoman and Safavid empires (13th-17th centuries CE). This period was characterized by political uncertainty, a quick succession of various local dynasties, and a relative power vacuum in the countryside. At the local level, intensive contacts between peoples of diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds took place. These circumstances were a fertile ground for the emerging of new local forms of social organization, and the blending of divergent religious ideas. The Turkmen tribes that had started entering the region in the tenth century were outwardly orthodox Sunni Islamic mystics imbued with a strong ghazi (religious warrior) spirit, but in fact their religious beliefs were quite heterodox, and contained elements from Shilite Islam, Central Asian shamanism, and Christianity. They seem to have mixed freely with the rural population of Anatolia, which at first was still largely Christian, but quickly converted to these folk varieties of Islam. Several authors suggest that various Christian elements found their way into the religious practices of the newly emerging groups, and that these elements may have derived from heterodox Christian sects like the Paulicians living in the mountainous parts of eastern Anatolia, rather than from the orthodox Byzantine church which at that time still constituted the state religion in that area (cf. Barnes 1992: 35). Many of these practices of presumably Christian origin can still be found today among the Alevis, the Shabak, and the Kakais.1 Others, e.g. Roux 1969, stress the parallels between the religion of the Ahl-i Haqq and the Turkish Alevis on the one hand, and the pre-Islamic beliefs and practices of the Turkish peoples of Central Asia on the other.

In the countryside, wandering mystics (e.g. qalandars and babas) appealed to the peasant population with distinctly rnillenarian ideas, such as the promise of an end to injustice and the dawning of a new era for the faithful. These charismatic leaders organized their following largely in the form of Sufi orders. They tended to downplay the differences between mystical Islam and other religious ideas. Under the cover of orthodox Sufism, they spread doctrines that could hardly be called Islamic, such as the belief in metempsychosis and in the manifestation of the divine in human beings. Although the conceptual and doctrinal base of Sufism had been laid by the ninth century CE, Sufi orders or tariqats became widespread as a form of social organization from the twelfth century onwards, following the social upheaval caused by the Seljuk and especially the Mongol invasions (Lapidus 1992: 26; cf. Trimingham 1971: ch. 2). The rise of local orders in this period may perhaps be compared to the rapid growth of especially the Naqshbendi Sufi order in the power vacuum that followed the abolishment of the Kurdish emirates in the Ottoman empire in the nineteenth century (cf. Van Bruinessen 1989: ch. 4). Hamzeh'ee (1990: Ch. 8) specifically argues that the Ahl-i Haqq emerged as a social movement which proclaimed millenarism, egalitarism, nativism, and a dualistic theology during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; in this respect, he considers them comparable to earlier Iranian social movements like the Mazdakites.2

1). livanow 1953 discusses possible Paulician influences on the Kakai rites; Birge 1937: 215ff. briefly discusses the question of Christian influences on the Turkoman tribes that developed into Bektashis. Sarraf (1954: 47; cf. Vinogradov 1974: 214) mentions the drinking of wine during rituals, confession to the baba, and the worship of a 'Holy Trinity' consisting of Allah, Mohammed, and Ali as having a Christian origin.
2). In his review of this book, however, Kreyenbroek (BSOAS 1991) argues that Hamzeh'ee overemphasizes the millenarian and egalitarian elements; likewise, the dualistic elements were probably not yet very explicit at this time (cf. Van Bruinessen n.d.).

One of these tariqats, headed by Shaikh Safi al-Din in Ardabil, developed into a militant movement of ghazis during the fifteenth century., Safi's descendants, the founders of the Safavid empire in Persia, started propagating heterodox Islam and portraying themselves as manifestations of Ali, in order to appeal to the Alevi predilections of the masses in Eastem Anatolia (cf. Mazzaoui 1972). The largely Turkoman warrior tribes that fought on their side were marked by their red headgear, and were consequently called Qizjbash ('redheads').

Over several centuries, folk Islam and Sufism thus grew at the expense of orthodox Sunni and Shi'ite Islam. Only during the 16th century did the Ottoman and Safavid authorities start to impose anything like a state religion on the local population. After the batde of Chaldiran (1514), Sultan Selim had thousands of Alevis massacred; the Qizilbash remaining in Ottoman territory thus had to hide their religious beliefs, e.g. by joining the (outwardly Sunni) Bektashi order, if they wanted to escape persecution.1 Most Sufi orders were not disbanded, however. The reason for this was obvious: they had been used, and continued to be used, as fighter bands by the central authorities. Thus, the Bektashi order continued to play a leading role in the janissaries, the sultan's elite troops, until the nineteenth century. Other groups whose orthodoxy could similarly be doubted likewise retained, or acquired, a privileged position: the Bajalan, who came to Mosul in the eighteenth entury, were reportedly employed as tax collectors; the Kakais also seem to have maintained good relations with the Ottoman vas, and at times even to have supplied local notables (Edmonds 1957: 190). This partly explains the fact that heterodox groups like the Shabak could continue to live without major problems in the plains near Mosul, and the Kakais around Kirkuk,- not exactly areas that are isolated from the rest of the world or remote from the central authorities.

The status of these groups as distinct ethnic entities leaves room for discussion. Because of the considerable dose of pre- and non-Islamic belief elements among them, it seems somewhat of an oversimplification just to call them ghulit (extremist Shi'ite) sects, as e.g. Moosa (1988) does; in fact, at present some of them have such heterodox beliefs that their neighbours do not see them as Muslims at all. There are indications, however, that several of these groups, e.g. the Kakais and the Yezidis, were at first still considered orthodox Sufi tarigats; in other words, the heterodoxy of these groups either increased over time, or came to be stressed more as the mark of a distinct ethnicity.2 Ethnically, however, the members of these groups that I talked to all appeared to consider themselves Kurds without hesitation; some of them had long been active in the Kurdish nationalist movement. Clearly, they saw no contradiction between themselves as members of a religiously and linguistically distinct group, and as Kurds in a more generic sense. There need of course not be any friction in seeing oneself as a member of different ethnic groups at different levels of integration: for example, an individual may equally well consider himself an inhabitant of a specific village, a Shabak, a Kurd, and an Iraqi national, and emphasis any one of these respective ethnicities in different contexts.

l). Cf. Trimingham (1970: 82-3). Vinogradov (1974: 210) states that the Shabak, Bajalan and Sarli also practised taqiyya (the dissimulation of one's real faith) under the protective cloak of the Bektashis, but I found no evidence that they ever had any formal ties with that order.
2). Van Bruinessen (n.d.) notes the apparently recent development of a dualist theology among the Yadegari and Khamushi Ahl-i Haqq in the Guran district of Iran, in opposition to the Ibrahimi subsect. He further argues that these doctrinal innovations are based on older, orally preserved dualist traditions, or are perhaps borrowed from the Yezidis with whom some Yadegari sayyids appear to have had close contacts in the nineteenth century.


The Shabak and the Kakais, like the other heterodox groups, thus occupy a somewhat ambiguous position in the ethnic mosaic of the region. At one point in the 1980s, however, the inhabitants of Northern Iraq were forced to make a single and unambiguous choice as to their ethnic affiliation,- a choice which, as we shall see, could have dramatic consequences.

The choice of a generic label for these communities deserves some further attention. AI-Shwani (1989) discusses the Arabic ethnic labels that could apply to the Kakais, but his discussion is equally relevant for the other groups. To begin with, the Kakais and other groups do not appear to think of themselves as having a separate 'national identity' (qawmiyya), as the Kurds as a whole or the Arabs would. Because of their nontribal organization, labels for tribes or subtribes such as ashaet or qabale do not fit either. Likewise, the term tariqat, cpath', the conventional label for Sufi orders, would present these groups as more orthodox than they really are (the notion of a 'path' to God suggests that each individual can experience the divine, whereas in fact the groups dealt with here are more esoteric, with only initiates of different ranks, such as the pa and babas, approaching full knowledge of the divine, expressed as haqq, or 'truth'), and downplay their features that cannot be traced to Islamic traditions. It also emphasizes doctrinal rather than organizational aspects. Al-Shwani concludes that the Kakais are best called a nihla (sect or creed); but this term also overemphasizes the religious aspect. In fact, the most appropriate term to cover all of these groups would be tayfa, a general expression that can refer to groups of different kinds, such as religious sects or denominations (Yezidis, Kakais, and Christians), and even to tribes and dervish orders.1 The main points to be kept in mind concerning these communities is that they do not have a tribal or kinship-based organization themselves, although some of their members may have tribal affiliations, and that they are considered separate ethnic groups in virtue of their religion rather than their language.

2. The Shabak

Traditionally, the Shabak mosdy lived in a number of small villages east of Mosul, all the way up to Eski Kalak on the Greater Zab river (see map). Their direct neighbors are Christians and Bajalan (with whom they sometimes live in the same village), Turkornans, Arabs, and a bit further northward Yezidis. Among his neighbours, one Shabak informant also mentioned Kakais, especially living near the Greater Zab river; by these, he presumably meant the Sarli living around Eski Kaiak. The present-day number of Shabak is difficult to estimate. My informant claimed a total of 100,000, living in 60-odd villages and including several thousands living in the city of Mosul. The 1960 Iraqi census listed 15,000, living in 35 villages; the British had estimated their number at around 10,000 in 1925 (Vinogradov 1974: 208).

Early ethnographic reports give scanty, and sometimes inadequate, information: Rich (1836: 83, 84, 105) mentions that some of the villages he passed on his way from Arbil to Mosul were inhabited by 'Rozhbian and Bajilan Kurds' (groups that are close to the Shabak), but does not give any information about their dialects or religious practices. Austin Henry Layard (1867: 216), who spent considerable time conducting archaeological excavations in the Shabak area, considered them descendants of Kurds originating from Persia, and believed they might have affinities with the Ali Ilahis or Ahl-i Haqq (cf. Minorsky 1920: 84).

l). I owe this point to Martin van Bruinessen (personal communication).


Among the Kurdish tribes in the Ottoman empire, Sykes (1908: 455-6) lists 500 Shabak families, 'sedentary, said to be Shias by sorne, others affirm them to have a secret religion, others that they are Babis, others that they acknowledge a prophet named Baba'. Baba is in fact the title of their highest religious leader, rather than the name of a specific individual. Incidentally, all of these authors consider the Shabak, and their close neighbours the Bajalan, as Kurds.

There are also some studies in Arabic, e.g. al-Karmali 1902, ai-Ghulami 1950, and Sarraf 1954; these stress the Shabak's Turkoman features.1 Sarraf (1954: 47, 89f) discusses the Shabak against the background of the Bektashi-Qizilbash. He offers several hypotheses regarding their origins, and tends to favour the view that they came to Nortern Iraq together with the Safavids. He does not consider the Shabak to be Kurds, because they 'speak a different language' (which he believes is a mixture of several languages, with Turkish predominating). Moosa (1988: ch. 1), who largely relies on these works, argues that the Shabak are probably Turkomans originating from Anatolia, who became adherents of Shah Ismail, and consequently had to resettle in the Mosul region after the latter's decisive defeat by the Ottomans at Chaldiran (1514). As circumstantial evidence for this hypothesis, he also adduces their language (which he, like Sarraf, considers 'basically Turkish mixed with Persian, Kurdish, and Arabic'); the fact that their sacred book, the Buyruk or Kitab al-Managib ('Book of Exemplary Acts'), is written in Turkoman; and their doctrinal affinities with the Bektashis and Alevis in Turkey. This view is certainly an oversimplification: the spoken Shabak vernacular is, in fact, a Gorani or Hawrami variety (see below), and there is no evidence that the Shabak already had contacts with the Bektashis in the early sixteenth century.

It is unclear precisely when the Shabak emerged as a distinct ethnic group, and what their ethnic background is. Likewise, the relation between the Shabak and the Bajalan (also called Bajwan) living in the Khosar valley North of Mosul, remains unclear. Sykes (1908: 456) appears to consider the two wholly distinct: he lists 800 Bejwan families, who 'speak a mixed language, apparently half Arabic, half Kurdish, said by neighbours to be of Turkish origin and to be followers of Hajji Bektash'. MacKenzie 1956, by contrast, uses the two names as practically synonymous, or, perhaps, 'Shabak' as the word by which they call themselves, and 'Bajalan' as the name given them by their (Arab) neighbours. Undoubtedly, the two groups are quite closely related, but there is reason to keep them apart: the Bajalani vernacular is linguistically quite close to, but not identical with, the Shabak dialect (see 5 5).2 The Bajalan, unlike the Shabak, are organized tribally, and they seem to be heterodox Sunnis rather than Shi'ites. A Shabak informant spoke of three tayfa's of Shabak: the Shabak proper, the Bajalan, and the Zengana (which all speak Gorani), but did not elaborate on this. He also referred to the Shabak as an ashîet and as a mantiqa (territory) at times, and listed three tribes (ashket) of Shabak: the Hariri, the Gergeri, and the Mawsil î. Informants in Sfîye likewise considered the Bajalan a Shabak tribe. Taken as a whole, however, the Shabak have never been a tribe, so these remarks perhaps indicate the status of the Bajalan as a distinct tribal subgroup among the Shabak community.

1). Unfortunately, these studies were largely inaccessible to me; Philip Kreyenbroek. kindly supplied me with Xerox copies of relevant passages from Sarraf's book. Moosa (1988: ch. ) summarizes the main arguments of these authors.
2). Local informants also classified Rojbeyani as a Gorani dialect, which would make it a close relative of Shabaki and Bajaiani, but I was not able to collect any samples to verify this claim.

Locals see the very name Shabak, which they derive from Arabic shabaka. 'to intertwine', as an indication that the Shabak are composed of many different tribes (cf. Vinogradov 1974: 210). For nationalists of various kinds, it has been tempting to overemphasize one of these component features, and to claim that the Shabak are 'really' Arabs, or Kurds, or Turkomans.

Although the Shabak's religious beliefs seem to be comparable to those of other groups with a Qizilbash background, so little is known with certainty that I will abstain from a more detailed description. The Shabak with whom I spoke were reluctant to talk about their religion, and claimed to be 'just Muslims'. Their social organization appears to be much like that of a Sufi order: adult laymen (mur îds) are bound to spiritual guides (pîs or murshîds) who are knowledgeable in matters of religious doctrine and ritual. There are several ranks of such pîs; at the top stands the Baba, or supreme head of the order. Theoretically individuals can choose their own pîr, but in practice the par families often become associated with lay families over several generations, and thus help to give some social coherence to the otherwise rather loose community (Vinogradov 1974: 214). The Shabak maintain good relations with the Yezidis, and make pilgrimages to Yezidi shrines. This, incidentally, contradicts the beliefs of some scholars that the Yezidis are just extremist Sunnis, and thus hereditary enemies of everything Shi'ite.l The Qizilbash background of the Shabak also shows in the fact that they consider the Safavid Shah Ismael's poetry to be revealed by God, and recite it during meetings (Vinogradov 1974: 217n). Daad Chelebi (quoted in al-Azzawi 1949: 98) reported the Shabak as making pilgrimages to Shi'ite holy cities such as Najaf and Kerbela, rather than to Mecca.

Apart from these religious leaders, the Shabak also had two kinds of patrons in more worldly affairs. In pre-revolutionary Iraq, the Shabak were a rather lowstatus group; most of them worked as sharecroppers on land privately owned by orthodox holy families (sida, plural of sayyid) living in the city of Mosul. These sida, originating from Kufa and Hijaz, had been brought to Mosul by the Ottoman authorities, who also gave them land in return for their services; they acted as intermediaries between the Shabak and the government in case of conflicts with neighbouring tribes, and helped Shabak coming to the city to sell their products. Apart from these urban landlords, there also were rural patrons, themselves Shabak, who had been able to buy their own land. Interestingly, the Shabak who achieved such upward social mobility and moved to the city quickly became Arabized, and converted to orthodox tweiver Shi'ism; some of them even started claiming sida status for themselves. These rural sida could also act as mediators in conflicts, but this bond of patronage was apparently less stable and institutionalized than that with the urban sida (Vinogradov 1974: 210-213).

After the 1958 and 1963 land reforms, a good many of the formerly landless Shabak peasants bought their own land; others migrated to the city to find work in factories. Because of this new economic independence, traditional relations between sida and tenant started to disintegrate. To some extent, the ties with the urban sida persisted, the former landlords now providing food and lodging to rural Shabak visiting Mosul, and helping them with the sale of their products in the markets (cf. Rassam 1977). In general, the Shabak appear to have steadily

1). A Yezidi pî from Sheykhan, however, denied that Shabaks pray in Yezidi sanctuaries. He added that the two groups have close contacts (thus, the Mamusi tribe contains both Yezidi and Shabak members), but are not allowed to intermarry.


disintegrated as a social group in the republican period. Many Shabak who had moved to Mosul to find work quickly became assimilated to their predominantly Arab surroundings; as said, according to Vinogradov, many of them converted to Twelver Shi'ism. Another way of upward social mobility and integration into the state was the army. Many Shabak joined the armed forces, a development perhaps somewhat in contrast with the Shabak's traditional reputation: they were held in low esteem, and not considered fighters by their neighbours (Vinogradov 1974: 216).

As a result of the changing social and economic environment in the Republican era, the traditional double patronage system either weakened or changed in character: the Shabak gradually became more directly integrated into the state, and started losing their status as a distinct group relying on its own middlemen. From the 1970s onwards, the Shabak gradually became entangled in the conflict between the Arabic-nationalist Baath government and the Kurdish movement led by Barzani. I have no information, however, that they sided en masse with either party. The government tried to co-opt them, and to impress on them that although they were religiously distinct, they were Arabs rather than Kurds. Apparently, however, it came to feel that it had been less than successful in these assimilation policies: in the late summer of 1988, it had many Shabak villages evacuated and destroyed, and their inhabitants deported. The reason for the Shabak being deported was, according to several informants, the fact that they had declared themselves Kurds rather than Arabs.

At least twenty-two Shabak villages were destroyed in whole or in part (variants of names in other sources appear in brackets): Baderna, Bajarbo, Barzikta, Baskhra, Bazwiya, Gogceri (= Gogjali, Tm. Gökcek?), Kani Kerwan, Karkashan, Keberlin, Minara, Muftiye, Qahrawa, Shaikh Emir, Shaikh Sheley, Shawkuli, Muftiyeh, Tercileh, Teyrawa, Toba Ziyaret (=Toprak Ziyaret?), Tobzawa, Xezne, Xrawa (= Orta Xarâb?), and Zara Khatun.1 From these villages, an estimated 3,000 Shabak families were deported to the mujamma's or collective towns of Desht Harir and Basirma north of Shaqlawa (Arbil governorate), and to Bazian, Tekkiya and Chor near Chemchemal (Kirkuk). In these resettlement camps, they no longer had any sources of income, and became wholly dependent on the state. They were not given any compensation for destroyed or confiscated property, and not allowed to return or to buy cars. In the autumn of 1990, however, most of them were allowed to return to their home regions, reportedly after one of their leaders had said that they were Arabs after all. Another reason, probably more relevant for the government, may have been the fact that Iraq was facing an economic embargo since the occupation of Kuwait in August 1990, and therefore needed to stimulate the domestic agricultural sector, which in the North had been largely destroyed in the preceding years.

The fact that the Shabak were deported after declaring themselves Kurds suggests that the administrative basis of these deportations was the census held by the Iraqi government in October 1987. In this census, people could register their ethnicity as either Arabic or Kurdish; other options for indicating a distinct ethnicity based on either linguistic or religious criteria, such as 'Turkoman' or 'Assyrian', were not given.

II have not been able to locate all of these villages, but most of them lie near the Mosul-Arbil highway, i.e. East and Southeast of Mosul. A spokesman of the Iraqi National Turkoman Party confirmed some of these villages to have been destroyed (incidentally, he considered them Turkoman). Surprisingly, none of them appears in Rasool (1990), which does list 19 villages destroyed in the same period in the Sheykhan region, slightly further North.

In this way, the census forced the inhabitants of the North to 'rejoin the national ranks' by declaring themselves Arabs, or in the case of the Kurds living in 'prohibited zones' (i.e., areas under peshmerga control), to leave their villages for the mujamma's in government-controlled territory. Many whom the government considered to be Arabs, but saw themselves as Kurds were to be deported from their home villages. Those who lived in 'prohibited zones' and failed to register lost their Iraqi citizenship, and were from then on considered deserters; they became prime targets during the notorious Anfal operations (Middle East Watch 1993: 84-90).

The testimonies regarding the Shabak are to a large extent corroborated by a classified document from the Arbil Security Office (,Amn.Arbil) to local security branches, dated August 31, 1988, which was captured during the 1991 uprising. The full text of the document, with reference number SH.S.S//13069//, reads:

'We were informed as follows:

1. There are elements from the Shabak who joined the National Defense Battalions and who changed their ethnicity (qawmiyya) from Arab to Kurd and are residents of Nineveh governorate.

2. The Struggling Comrade All Hassan AI-Majid, head of the Northern Bureau, has ordered the destruction of all their houses, and their deportation to the housing complexes (mujammal) in our governorate. They will absolutely not be compensated.

For your information. Take whatever measures are necessary, and keep us informed.

[Signature] Colonel of Security/Director of Security of Arbil Governoratel (Middle East Watch 1994: 29-30, MEW Ref. 45/5-B)

This document strongly suggests that itwas indeed the 1987 census that determined the fate of the Shabak villagers who wanted to consider themselves Kurds rather than Arabs. The reason why the deportations were not carried out right after the census was probably that the Iraqi army was still largely preoccupied with the war against Iran at that time. After the armistice in August 1988, the Fifth Army Corps was moved to Mosul region in order to carry out the Final Anfal operation in the Badinan region, and these troops were also engaged in carrying out the deportations of the Shabak living in Nineveh Governorate slightly further South, which did not contain any 'prohibited zones'. No executions or mass arrests are claimed to have occurred in these operations. A Shabak interviewed in 1992, however, stated that the Fifth Army Corps was still stationed in the area at that time, and that it continued to terrorize the returned villagers.

The deportations of Shabak, then, were not part of the Anfal operations proper, but rather a final stage in the Arabization program of the entire Northern region that had been initiated by the government in 1975. In all likelihood, however, they were carried out on the basis of the same census that served as the basis for the Anfal, and the Arbil Security letter makes clear that the ultimate responsibility lies with the same individual that organized the Anfal operations: Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddarn Hussein's cousin and at that time Head of the Northern Bureau of the Baath party.

The choice of which superordinate ethnic group one belongs to appears to have had particularly dramatic consequences for the Shabak. Deprived of the option to identify themselves as a distinct group, they were left with the choice of declaring their loyalty to the government by defining themselves as Arabs, or registering as Kurds and facing harsh government reprisals. It is impossible to measure the effects of the deportations on their (already eroding) specific ethnic identity, but it seems to have been further effaced. The Shabak in the liberated area see themselves more unambiguously as Kurds, and less as a distinct (sub-) group, than they did earlier. As one of them asked: 'if we are Arabs as they say we are, then why did they deport us like the other Kurds?' Their religious ties seem to have been partly severed by their dispersal. The majority, living in Mosul and its environs, undoubtedly continue to be subject to assimilation efforts; but as this territory is still under government control, hardly any information about their predicament is available.


3. The Kakais or Ahl-i Haqq

The Ahl-i Haqq ('People of the Truth') live scattered over Iraqi Kurdistan, and in various regions in Iran, especially the Guran district and Azerbayjan. Estirnates as to their numbers vary from several tens of thousands to over two million; the majority live in Iran. In Iraq, they are usually referred to as Kakais, whereas in Iran they are called Yaresan. Most descriptions focus on the Ahl-i Haqq on the Iranian side of the border: this holds for the earlier works, like Rawlinson (1839), Gobineau (1859), and Minorsky's important monograph (1920, 1921) as well as for more recent studies, such as Van Bruinessen (n.d.) and Hamzeh'ee (1990). The branches in Iraq receive due attention in al-Azzawi (1949), Edmonds (1957: 182-201),(1969), Hawramani (1984) and Moosa (1988: ch. 14-21).

Apparently, the order of the Kakais was founded in Hawraman by a Sayyid Ishaq (later also called Sultan Sohak) originating from Barzinja in the early fourteenth century CE.1 There have been doubts as to whether this Sultan Sohak was a historical person, but his name is mentioned in a 17th-century document concerning his successor Baba Yadegar (Mokri 1970). Interestingly, this text also suggests that at that time, the Kakais were still considered a Sufi tariqa rather than a heterodox group (cf. Van Bruinessen 1991: 68). Associated with Sultan Sohak were seven disciples called the Haft Tan; the most important of these, Daiad, becarne the superintendent of the Haft Khalifa ('seven vicars') selected by Sultan Sohak to be dolls (guides) for the whole Ahl-i Haqq community. Sultan Sohak's seven sons, called the Haftawana, are considered the basis of five 'founded families' of sîids; the Ibrahirni 'family' appears to be by far the most widespread of these in Iraqi Kurdistan. Later on, five other families of sayyids arose. The most important of these are the Baba Yadegari and Ateshbegi families, both concentrated in Iran; the latter in particular introduced a number of doctrinal innovations. These differences in doctrine and practices rnake it difficult to speak of a single Ahl-i Haqq tradition (cf. v. Bruinessen n.d.)

The Kakais, like the Shabak, have a hereditary group of religious specialists. Their social hierarchy contains four levels: sayyids, bawas (cf. Persian baba), mams, and murîds. Doctrinal expertise resides with the kalamkhwans, who may come from any of these classes. Kakai murîds must be associated with a sîid from one of the ten families who acts as their pî or spiritual guide, and also with a Khalifa family acting as representative of a dald; in theory, laymen are free to choose their own guides, but in practice these relations are usually passed on between the generations.


laccording to AI-Shwani (1989), the Arab historian al-Mas'udi (d. 346 AH) already wrote of the Kakaiyya as a distinct tribe rather than as a distinct religious group; but it may be doubted whether he was really referring to the same group as the present-day Kakais, who cannot be traced further back than the fourteenth century.

As individuals belonging to a sayyid are considered part of his 'family', murîds cannot intermarry with their pî or dalg. In this way, a symbolic kind of kinship is created among the adherents, who are otherwise not organized along kinship lines. According to some kalamkhwans, the pî is as God to his murîds. One of them once heard some muri'ds address their Ibrahimi sîid as 'son of Shah Ibrahim', the word Shah suggesting that Ibrahim had been an incarnation of the Deity; he corrected them and said that they themselves were Ibrahim's sons, because their sayyid was [the reincarnation of] Ibrahim himself.1 Organizationally, the Kakais are thus essentially a 'dervish brotherhood' or tariqa (Edmonds 1957: 190), but like the Shabak, they have more strongly esoteric beliefs, focused on a divine reality (Haqq) revealed to only a few members of the community. As seen above, the terrn tayfa is most appropriate to this kind of organization, but at times the Kakais are also referred to as a Kurdish tribe (ash7ret) by outsiders.

The most important Kakai area in Iraq is a group of villages around Taclq (also called DaqCiq), Southeast of Kirkuk. Interestingly, these settlements are relatively recent, the lands having been bought by some 19th-century Ibrahimi sayyids, and populated with Kakai mur7ds from the nearby hills. Other concentrations of Kakai villages, also mostly Ibrahimi, are around Khanaqin and Qasr-i Shirin.2 Of the original heartlands of the Kakai community on the border with Iran, near Halabja, only the pilgrimage center of Hawar rernains. Some Ibrahimis live in Tell 'Afar; these are probably largely Turkomans. Edmonds (1957: 195) also lists seven Kakai villages ' on the banks of the Greater Zab near Eski Kalak, whose inhabitants are called 'Sarli' by their neighbours. 3

In the Ottoman period, several mayors in Tell 'Afar were elected from the Ibrahimi family of Taifa-i Wahhab Agha living there (Edmonds (1957: 191), who also mentions Ateshbegi Kakais in that town). In this period, and also in monarchical Iraq, the Kakai leaders seem to have maintained reasonably good relations with the central authorities, although they kept their independence. Their power base lay not only in their religious adherents, but also in their wealth: in 1958, the Kakai sayyids of Kirkuk province were among the most important land owners in Iraq, with almost 200,000 donums of land in their possession (Batatu 1978: 58). It is unclear in how far this position was affected by the successive land reforms in Republican Iraq. Although the various Kakai communities may have lost some of their original cohesion because of the farreaching economic and political changes, their religious practices and political loyalty to the sayyids appear to have remained largely intact. The Ibrahimis in Arbil, for example, still have a monthly ritual, closed to outsiders, in which food is symbolically shared and, as their sayyid put it, 'all become equal'. There have even been conversions to the Kakai faith in quite recent times (see S 4).

Apparently, the Kîkais experienced no major frictions with their Muslim neighbours either. They were generally considered a Kurdish subgroup, and their religious beliefs and practices do not seem to have been considered as heterodox as e.g. those of the Yezidis, who are often not even thought of as Kurds by their Sunni Kurdish neighbours.


1). This view would contradict the opinion held by some that, strictly speaking, the name 'Kakai' does not apply to the community as a whole, but only to the sayyids (cf. Edmonds 1957: 188).

2). Incidentally, there also are, or used to be, pockets of Bajalan around these places.

3). My informants in Sf8ye listed eight Kakai villages on the banks of the Zab: Sf8ye, Matrat, Tuieben (=Tell ai-Liban), Gezekan, QCjlebol, Wirdet, Zengerd, and Kebero. Only the first four of these coincide with names supplied by Edmonds.

The Kakais were usually quite secretive about their religious beliefs and practices: when asked by outsiders, they would often claim to be orthodox Sunnis or, sometimes, Twelver Shi'ites. Reportedly, one Kirkuki sayyid even bought up all copies of al-Azzawi's 1949 book that he could find and had them destroyed, because it betrayed religious secrets and argued that the Kakais were not Muslims. At present, the Kirkuk Kakais consider themselves very close to the ja'faris (Tweiver Shi'ites) in the neighbouring towns of Tuz Khormatu and DaclGq (TaCiq).l

Linguistically, the Kakais are a quite heterogeneous community. They have their own language, Macho, which is a variety of Gorani (see §5). According to some, the Kakais mostly use this dialect among themselves, while they employ whatever happens to be the language of their surroundings for communication with their neighbours; others say they use Macho as a secret language (lisin alkhiss), especially during their rituals. However, Macho is certainly not the mother tongue of all Kakais; some groups speak it only as a second language, or perhaps not at all. Most Kakals also speak Sorani Kurdish, Turkoman, or Arabic.2 According to one Kakai informant, all Kakais around TaQq are fluent in Macho; with other Kurds they speak Sorani, while some of them also know Turkoman or Arabic. Another source claims that many, if not most Kirkuki Kakais speak Turkoman more easily than Kurdish, but consider themselves Kurds. Most 'Sarli' (Kakais from Eski Kalak) speak Macho, Shabaki, Sorani, and to some extent Arabic; none of them knows any Turkoman. Practically all Kakais know at least some Arabic as a second language; there are some Arabic-speaking Kakais in Khanaqin and Mendeli, but these are all 'awwamis (commoners), not sayyids. They are claimed to be relatively recent converts.

The sîids have also remained influential and largely independent, whatever changes in their original position as landlords may have occurred. Fattah Agha, who was one of the strongest Kakai leaders until his death in the 1950s, seems to have been something of a Kurdish nationalist; for example, he refused to join the neighbouring Talabani and DaCidi tribes, who had sided with the government against the rebellious Kurdish leader, shaykh Mahmoud Barzinji. One of his sons, Adnan Agha, has subsequently become the most active Kakai leader. Another branch of the Kirkuki sayyids had traditionally preferred to speak Turkoman', and only acquired fluency in Kurdish during the early 1970s; subsequently, these leaders joined the 'National Defence Batallions' (Kurdish irregulars), and started to proclaim themselves Arabs. The government was anxious to portray the Kakais as Arabs; it argued that their sayyids, being descendants of Imarn Ali and of the prophet Muharnmad as their title indicated, were Arabs by definition. Kakai religious specialists countered this claim by stressing that they believe their leaders to be sayyids in virtue of reincarnation rather than direct descent.

In the 1970s, the Kakais did not unambiguously side with the Kurdish movement. Some sayyids stayed neutral, while others openly sided with the Baath government. The oil-rich area around Kirkuk was a prime target area of the Baath government's Arabization policy in this period. Some Kakai villages around TaGq were evacuated; their inhabitants were taken to Sulaimaniya or Arbil.

I). These Shi'ite groups are for the most part Turkomans, and used to be Qizilbash who were in the present century 'converted' to Tweiver Shi'ism (Edmonds 1957: 269). 2The data I have about the language distribution among the Kakais are quite limited and not always consistent. They are partly based on personal observations, and partly on information supplied by well-informed locals (some of them Kakais).

One sayyid started selling land to Arabs; the lands of another sayyid, who had joined the Kurdish movement, were seized and to some extent repopulated with Arabs. This sayyid got his lands back when his son joined the National Defence Batallions. Likewise, Khanaqin and Qasr-i Shirin have been subject to Arabization.1 Their inhabitants were deported to Kalar and Southern Iraq. In order to create a 'security zone' along the Iranian border, the Iraqi government also destroyed many villages in the original Kakai heartlands, among them the pilgrimage site of Hawar.

The Iraqi government and the Kurdish nationalists were not the only ones who attempted to coopt the Kakais, however. In the 1970s, Turkoman nationalists wanted to present them as a Turkornan subgroup: thus, the Kakai poet Hijri Dede, who had written works in Persian, Kurdish and Gorani (but not in Turkish) was made a member of the Turkoman Writer's Union in Baghdad. Hijri's offspring, who were stated to have become jash ('donkey foal', i.e. government agents) in the 1980s, consider themselves Turkomans. The Iraq National Turkoman Party, founded in 1988, continues this line of stressing the Turkoman side of the Kakais; it also considers the Shabak and other ghulit groups in the region to be Turkomans. A Turkoman informant (himself an opponent of Turkoman chauvinism) stated that many Kakais in Kirkuk, but also in Tell 'Afar, had started claiming to be Turkomans recently. This stress on their being Turkoman seems to have been used as a means of maintaining a neutral position in between the government and the Kurdish movement. Although the results of the 1977 and 1987 censuses were never made public, some Ibrahimis and sayyids are said to have been registered as Turkomans. The latter, as said, only gave the options of registering as a Kurd or as an Arab; at least some of the sayyids registered themselves and their adherents as Arabs.2

The Third Anfal operation, conducted in the Germian region in April 1988, had as its targets the DaCidi villages East of the road from Kirkuk to Baghdad, and the area of the Talabani tribe (cf. Middle East Watch 1993: 129-66). Apparently, however, the neigbouring Kakai area around Taiaq was not included in these operations. A main reason for this was probably the fact that Taoq nahiya, which was near the strategic oil-rich city of Kirkuk, had always remained under strict government control. For that reason, it did not form part of the 'forbidden zones' targeted in the Anfal operations. In other words, its inhabitants had been registered in the 1987 census, whether as Kurds or as Arabs, and did not run the risk of losing their Iraqi citizenship. Some of the Kakai sayyids had openly sided with the government, while even those who had not joined the National Defence Batallions apparently wielded enough influence with the authorities to rescue their community. Finally, the fact that there was a case for considering the Kakais to be Turkomans rather than Kurds may have played a role as well. After all, the Anfal operations were primarily directed at the Kurdish villagers, and to a lesser extent against the Christians in the Badinan area, who were believed to have sided with the Kurdish movement. Turkomans and Arabs in the region, or people who had registered as such, were hardly, or not at all, affected. A number of Kakai families were deported, because the Iraqi Security had found out that their relatives had joined the Kurdish insurgents.

1). Rasool (1990: 13-22) reports several of the Kakai villages in this region listed by Edmonds (1957: 195n) as having been evacuated in 1975; I could identify Barika, Dar-a-Khurma, and M&khas, but others may have been affected as well.

2). A senior PUK official claimed that a copy of the 1977 census results had been captured during the uprising; it showed the population of Kirkuk governorate to be 38% Kurdish, 15% Turkoman, and the remainder Arab.

According to local informants, these Kakais from Kirkuk were deported to BaqGq mujamma and later resettled in Halabja Taze a few miles west of Halabja, together with a nurnber of jafs from Hawar. Some appear to have been resettled near Chernchemal. In Halabja Taze and other nearby mujamma's, numerous (Sunni and Kakai) Hawrami speakers from the villages near the Iranian border, including Hawar, had also been resettled. Some Kakais returned to Hawar after the 1991 uprising; they fled the region again during the Kurdish intemecine fights in the summer of 1994.

The Kakais from Eski Kalak, like the Shabak, appear not to have been affected by the Anfal operations proper. The Sarli villages were reported to have been evacuated in the summer of 1988,- that is, at approximately the same time as the Shabak. Presumably, they had also registered as Kurds in the 1987 census. The inhabitants of Sf8ye were deported to Halabja Taze, but could return after their sayyid, Adnan Agha, had intervened with the government.

4. Contacts between the Kakais and the Shabak: the 'Sarli'

The 'Sarli' deserve some further attention. on the whole, the Kakais are linguistically and religiously close to the Shabak; they are also geographically adjacent to them near Eski Kalak, and in fact significant interethnic contacts have been taking place there. As said, the Kakai inhabitants of this area are called 'Sarli' by their Sunni neighbours, but Edmonds (1957: 195) already expressed doubts as to whether they themselves accept the name. Their sayyid, who himself lives in Arbil, confirmed that they don't. I found that the people living there are Ibrahimi Kakais, and unhesitatingly consider themselves to be such; the terms 'Sarli' and 'SarlCj' are used exclusively by outsiders, or rnore precisely, their direct (Sunni) Arab and Kurdish neighbours. By contrast, a Shabak informant called them 'Kakais' rather than 'Sarli'; I was also told that the Shabak, unlike the Yezidis, maintain good relations with the Kakais, and 'respect' them, despite some religious differences. As said, the 'Sarli' villages have survived, or recovered from, the Arabization operations, but after the liberation of part of the Kurdish region, they ended up right at the front line, established at the Zab river, between the Iraqi government troops and the Kurds. Many of their inhabitants sought a safer haven in the Tobzawa mujamma several miles down the road to Arbil. The villages near the river were periodically shelled by Iraqi artwery, but at the same time they becarne a focal point for smuggling activity, especially for an intensive traffic of petrol products across the river, often on makeshift rafts.

Edmonds (1957: 195) remarks that 'the Sarli are quite distinct from the other group of unorthodox Kurds found in the Mosul liwa and known as Shabak, who are Kurdish Qizilbash', but at present at least, this distinction is much harder to make. Many inhabitants of the Sarli village I visited, including the younger ones, appeared to speak both Kakai and Shabaki (all of them also spoke Sorani). When I asked the mother of one family, which had been introduced to me as Kakais, whether there were many Shabak in their village, she said, surprisingly: 'We are Shabak ourselves'. Upon further questioning, it turned out that numerous Sarli families were of mixed Shabak-Kakai origin. Many of them had become Kakais in quite recent times, some less than a generation ago. Apparently, intermarriages between Shabak and Kakais have taken place as well. Nowadays, the inhabitants of these villages participate in Kakai rituals, and bring presents such as petrol to their sayyid.

These 'conversions' (or perhaps more appropriately, crossings of the low ethnic boundary between Kakais and Shabak) have taken place primarily under the abovementioned Ibrahimi sayyid Fattah Agha. Fattah was an enlightened man who, himself illiterate, had a school, a hospital and a mosque opened in his village of Topzawa near TaCjq in 1938; apparendy, he was also influential with the central government of the time. I was told that a fair number of families, both Arabs and Kurds (especially Barzinjis, jaf, and Hamawand), had become Kakais in this period. After Fattah's death in the late 1950s, the number of conversions decreased considerably; conversions of Shabak thus seem to have been due at least in part to his personal charisma, and to the possibilities of upward social mobility that the Kakais had in that period. But also more recently, in 1986, one Shabak and one Gergeri from Mosul became Kakais, apparently because of the greater opportunities for upward social mobility this crossing offered; another motivation seems to have been that they considered the Kakai faith a typically Kurdish religion, and wanted to become 'Kurdicized' rather than 'Arabized', which would be a likely concomitant of seeking social mobility in more stateoriented circles. In other words, the boundaries between some ethnic subgroups appear to be relatively permeable, and individuals can cross them without great difficulty. Such individual crossings, however, have not led to a total disappearance of the distinctions between the two groups. These intergroup contacts remain an intriguing subject for further investigations.

5. Dialect notes

A few remarks on the dialects spoken by the Shabak and the Kakais will conclude these notes. Little is known with certainty about the vernaculars of these and other heterodox communities in Iraqi Kurdistan. Minorsky (1920, 1921) rnostly dealt with Turco- and Persophone Yaresan in the Guran district and Azerbaijan in Iran (but see Minorsky 1943 for some religious Ahl-i Haqq poetry or kalim in Gorani). Mokri has primarily studied the written Ahl-i Haqq literature, which is partly in Persian, and partly in a Gorani koine that does not coincide with any single spoken variety. About the spoken dialects, much less information is available. As seen above, even their nature was disputed; in the literature, claims appear that they are forms of Turkoman, Baluchi-related dialects, or 'mixtures of Turkish, Persian and Arabic'. These claims were rarely backed by dialect samples or analysis, and usually took the written documents as evidence.

From the samples I collected, it appears that the spoken dialects of the Shabak, (some of) the Kakais near TaCiq, and the 'Sarli' all belong to the Gorani or Hawrami branch of Indo-Iranian languages.1 The possibility remains, however, that more extensive investigation will yield further variations and complexities; for example, the Shabak seem to be linguistically somewhat more homogeneous than the Kakais, but there may yet turn out to be Shabak with Turkoman as their mother tongue, or at least as a second language. It should also be kept in mind that all of my informants were multilingual; the question of precisely where and when they speak Gorani rather than some other language remains unanswered.

1). Blau (1989) summarizes the main grammatical features of the Gorani dialects. Mann/Hadank 1930 mostly contains samples of various Gorani dialects spoken Iran, but includes Bajalani material from Bishkan near Zohab, Qasr-i Shirin, and Khorsabad north of Mosul. MacKenzie 1956 presents Bajalani material from Arpaopl (also near Mosul). The most detailed description of a single Gorani dialect, viz. that of NawsGda near Awroman in Persia, is MacKenzie 1966. The 'Kurdishness' of Gorani is still disputed; see Leezenberg 1993 for discussion.

Considerations of space, and the uneven quality of the data (mostly gathered amidst the euphoric confusion of the 1992 regional elections), preclude a fuller grammatical analysis, but some of their distinctive traits seem to be worth pointing out anyway.

My informants in Sf8ye distinguished between 'Shabaki' and 'Macho'; by the latter they meant the vernacular of the Kakais (as did my informant from Topzawa). According to Edmonds (1957: 10), the term 'Macho' is also used by locals as a generic label for all the dialects referred to as 'Gorani' in the scholarly literature. Most of my informants, however, used 'Hawrami' as a blanket term for these dialects; only those acquainted with Western literature on the subject used 'Gorani' in this sense. Here, I will use the label 'Macho' to refer indiscriminately to the Topzawa and Sf8ye Kakai dialects; the limited data did not permit me to compare them systematically, but a local informant who had contacts with both claimed that they are practically identical.


M.: Macho from Topzawa;
Sh.: Shabaki frorn Qahrawa;
Sf.: Sfêye variety of Macho or Shabaki, respectively;
B.: Bajalani from Arpaîi (source: MacKenzie 1956);
H.: Hawrami from Byara.


1. M. ekwê, Sh. îkyê (cf. B. ikkê H. yue)
2. M. dua, Sh. dû (cf. B. dûwe, H. duî)
3. M. sa, Sh. se (cf. B. se, H. yerî)
4. M., Sh. çwar (cf. B., H. çwar)
5. M. penc, Sh. pen (cf. B., H. penc)
6. M. shish, Sh. ses (cf. B., H. shish)
7. M. heft, Sh. haft (cf. B. hlft, H. hewt)
8. M., Sh. hesht (cf. B., H. hesht)
9. M., Sh. no (cf. B. nû, H. no)
10. M., Sh. de (cf. B., H. de)
11. M., Sh. yazde (cf. B. yazcle, H. yanzeh)
20. M., Sh. wîst (cf. B. bîst, H. wîs)
100. M. sad, Sh. sayd (cf. B. say, H. sal?)

white: M., Sh. çerme
green: M. sawz, Sh. saûs (cf. B., H. sawz)
yellow: M., Sh. zerd (cf. H. zart)
red: M. stir, Sh. qermez (cf. B. qirmiz, H. sûr)
blue: M. mawî, kew (Sf.), Sh. kô (cf. B. kô)
eye: M. çem, Sh. çaw (cf. B. çam)
blood: Sh. xîn, cf. H. win î

Personal pronouns:



1. M. min, emin, Sh. emin
2. M. tu, etî (Sf.) Sh. tu/etû (Sf.) (cf. B. etci)
3. M. ew, Sh. ew/îne (Sf.) (cf. B. ew)
1. M. îme, Sh. ême/homan (Sf.) (cf. B. hîme)
2. M. shima, Sh. shime (cf. B. êshma)
3. M. ewshan, Sh. ewshan (Sf.)/ôshan (cf. B. êshan)

Reflexive pronoun:

M. yo- with suffixed personal pronoun: ême yoma mewîin, 'We see ourselves'
Sh. hê- with suffixed personal pronoun: emin hêm metî, 'I see myself'
(cf. B. hê-; H. wê-, as in min wêm wînû ê,'I see myself')

Demonstrative pronouns/adjectives:

M. îne, 'this', ane 'that': îne/ane çeshin? 'what is this/that?'
Sh. î, 'this', û, 'that' (Sf.): î/û zilam kên? 'who is this/that man?'

Verbal morphology:

-present tense
M. emin piyawê mewîniü, Sh. emin zilamê metî, 'I see a man'
M. tu piyawê mewînil, Sh. etü zilamê meti. 'You (sg.) see a man'
M. ew piyawê mewino, Sh. ew zilamê metê. 'He/she sees a man'
M. ême piyawê mewinim, Sh. ême zilamê metimi, 'We see a man'
M. shima piyawa rnewinde, Sh. shime zilamê metê, 'You (pl.) see a man'
M. ewshan piyawê mewîna, Sh. oshan zilamê meto, 'They see a man'

-In the past tense of transitive verbs, the verbal inflection is added as a clitic to the direct object in both dialects:
M. min piyawyêm (Sf. piyayîm) dî, Sh. emin zilamem tît (Sf. dît),
'I saw the man'
M. tu piyawyêt dî, Sh. etû zilamete tît, 'You (sg.) saw the man'
M. (ew) piyawyêsh dî, Sh. ew zilamesh tît,'He/she saw the man'
M. ême piyawyîman dî, Sh. ême zilamema tît, 'We saw the man'
M. shima piyawyêtan dî, Sh. shime zilamete tît, 'You (pl.) saw the man'
M. ewshan piyawyîshan dî, Sh. oshan zilamesha tît, 'They saw the man'



min pîana, 'I am old'
tu pl'rari î, 'you are old'
ew p îrin,'he/she is old'
ême pîenme, 'we are old'
shima p îrende, 'you (pl.) are old'
ewshan p îrane, 'they are old'
emin nisaghana, 'I am ill'
tu nisaghana, 'you are ill'
ew/l'ne nisagha,'he/she is ill'
gishtrnan nisagha, 'we are all ill,
shime [gishtl nisaghane,'you are [all] ill'

M.  min ipeto dirêshterena, 'I am taller than you'
Sh.  î zilam diraze, 'this man is tall/old'
      tu çemin dirasterenî/-ê, 'you are taller than I am'

The Kakai present tense prefix me- followed by a verb stem with initial wcontracts to practically a single syllable: mewîil is pronounced /möynü/, mewarî as /môrî/. A sound similar to Kakai /( ê/ also occurs in Zengana, a Gorani dialect spoken around Awaspl near Taûq (thus e.g. Zg. min ma laps ê, 'I say'; a piyaw mewîil, 'I see that man'), but not in any of the other Gorani varieties.

The Old Iranian initial *hw- developed into w- in all Gorani dialects and into khw-lkho- in Kurmanji and Sorani Kurdish, viz. Shab./Kak. ward- vs. Km./Sor. khwar-, 'eat'. However, the reflexive pronoun (also with initial 'hw- in Old Iranian) does not follow this pattern: in fact, the Gorani dialects widely diverge here: M. yo-,Sh. hê-, B. hê, H. wê-, cf. Kurmanci xwe (without pronominal suffix), Sorani xo-.

The 'Sarli' I met were all fluent in the Arbil dialect of Kurdish proper; some of the phonetic peculiarities of that dialect (cf. MacKenzie 1961: 27-29) could also be heard in their pronunciation of Macho and Shabaki, e.g. pem, 'eye', was pronounced as /tsem/, perme, 'white', as /tserme/. Otherwise, their pronunciation of both dialects differed little from the samples from TaClq and Qahrawa. They perceived the two as hardly different, and repeatedly mixed them up.

In conclusion, the differences between these Gorani varieties seem to be primarily phonetic; their morphology shows fewer variations, except in the reflexive and suffixed personal pronouns. Lexical differences may be related to borrowings from various sources, such as different dialects of Kurdish proper, Persian, and Turkoman. Hopefully, further gathering of data will lead to a fuller and more systematic treatment of these dialects on another occasion.


  1. al-Azzawi, A. 1949 AI-Kakaiî fi al-tarikh (The Kakais in History]. Baghdad
  2. J.R. Bames 1992 The Dervish Orders in the Ottoman Empire. In Lifchez (ed.), pp. 33-48
  3. H. Batatu 1978 The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionî Movements of Iraq. Princeton
  4. Nj: Princeton University Press
  5. J. Blau 1989 Gurani et Zaza. In R. Schmitt (ed.) 1989 Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum.
  6. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert Veriag
  7. M.v. Bruinessen 1989 Agha, Shaikh und Staat. Politik und Gesellschaft Kurdistans, new ed.
  8. Berlin: EXpress Editions (New English edition, abbreviated: London, Zed Press 1992) M.v. Bruinessen 1991 Haji Bektash, Soltan Sohak, Shah Mina Sahib and various avatars of a running wall. Turcica XXI-XXIII: 55-69
  9. M.v. Bruinessen n.d. Satan's Psalmists: Some heterodox beliefs and practices among the Ahle Haqq of the Guran district. MS
  10. Cj. Edmonds 1957 Kurds, Turks, and Arabs. London: Oxford University Press
  11. Cj. Edmonds 1969 The Beliefs and Practices of the Ahl-i Haqq of Iraq. Iran 7: 89-101 J.A., comte de Gobineau 1859 Trois ans en Asie (1855-1858). Paris: Hachette M.R. Hamzeh'ee 1990 The Yaresan: A Sociological, Historical and Religio-Historical Study ofa Kurdish Community. Berlin: Klaus Schwartz Veriag
  12. M.E. Hawramani 1984 Kakai [In Kurdishl. Baghdad
  13. W. Ivanow 1953 The Truth-Worshippers of Kurdistan. Leiden: Brill
  14. I.M. Lapidus 1992 Sufism and Ottoman Islamic Society. In Lifchez (ed.), pp. 15-32
  15. A.H. Layard 1867 Nineveh and Babylon. London: John Murray
  16. M.M. Leezenberg 1993 Gorani Influence on Central Kurdish: Substratum or Prestige
  17. Borrowing'.? ILLC Prepublication Series, X-93-03
  18. R. Lifchez (ed.) 1992 The Dervish Lodge: Architecture, Art, and Sufism in Ottoman Turkey.
  19. Berkeley: University of California Press
  20. D.N. MacKenzie 1956 Bijaliri-i. BSOAS 18: 418-35
  21. D.N. MacKenzie 1961 Kurdish Dialect Studies L London: Oxford University Press D.N. MacKenzie 1966 The Dialect of Awroman (Hawraman-i Luhon). Copenhagen
  22. 0. Mann/K. Hadank 1930 Kurdisch-Persische Forschungen III, 2: Mundarten der Guran.
  23. Berlin: Waiter de Gruyter & Co.
  24. M. Mazzaoui 1972 The Origins of the Safawids: Shiism, Sufism, and the Ghulit. Freiburger Isiamstudien Band III. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Veriag
  25. Middle East Watch 1993 Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds. New York:
  26. Human Rights Watch
  27. Middle East Watch 1994 Bureaucracy of Repression: The Iraqi Government in its Own Words.
  28. New York: Human Rights Watch
  29. V. Minorsky 1920 Notes sur les Ahlî Haqq I. Revue du Monde Musulman 40-41: 19-97
  30. V. Minorsky 1921 Notes sur les Ahlî Haqq II. Revue du Monde Musulman 44-45: 205-302
  31. V. Minorsky 1943 The GOrin. BSOAS XI/1: 75-103
  32. M. Mokri 1970 Ptude dlun titre de propri6t&... In Contribution scientifique aux 6tudes iraniennes. Recherches de kurdologie. Paris: Kiincksieck, pp. 303-330
  33. M. Moosa 1988 Extremist Shiites: The Ghulit Sects. Ithaca: Cornell University Press
  34. A. Rassam 1977 AI-Taba'iyya: Power, patronage and marginal groups in northern Iraq. In: Geliner, E. & Waterbury, J. (eds.), Patrons and Clients in Mediterranean Society. London: Duckworth, pp. 157-166
  35. Sh. M. Rasool 1990 Forever Kurdish: Statistics of Atrocities in Iraqi Kurdistan.
  36. H.C. Rawlinson 1839 Notes on a March from Zohab... to Kirmanshah, in the Year 1836.
  37. journal of the Royal Geographical Society 9: 26-116
  38. J.P. Roux 1969 Les Fid6les de VC-rit6 et les croyances r6ligieuses des Turcs. Revue de I'histoire
  39. de ]a Religion 175: 61-95
  40. al-Sarraf, A.H. 1954 AI-Shabak [in Arabic]. Baghdad
  41. K.M.Kh. al-Shwani 1989 The Kakais: Foundations and Doctrines [in Arabic]. M.A. Dissertation,
  42. University of Baghdad
  43. Sykes, M. 1908 The Kurdish Tribes of the Ottoman Empire. journal of the Anthropological
    38: 451-486
  44. J.5. Trimingham 1971 The Sufi Orders in Islam. London: Oxford University Press
  45. A. Vinogradov [=A. Rassam] 1974 Ethnicity, Cultural Discontinuity and Power Brokers in Northern Iraq: The Case of the Shabak. American Ethnologist 1: 207-218



Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

The kurdish language and literature

By Prof. Joyce Blau
Professor of Kurdish language and civilization at 
the National Institute of Oriental Language and 
Civilization of the University of Paris.

Kurdish is the language of more than twenty million Kurds living in a vast unbroken territory.

Kurdish belongs to the family of Indo-European languages and to the Irano-Aryan group of this family.

The Iranophone tribes and peoples of Central Asia and of the bordering territories begin moving towards the Iranian plateau and the littoral steppes of the Black sea at the turning point of the second and first millennium B.C.

As these tribes and peoples invade the area, they assimilate and give their language and their name to other Irano-aryan peoples already present on the land. Some refuse total assimilation. Even today there are fairly large pockets of non-Kurdophone Kurds living in Kurdistan of Turkey, of Iran of and of Iraq.

Kurdish, the language of the Kurds, which belongs to the north-western group of Irano-Aryan languages has never had the opportunity to become unified and its dialects are generally separated into three groups with distinct similarities between them.

The biggest group, as regards the number of people who speak it, is the northern Kurdish, commonly called "Kurmanjî", spoken by the Kurds living in Turkey, Syria, the USSR and by some of the Kurd's living in Iran and Iraq. This language is also spoken by 200,000 Kurdophones settled around Kabul, in Afghanistan.

This group gave birth to a literary language.

The central group includes the Kurdish spoken in the north-east of Iraq, where it's called "Soranî" and the dialects of the neighbouring areas, beyond the Zagros, in Kurdistan of Iran. This group also gave birth to a literary language.

There has always been an intellectual elite amongst the Kurds who, for centuries, expressed themselves in the conqueror's language. Numerous Kurdish intellectuals wrote just as easily in Arabic and in Persian as in Turkish. This is shown in the XIIIth century by the Kurdish historian and biographer, Ibn al-Assir, who wrote in Arabic, whilst Idris Bitlisi, a high Ottoman dignitary, of Kurdish Origin, wrote the Hesht Behesht (The Eight Paradises) in 1501, which recounts the first story of the eight first Ottoman sultans, in Persian. The Prince Sharaf Khan, sovereign of the Kurdish principality of Bitlis, also wrote his "History of the Kurdish nation", at the end of the XVIth century, a brilliant medieval source on the history of the Kurds, in Persian.

It's difficult to date the origin of Kurdish literature. Nothing is known about the pre-Islamic culture of the Kurds. Moreover, only some of the texts have been published and it's not known how many disappeared in the torment of endless conflicts which have been occurring on Kurdish territory for several centuries.

The first well-known Kurdish poet is Ell Herirl, who was born in 1425 in the Hakkari region and who died around 1495. His favorite subjects are already those which his compatriots will treat most often: love of the fatherland, its natural beauties and the charm of its girls.

Kurdistan, in the XVIth century is a battlefield between the Persians and the Turks. The Ottoman and Persian Empires are permanently formed and, at the beginning of the second half of the century, stabilize their borders, in other words they share the territory of the Kurds, Kurdistan.

The first famous literary Kurdish monuments date from this epoch. They are born man and Persan at the same and in opposition to the consolidation of Otto neighbors.

The most famous poet from the end of the XVIth and beginning of the XVIlth century is the sheik Ehmede Nishani, known as Melaye Jeziri.

He was born in Jezire Bohtan, and like many well read people of the time, he knew Arabic, Persian, and Turkish well. He was also influenced by Arabo-Persian literary culture. His poetic work of more than 2,000 verses, has remained popular and is still republished regularly.

He travelled a lot and made numerous disciples, who tried to imitate their master by adopting his language, which from then on became the literary language.

Gradually the feeling of belonging to the same entity develops amongst the Kurds. This epoch will see the birth of the poet Ehmedi Khani, native of the Bayazid, who defines in his Mern-o-Zin, a long poem of more than 2,650 distiches, the elements of Kurdish Independence.

In the XIXth century, following the general expansion of national liberation movements at the heart of the Ottoman empire, and although strongly tinged with tribalism, a Kurdish national movement will slowly develop. A new literature blossoms with a certain delay due to distance and isolation. The authors who had received a classical education during their youth, given at a high level in the Imedrese', the Koranic schools, know Arabic and Persian well. The themes and images of their poetry is inspired, to a large extent by the Persian tradition, but the poets display great imagination in the renewal of symbols and the musicality of verse.

This poetry has firstly a religious tonality, - this is the epoch of the blossoming of mystic brotherhoods - but it is the patriotic and lyrical poets who have the most success. Mela Khidri Ehmedi Shaweysi Mikhayill, better known as Nali is the first great poet to write his poetry mainly in central Kurdistan.

The birth of the press accompanies the progress of the Kurdish national movement and the first review, with the significant name "Kurdistan" appears in Cairo, in Egypt, in 1898. In the XXth century, despite being the object of persecutions, the Kurdish national movement doesn't stop developing. The outbreak of the First World War and its consequences radically change the situation of the Kurds.

The Kurds had lived up until then in multi-cultural and multi-lingual societies. At the end of this war the Kurds find themselves divided between four states: Turkey, Persia, Iraq and Syria, legally sovereigns but politically subordinated to the world game of superpowers. These states very quickly found themselves confronted with the problems of the diversity of languages. The literary production of the Kurds and the development of the language will from now on be dependent on the freedoms they acquire in each of the states, which share their territory.

Iraq, under British mandate, recognizes a minimum of cultural rights to its Kurdish minority. Although the latter only comprises 18% of the total Kurdish population, the center of the Kurdish cultural life is transported to Iraq, where production will develop from the second half of the 1920s. The Kurds come out of isolation and contact with the West - translation of Pushkin, Schiller, Byron and particularly Lamartine - completely changed the basic ideas in the poetic field.

The beginning of modernity distances poetry from its traditional paths and if, in the first stage, the poems keep their classical form, innovation lies in their content, the Kurdish population - lost their freedom and production dries up. They are forced to publish their works abroad or to go into exile.

In Turkey, after the military success of Mustafa Kemal against Greece, a new treaty signed at Lausanne in 1923, confirmed Turkish sovereignty over a large part of the Kurdish territory and over more than 52% of the total Kurdish population. This treaty guaranteed "non-Turks" the use of their language. A few months later, in the name of State unity, Mustafa Kemal violated this clause by banning the teaching of Kurdish and its public use. He deported most of the intellectuals. The Kurds became the "mountain Turks", living in "Eastern Anatolia" or in the "East". All the traditions, even the dress, all the groups, even the song and dance were abolished in 1932. After the Second World War, the Turkish regime between 1950 and 1971 gave itself a tinge of bourgeois democracy and use of the Kurdish language was authorized again. A new Kurdish intelligentsia formed. The military coups Xetat of 1971 and 1980 restored the policy of repression and massive deportations towards the west of Turkey. They teaching of Kurdish and publications in this language are strictly forbidden today.

In Iran, where more than a quarter of the Kurdish population live, the authorities conduct a harsh policy of assimilation of their Kurdish minority. All Kurdish publications and teaching of the language are absolutely forbidden.

The great period of Kurdish literature in this area is that of the Republic of Kurdistan which only last eleven months at the end of the Second World War. Despite its brevity, it provokes a remarkable development in Kurdish literature. Numerous poets emerge, such as the poets Hejar and Hemin. The repression which follows the fall of the Republic forces the intellectuals to go into exile, mostly in Iraq. In February 1979, a revolution of the people expels the monarchical regime but the Islamic government which replaces it is also unwilling to accord national rights to its Kurdish minority.

Under pressure from Kurdish revolutionaries gathered around the much missed Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, whose memory is engraved in the depths of our hearts, who demand incessantly the recognition of their language and their culture, the Iranian authorities are forced to tolerate the publication of various Kurdish works. If all literary creation remains forbidden, censorship authorizes the publication of monuments from the Kurdish literature of the XIXth century, some of which will be translated into Persian. Manuscripts depicting the history of Kurdish dynasties are finally published and dictionaries, grammar books and encyclopedias by Kurdish personalities who marked their epoch, religious or not, appear in Kurdish and Persian.

The Kurdish literary life in Iraq suffered the repercussions of the failure of the long Kurdish insurrection and the pitiless war between Iran and the Iraq.

The Kurdish intellectuals choose the path of exile and take refuge in most of the Western countries and, remarkably, they will be at the source of a real renaissance of the "Kurmanjî" literature, strictly forbidden in Turkey and Syria. Supported by several hundred thousand Kurdish emigrant workers, the Kurdish intellectuals gather together and make every effort to promote their language. Poets and writers print their works firstly in the reviews published by the Kurdish publishing houses in Sweden. The Swedish authorities, in fact, which favour the cultural development of emigrant communities, allocate the Kurds - they are 12,000 - a relatively large publication budget. Around twenty newspapers, magazines, and reviews come out from the end of the 1970s. Children's books, alphabet primers andtranslations of historical works on the Kurds ... come out. Literary creation is encouraged. M. Emin Bozarslan brings out charming children's stories and Rojen Barnas collections of poems, whilst the journalist Mahmut Baksi, member of the Swedish Writers' Union, publishes a novel and stories for children in Kurdish, Turkish and Swedish, Mehmet Uzun brings out two realist novels.

Two hundred titles have appeared in ten years. It's the biggest Kurdish literary production, outside Iraq. But it's in France, in Paris, that a dozen courageous, dynamic and very nice Kurdish intellectuals, in February 1983, create the first Kurdish scientific institute in the West. Six years later, more than three hundred Kurdish intellectuals, living in various European countries, and in America and Australia, have joined the Institute to help carry out its action of safeguarding and renewing their language and their culture.

The Institute publishes reviews in Kurdish, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and French. A "Bulletin de liaison et d'information" (Monthly Bulletin of Contact and Information) publishes a press review about the Kurdish issue and gives information about the activities and projects of the Institute. It's to the credit of the Institute that they were the first to encourage the development of the "Zaza / Dimlî' dialect, spoken by about three million Kurds in Turkey. Finally, the Institute gathers together Kurdish writers, linguists, and journalists from the diaspora, twice a year to study together the problems of modem terminology.

This new blossoming of Kurdish intellectuals, poets and writers illustrates in a most striking way the parallelism between cultural freedom and development.


Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

The language debate in Iraqi Kurdistan

Language has been a site of struggle since the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government in 1992. The Kurds have had to engage in struggles over language on two levels.  First, since the formation of the Iraqi state, they demanded the officialization of the Kurdish language and its equality with Arabic. This was a struggle between the Kurds and the state.  Second, they had to deal with the multi-dialectal nature of their language. This was an internal struggle within Kurdish society, although it was closely tied to the conflict with the state.  This paper has a focus on the second issue, i.e. the politics of “unification” or “standardization” of the Kurdish language.

Language standardisation and the question of the Kurdish varieties:

The language debate in Iraqi Kurdistan

Hassan Ghazi

International  Conference
The Kurds and Kurdistan: Identity, Politics History
2nd and  3rd  April, 2009
University of Exeter

I should emphasize that, after the fall of the Ba’athist regime in 2003, the new Iraqi constitution granted Kurdish the status of one of the two official languages of Iraq, giving it almost equal footing with Arabic.  This is the most elaborate recognition of the language since the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the re-division of the Kurdish speech community among Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.  Kurdish can now be used in written and oral communication in official settings.

Another major development since the formation of the KRG is the proliferation of print and broadcast media in Iraqi Kurdistan.  Since the launch of the first Kurdish satellite TV in 1995, there is now about a dozen satellite television channels, including the latest one, TRT6, which was launched by Turkey. These developments have complicated the question of dialects, their unification and standardization.

Although Kurdish has at least four major dialect groups, the conflict has so far been over the two numerically larger dialects, known as Kurmanji and Sorani. The conflict between the two dialects has, in the past, burst into the open a number of times.  The Iraqi government tried, in the early 1930s, to capitalize on the difference between the two dialects in order to deny Kurdish the status of an official local language.

The more recent round of controversy was among the Kurds themselves. On April 20, 2008, the Kurdish weekly Hawlati (issue No. ‘415) published a petition signed by a group of 53 “Kurdish writers, literary men and academics “ addressed to various bodies of KRG, and the leaderships of  the main Kurdish political organisations demanding the Middle Kurdish variety (i.e. Sorani) to be declared as the “Standardised Kurdish language” (see Appendix A). The petition, even in its title, bore a sign of confusion, as it used a variety of concepts in order to characterize what it meant by language and by officialization.  The petitioners used concepts such as “official,” “unified,”  “state,” and “standard” almost synonymously. However, the conceptual confusion could not complicate the simplicity of their claim. They wanted Sorani to be the “official,” “unified,”  “state,” and “standard” language of the Kurdish government.

The petitioners arbitrarily overlooked the multi-standard nature of the Kurdish written form which hardly could be denied. The process of the development of various written standards among Kurdish speech communities is by no means a new phenomenon. Since the introduction of the Kurdish language in print media and even in the absence of official backing or in the context of sheer denial of existence of Kurdish language, the dialects have been going through a continuous process of standardisation. The petitioners claim that Sorani has already achieved the status of a prestigious variety.  However, the same could be said about Northern Kurdish, and to a lesser degrees other varieties.

Faced with opposition, the petitioners claimed that they want  Middle Kurdish (Sorani) to be the official language only in Iraqi Kurdistan.  It is unrealistic, however, to believe that the status gained by Kurdish in the Iraqi Constitution is just confined to Iraq. In fact, it has already left its mark on Kurdish outside Iraq, where the language lacks any recognised status. Here it is proper to mention, that, possibly Kurdish possesses a unique situation: on the one hand it is recognised as a state language in Iraq and on the other hand it adamantly struggles to be recognised as a language at all in neighbouring countries.

The petitioners warned that a bi-standard language leads to the division of the nation.  Thus, they equated political unity with dialectal unity, and confuse linguistic identity with national identity.  However, the concept “unified language,” if such a phenomenon can ever exist, does not mean that every Kurd can use it in reading and writing. In fact, the process of evolution of the written form has been quite complex; it has gone through different stages, and we are now facing a bi-standard situation.  Other varieties of Kurdish family apart from Sorani and Kurmanci are experiencing codification and evolution in written form. Those who are using Dimilki, Hewrami and Keluri varieties stress their Kurdish identity and are considered as such by the other Kurdish speech communities; they are all engaged in cultural revival by using diverse media and develop their varieties in both the written and oral forms.

Contrary to the claims of the petitioners, the lack of a “unified written language” is unlikely to affect the development of Kurdish communities in economic, social, political and cultural spheres and it is not the source of the present division among the Kurds even in Iraq.

Generally speaking the main focus of argumentations in the petition was on the historical role of the Sorani variety in education and publication in Iraq, but the authors  did not pay the slightest attention to the sociolinguistic aspects of language. The petition in its theoretical aspect tries to imitate the archaic role of language in nation buildings in Europe, which if applied to the present situation in Iraqi Kurdistan, will lead to more division.

The petition triggered a heated debate among various quarters in Iraq  Kurdistan but even in diaspora. On April 22, just two days after the publication of the petition in Hawlati, Dr. Hassanpour submitted a critique of the project to a blog in Europe and argued:[1]

“Since …1991, the Kurmanji speaking population, on the streets and alleys, in shops and offices have been using Kurmanji, while Sorani speakers continued to use their dialect as in the past. Sorani still holds more power, and it has to do with the unequal relations between these two dialects in Iraqi Kurdistan. This is not an indication of Sorani being more advanced than Kurmanji, or Sorani being standardised, but not Kurmanji;  whatever could be written in Sorani, could be expressed in Kurmanji as well. But declaring a variety as an official language will confer power on its speakers, while it results in the denial of power to the speakers of other dialects.”

A few days later, the Kurdish Writers Union branch in Dehok published a statement in their website[2] , which, while rejecting the 53’s proposal, invited them for further discussion and dialogue on the issue. They welcomed the evaluation of  Dr. Hassanpour  and asked  the points outlined in his contribution to become a platform as an expert assessment for further discussion on tackling Kurdish language and relations between varieties. They published the full text of “Kurdish as a bi-standard language” as an appendix of their statement. Thanks to the power of Internet an expert’s view from Southern Canada ( Dr. Hassanpour) echoed in Southern Kurdistan in a short span of time and contributed much to the language debate.

In early May, Hassan Silivani, president of  Kurdish Writers Union in Dehok, outlined the views of Writers of Badinan region:

“Contrary to a recent statement by KRGs education minister, nobody wants Sorani to be declared as a standard  (that is to say official) language in Badinan. I  personally don’t want my children put aside Kurmanji and just study in Sorani. Nobody accepts that. We do not accept any one to impose upon us Sorani.”[3]

While the debate was raging in the print media and on the Internet, there was more or less silence among the high ranking officials of the KRG.  The only one who took a position was KRG’s education minister, Mr Dilshad  Abdulrahman who in a lengthy interview with the weekly Rudaw (No. 4, Monday 2008-04-27) (see Appendix B for the full text of the interview). expressed his personal views about the content of the appeal and gave his own blessing. Although the views expressed by him still are unbinding, it is representative of the dominant outlook concerning language issues in Sorani speaking areas in Iraqi Kurdistan.

One should stress that part of the current problems in education system in Iraqi Kurdistan as long as language is concerned is inherited from an administrative system which has been divided between the two major Kurdish parties. After the formation of the KRG, the KDP and PUK, divided the top positions of the government among themselves; this became known popularly as a 50-50 division of power. Later, in the wake of their armed conflict in 1994, they divided the territory in two parts. After 2003, they have started a process of integration of the two governments into one.

We turn to Badinan again to hear the opinion of Dr. Fazil Omar, head of  Dehok governorate’s county council, an official of KRG. In answering a question about why there was a switch back to Sorani in the previous year in Dehok  and what will happen during the new academic year, he said: “Now the  problem has spread to the streets of  Dehok. People are asking for a stop in using children for experiments. One year they are instructed in Badini, another year they get mixed instruction and one year in Sorani. This has made our children into Guinea pigs.[4]

One of the bodies which expected to have an expert view on the issue is the “Kurdistan Academy,” which was reorganised in Hawlér after the reunification of the administration in Iraqi Kurdistan. Dr.Shafiq Qazzaz, president of the academy, in an interview, while emphasizing that his views were strictly personal and did not reflect the opinion of the members of the ‘Kurdistan Academy’ as a whole, indirectly supported the 53 but emphasized that the Academy has not taken a position on the conflict.[5]

Two events strengthened the position taken by adherents of  linguistic diversity and linguistic human rights in Kurdistan on the issue. First, Selah Ahmad, a Kurdish academic in Carleton University, Canada, who was one of the signatories of the appeal publicly withdrew his support and denounced the appeal. He argued that there should be more debate and that the officialization of one dialect violates the rights, equality and freedom of other dialect speakers. 

The second event was the formation of “The committee for defending Kurdish language and culture in Musil and Dehok governorates” in mid- September 2008. Right from the outset of the debate, writers, publishers, academics and city administrators in Dehok had come together in order to find ways for tackling the issue of Kurmanji’s use in Kurmanji speaking areas. The committee has no legal status as yet, but it tries hard to make its views known to various bodies in Hewlér.

Now, In Dehok schools Kurmanji is used in the 6 grades of the elementary school, but in higher education  Sorani is still dominant and the confusion is persisting .In a recent meeting held in Dehok, on 12 March 2009, all circles involved have agreed that “Kurmanji should be the medium of instruction in Dehok region up to grade 9.” The head of Dehok governorate’s county council added we have allocated budget to meeting this end. We are going to start a publishing house to print material for the purpose of education in Kurmanji.

Apart from Kurmanji speaking areas in Iraqi Kurdistan, even speakers of Hawramani and Feyli (Keluri) varieties have raised demands for accommodation of their varieties in the education system in their respective areas. A petition signed by a large number of Hawramani speakers was sent two years ago to the regional Parliament of Kurdistan demanding the recognition of Hawramani.

In recent years, the Hawramani variety has been experiencing quite a remarkable progress; it is more than five years that a weekly programme is broadcast in the variety by a satellite outlet from Europe. Its impact on satellite televisions in Iraqi Kurdistan was remarkable. Now they, too, have begun limited streaming in Hawrami. There are many other Hawramani related cultural activities in Iraq, Iran and the diaspora.

In spite of these positive developments, Hawramani children still have no rights to get instruction in their mother tongue in Iraqi Kurdistan. Even Kaluri (Faili) speakers are pressing for linguistic rights. A petition to this end has been handed to the ‘Kurdistan Academy’. As the president of ‘Kurdistan Academy’ noted in his interview in May 2008, no concrete language policy has come out from their deliberations.

Now the pupils in Dehok governorate, thanks to the decisive resistance of adherents of linguistic diversity, have their instructions in Kurmanji up to grade 6, but that does not cover other Kurmanji speaking areas such as Barzan and Hewlér area. The pupils will not get any course in Sorani, but when they would start grade 7, in intermediary level, the medium of instruction will be Sorani again, and this will certainly entail problems.

Now, the debate around the issue has subsided to some extent, although the conflict continues to remain unresolved. Two clearly conflicting views are behind the debate: one group advocates the traditional equation of nation with language: one nation/one language.  They see national unity as a product of linguistic unity.  Since the Kurdish language is multi-dialectal, they equate linguistic unity with dialectal unity.  The other side of the conflict emphasizes plurality and freedom of choice and sees the imposition of any dialect in a multidialectal society as an undemocratic political project which involves coercion.

Some of the participants of this conference should be praised for their contribution in defending the linguistic rights of various sections of Kurdish population in Iraqi Kurdistan. Their expert views echoed tremendously in Kurdish circles even in Iraqi Kurdistan, and being Sorani speakers themselves contributed to minimizing the tension created as a result of misjudgement and arbitrary views pronounced  by the campaign by the 53-1 petitioners.

Thank you


Appendix A: Text of the Appeal of the 53

(Source April 20, 2008, the Kurdish weekly Hawlati, April 20,2008, issue No. ‘415’ translated from Kurdish)

The message of a group of Kurdish writers, literary men  and academics.

For standardisation of the Kurdish Language

The message of a group of Kurdish writers, literary men and academics

Subject: to standardise Kurdish language

Now, according to all historical, intellectual and demographical criteria, the Middle – Kurmanji variety, has become a language   and medium for cultural, educational issues in all three large provinces of Kurdistan region ( Erbil, Kerkuk, Silemani), more over it has become the political and social medium speech between the Capital and the whole region, including Badinan district and Dehok  governorate. The Middle-Kurmanji variety is no longer a local and regional dialect, but it is the language of thousands of books and hundreds of  newspapers and it has created a large reading audience in Kurdistan. It is in a stage to become the language of thought and thinking in the fields of philosophy, political and social sciences and it has absorbed thousands of scientific and humanistic terminologies. Further due to historical geographical, political and cultural realities the Middle- Kurdish has become a link between Northern and Southern ( varieties) with all their different variations.

In spite of efforts of previous regime in Baghdad for dividing the Kurds through dividing their language, also in spite of attempts by some Arab and Turkish racist circles in accordance to the same chauvinistic discourse, implying the Kurds are not capable to unify their political will for standardising their language, up till now Kurdish have preserved its loyalty to this variety of its language and has proved the opposite.

Of course we all, intellectuals, politicians and educators bear great responsibility about this issue. But the politicians and high sovereign bodies of the Region (such as the presidency of the region, parliament and the council of ministers  ) bear the historical responsibility and it is imperative that they sense the sensitivity of this period and turn this de-facto verdict  into a political decision. Because history tells us the decisive decisions need politicians with long visions, and with historical and patriotic feelings.

To officially recognise the presently used variety in Kurdistan region does not mean the other varieties, especially Northern Kurmanji, Hewramani, Lori …etc to be neglected , on the contrary it is necessary ,in the meantime to establish special departments in the universities and set up national institutions for an intensive and all sided studies of all varieties of Kurdish language with the aim of strengthening them and fusion of this variety which we hope to be recognised (as official language) at this stage. Because the present used language is not necessarily an ideal and a deficiency free language, it needs to be strengthened and expanded. What we mean is, its grammar, orthography and public usage should be recognised officially otherwise it should be open for adopting morphological and terminological constructs from all varieties. The linguistics science tells us the language is an historical entity; it develops day after day and year after year. If the number of synonyms in a language are more, it means that language is richer, the existence of many synonyms  in a language are not a cause of its division and difference. The Kurdish language also needs all its varieties and none of them are unnecessary.

The language that we want to be recognised officially is the same language which the deceased scholar Tofiq Wahbi Bag has created an orthography for it. It has been the language of the first Kurdish government, the government of Sheikh Mehmoud and Mahabad republic.

Later in 1959 in the general conference of teachers in Shaqlawa it was proposed to be recognised as official language .Yet later the deceased leader Barzani  The First and Kurdistan Democratic Party after the March agreement of 1970, supported this step, especially in the field of education. That is why it is a patriotic step and a decisive issue facing the Kurdish authority to revitalise officially these historical, cultural and political background and take a political decision about it.

No political power, notwithstanding its might and force can forcefully coin a language or destroy it  forcefully, rather it can officially recognise that language which is created by the verdict of reality and develop it. Later the language in itself gets rich naturally by adopting the vocabulary and phrases from its other varieties. To this end sometimes political authority uses the sacred sources and religious books as it was done in the case of  standardising  of both Arabic and Hebrew languages. They relied on the language of Qur’an and the language of Torah. And yet sometimes political authority uses the cultural sources, as it was done in the case of standardising   both Persian and Turkish languages. When it was decided officially   to adopt the common literary language used in big cities such as Shiraz, Tehran and Istanbul. In France the literary language of   Paris , in Italy the cultural language of Florence and in the case of Chinese language the variety of Beijing were made the basis of standard languages and politically were recognised officially.

On the issue of standardising of Kurdish language, we a group of Kurdish writers, literary men, academics and journalists, believe that it is better that political authority in Kurdistan region gets benefit from the second experience, that is to say by considering the cultural source ( heritage) of three large provinces of the region out of four provinces, by taking into consideration the vast library which since the period of Baban  Emarate  flows the literary, cultural, journalistic and diverse translated masterpieces. And even up to this date when Erbil has become a capital, it continues to get richer and larger and  it is in constant progress.

It is obvious that in the case of our national situation, one of the factors of national division, one of the reasons of the weakness of Kurdish nationalism’s discourse and foundation, is the lack of a standard language, which can act as an manifest and symbol of national structure, because the national structure will not be created by just establishing institutions, constructing buildings and setting up armies, and it can not be protected, rather it will be created by  schools, printing houses and common language. The factor which makes an individual from a simple human being into a loyal person to his/her nation is this vision and symbolic adherence which manifests itself in language.

That is why we suggest.

First: By ratifying a law, a decision be taken to recognise officially the Middle-Kurmanji variety as the corner stone of education’s standard language and the medium of communication among governmental bodies, at the same time in accordance to the same decision the pupils and students should be obliged to in the programme of studying Kurdish language get fully acquainted with other varieties of their language, in order to pave the way for different varieties get closer to each other.

Second: By ratifying an attached law a decision be taken for establishing a national institution

or ( Universities and scientific bodies be recommended) for studying, compiling and make archives of all Kurdish varieties of Kurdish language and regularly put forward suggestions for fusing the official language with vocabulary, phrases and  the terminologies of all other varieties.

Finally, we hope you understand our sincerity and take our concern into consideration

Appendix B: Interviw with Dilshad Abdulrahman

(source: Rudaw, No. 4, Monday 2008-04-27, translated from Kurdish)

Rúdaw: 53 writers and journalists published a message, asking for the Middle- Kurmanji variety or so called Sorani to be made as standard Kurdish language. The petition even has been addressed to education ministry, and has to do with your ministry. What is your position on that?

Dilshad Abdulrahman: In my own personal view as Dilshad Abdulrahman I support this appeal. I believe also that Middle-Kurmanji variety as a result of a set of  cultural, intellectual and political factors have been an official language of the government of  King Mahmoud , The Mahabad Government, The September Revolution, the more recent movements, The May Movement , and all political parties of Kurdistan with all their diverse views, It was also the official language of Kurdish rule after the March agreement of 1970, and since uprising of 1991 it has been the official language in all regions of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Indeed up to the second half of 1990s it retained its position as an official language and since then some change occurred in its position. I believe this issue needs a decisive decision by the presidential Council of Kurdistan, The Council of Ministers and Kurdistan parliament. There are many examples on  how a variety of a language  have been declared as an official language. Such a decision does not mean erasing other varieties, on the contrary the other varieties can enrich this variety, because this official language will not be any particular variety. I am not in agreement with that suggestion in the petition that asks Middle Kurmanji (Sorani) should be declared as a official language. I disagree only with that point. Because this language which nowadays is in use has been employed for tens of years for publishing books and writings, indeed it has not been a particular variety but, a mixture Hawrami vocabulary and Northern Kurmanji and different dialects of Kurdistan, that is to say the variety which is currently  is used in literature and in written form and for producing  school books by education ministry, They all are printed in a vareity called Middle Kurmanji and sometimes erroneously called Sorani . This language in reality is not the speech form of any one, neither of  Hewlér, Silémani, Kerkuk, nor of  Mahabad or Baneh, any individual from those places when they talk they employ tens of different words which are not used in books. The variety which is proposed to be a standard language in reality does not belong to any city, town or language variety, But it has become an official language thanks to evolving of cultural, economical and political conditions in tens of years. And the erroneous of its presentation  have caused a kind of reaction from the speakers of  some varieties in some areas. I ask the linguists and academics to propose that this official language which exists to be recognized as official, not any particular variety. They should say this existing official language is the product of a mixture of all varieties and of all cities which all of them have produced this present official language, the only remaining point is to declare it official.

Rúdaw! Do you believe that this appeal to be accepted and establish itself ?

Indeed the excellencies the president of the region, the speaker of Parliament and political bureaus of the political parties, and the council of ministers all of them are trying to find a solution to this problem. I think that will have a positive effect on  solving this issue soon.

Rúdaw: Even last year this issue came up to the agenda some how. As a concerned minister have you discussed this issue with the head of government? What is his opinion about this issue?

Dilshad Abdulrahman: All concerned quarters are well aware that Kurdistan needs  a recognised official language, which every one should be in agreement over that and make it recognised, and as I said before they are trying to find a way on  how this decision should be taken. Of course to take a decision in this respect, necessitates some  preparations. As far as I know the ministry of higher education and Kurdistan academy were assigned to investigate this issue scientifically and present their findings to relevant decision making bodies , in order a proper decision could be take on that.

Rúdaw: The majority of those who have signed the petition are known and competent people, but they are not linguists, Do you see it as correct that they raised such an issue?

Dilshad Abdulrahman: Possibly they should answer this question themselves. But today because of dangers threatening  the national sovereignty and the existence of a scared cause many people get involved  in a field which is not their speciality. But the danger of formation of two languages exists and it is cause for concern for every one. If these  two varieties ( to be developed) separately in two different geographical boundaries, then indeed It will be a threat on  national spirit that we need consolidate that today, for the sake of realisation of the dreams of people of Kurdistan.

Rúdaw: You mentioned the national unity, but some people say such a decision results into fragmentation of Kurdish national spirit and composition.

Dilshad Abdulrahman: The issue is approached   from different perspectives. In my opinion as language is one of the fundamental pillars of nation’s existence  , The language has always been very important for the Kurds. It is not necessarily imperative that all nations have gone through the same process in their   nation building drives. The language may not have played the same roll every where, but as I said   it has been very important for the  Kurds. The Kurdish adversaries have shown a high degree of animosity towards it, The antagonism that they have shown towards   Kurdish language have been more than the other aspects of Kurdish entity. One of the demands of the movements of Kurdish people up to the uprising (of 1991) always was to have rights for instruction in Kurdish and official recognition of its usage   in Kurdistan. That is why if this decision is taken it will be an element for revival of Kurdish national awareness.

Rúdaw: Do you think it should become a language for all Kurdish nation?

We have the right to think and to have dreams( to have visions), but in reality the Kurdistan region is part of Iraq and we have no project for secession. Those political parties whom people have voted for, they have no plan for secession of Kurdistan from Iraq. Even if  this wish ( existed), there is no unification plan with the other parts ( of Kurdistan), so recognition of this official language  just for Kurdistan region is a very realistic thing.

Rúdaw: Last year when it was talk of removing Badini  from the curriculum

in Dehok  governorate, The Northern Kurmanji websites attacked you very harshly. Even now you may be the target of criticism. What do you say to them?

Dilshad  Abdulrahman: In fact I believe  deeply in  freedom of thought, and I give the right to the people to express their views freely and if they  criticize me it is very normal . I am not against the wishes of some people who want to have instructions in Northern Kurmanji, This is the desire of a handful of  people. If the Middle- Kurmanji be made official , it does not mean the other varieties are erased. In fact our language needs to get benefit from all varieties. Every day several new words enter our language and we have no vocabularies for them, but we can find words for them in another varieties. According to the decision of Council of ministers up to the grade six the instruction in Dehok is in Northern Kurmanji and there is no decision that it can continue like that, therefore if there will not be any other decision for instruction in higher grades ,no doubt the students in Badinan region will have their instructions in that variety which is employed in Hewlér, Silémani and Kerkuk.

Rúdaw: As Shérzad Hassan ( he is a Sorani novolist – my addition)  is one of the signatories of the petition and he is your adviser, did they consulted you before publishing the appeal?

Dilshad Abdulrahman: in fact, not. but as a person close to intellectual circles , I knew a group of people intend to do such a thing. But honestly they did not need to consult me on that.

Rúdaw: Did you support them?

Dilshad Abdulrahman: I support the petition, but may be I would not agree with the way it is formulated. The current official language which we use now belongs to all varieties and all people of Kurdistan and they share it.

Rúdaw: In Dehok the appeal was rejected by an open statement, they also say that even we have decided to have our instructions in Badini in high school. If there will be such a demand what will be your position?

Dilshad Abdulrahman: We have not received such a demand yet.

Rúdaw: But they say they are going to  present such demand

Dilshad Abdulrahman: Let us not judge before hand.

Rúdaw: Sometimes some Northern Kurmanji speakers say, how it happens that Turkumans get instruction in their own language, but The Kurdistan Regional Government does not allow instruction to be run in Northern Kurmanji. They say if  Northern Kurmanji is curbed we will not retain any relations to the other parts of the region. What do you think about that?

Dilshad Abdulrahman: This is a very weak pretext, it means they consider a speech variety of a section of the  people of Kurdistan as a different language. We have not said that the Northern Kurmanji variety is a distinct language, But Turkumans have their own language and are a different nation. According to constitution all other groups in Kurdistan if they consider themselves as a separate nation, are allowed to have instruction in their own language. but the question is ; is there anyone in Kurdistan to doubt the Kurdishness of  the itself, whether he or she is a speaker of Southern Kurmanji, Middle-Kurmanji or Northern Kurmanji. Have any one of us heard some one to say I am not Kurdish? If somebody say I am not Kurdish and I belong to another nation and demands to have instruction of a (specific) language  then we as education ministry have duty to arrange that they get instruction in their own language. The Kurdish nation is a single nation and has various varieties , and this is something which has precedents all over the world. If it continues like that tomorrow Hawramis say why Hawrami should not be included  in school instructions , Zazas and Xaneqinis may demand likewise. Or Silémanis  and Kewléris demand to get instructions in their varieties. The present official language does not belong to any town or area, It means when all of us speak  , we speak in a variety, but when we write ,we change the way we speak. I say “ enúsim”, but when I write I use “ denúsim”.

Rúdaw: Some people say this demand in present situation is not appropriate. Because it provokes the speakers  of other varieties and deepens the division.

Dilshad Abdulrahman: We can  have dialogue with each other and speak to each other beyond all forms of provocations . This issue could be solved  through the meetings and convincing each other, it can not be solved in isolation and indifference. It is not appropriate I say something here and another gentleman in Dehok says something else and another in Xaneqin utter differently.  I don’t believe that there is any intellectual in Deok who is not prepared to engage in dialogue. I have personally met several gentlemen from Dehok and have spoken with them and we have very positive understanding.

Rúdaw: In Badinan they say we are no longer accepting to make our children as Guinea pigs. They study one year in Badini, one year in Sorani and the third year in a mixture of both .Because it is disadvantageous for the level of their learning. Don’t you think the Badini children are exposed to a big injustice?

Dilshad Abdulrahman: Who exposes them to this cruelty, who has done this injustice to them?

Think a child who is born in Tawélle ( in Hwraman area) and uses the same book  is he also

exposed to cruelty because of that? and the same in the case of a child in Xaniqin. We should decide whether we are Kurds or not, are we or are not we? In reality it is not possible for us to arrange instruction in a tongue spoken in every town, district or quarter.

Rúdaw: People in Badinan are mostly concerned with the variety which is used in instruction!

Dilshad Abdulrahman. I have the same opinion about the language employed in school books, that is why it is time to solve it. I agree with the view that the children from Dehok should be given confidence, now  they are living  in a state of uncertainty . Now in elementary school they have their instruction  in  Northern Kurmanji, when they enter the high school they start Middle- Kurmanji , and now there is a call that even in high school they  should continue with Northern Kurmanji . I think  that will create uncertainty for them. We want the children of Kurdistan at least learn several foreign languages such as  Arabic, English, and if  all of us can  not read  this Kurdish language of ourselves and speak in it, then  how can an approach other nations and learn another languages.”

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

The language policy of Syria

Prof. Amir Hasanpour, Kurdish Times NY, 1991.

From State Policy of the Kurdish language: The politics of Status Planning

Soon after the formation of the Syrian state, under French mandate (1920-46), Kurds demanded self-rule within the borders of the country. A petition addressed to the constituent assembly of Syria on June 23, 1928 included the following demands: 1. The use of the Kurdish language, in the Kurdish regions, concurrently with other official languages; 2. Education in the Kurdish language in these regions; 3. Replacing government employees of these regions by Kurds (Rondot 1939: 105f).

The Mandate authorities did not favour self-rule in this part of Syria. One reason was Turkish and Iraqi intolerance of an "autonomous Kurdish territory" on their frontiers (Ibid, p. 106). According to one of the Mandate officials, Rondot, the use of the Kurdish language was free, without being official, in the region. Yet the absence of school material in the language and the absence of popular demand had made the organisation of education difficult, according to Rondot (ibid., p. 107). According to Zaza (1928:81), however, the Mandate's refusal to permit mother tongue education was for political considerations. When a young Kurdish writer, Mustafa Boti, asked for authorisation to open a school with Kurdish as medium of instruction, the Mandate authorities refused to grant him permission. They said that France's commitment to Middle-Eastern states prevented her from getting involved in such "adventure". Publishing in Kurdish was, however, permitted and a circle of local intellectuals and former political activists from Turkey, eg., Bedir Khan brothers (see Nikitine 1960), began their linguistic and literary work in the Kurmanji dialect, written in the Roman alphabet, in Damascus in 1932. Their major effort was centred on the publication of a journal, Hawar. According to Zaza, who was involved in the Damascus circle, the Mandate authorities banned the journal in 1937, after Kurds supported had the struggle of Syrian nationalists for independence (ibid., p. 85). The journal was permitted to reappear four years later, during World War 11, after the arrival of the British in Syria (ibid., p. 245, Note 40).

In Syria, as in Iraq, Kurds enjoyed more freedom to use their language in writing and broadcasting, during World War II years when Kurdistan had become strategically important. The Badir Khan brothers published three journals one of which, Ronaha. was almost entirely devoted to war propaganda. Broadcasts from Radio-Levant continued from 1941 to April 1, 1946.

During the period between the end of the Mandate (1946) and the union of Syria and Egypt in the United Arab Republic (1958), tolerance of publishing in Kurdish continued, though the journals disappeared. The Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria founded in 1957, called for the recognition of Kurdish national rights. The United Arab Republic suppressed the party, and possession of Kurdish publications and even gramophone records were enough to send their owners to prison (McDowall 1958:76).

The collapse of the union with Egypt in 1961 brought even more pressure when a special census taken in the Kurdish province of Jazira (November 1962) discounted some 120,000 Kurds as "foreigners", though they were in possession of Syrian identity cards. The government began to build an "Arab Belt" aimed at Arabizing the Kurdish regions. When the Ba'ath Party came to power in 1963, the plan was continued under the slogan of "saving the Arabism of Jazira" (Vanly 1968a: 1968b).

In a detailed secret state document entitled 'A Study of the Jazira Province From the National, Social and Political Aspects', Hilal (1963), Hasaka region's chief of Political Police, proposed a twelve-point plan to Arabize the Kurdish region:

  1. 'batr' or dispersion and transfer of the Kurds to the interior,
  2. 'tajhil' or obscurantist policy of depriving the Kurds of educational institutions because they have produced the opposite results,
  3. 'tajwi or 'starvation' policy of leaving the Kurds unemployed to make them prepared to leave the country,
  4. 'extradition' of the Kurds of Turkey who took refuge in Syria after the suppression of the uprisings in the 1920s,
  5. a 'divide and rule' policy of setting Kurds, especially those claiming to be of Arab origin, against Kurds,
  6. 'hizam' or Arab Belt similar to the one proposed in 1962, to be instituted,
  7. 'iskan' or "colonisation" policy involving the implementation of "pure and nationalist Arabs" in the Kurdish regions so that the Kurds could be 'watched until heir dispersion",
  8. proclaiming the "Belt" a military zone where army detachments supervise the settlement of Arabs and the expulsion of Kurds,
  9. a 'socialisation' policy of creating collective farms, mazari' jama'iyya, for the Arabs who will be resettled in order to train and arm them like the Jewish frontier colonies,
  10. disenfranchising anybody ignorant of the Arabic language,
  11. the Kurdish 'ulama' (clergymen, mullas) must be deprived of their religious authority and replaced by pure Arab clergymen; "the Kurdish 'ulama' may also be transferred to the interior for their assemblies are literally Kurdish assemblies and not of a religious character; and
  12. launching a vast anti-Kurdish campaign amongst the Arabs (based on Nazdar 1980:216-17 and, a more detailed description of the plan, Vanly 1968a:27-99)

To implement this plan, the Baath regime built an 'Arab Belt' 10-15 km deep along the Kurdish border resulting in the expulsion of thousands who were replaced by Arabs settled in 'model farms'. Moreover, the government refused to implement land reform in areas where its application would have given land to Kurdish peasants. The Arabization plan led to the evacuation of no less than 60,000 (120,000 according to some estimates) Kurds who moved to non-Kurdish areas or to Lebanon.

The Arabization plan through population transfer was temporarily abandoned after the breach between the ruling Baath parties of Baghdad and Damascus in 1966. One point of disagreement between the two regimes was Syria's opposition to the Iraqi government's overtures to the Kurdish autonomists for a negotiated settlement of the conflict. Syria had sent thousands of its armed forces to Iraq to help Baghdad in suppressing the autonomist movement in 1963, and was strongly opposed to any concessions to Kurdish nationalism. In 1976, President Hafiz Asad officially renounced the further implementation of the 'Arab Belt' project and decided to "leave things as they are" (Nazdar 1980:218). Arabs already moved into predominantly Kurdish areas were allowed to stay, however (McDowall 1985:26).

The "tolerance policy" is to a great extent dictated by pragmatic political considerations rather than a change in belief or attitudes of the ruling party. Damascus had been involved, since the mid-1970s, in a bitter war to overthrow the rival Baath party in Iraq and to achieve this end it has given extensive assistance to all political organisations that oppose Baghdad. The Iraqi Kurds received more assistance because they were the only group that offered effective armed resistance to Baghdad. Another factor was Syria' use of the Kurds as in trump card in settling her dispute with Turkey. *One may conclude, on the strength of the evidence presented thus far, that Syria's policy on the Kurdish language has been, like that of Turkey, one of "linguicide". The relatively smaller number and proportion of the Kurdish population in the country together with territorial discontinuity of the Kurdish regions facilitate the regime's de-ethnicization program.

*In the mid-1980s, the Turkish press was accusing Syria of supporting the Kurdish "separatists" of Turkey. By this time, Syria had further relieved pressure on the Kurds, who were allowed to celebrate their national New Year (Newroz) feast everywhere, including in Damascus. According to a statement by the Federation Internationale des Droits de l'Homme dated April 29, 1986 (reprinted in 'Information and Liaison Bulletin' of Institute Kurde de Paris, No. 18, May 1986, pp. 14-15), the government prevented the celebration in 1986, and troops killed 10 protesters and wounded and arrested hundreds in the Kurdish regions and in the capital. According to the statement, the action was a result of agreements reached between Syria and Turkey.



Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (4 votes)

The obstacles to use Kurdish language in the public sphere

Editorial: The European society has widely ignored the suffering of Kurdish people in Turkey in the 20th century. Whereas civil rights and peace developed after World War II in Western Europe, millions of women and men were deprived of their basic human rights in the Eastern part of our neighbour country. Only at the edge of 21st century with a reformist and islamic government in Ankara and the dynamics of the EU accession process attention is given to this region, which is now open for the world and not closed under military law. You can travel through Kurdish mountains and meet the perople in remote areas and villages, learn about the desctruction of Kurdish villages and towns and the huge number of internally displaced people (IDPs) that amount to half a million alone in the biggest Kurdish metropole – Diyarbakir.

It is time for a change. Ridiculous laws regulating the use of a language which is the mother tongue for millions of people in Turkey have to disappear. Nearly a hundred years after its foundation Turkey can afford an open society with all liberties and modern patterns as we are used to in the European Union for more than five decades.

People in the Kurdish region of Turkey are still skeptical about the reform process and want to speed it up. The actual national discussion about the reform of the constitution gives an excedllent opportunity to engage into the reforms needed. Freedom of expression should no longer be measured by a juridical institution which is hostile to reforms and democratic decisions and election results. Opposing values that come from the 18th century shoudl no longer be criminalized. Turkey has become an adult and is no longer the “sick man at the Bosporus”.

It is time to act. People should no longer be scared to use their local language in public, in meetings, in media, everywhere. Children and youth must have access to Kurdish books and libraries. Turkish and Kurdish language must have a curricula in schools and universities in Turkey. And whereas the Turkish language will stay the national language of Turkey, the original names of Kurdish cities and towns, regions and people should return into being, like DERSIM, the massacred tiny town in the mountains which was taken hostage by Turkish military in 1938 without a single outcry from Europe.

This publication is documenting obstacles of using Kurdish language in Turkey. Some of these regulastions are meanwhile being changed or disappear. But the trials against using Kurdish language continue: against Kurdish mayors and writers and journalists.

This must come to an end.

The Eruropean Commission in Brussels and the European Parliament have demanded these changes and we will follow up.

Gerd Greune

IFIAS President

Brussels, 3rd May 2008

----------> Download the attached PDF file and Read more

No votes yet

Ziman u Cíní komellayetí

Núsíní: Profésor Peter Trudgill
Wergéran le Inglísiyewe: Hesené Qazí

Eger miro Inglísíy ziman bé yan héndék sebaret be komellekaní Inglísíy ziman bizané, detuwané tené be péy em belge zimaníyaney lére da amajheyan pé dekeyn be texmín pile u helkewtí komellayetí em axéweraney xuwarewe helda. Axéwerí A: I done it yesterday (emin dwéné ewim kird), axéwerí B: I did it yesterday, axéwerí A: He ain’t got it (ew werí negirtuwe), axéwerí B: He hasn’t got it , axéwerí A: It was her what said it (ewe ew bú gutí), axéwerí B: It was her that said it.

Eger miro gwéy lew axéwerane,gwéy lew shitane bé,be texmín way dadené ke, B pile u helkewtí komellayetí le A beriztir bé, u miro be dilniyayíyewe cakí bocuwe. Ewe cone ke éme detuwanín ew jore shitane le yek bikeynewe?
Wulamí ew pirsiyare le hebúní shéwezare zimaniyekan daye ke ésta be lehjegelí cíní – komellayetí yan, le layen héndék núserewe be sojíolékt néwzed kirawin. Le néwan qisekirdiní ew dú axéwerane da jiyawazí rézimaní heye u ewe serepetéke bo dirkandin u derxistiní pashxaní komellayetí ewan. Her weha ewesh delwé, egercí ewe le ser laperey capkiraw da níshan nedrawe,ke ew jiyawazíyane hawkat jiyawazí fonétíkí u dengsazíshyan le néwan dabé- wate, rawéjhgelí (accents) jiyawazí céní – komellayetísh hen. Jiyawaziyekaní nawkoyí komelle ínsaniyekan le zimanekanyan da reng dedenewe. Deste jiyawaze komellayetiyekan shéwezarí jiyawazí zimaní bekar dehénin u wekú endamaní be ezmúní komellge zimaniyekan éme (u ew kese Inglísiyeke le bendí yekemí em kitébeda) rahatúyn ke axéweran bew péye polén bendí bikeyn.
Jiyawazétí komellayetí bocí ew karlékeríyey le ser ziman heye? éme dekré amajhe be le ber yek ronaní berewpéshjúní ew shéwezare komellayetíyane u berewpéshcúní shéwezare herémiyekan bikeyn: le herdúk nimúnan da berhelist u mewda beruwalet xo derdexen. Lehjenasan (dialectologists ) dozíwyanetewe ke sinúrekaní lehjey herémí zor jar le tek berhelistí jugrafiyayí,yek degirnewe wekú ciya,zel u com: bo nimúne, gisht axéweraní lehjegelí nerítí le nawcekaní Birítanya le serúy comí Humber (le néwan Linjolnshire u Yorkshire) da wúshey wekú House ( ‘hoose’ [ hu:s] ) héshta be monophtong* derdebirn, le katékda ew axéweraney ke xelkí lay Bashúrí ew comen bo cendín sed sallan joreyek diphtongí**wéney [haws] yan bekarhénawe,u le Dewlete Yekgirtuwekaní Emríka sinúrí néwan lehjekaní Bakúrí u Néwerast ( bo agadarí ziyatir biruwane bendí 8-í em kitébe)le héndék nawcan hawteríbí comí Ohio n. Her weha ewesh rún buwetewe ke hercendí mewday jugrafiyay néwan dú lehjan ziyatir bé le rúy zimaníyewe ewendesh le yektirí dúr dekewnewe: bo nimúne, ew shéwezaraney Inglísíy Birítanyayí ke le shéwey qisekirdiní London herí dúrin béguman shéwezarekaní Bakúrí rojhhelatí Sjotland – Bujhan in, u le Emríkay Bakúrí jiyawazí here gewrey zimaní le néwan shéwezare herémiyekaní Inglísí da be berawurd kirdiní shéwey qisekirdiní Newfoundland u Mississippi be juwaní derdekewé.
Berewpéshcúní shéwezare komellayetiyekan renge bikré be heman shéwe- wate berhelstí komellayetí u mewday komellayetí da shí bikirénewe. téwe hatin u wexokirdiní néshane u xesletékí zimaní bo néw komellék dekiré be hoy berhelste komellayetiyekaní cénayetí, temen, regez, dín yan hokargelí díke berbest bikiré. u mewday komellayetí lewaneye herheman jore karlékerí hebé ke mewday jugirafiyayí heyetí: bonimúne,tazeyetiyekí zimaní ke lenéw desteyekí hereberzí komellayetí dest pédeka kartékerí le néw destey here nzmí komellayetí da í here duwayí ye, eger kartékeriyekí ewtoy her hebé. ( legel eweshda, iéme debé ushiyar bín , u gisht ew jiyawaziye komellayetíaney zimaní tené herbewshéwe tewaw míkaníkiye shí nekeynewe, cunkú her wek le bendí yekemí em ktébe da dítman, bocún u dítin sebaret beziman be ashkirayí rolékí giríng degéré le parastin yan rewandinewey jéyawaziye lehjeiyekanda.)

Lenéw hemú shéwekaní jiyawazétí komellayetí da, bo nimúne, jiyawazí cínayetí, temen, jíns,regez yan dín, iéme lem bende da debé le ser ew shéwe taybetiye le jiyawazétí komellayetí jext bikeynewe ke lenimúney axéweraní A uB da níshaniman da _ wate tuwéjhbendí komellayetí. twéjhbendí komellayetí zaraweyeke bo amajhebe kelekebendí destekan lekomel da dekardekirdré betaybetí le ruwí destelat, serwet u dewlemendí u plewpayewe. le komelle píshesaziyekaní rojhawa da ewe shéwey tuwéjhbendí cínekomelayetiyekan bexoyewe degiré, u debéte hoy peydabúní lehjegelí cíní komellayetí le ruwí zimaniyewe. (gisht pirsí cíní komellayetí le rastída ta radeyek jenjaliye, betaybetí le ber ewey ke komellnasan lemer tebí'etí rasteqíne, mana u néwerok yan hebúní cínekomelayetiyekan hawranín. legel ewesh, lére da bejé niye hewl bidré bo rízkirdin yan helsengandiní bocúní jiyawaz ke sebaret bew babete lelayen téorízananí komellnasewe hatúnete goré. her renge ewende bes bé hémay pébikeyn ke begishtí cíne komellayetiyekan be koy ew takuterayaney dadendrén ke xesletí wekú yekí komellayetí u/iyan abúrían heye. bocúní gishtí lemer cíní komellayetí le zorbey lékolínewe zimaniyekanda le birgekaní xuarewe da derdekewin.)
Legell eweshda,twéjhbendí cíní – komellayetí diyardeyekí jíhaní niye. Bo nimúne,le Híndústan, komellí nerítí be kastí (castes) jiyawaz dabesh buwe. Le ruwangey zimannasékewe, lékolínewe u shíkirdinewey lehjegelí kast ta radeyek le lehjegelí cíní komellayetí hasantire. Ewísh leber eweye kastekan be réjhe pitewtir u xoragirtirn, be rúní néwyan léndirawe, be tewawí le yektirí jwé kirawnetewe,ser be ewan bún u endametí téyanda míratiye u deretaní zor kem heye bo dest berdan le kasték u cúne naw u legel kewtiní kastékí díke.
(diyare ewe heta biléyí sade kirdinewey ew cemke ye,mebestí serekí min lére da eweye ke jext le ser jiyawazí néwan kast u komelle cínayetiyekan bikemewe.) Le ber ew jwékirdinewe ashkirayey xelik be destey taybetí u jiyawaz, jiyawazí lehjeyí le néw kastekan da be ashkirayí bederewen, u jiyawazí komellayetí de ziman da héndék jar gewretir u ziyatirin le jiyawaziye herémiyekan. Xishtey jhimare 2 ew xalane níshan deda lemer zimaní Kannanda, ke zimanéke le binemaley Diravídiyayí Bashúrí Híndústan ke xizmayetí legell zimaní Tamíl da heye. Ew xishte jhimareyek lew shéwane níshan deda ke le layen Birahmínekanewe bekar dehéndirén,ke beriztirín kastin, u hawtakanyan le qisekirdiní kaste xuwarewetirekan, le dú sharí Bangalor u Dharwar níshan deda, ke nizíkey 350 míl ( 400 kílomítir) le yektirí dúrn.

Sé nimúney yekem níshan deden ke, egercí formekaní Bangalor u Dharwar bo kaste xuwarewetirekan wek yek wan, belam kastí Birahmín formí ewtoy heye ke nek her jiyawazin le kastekaní díke belkú lew dú share da de néw yektirísh da le yek jiyawazin.
Xishtey 2. jiyawaziyekaní herémí u kast le zimaní Kannada.
Birahmín sharí dharwar ' heye' eda sharí Bangalor ide, Dharwar ' lenéwé da' –olage , Bangalor –alli nawgirí cawg: Dharwar- likke , Bangalor-ök , nawgirí awelnawí kirdarí, Dharwar -ö, Bangalor –ö Dharwar , 'daníshe' küt- , Bangalor küt- , jénawí ín'íkasí , Dharwar kö, Bangalor kö kastí xeyrí Birahmín le sharí Dharwar ' heye' ayti , le sharí Bangalor ayti , Dharwar ' le néwé da' ,- àga Bangalor –àga , nawgirí cawg: Dharwar –à, Bangalor –à , ' daníshe' Dharwar kunt- , Bangalor kunt- jénawí ín'íkasí, Dharwar kont-, Bangalor kont formekaní kastí beriztir zor le formekaní xuwarewetir nawceyítirin. ( duwatir debínín sebaret be shéwezare cínayetiyekaní Inglísí ewe be pécewane ye. )sé nimúney duwem níshan deden ke le néw deste komellayetiyekan da weyekcún ziyatire ta deste jugrafiyayiyekan- mewday komellayetí zor ziyatir le mewday jugrafiyayí jiyawazí dexate néw destekan.
Le komelle cínayetiyekaní dinyay Inglísí zimanda barudoxí komellayetí zor legoranhatútire, u her boyesh barudoxí zimaní zor aloztire,be laní kemewe le héndék ruwewe. cuwarcéwey cíne komellayetiyekan be rúní diyarí nakré yan sheqlí hebúnékí sinúrdiyaríkirawyan lé nadré, belkú tené wekú koyek le xelik dadendirén ke xesletí wekúyekí komellayetí u abúríyan heye; u wegerkewtiní komellayetíyan wek yeke - júle bo serewe u xuwarewey hérarshí komellayetí – be tewawí delwé u rúdeda. Ja ewane shitekan bo her zimannasékí ke biyewé shéwezarékí taybetí shí bikatewe zor ziyatir dijhwartir deken- komelleyek hercendí jorarwjor u ceshnawceshin bé, téyda zimanísh her ewende jorajor u ceshnawceshne. Be sallaní dúr ú diréjh helwést u kardanewey zimannas le hember ew pécelpécí u alozíye be gishtí nedítin u caw lé helbuwardin bú- ewesh be dú shéwey ta radeyek jiyawaz.
Zor le zimannasan le lékolínewekaní xoyanda jextyan le ser "idiolect" dekird – wate shéwey qsekirdiní take kesék le katékda u be shéwazék – ke ewesh wa dadendira – (be gishtí ewe zor rúdeda - biruwane laperey 29-í deqí Inglísí em kitébe) zor be qa'ídetir bé le shéwey axaftiní komellgeyek le gishtí xoyda. Le layekí díkewe, lehjenasan (dialectologists), le lékolínewey xoyanda jextyan dekird le ser shéwey qisekirdiní zaniyaríderaní derewey sharan u gundan, u betaybetí le shéwey qisekirdiní ew jore xelkane wurd debúnewe ke xwéndewarí kemyan hebú u le gunde tak kewtúwekanda dejhiyan,u zor be taybetítir le waney ke zimannasí Kanadayí Jhajk Jhambers néwí nawe 'NORMS' - néríney besaldacúy nejúlí gundnishín – (none – mobile older rural males) ( hoy ewey ewan piyawanyan le ber caw girtuwe u nek jhinan le bendí 3-í em kitébeda rún dekrétewe). Helbet, tenanet gunde picúkekanísh le rúy komellayetiyewe jorajor u ceshnawceshnin, belam le gundekan da cawhelbuwardin lew rastiye le share gewrekan hasantire.
Le gel eweshda, tené bejé ye bigutiré, ke dú shíkirdinewey zédey díkesh hen ke bocí lehjenasan bew shéweye jextyan le ser nawce gundiyekan dekird. yekem,ewan péyan xosh bú zor le níshanekan u xesletekaní lehjey ber bas ke le halí awélkedan da bú be belge ko bikenewe ber lewey ew jore lehjane be tewawí kip bin u neménin. duwem,hesték hebú ke le shwénék le qisekirdiní xelkí besaldacútir da sharabuwewe, qise kirdiní xelkí nexwéndewar u perwerde nedítú lehjey 'rastí' u ' resen u pak' bún ke bere bere le ber karlékerí shéwezarí standard shéwa bún,belam lehjenasan deyantuwaní biyandoznewe u shíyan bikenewe eger ewan zírek búbayen. (ewe derkewt ke cemkí lehjey yekdestí ' resen u pak' ísh ta radeyekí zor cemkéki efsaneyí ye:hemú layení ziman dekewéte ber kartékerí jiyawazí shéwazí u komellayetí, cunkú hemú komellge ínsaniyekan le barí karkirdewe le astí jorbejor da jiyawaz, jorawjor u ceshnawceshnin. Hemú shéwezarí zimanísh dekewne ber kartékerí goran. Boye,tenanet le lehjeyekí here tak kewtú u here xoparézí gundísh da towékí jiyawazíkerewe heye. )Le gel eweshda,lehjenasan bere bere boyan derkewt ke tené be lékolínewey qisekirdiní axéweraní besaldacútir,u nexwéndewar u perwerde nedítú ewan wéneyekí natewaw u na durustí qise kirdiní nawce jiyawazekanyan dest dekewé. (bo nimúne, belgekaní astekirdiní lékdanewey lehje Inglísiyekan níshan deden ke le gerek u dewerí sarí Surrey, ke le tenísht xuwarúy London helkewtuwe,nawceyeke lewé xelik /r/ í na ber le vokal le wushey wekú yard u farm da telefúz deken (birwane laperey 149-í deqí Inglísí em kitébe)le katék da herkes cúbéte Surrey dezané ke ewe lay beshékí zor le daníshtúwaní ewé wa niye.)

duwatir lehjenasan destyan kird bewey ke zanyarí komellayetí u her weha jugrafiyayísh le lékdanewekaní karí xoyan le mer lehjekan ziyad ken. Bo nimúne,ew kesaney le ser etlesí zimaní le Dewlete Yekgirtuwekaní Emríka u Kanada karyan kirduwe,ew karey ke le sallaní 1930 yekaní Sedey rabirdú da destí pékird bú,zanyaríderekaní xoyan be ser sé deste da dabesh kird,ziyatir be péy piley xwéndewarí u perwerdey ewan, u bew shéweye rehendékí komellayetíshyan le zanyarí zimaní xoyan ziyad kird. Ewan her weha ,ta radeyek be parézewe,destyan kird be lékolínewey qisekirdiní nawce shariyekanísh. Legel eweshda,de rastída ta duway kotayí hatiní sherí Duwemí Dinya girewey pécú, ke zimannasan dest biken be tégeyishtin lew rastiyey ke sinúrdarkirdiní lékolínewekanyan be shéwey serekí be nawce gundiyekan karékí wa deka ewan sebaret be qisekirdiní zorbeyekí heraw le daníshtúwan naagadar bin u le serí nezanin – wate shéwey qise kirdiní ewaney le sharekanda dejhyan. komellékí zor zanyarí zimaní ke hem serbexo cawrakésh bún u be tuwanayekí benirx bún bo tíorí zimaní le dest cún. Leber ewe, núsrawey wek shéwey qisekirdiní sharí New York u telefuzkirdiní Inglísí le sanfransísko seriyan helda. legel eweshda, lékolínewe le lehjey sharekan gírugiriftékí díkey leber dem qut buwewe - ey dad u bédad zimannasék con detuwané ' shéwey qise kirdiní sharí New York' shí katewe- sharék ke hesht mílyon yan ziyatir daníshtúy heye? ewe cend rast bú ke be girdibrí amajhe be 'zimaní Inglísí le Sanfransisco' bikré le katékda shíkirdinewe u lékdaneweke tené le ser binemay shéwey qisekirdiní jhimareyekí kem le axéweran le néw bedeyan hezar kes kirabú ke miro deytuwaní léy bikolétewe ـ be gutinékí dí, gelo rewa bú yan ewendey dehéna métodí nerítí lékolínewey lehjenasí gundiyane bo lékolínewe le lehje u shéwey axawtiní nawce gewre shariyekan dekar bikirdiré? duwa jar wulamí ew pirsiyare derkewt ' na' bé.
Ew lehjenasaney le lehje shariyekanyan dekoliyewe u tégeyishtin nabé métodí kon bekar bihéndré nacar man régeyek bibínnewe bo ewey, shéwey qisekirdiní sharocke u sharegewrekan be tewawí u be durustí shí bikenewe u le wulamdanewe bew gírugirfte da bú ke lehjenasí sharíyane duwajar bú be zimaninasí komellayetí. Le sallí 1966 zimannasí Emríkayí William Labov kitébí 'twéjhbendí komellayetí zimaní Inglísí le sharí New York' í bilaw kirdewe u akamekaní helsengandinékí berbilawí shéwe qisekirdiní New Yorkí téda bú. Labov ew cawpékewtinaney kirdibúní hemúyaní le ser rékordir aste kirdibú, ewísh nek her legel cend kesék, belkú legell 340 kes. Lewesh giríngtir, ew zanyaríderekaní xoy be régey dost u nasiyawan u péwendí shexsí destbijhér nekirdibú (wek ewey péshútir dekra),belkú ew karey be régey nimúneyekí legotre ke zanstane gelale kirabú beréwe bird,bew manaye egercí nedekira legell hemú kes cawpékewtin bikré,belam hemúkes derfetí yeksaní hebú ke bo cawpékewtin destbijhér bikré. Be bekarhénaní métodí komellnasane wek nimúne hénanewey legotre bo néw zimannasí,Labov le wuzey da bú ewe pasaw bida ke shéwey qisekirdiní zanyaríderekaní berastísh nwénerayetí shéwey qisekirdiní xelkí New York deken (yan belaní kemewe ew nawce taybetíyey ke ew léy kolíyewe, wate berí xwarewey rojhhelatí shareke). Leber ewey zanyaríderekan nimúneyekí nwénerayetétí bún, boyesh shíkirdinewe zimaniyeke detuwandira bigutré shíkirdineweyekí duruste sebaret be hemú ew shéwezaraney Inglísí ke le nawceke qiseyan pédekira. Labov her weha, jore tékníkékíshí péshxist, ke duwatir tewawtir kira,bo derxistiní qisekirdiní asayí le xelik sereray le berdest dabúní rékordir (ewe berewpéshcúnékí zor giríng bú ke éme le bendí 5-í em kitébe da ziyatirí le ser deroyn.) Ew her weha héndék métodíshí dahéna bo péwaní cendayetí zanyarí zimaní, ke beshékí le xuwarewe da bas dekeyn. Leweta ew péshkewtine zor lékolínewey díke sebaret be lehje shariyekan, le zor shwéní diniya kirawin,her be péy ew cuwarcéweyey ke Labov daynawe.
Ew métodaney Labov péshí xistún selmandúyane ke zor giríngin bo lékolínewe le lehje u rawéjhgelí cíní komellayetí. Métodekaní lehjenasí nerítí dekré bejé bin bo shíkirdinewe u baskirdiní lehjegelí kastekan(egercí ewesh qisey le sere, cunkú her takék,egercísh destbjhér kirabé, réy tédecé jiyawaziyekí hénde zorí legell destey kasteke be gishtí nebé. Belam le lékolínewey cíní komellayetí da nakré be destbjhérkirdiní axéweraní takutera ewan wek axéwerí gisht cíneke bijhmérdirén. Ewe pinktékí giríng bú ke le layen Labovewe níshan dira. shéwey qisekirdiní axéweraní takane ( ídíoléktekanyan) lewaneye ta radeyekí bercaw le shéwey qisekirdiní ew kesaney wek ewanin jiyawaz bé,lewesh ziyatir, le néw xoyda, detuwané zor nashélgírísh bé. shéwey qisekirdiní zor le xelkí New York be shéweyekí be tewawí le gotire u cawerwannekiraw derkewt jiyawaz bé. Jar jar ewan dengí /r/ yan le wushey ‘guard’ da derdebirí u jar jar kiloryan dekird. Héndék jar ewan ‘beard’ u ‘bad’ yan be heman shéwe derdebirí u jar jar be jiya telefuzyan dekirdin. Zimannasan le rúy nerítiyewe néwí ew jore telefuzkirdinyan nawe ' jorajorí azad'. Legel eweshda,Labov selmandí ke ew jorajoriye azad niye. Be leber cawgirtiní péshxaní komellgey zimaní le gishtí xoyda,ew jorajoriye le gotire nebú, belkú hokargelí derewey zimaní be shéweyekí tewaw caweruwankiraw eweyan diyarí dekird. Wate,miro natuwané le boneyek da péshbíní bika ke takuterayan delén ‘jah’ yan ‘jar’ ,belam dekré níshan bidré ke,eger axéweran ser be cénékí komellayetí, hawtemen, hawjíns bin , ewan shéweyek yan shéweyekí díke be texmín x le sed jar be shéwey mamnawendí, le barudoxékí lebercawgíraw da, bekar dehénin. ídíolékt (shéwey qisekirdiní takekesí) lewaneye le gotire bé, belam shéwey qisekirdiní gomelge zimaniyeke tewaw caweruwankiraw bú. Her conék bé,be régey ew jore métodaney Labov bekarí hénan, gírugiriftí nahawjínsí u nek wekúyekí komellge zimaniyekan, be laní kemewe, ta radeyek yek la kirawetewe. ésta éme detuwanín níshane u xeslete zimaniyekan be durustí le cíní komellayetí giré deyn, u bew régeye da wéneyekí rúntir le jiyawazétí lehjey komellayetí wedest bihénín.
Ta ew jéyey ke degerétewe ser zimaní Inglísí, le méjhe zimannasan dezanin ke lehje u rawéjhe (dialects and accents ) jiyawazekan péwendiyan heye be pashxaní jiyawazí cíní komellayetiyewe. Le Birítaniya, éme ta radeyek be shéweyekí sadekirawe, detuwanín barudoxí éstekané be shéwey xuwarewe shí bikeynewe. Lehje xo parézekan,u, be taybetí lehje shariyekan – shéwezare konebawekan ke í destekaní here xuwarewey hírarshí komellayetín – bere bere be júlan u derkewtin le nawcey derewey sharan ra degordirén. Ew xaley le bendí yekemí em kitébeda le mer sefer kirdin le Norfolkewe berew Suffolk basman kird be tewawí sebaret be sefer kirdin le Jornwallewe berew Aberdeenshewe her waye: lew nawbere da zinjíreyek lehjegelí jiyawaz hen ke wurde wurde decin debal yektiriyewe. Ew zinjírane wek zinjírey lehjeyí amajheyan pé dekiré – jhimareyekí zor lehjey jiyawaz, belam be asayí nek jwey nastandard ke be régey zinjírékí weyekcún beyekdí bestirawnetewe,belam le lehjekaní qefí here serewe u here xuwarewey ew zinjíre dúrin u weyan nacn. Ewe le mer seferkirdin le Bangor, u Maine ,Tallahasse,Florida, yan le serékí Alman yan Feranse yan Italiya bo serékí díkeyan her awaye.
Le Birítaniya, legell eweshda,le serékí díkey terazúy komellayetí da, barudoxeke zor jiyawaze. Axéweraní cíní here berzí cíní komellayetí lehjeyek bekar dehénin ke éme wek lehjey Inglísí standard amajheman pékird,u her wek le bendí 1-í em kitébeda dítman,tené héndék jiyawaze le beshe jiyawazekaní wulat da. Ba nimúneyekí qamúsí bas bikeyn, le lehjey Inglísí standard da taqe wusheyek heye bo ‘sjarejrow’ dawel,ewísh shitéke wek ínsan razéndrawetewe ke jútbendan le zewiyekanyan daydeceqénin bo tirsandin u rewandinewey balndan,le layekí díkewe, le néw shéwezare herémiyekanda éme zor wushey nawceyíman heye her bo em manaye, wek bogle,flay-jrow, mawpin, mawkin, bird- scarer, moggy, shay, guy, bogeyman, shuft, rook – scarer u cendín wushey díkesh [be péy qamúsí Henbane Boríney Hejhar, em wushane: daleho,dawil,dalo le kurdída hawatay dawel in – tébíní wergér). Her ew jore nimúnane le jiyawaziye rézimaniyekaníshda debíndirénewe. Bo nimúne éme le Inglísí standard da hem ristey wek:He’s a man who likes his beer ( ew piyawéke ke awíjoy xoy pé xoshe) u hem ristey wek: He’s a man that likes his beer debínín. Belam jorawjorí herémí le shéwezare nastandardekaní Inglísí Birítaniyayí da zor lewane ziyatirin. Gisht em nimúnaney xuwarewe ke yek manan hemúyan bekar dehéndirén. He’s a man who likes his beer, He’s a man that like his beer, He’s a man at likes his beer,he’s a man as likes his beer, He’s a man weat likes his beer, He’s a man he like his beer, He’s a man likes his beer.
Ta ew jégeyey ke degerétewe ser rawéjh (accent ), barudox le Birítaniya héndék jiyawaze,ewísh leber helkewtí takaney RP wate (telefuzí we xokiraw).
(ewe bew manaye niye bigutré ke le néw RP da jorawjorí niye, belkú mebest eweye ke ewe le rúy herímiyewe diyarí nakiré, wate le hershuwénékí ínglístan da, u belaní kemewe le héndék beshekaní díkey shanshíní yekgirtú da, zinjíreyek le rawéjhan hen, le rawéjhí RP yewe bigire, ta degate rawéjhe jorbejore nawceyíyekan, u ta degate ew rawéjhey ke be rawéjhí here nawceyí cíní here xuwarewey komellayetí dadendiré. Le xishtey séyemda cilonayetí telefuz kirdiní wusheyek, wate ‘home’ níshan dirawe. Le hélí serewey xishtekeda  tené yek shéwey derbiríní wusheke debíndiré le katékda le hélí here xuwarewe da 8 jore telefuz kirdin níshan dirawe, lewesh ziyatir, búní shéwe rawéjhí Edinburgh u Newcastle  ke [ho:m] wekú yek derdebrin le hélí duwem da u betaybetí shéwey derbiríní [ houm] le rawéjhí Liverpool u Bradford da, níshan deda ke héndék le telefuzkirdinekaní xeyrí RPí le  beshe jor be jore kaní wulat da degene astí standaredekaní telefuz kirdiní herémí, u kemtir le rawéjhí nawceyí da berteng deméninewe.  Éme leméjhe agaman lew jore jorawjoriyey lehje u rawéjhí komellayetí u herémí heye,u  ta radeyekí bash agadar kirawín sebaret be coniyetí RP. legell eweshda, ta ber lewey ew jore lékolínewane dest pébikrén,éme nemandezaní ke RP  u rawéjhekaní néwerast u rawéjhgelí here nawceyí be ci shéweyek péwendíyan be  cíní komellayetiyewe heye; neman dezaní RP ta cendey terazúy komellayetí u le shwéní  jiyawaz con birr deka, neman dezaní ci jore axéwerék telefuzí standardí herémí  bekar dehéné; neman dezaní be wurdí rawéjhgelí néwerast u benawceyí kiraw cine. 
Zimannasí komellayetí manay eweye ke éme ésta le helumerjék dayn bo wulamdanewey 
ew pirsiyarane.
Xishtey 3. shéwey telefuzkirdiní wushey ‘home’ be rawéjhí RP u rawéjhí nawceyí RP le Edinburgh høum, le Newcatle høum, le Liverpool høum, le Bradford høum, le Dudley høum, le Norwich høum, le London høum rawéjhí néwerast le Edinburgh ho:m , le Newcastle ho:m , huom le Liverpool ,houm , le Bradford houm, h):m le Dudley h)um , )um le Norwich hu:m , hum le London hAum, Aum rawéjhí  here nawceyí le Edinburgh he:m , le Newcastle heim, jhem, le Liverpool oum, le Bradford  ):m , le Dudley wum , le Norwich um, le London aewm  Eger bimanewé wéneyekí durust le péwendí néwan ziman u twéjhbendí komellayetí wedest bihénín debé bituwanín her dúk diyardey zimaní u komellayetí bipéwín bo  ewey bituwanín ewan be durustí le yek bibestínewe u péwendíyan diyarí bikeyn.
Ta ew jéyey ke degerétewe ser cíní komellayetí ewe beréjhe be hasaní (egercí wenebé zorísh hasan bé) dekré be régey métodí komellnasanewe rabiperéndiré wate xishteyekbe jhimarewe bo takuterayan lemer píshe, dahat, astí xwéndin u perwerde u/yan xesletekaní díkeyan saz bikré duwaye ewan wek girúpék bixiréne pal deste díkey kexishteyan bo saz kirawe (egercí pasawdaní dabeshkirdin be ser destey jiyawaz da lewaneye qisehelgir u jenjalí bé). Péwaní ziman zor lewe dijhwartire. Ew careseriyey wa le layen Labovewe pésh xirawe u dahatuwe u lew demiyewe le layen kesaní díkeshewe bekarhéndrawe birítiye lewey ew níshane zimaníaney péyíyan zandirawe le bercaw bigírén,yan bepéy lékolínewey péshútir yan be péy texmín u legotre le layen axéwerí zimannasewe, bo  derxistiní jiyawazí le néw ew komellgeyey léy dekoldirétewe, u be shéweyek be hasaní le péwan dé. Bo nimúne,le dú helsengandiní jiyawaz da,yekyan le Detriot, le  DewleteYekgirtuwekaní Emríka, u ew díyan le Norwich, le Inglísítan,  derkewit ke níshaney rézimaní wekúyek bew shéweye lebartir u bejétire. Le Inglísíy standard da kesí séyemí zemaní éstay shéwey takí kirdar pashgirékí heye, ke le rénús da be -s derdekewé,ke le xelkí díkey jiwé dekatewe: I Know Emin dezanim , we know éme dezanín, they know Ewan dezanin, belam bo kesí séyem she knows Ew dezané. Le Angliay Rojhhelat , ew nawceyey Inglístan ke Norwichí lé helkewtuwe, u le Detriot em –s e zor jar dernakewé,  belaní kemewe le qisekirdiní héndék xelik da. wate miro dekiré gwéy lem shéwane bibé: She like him very much , He don’t know a lot , do he ?, It go ever sofast.
Leber ewey Inglísí standard –s í heye, u le ber ewey shéwezarí standard be gishtí le deste here berze komellayetiyekan shéwezarí her nizíke, gomaní ewe hebú lewane ye péwendiyekí rastewxoy dúlayene le néwan helkewtí cíní komellayetí u bekarhénaní -s da hebé. Lékolínewe lew egere beréjhe hasan bú, cunkú híc dijhwariyek bo péwaní ew níshane zimaniye le goré da nebú: tené be gwégirtin lew newaraney le katíhelsengandinekeda aste kirabún u bijhardiní ewey ke axéwer cend jarí –s bekarhénawe ewe rún debuwewe. Akamí ew lékolínewane le néw axéweraní xelkí Norwich le Birítaniya u axéweraní Emríkayí Efríkayí le Detriot eme níshan deda. Lékolíneweke derí dexa ke ew gumaney heye tewaw pasa dedré – wate búní hawpéwendiyekí ashkira le néwan cíní komellayetí u bekar hénaní –s da. ( le lékolínewekeda zaniyaríderaní xelkí Norwich be ser pénj destey komellayetída dabesh kirabún – twéjhí néwerastí cíní néwerast; twéjhí xuwarewey cíní néwerast; twéjhí serewey cíní kirékar, twéjhí néwerastí cíní kirékar u twéjhí xuwarewey cíní kirékar – be gwérey pinketekan le lístey cíní komellayetí da. Ew zimannasaney legell zaniyaríderaní Detriotí karyan dekird ewanyan be cuwar destey cíní komellayetí dabesh kirdibú.) Léresh da péwendí néwan cíní komellayetí u bekarhénaní – s tewaw be ashkirayí derkewit.
Ew barudoxey le merr her dú nimúnekan le serewe da wéna kira dekré wekú nimúneyekí tékelawbúní lehjeyí dabindiré. éme detuwanín biléyn,ke le nimúney yekemda,éme de rastída legell dú lehjey jiyawaz berewrúyne, yekyan –s bekar dehéné u ewí díkeyan bekarí nahéné. (koy pinketekaní twéjhí néwerastí cíní néwerast le Norwich héndék pishtí ew bocúne degiré. ) Duwaye éme detuwanín biléyn ke ew dú lehje jwéyane be réjhey jiyawaz le layen axéweraní ser be cíní jiyawazewe tékel dekirdirén. Le rastída ewe lewaneye shíkirdineweyekí benirxí méjhúyí bé bo selmandiní ewey ke barudoxeke con hatuwete goré. Legel eweshda, be bocúní min , bashtir eweye ke ew barudoxe wekú nimúneyek le jorawjorétí zatí shí bikirétewe. Jorajorétí zatí manay ewe ye ke jorawjorí le ber tékelabúní dú yan shéwezarí ziyatir niye belkú beshékí jwénekraweye le shéwezareke xoy. Boye be péy ' rwangey tékelawí lehjan' axéweraní Detriotí le ber ewe shéwey gerdankirdiní kirdar degorin cunkú ewan Inglísí reshí Detriotí tékelawí shéwe qisekirdiní (ke le shéwey 'resen'í xoyda –s í niye)Inglísíy standard deken ( ke em –s í heye). Le layekí díkewe, be péy ' ruwangey ' jiyawazétí zatí' ew jorawjoriye tené xesletékí Inglísí Emríkayí Efríkayí Detriote. Belgey selmandiní em ruwangey duwayí ewe ye ke ew jorawjoriye le astékí berbilaw da xoy derdexa, ci le néw gisht axéweran da u ci le jhimareyekí berbilawí níshaney díkey zimanída. shitékí ew bocún zor rúntir dadegrétewe ewe ye,ke em shéwe le jorajorétiye tenanet le shéwey qisekirdiní mindalaní zor kem temeníshda bedí dekré ke qet nekewtúnete ber karlékerí lehjekaní díke. Wa wédecé jorawjoriyekaní zimaní le zatí xoyanda wekú qa'íde u résayek legoranhatú bin ta ewey ke rézper bin,u renge jiyawazétí zatí hawtayekí zimaní negunjan u newekúyekí komellayetí bé.
Jhimareyekí díkesh le níshanekaní rézimaní, ke ta radeyek aloz u pécelpécin, níshan dirawin bo bestineweyan be cíní komellayetí her le gwén ew nimúne –wate, be destiníshankirdiní radey diyarkewtin u búnyan u le néw lehje cínayetiye jiyawazekanda ( be bé ewey lék dabirabin). Bo nimúne, lem ristaney xuwarewe wurd binewe katék bimanewé le doxí nefí da deryan bibrín: I jan eat anything, Emin detuwanim hemú shiték bixom. le shéwezarí standardí Inglísída dú rége heye bo derbiríní em risteye le doxí nefí da, yan kirdareke dexiréte doxí nefí yewe ke risteyekí away lé saz debé: I can’t eat anything, Emin natuwanim hemú shiték bixom,yan dekré jénaweke bixréte doxí nefí yewe: I can eat nothing (heman shit le ristey hawshubar da ke herfí te'rífékí nadiyar yan jénawékí nadiyarí téda bé her awaye. ) legell eweshda, le héndék le shéwezarekaní Inglísída derfetékí séyemísh heye- ke éme detuwanín hem kirdar u hem jénawe nadiyareke bixeyne doxí nefí yewe: I can’t eat nothing, Emin natuwanim híc bixom.
Be temasha kirdiní ew lékolínewey le Detriot kirabú, derkewit péwendiyekí ashkira le néwan bekar hénaní sé shéwey xistine doxí nefí kirdin – dújar, bashtir, fire jar - u cíní komellayetí le ara daye. le sedí bekar héndiranyan le shéwe nastandardekanda awa bú. le néw twéjhí serewey cíní kirékar 2, le néw cíní xuwarewey cíní néwerast 11, le néw twéjhí serewey cíní kirékar 38, le néw cíní xuwarewe cíní kirékar 70. – léreshda her heman nimúney cínayetí debínín,u dísan derdekewé ke híc cínék be shélgírí tené jore shéweyek yan yekídí bekar nahéné.
Rawéjhekaní ‘accents ‘, cínayetí, be pécewaney xeslete rézimaniyekan be ruwalet péwecaranyan zor dijhwartire. éme wekú axéweraní xojéyí [Inglísí],be péy ezmúní xoman dezanín ke zinjíreyekí berbilaw ke morkí komellayetíyan péwe diyare hen,belam gelo éme be wurdí ew níshane fonétíkí u dengsazíyane cilon be derxere (parameters) komellnasanekanewe bilkénín u péwendiyan pé bideyn? Métodí asayí ewe ye ke tak tak, le telefuzí vawélekan u konsonantekan bikoldirétewe. Bo nimúne,be réjhe hasane bún yan nebúní dengékí konsonantí taybetí le kutékí qise kirdin da bijhmérdiré. Le sharí Norwich lem sé níshanane koldirawe:

1. le sedí hebúní n’ le beramber ng le wushegelí wek walking,running u htd da – [w):kn] le ast [w):ki?] da. 
2. le sedí hebbúní bestí gerúyí (glottal stops) le ast t le wushey wekú butter, bet u htd da. – [ba?e] le beramber [bata] da. 
3. le sedí ' hs-í kilor ' le beramber ‘e’ le wushey wekú hammer,hat u htd da. [aeme] le beramber [haema] da.
Le xuwarewetir da radey derkewtiní ew konsonantane bas dekeyn. Ew sé konsonantane be ashkirayí derxerí bashin bo helkewtí cíní komellayetí le Norwich, u be taybetí wekú derxer giríngin bo níshandaní ewey ke be gishtí axéwer endamí cíní néwerast yan cíní kirékare. Lewesh ziyatir, wa wédecé nekré basí rawéjhgelí jwéy cíní komellayetí pasawí bo bihénrétewe- belkú dísan zinjíreyek le gorédaye,ke zorbey axéweran jarék telefuzék dekar deken u jarékí díke telefuzékí díke. Formekaní xeyrí RP ( telefuzí wexokiraw) bo derbiríní sé konsonantan le Norwich. Ng – (cend lesed) le néw twéjhí néwerastí cíní néwerast 31, le néw cíní xuwarewey cíní néwerast 42, le néw twéjhí serewey cíní kirékar 87, le néw tuwéjhí néwerastí cíní kirékar 95, le néw cíní xwarewey cíní kirékar 100. t (cend le sed) le néw twéjhí néwerastí cíní néwerast 41, le néw cíní xuwarewey cíní néwerast 62, le néw twéjhí serewey cíní kirékar 89, le néw twéjhí néwerastí cíní kirékar 92, le néw cíní xuwarewey cíní kirékar 94. h (cend le sed ) le néw cíní néwe rastí cíní néwerast 6, le néw cíní xuwarewey cíní néwerast 14, le néw twéjhí serewey cíní kirékar 40, le néw twéjhí néwerastí cíní kirékar 59, le néw cíní xuwarewey cíní kirékar 61.
Zorbey here zorí axéweraní Norwich her dúk telefuzekaní gisht konsonantekan bekar dehénin. Ewe be taybetí cawrrakéshe sernjí bidrété ke be shéwey mamnawendí tenanet cíní here serewesh telefuz kirdiní shéwe - walkin’ le sedí 31 jaran bekar dehéné.
Renge lékolínewe lew jore jorawjorí konsonantiyekan yekem jar le layen Labov le sharí New York kirabé,ber le lékolínewe u lékdanewe serekiyekey. Ew ferziyeyey ke bekar hénaní /r/ í na- ber le vokal péwendí dedrétewe be cíní komellayetí be shéweyekí ezmúní taqíkirayewe nek wek zor le lékolínewe zimaniyekan ke be shéweyekí zor rashkawanetir beríwe cún. (Labov belaní kemewe le layen pisporékí díkey zimannasíy komellayetí yewe wekú ' nabíxeyekí karí be métod' néwzed kirawe). Ewey ew kirdí ewe bú ke shéwey qise kirdiní shagird u berdestí dúkanan le sé firoshgey gewre be taqí bikatewe, ke ew firoshgeyane be ríz pile u astyan beriz, mamnawendí u le xuwarewe da bú. Karekey awa bú le péshda bizané kameyek le firoshge gewrekan le nihomí cuwaremdan u duwaye le hercende berdestí dúkaney ke dekra le shwénekaní dí firoshgeke pirsyarékí awa bika : ' Execuse me , where are the women’s shoes?
(bibúre kewshí jhinan le kwé hene?) Diyare wulamí ew pirsiyare ‘fourth floor’ (nihomí cuwarem) bú be dú derfetí derkewtiní/r/í na-ber le vokal. Bew shéweye zanyarí sebaret be bekarhénaní /r/ le 264 zanyaríderan wergíra (ke helbet, ewan neyandezaní le layen zimannasékewe ew pirsiyareyan lé kirawe). Akamí ew lékolíneweye awa bú: 38 le sedí berdestaní pile berzí firoshgekan ci /r/ bekar nedehéna, 49 le sedí berdestaní firoshgekan ke pile u payey mamnawendiyan hebú u 83 lewaney ke pile u astí xuwareweyan hebú ewanísh/r/yan bekar nedehéna. Ja boye,Labov jige lewey ke zanyariyekí sinúrdarí sebaret be shwéninasí ‘topography’ firoshge gewrekaní New York wedest xist eweshí rún kirdewe ke be réjhe xesletí be hénd negírawí rawéjhí ‘accent’ le barí komellayetiyewe detwané cende giríng bé.
Késhey péwaní vawélan, ke le rúy komellayetiyewe zor le konsonantekan giringtirin gewretire, cunkú lew bareyewe kareke le ser bún u nebúní dengékí taybetí niye,belam jiyawazí kemí (zor jar zor kem) coniyetí vawél le gore daye. Zimannas bo raperandiní ew késheye be le yek kirdinewey durustí néwan coniyetí vawélekan u wayan da dené ke ewan wek dengí jwé wabin. Bo nimúne, le Inglísíy New York da zinjíreyek jorawjorí giríngí komellayetí hen bo telefuzkirdiní dengí vawél le wushey wek:jab ,bag , bad ,half , pate ,danje da. Ew jorawjoriye jiyawazyane zinjíreyek pék dehénin, belam nakré be shéweyekí destkird jwé bikrénewe. Be gishtí dekré be cuwar jor dabesh bikrén. Duwaye dekré lísteyek saz bikré bo hejhmardiní her kamyan be tené (u duwaye bo her kamyan lísteyekí girúpí saz bikré)be hísab kirdiní réjhey mamnawendí nirxékí dedré be derkewtiní ew vawéle le qisekanyanda. Ewe bekar hénaní telefuzkirdiní mamnawendí takék yan desteyek níshan deda – eger takekan be berdewamí ba biléyn bad , bag , half wek [ be:d ] u htd. telefuz biken. Ewan 1. 0, pinktyan dedrété,belam eger ewan shílgírane bilén [bae:d ] 4. 0 pinktyan dedrété. Akamí lékolínewe le néw sé destey cíní komellayetí awa bú. cíní serewe 2. 7 pinkt, cíní néwerast 2. 5 pinkt, cíní xuwarewe 2. 3 pinkt.
ke wabú, le qisekirdiní xomane da, gisht New Yorkiyekan be shéwey mamnawendí telefuzkirdinékí néwan [bead] u [bae:d] bekar dehénin,belam jiyawaziyekí kem belam berdewam le néwan telefuzkirdiní cíne komellayetiyekan da heye: axéweraní cíní xuwarewe zor ziyatir le axéweraní cíní serewe vawélékí zor beyekewelkawtir bekar dehénin. Ja boye jiyawaziyekí kem le coniyetí vawél da derkewit ke le rúy komellayetiyewe ta radeyek giríng e.
Her ew jore tékníke bo tawtwé kirdin u shítel kirdiní rawéjhekaní Birítaniyayí dekar kirawe. Le Inglísíy Norwich da dekiré sé coniyetí vawél le wushey wekú pass, part,shaft ,bate , jard da le yek bikirénewe. 1. vawélékí diréjhí pishtewey shéwey RP ( telefuzí wexokiraw)yewe wek [a:] le wushey wekú pass da derdekewé yan dengí vawél le wushey Emríkayí pot da. 2. vawélékí néweraste, u 3. vawélékí pésheweye [a:] her wek shéwey derbiríní dengí vawél le wushey part da le Austiraliyayí yan rojhhelatí shéwey Newengland da. Ewe bew manayeye ke ew pinktaney beseryanda dabesh dekirén le 1. 0 ewe destpédeka bo telefuzkirdiní shélgírí RP ta degate 3. 0 pinkt bo bekar hénaní shélgíraney vawélí péshewe. Hawgunjí néwan coniyetí vawél legel cíní komellayetí awa derdekewé. Twéjhí néwerastí cíní néwerast 1. 9 pinkt, cíní xuwarewey cíní néwerast 2. 1 pinkt, twéjhí serewey cíní kirékar 2. 8 pinkt, twéjhí néwerastí cíní kirékar 2. 9 pinkt, twéjhí xuwarewey cíní kirékar 3. 0 pinkt.
Be gishtí, axéweraní Inglísíy Norwichí cíní kirékar vawélékí pésheweyan heye,le katékda axéweraní cíní néwerast lewé vawélékí néwendí bekar dehénin, belam,héshtash be shéweyekí mamnawindí ,jiyawaziyekí kem le néwan conétí vawél da heye ke be régey ewda cénék le cínékí díke dekrétewe. Zor nimúney díkey jiyawazí cínayetí ew ceshne dekré le hemú shwénék derbikewé u bas bikré eger miro biyewé néwyan beré. Bo nimúne, le Leeds, le Inglístan,axéweraní cíní néwerast vawélékí [A] amal le wushey wekú but,up,fun da bekar dehénin, le katékda axéweraní cíní kirékar heman deng wekú vawélékí beriztir u xirtir dekar deken [0]; le London wushey wekú name, gate, face u htd. wekú [neim], [néim] yan [naem] telefuz dekirén be péy cíní komellayetí (cíní here serewe le formí yekemda); le Jhijago dengí vawél le wushey wek roof,tooth,root da zor jar wek [u] telefuz dekirdré, belam le qisekirdiní endamaní ser be cínékí beriztirí komellayetí da zor jar be wékhénaní her dúk léwekan derdebirdiré [0]; le Boston, Massachusetts, axéweraní cíní serewe le úshey wek ago,know da vawélekan wek [où] derdebirin, le katékda axéweraní dí wek [ou] telefuziyan deken.
Lére da zor bejéye xwénerewe pirsiyar bika bashe, daní ew jore zaniyaríyane awa be wurdí ci nirxékí heye? hoyekí giríng búní ew meseleye eweye ke hénédik lew núseraney ke sebaret be zimannasíy komellayetíyan núsíwe wek ' zimannasíy komellayetí beyekbestirawane ' jorretoinal sociolinguistics galteyan bew jore kare kirduwe. Wek ewey ke mebest le rahatineke her gutiní ewey bé ke be yek bestiraneweyek le ara daye,nek ewey éme bituwanín shitékí lé fér bín. Le wulamí pirsiyarí bejéy xwénerewe da debé bigutré,yekem,ewe níshan deda ke be wurdí éme le ser ci jore zanyariyek kar dekeyn katék éme pileyekí komellayetí le axéwerék shetek dedeyn le ser binemay belgey zimaní. Be régey ezmúní zimaní xoman ra éme hestiyariyekman téda pék hatuwe, be asayí bé ewey péy bizanín,le beyekewe bestiranewey ewto le néwan cíní komellayetí u shéwe standard yan nawceyekaní zimaní da. Xalí duwem eweye, ew jore zanyariye héndék shitman sebaret be binaxey komellayetí komellgegelí taybetí bo rún dekatewe,bo nimúne,sebaret be hem Norwich u hem Detriot boshayí dúrí u nizíkí here gewre le néwan pinktekanda birítiye le jiyawazí néwan twéjhí xurawey cíní néwerast u twéjhí serewey cíní kirékar da. Ew rastiyesh deyselméné ke dabiraní komell be dúcíní serekí,wate 'cíní néwerast' u 'cíní kirékar',dabiranék ke ta astékí zor belam nek be tewawí le ser binemay jiyawazí néwan píshey karí destí u kar na destí pék hatuwe, héndék nirx u giríngayetí heye, le ber ewey ke kend u kospí komellayetí be rúní le zimanda reng dedatewe. Xalí séyem eweye ew jore zanyariye ew layenesh rún dekatewe ke le serewe le mer ídíolékt (shéwey qise kirdiní tak le katékí taybetí da) basí léwe kira. Egercí takuterayan héndék jar her shéweyekí kirdar bekar dehénin,u katékí dí shéweyekí díke, le sedí mamnawendí bo her desteyey dekewéte néw qalibí nimúneyekí be tewawí cawerruwan kirawewe.
Xalí cuwarem eweye, ew jore zanyariye, agadariyekí gelék zorman sebaret be lehjekaní cíní komellayetí le ber dest dené. Bétú éme serinj bideyne ser tené xesletékí zimaní ta ewey ke le shéwezarék be gishtí wurd bínewe, ewe ashkraye ke, lehjegele komellayetiyekan, her wek lehje herémiyekan hebúní be tewawí leyek jiyawa nín,ewan tékelawí yektirí debin bo ewey zinjíreyek pék bihénin. éme eger bimanewé dekré néwí lehjeyek wek ' lehjey Norwichí cíní néwerastí cíní kiríkar' heldeyn,belam eger ewe bikeyn debé zor bercawman rún bé (a) ke dabeshkirdiní cínekan be pénj cíní komellayetí le layen émewe le waneye yeklayene bé, (b) ke ew jiyawaziye zimaníyaney le goré dan tené réjheyí bin u radey derkewtinyan her le mer níshane u xesletí taybetí bin u (j) le waneye akamí jiyawaz derkewé eger hokarí gorénerí díkey zimaní leber cawbigídiré. Ja boye qalibí bawí néwxelk sebaret be lehjegelí cíní komellayetí teqríben hemíshe rast dernacin u ser lé shéwénerin. Bo nimúne,ewe rast niye ke qisey awa be girdibrí bikiré ke belé ' lehjey Detriotí Emríkayí Efríkayí le kirdarekaní zemaní ésta da híc derxerí kesí séyemí niye' Emríkayiye Efríkayiyekaní xelkí Detriotí ser be gisht cíne komellayetiyekan hem shéwey it go, u hem it goes bekar dehénin – tené rade u cendí bekar hénanekan jiyawazin.
Le kotayí da, u le hemuwan giríngtir debé bigutré,ew jore zanyariye,agadariyekí zor u lé tégeyishtinékí zorman,sebaret be ew pévajhoyaney ke goraní zimaníyan téda rú deda le ber dest dené –yekék le raze here gewrekan le mer zimane ínsaniyekan,u yek lew razaney ke zimannasí komellayetí le mawey cil sallí rabirdú da zor tékoshawe bo ewey caktir serederí léderkeyn. Her wek le bendí dabé da debínín, péwendiye dúlayekaní hokare gorénere zimaniyekan u hokare gorénere zimannasiye komellayetiyekan amanjí ew jore lékolíneweye nín; le lékolínewey goraní zimaní da,ew jore be yek bestiraneweye ew shwéne niye ke éme karekeman lewé kutayí pé bé belkú karman lewéwe dest pédeka. 
* monophthong : zaraweyeke le biwarí fonétk da bo polén kirdiní dengí vawél bekar dehéndiré le ser binemay derkewtin u coniyetí derbiraní: amajheye be vawélék (vawélékí resen) ke le katí derbiríní le sílabékda híc hest be goraní nakré. Wek dengí vawél lem wushe Inglísíaneda: cart, cut , cot , da. Ew vawélaney ke le wushe da diréjh debnewe u coniyetiyan degordiré péyan degutiré diphthong. Le héndék lékolínewey le mer lehje u méjhúy zimanída , pévajhoyekí be monoftong bún dekré bedí bikiré,wate goraní conétí díftong be monoftong.

**diphthong : zaraweyeke le buwarí fonétík da bo polén kirdiní dengí vawél bekar dehéndré le ser binemay derkewtin u coniyetí derbiraní: amajheye be vawélékí sade (hest pékiraw) ke le katí derbiríní le sílabékda hest be goranékí ashkira le coniyetí da dekiré. wek dengí vawél lem wushe Inglísíaneda: beer,time,loud
( A Dictionary of Linguistics And Phonetics, Sixth Editon, David Crystal, Blackwell Publishing,2008 )
Sercawey em wergérane, bendí 2
Sociolinguistics An introduction to language and society, Peter Trudgil, Penguin books, Fourth editon 2000, pp. 23- 41

Le wébnùsi  ruwange da bilaw kirawetewe (http://www.ruwange.blogspot.com)


Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Ziman u Girúpí Étiníkí

Profésor Peter TrudgillNúsíní: Profésor Peter Trudgill
Wergírran le Inglísíyewe: Hesené Qazí
Le dewllete Yekgirtúwekaní Emríka taqí kirdineweyek kira ke téyda jhimareyek xellik ke wek dawer dewryan degérra dawayan lékira giwé le dengí dú girúpí jíyawaz bigrin ke leser kasét aste kirabú. Zor le dawerekan birryaryan da ew axéweraney ke le leser kasétí yekem dengyan aste kirawe Emríkayí Efríqayín, u ewaney leser kasétí dúwem dengyan aste kirawe sipí péstin. Ew dawerane be tewawí helle bún.

Ewe kasétí yekem bú ke dengí axéweraní sipí bú, u ewí dúwemyan í reshan bú. Bellam dawerekan be shéweyekí zor cawrrakésh helle bún. Ew axéweraney dawa le dawerekan kirabú gwé le dengyan bigrin xellkí taybetí bún: axéwere sipíyekan ew jore kesane bún ke hemú jhíyaní xoyan de néw Emríkayíye Efríqayíyekanda jhíyabún, yan lew nawcane gewre bibún ke nirxe kultúríyekaní reshpéstan zall u bandeste؛ axéwere reshekan ew jore kesane bún ke le tafí gewre búní xoyanda péwendíyekí zor kemyan le gell reshpéstekaní dí hebibú u zurbey jhíyanyan lew jore nawcane jhíya bún ke sipíyekan téyanda bandest bún. Rastíyeke ewe bú ke axéwere sipíyekan dengyan wekú reshan debísitra, u axéwere reshekan wekú sipíyekan – u ew daweraney gwéyan le kasétekan girt bew shéweye birryaryan da.

Ew taqíkirdineweye dú xallí ta radeyek giríng deselméné. Yekem, jíyawazí heye le néwan ew Inglísíyey le layen zorék le sipíyekan u zorék le reshekan le dewllete Yegirtúwekaní Emríka qisey pédekiré bew shéweyey ke Emríkayíyekan detuwanin le ser binemay shéwey qise kirdin be héndék dillníyayíyewe sebaret be em yan ew girúpí étiníkí birryar biden – bo nimúne ewe dekré be péyí‌ axawtinékí téléfoní bé - ke deyslméné 'axawtiní reshane' yan ' axawtiní sipíyane' ye u eme bo zor le Emríkayíyan joreyek rastí komellayetí ye. Ew ezimúngeríye be régey taqíkirdineweyekí díke ke le Detriot kirawe le dúy dirawe, u níshaní dawe ke Detroitíyekaní ser be hemú temenan u he‌mú cíne komellayetíyekan (be pashxaní asayí lew taqíkirdineweyeda) teqríben réjheyekí heshta le sedí serkewtinyan heye le nasínewey dengí axéweraní reshpést le í sipípést tené be cend deqíqeyek gwé girtin le kasétekan.

Xallí dúwem eweye, ke ew taqíkirdineweye ta radeyekí shíyawí selmandin níshan deda, egercí qalibí axawtiní resh yan sipí ke bísteran karí le ser deken biwarí eweyan bo derexséné zor jar be dirustí‌ dengekan binasnewe, bellam lék kirdinewey jíyawazí‌ be tewawí akamí akarí férbúne. Xellik le ber ewey resh yan sipín em jore yan jorékí dí qise naken .Ewey rúdeda eweye ke axéweran xesllete zimannasaneyekaní ew kesane werdegirn ke le péwendíyekí nizík da le gellíyan dejhín. Endamaní dú girúpí étiníkí Emríkayí ke éme basyan leser dekeyn ew shéwezare zimaníye fér debin ke be í wan denasré her be tewawí be heman régey da ke díyaléktekaní cíní komellayetí fér debin u le nimúne na asíyekanda ke Emríkayí sipí de néw Emríkayíye Efríqayíyekanda dejhín, yan be pécewane, ew ulgúyey miro werí degré í ew girúpeye ke le nawcekeda bandeste.

Ke wabú, ashkraye ke ‌ jíyawazíy zimaní ew jore híc jore binemayekí regezí yan derúnnasaney níye. Legell eweshda éme amajhe beme dekeyn, cunkú le rabirdú da be berbillawí bawerrékí ewto hebú ke debé u lewaneye péwendíyekí zatí hebé le néwan ziman u ' regez' da. Bo nimúne, le mawey Sedey Nozdehemda zarawey be esill zimannasaney Híndu - Urrúpayísh be manayekí serdagírawí regezí darréjhra. Zarawey Híndu - Urrúpayí bo ewe darréjhra ew zimananey Urrúpa, Rojhhe‌llatí Néwerrast u Híndústan weber bigré ke zimannasan dozíbúyannewe, ew jore zimananey ke le barí méjhúyiyewe xizmayetíyan legell yektrída hebú. Le akamda, efsaneyek lemerr regezí xeyallí Híndúrrúpayí yan Aryayí saz bú ke nek her be zimane daykúbabe Híndúurrúpayíyekan qiseyan kirdúwe bellkú ejhdadí regezí allmaníyekan, Romanekan, Sillavekan, Yonaníyekan, Farsekan u ewanítir bún ke ésta be zimane Híndu- Urrúpayíyekan qise deken. Péwístí be bír kirdineweyekí zor níye ke ew bocúne be ashkrayí be helle dabindiré. Hemú ínsanék detuwané hemú zimanékí ínsaní fér bé, u éme be nimúney zor bebashí be bellgewe selméndiraw dezanín ke gisht girúpe éníkíyekan be dem téperríní zemanewe zimanyan degorrin - miro tené dekré, bo nimúne bír le jhimareyekí gewre le xellkí be recellek Efríqayí bikatewe ke ésta bew zimanane qise deken ke recellekyan Urrúpayí ye. Boye, dekré, be híc jor desteberíyek nebé - de rastída, u be asayí híc wé nacé - ke girúpí xellik le ber ewey be zimaní xizim qise deken le barí " regezíshewe xizim bin". éme natuwanín billéyn ke Allmaníyekan u Béngalíyekan le barí bedení, regezíyewe xizmí yekin her le ber ewey ke ewan be zimananí xizmí Híndúurrúpayí qise deken.

Legell eweshda, bír u bocún sebaret be zimanan u regez be zehmet le néw decin. Bo nimúne, zimaní Allmaní beshékí giríng bú le téoríyekaní Nazíyekan sebaret be ' regezí berz' y Jhérmení؛ u fikrí helle u saxte sebaret be deretan u wístí parastiní ' pakíyetí ziman' ( wate bergirí kirdin le zimanék le beranber ' jharawí búní' be wushey xuwazrawe le zimanekaní díkewe) dekré dest le destí fikirí pakíyetí regez da birrwa ke her ewende saxte u he‌lle ye. Renge kemtir sedeme léder, bellam ‌ zor shélgíltir u pédagirtir nimúney dananí ' Romaníyekan ' be xellkékí ' Latíní' bé her le ber ewey ke ewan be zimanékí Romí qise deken. Hellbet, ewe raste ke le ruwangey zimannasanewe, zimaní Romaní péshwecúní méjhúyí Latín denwéné ( be tékellawíyekí bercaw legell zimananí Sillawí u zimanekaní díke), bellam herwa be sanayí ewey be dú da naye ke Romaníyekan sed le sed le barí jhénétíkíyewe tormey Romanekanin. Herconék bé, zor zíyatir lewaneye ke le barí jhénétíkíyewe xizmayetí nizíkyan hebé legell dirawséye Okrayní, Sirrbí, Bullgarí u Mejaristaníyekanyan, ke be sedan legell ewan tékellawíyan hebúwe, her wek legell éspanyayíyekan u Purtugalíyekanda.

Legell eweshda, ewe raste, ke le zor nimúnanda ziman dekré ber'odeyiyekí giríng u tenanet serekí bé bo endametí le girúpékí étníkí da. Ewe rastíyekí komellayetí u kultúrí ye, bawekú ewesh, giríng e ‌ miro belayewe ashkra u rún bé ke basí ci pévajhoyek le gorré daye. Le héndék nimúnanda, bo wéne, u betaybetí eger bas le ser zimanan u nek shéwezarekaní zimanék bé, xeslletekaní zimannasane lewane ye péwerí her giríngí díyaríker bin bo endametí le girúpí étiníkí da. Bo nimúne, kemtir be jé u raste bigutré ke Yonaníyekan be Yonaní qise deken ta ewey bibéjhré ke ew xellkey axéwerí búmí zimaní Yonanín ( wate zimaní Yonaní zimaní daykíyane) begishtí be Yonaní dadendirén (be laní kemewe le layen Yonaníyekaní díkewe) ja netewayetí rasteqíne u resmí ewan hercíyekí debé billa bibé. Le nimúney díke da, le piratík da katék bas leser shéwezare jorbejorekaní 'eyní ziman dekré, péwendí néwan ziman u girúpí étníkí lewaneye girédirawíyekí 'adetí sade bé, ke be perjhíne komellayetíyekaní néwan girúpekan hézí weber nirabé, ke téyanda ziman xeslletékí giríngí xo nasínewe ye. Gisht Emríkayíye Reshpéstekan be hécjor be shéwe zimaní Inglísíy Emríkayí Efríqayí qise naken ( bo rúnkirdinewey zíyatir sebaret bem zaraweye birruwane xuwarewe), bellam zorbey here zorí ew kesaney qisey pédeken Reshpéstin, u dekré awa be néw bikrén tené berrégey shéwey axawtinyanewe. Ke wabé, jíyawazí girúpí étníkí le komellgeyekí tékellaw da shéweyekí taybetí ye le jíyawazí komellayetí u wek eme, zor jar jíyawazí zimaní lédekewétewe ke be wíyewe girédirawe.

Nimúnekaní jorí yekem, ke téyanda ziman xeslletékí díyaríkere bo endametí le girúpí étníkí da, le astí jíhaní da zor bawin. bo nimúne, barudoxí ew jore le Efríqay fire zimanda zor asayín. Tené le komelleyekí derewey Akra le Gana axéweraní búmí zíyatir le heshta zimaní jíyawaz hen, lewane zimane serekíyekaní wekú Twi‌, Hausa, Ewe u Kru. Le zor nimúnanda, takuterayan xowyan ser be girúpékí taybetí étníkí yan 'eshíretékewe denasénin ke leser binemay ewan ew hemú zimanane zimaní daykíyane( egercí zorbey daníshtuwan dúzimane yan sé zimanen). Boye girúpe étníkíye jíyawazekan be régey zimanewe u nek shitékí dí jwé búní xoyan u naséney xoyan deparézin. Hellbet ewe tené díyardeyekí Efríqayí níye. Dú girúpí étníkí serekí be recellek Urrúpayí le Kanada, bo nimúne, be shéwey serekí tené be régey zimanewe le yektrí dekrénewe. Ewe raste, ke le zor rúwewe, ewan jíyawazí díní, méjhúy jíyawaz, kultúrí jíyawaz u dab u shwéní jíyawazíshyan heye, bellam xeslletí here giríngí díyar‌íkeryan ewe ye gelo ewan axéwerí búmí Inglísí yan Ferranseyín.

Le nimúney jorí dúyemda -u emane le zor rúwewe cawrrakéshin - naséney jwéy girúpe étníkíyekan, nek be régey zimaní jíyawazewe, bellkú be régey shéwezarí jíyawazí 'eyní zimanewe, xoy derdexa. Ew jore jíyawazíyane dekré rísheyan le heman jore míkanízimane da bé yan belaní kemewe be zíndúyí rabigírén ke bo héshtinewe u parastiní díyalékte komellayetí - cínayetíyekan le gorré dan: éme detuwanín way dabinéyn ke jíyawazí girúpí étníkí wekú berhe‌llsték dejúllétewe le ser réy péwendí níshanekaní zimaní her be heman shéwey berhe‌llstekaní díkey komellayetí. Lewesh zíyatir, le nimúney girúpe étníkíyekanda, hokare ruwaníníyekan wédecé giríngíyekí bercawyan hebé. Takuterayan zor zíyatir wédecé wushyaríyan sebaret bew rastíye hebé ke ewan ' Júleke' n yan xoyan be ' resh' dabinén ta ewey ke pé lewe binén ke ewan ba‌ billéyin ser be " cíní xuwarewey mamnéwinjí ' n. Ewe manay waye ke endametí girúpí étníkí yan naséne dekré rastíyekí giríngí komellayetí bé bo ewan. Lewesh zíyatir, dekré jíyawazí zimaní ci wushyarane yan nawushíyarane ferqí pébikré, wekú xeslletékí ew jore girúpane, ew jore jíyawazíyane dekré diréjhxayen u berdewam bin.

Debé amajhe bewesh bikré her wek zimanan sazdirawí komellayetín (birrwane bendí 1 u 7 y em kitébe), girúpe étníkíyekanísh be réjhe pék hatey legorranhatún u sinúrekanyan dekré bigorrdirén u‌ le rewtí méjhú da‌ dekré hebin u/yan bizir bibn. Nimúneyekí cawrrakésh u le hemankatda tallí eme Yugosalavia ye.Le néwan sallaní 1918 u 1990 kanda Yugoslavia dewllet – neteweyekí fire étníkí, fire zimaní bú.Egercí le Bakúrí Rojhhe‌llatí ewé axéweraní zorí Mejarstaní u le Bashúrí Rojhawa axéweraní Albaní, her weha zor girúpí kemayetí zimaní díke hebún, zorbey willateke be zinjíreyekí (birrwane bendí 1) lehjeyí jugrafíyayí díyaléktekaní Slaviy Bashúrí daposhrabú (‌ ke lehjekaní Bulgarí Bulgaristan u nawce dirawséyekaní weber degiré). Hemú layek le ser ewe rék bún ke lehjekaní Slovenia le beshí Bakúrí Rojhaway ew zinjíreye da dekewtine jhér cetirí zimaní standardí Sloveniayí؛ u le sallí 1945 bemlayewe, hellwéstí resmí ewe bú ke lehjekaní Meqdúníyeyí Yugoslavia, le Bashúr, lehjegelí standardí Meqdúníyeyí bún. Legell eweshda, le néwendí willatekeda - Croatia, Motenegro, Bosnia- Hersegovina u Srbiaa - barudoxeke ta radeyek zor aloz u pécellpéctir bú. Hellwéstí resmí ewe bú ke zimaní ew herémane Srbo-Krowatí ye.

Ba wekú emeshe, her wek néweke dellé, sirrbo-Croat dú shéwey ta radeyek jíyawazí hebú: Srbi, ke zorbe be elfubétkey Sírílí denúsré (ke her weha bo núsíní Bulgari, meqdúníyeyí, Okrayní u Rúsísh dekar dekirdiré) , u ta radeyek le ser binemay lehjekaní beshí Rojhhe‌llatí Néwerrastí Yugoslavia hellnirawe ( lére da emin héndék qiseke sade dekemewe)؛ u Croati, ke be elfubétkey Latín denúsré, u zíyatir le ser binemay lehje Rojhawayíyekan dandirawe. Le serubendí jor be jor le méjhú da, u le layen xellkí jíyawazewe be shéwey jor be jor, Srbi u Croati be péy ídeolojhí baw u barudoxí síyasí be zimanékí taqane be dú normí jíyawazewe, yan be dú zimaní jíyawaz dandirawin ( egercí her dúk la betewawí dúlayene le yekitrí tédegen). Zimaní Croati debestirawe be girúpí étiníkí Croat, ke le herémekaní Rojhawa bandest bún u ler rúy díníyewe le konewe Mesíhí Roman Katolík bún, u zimaní Srbi debestirayewe be girúpí étiníkí Srb, ke le herémekaní Rojhhe‌llat bandest bún u le rúy díníyewe le konewe Mesíhí Ortodoks bún. Boye ew Croataney ke xellkí búmí Croatia bún pishkékyan hebú: ewan deyantuwaní billén ewan axéwerí búmí Srbo-Croati yan Croati n. Le layekí díkewe, ew Srbiyaney le Croatia gewre bibún u be tewawí wekú Croatekan qiseyan dekird layan pesendtir bú billén be zimaní Srbor-Croati qise deken. Heman shit be pécewane bo ew Srb u Croatane bú ke le Srbia dejhyan.

Le Bosnia, beshí néwendí Yugoslavia, hellkewteke tenanet zor alloz u pécellpéctir bú. Ew lehjaney lew beshey néwendí zinjírey lehjeyí qiseyan pédekré allqeyekí péwendín le néwan lehjekaní Croatia u Srbia da ja boye ci hoyekí taybetí nebú bigutré ke ew lehjane lehjey Croati yan lehjey Srbi n. Ba bo wéne billéén, daníshtúwaní Sarajevo, pétextí Bosnia, renge lewane bú billén ewan be Croati qise deken eger Croat bayen u eger naséneyekí étníkí Croat bo ewan giríng búbaye؛ her awash, héndék Srbi xellkí Sarajevo lewane bú billén ewan be Srbi qise deken. Bawekú emesh, le rastída, ew lehjaney ewan qiseyan pédekird be tewawí wekú yek wabún, ja boye bo ewan néwí tékhe‌llkéshrawí Srbo – Croat le rastída manay zortir bú. Be kar hénaní zarawey Srbo-Croat wédecú bo girúpékí serekí díkey étníkí le Bosnia – musullmanekan – zor nasiktir bé, ke le ber ewey ne Srb bún u ne Croat híc hoyekyan nebú ke néwlénanékí zimaníyan le yekí díke bellawe pesindtir bé. Zarawey Srbo-Croat belay jhimareyekí zor le betaybetí Yugoslawi sharnishínísh ke le barí étníkí daykúbabíyewe tékellaw bún hestyan bewe dekird ke naséney neteweyí ewan wek Yugoslawan debé be hénd bigíré ta ewey ke xoyan be naséneyekí taybetí étníkíyewe giré biden.

Le berayíyekaní 1990 kanewe, be le ber yek hellweshaní Yugosllawia‌, ew barudoxe, wek hemú layek bash léy agadarin, gorrawe. Hukúmet le Zagreb netewey serbexoy Croatia be zimane neteweyekey dellé Croati, u be tundí layengirí bekarhénaní elfubétkey Latíne. Le layekí díkewe, hukúmetí Srbia le Belgrade, be zimane neteweyekey dellé Srbi, u be tundí layengirí le bekarhénaní elfubétkey Sírílí deka. Lemesh zíyatir, le her dúk nimúnanda, hukúmetekan hewllyan dawe hengawí ewto helhénnewe ke héndék le berhe‌llistkaranyan ta radeyek beheq néwyan nawe ' paktawí wusheyí' – hawteríbí nimúney dilltawíní paktawí étníkí (kushtin yan be tobzí derperrandin u ragwéstiní girúpékí étníkí be destí girúpékí dí) ke le shwéní jor be jorí Yugoslaviay péshú da qewmawin. Bo ewey pédagirí bikré le ser serbexoyí (birrwane bendí 1) zimaní Croati le beranber zimaní Srbi da, u yan be pécewane, ew wushaney ke wa dadendiré zíyatir taybetítir bin be shéwezarekey díke fit dekrén u le rojhname, kitébí medresan u jéyí díke pak dekrénewe u bizir debin. Her dúk hukúmetekan her weha hewill deden bo welananí ew wushaney ke recellekí Tirkíyan heye le zimanekanyanda, le katékda hukúmetí Bosnia layengirí lew jore wushane deka u deyanparézé.

Ja eger ídí, ci zimanék be néwí Srbo-Croat le ara da nemawe, ey billéy musullmanekaní Bosnia ew zimaney péy dedwén u péy denúsn be ci dabinén? ashkira ye ke ewan nayanewé le néwan sheqllí ' Srbi' u ' Croati' yekyan hellbijhérin. Ja boye be híc jor nabé be seyr dabindiré ke ballwézí Bosnia le Dewllete Yekgirtúwekaní Emríka ésta daway kirdúwe ke debé wekú Bosní amajhe be zimaní hukúmetekey bikré. Her wek éme le bendí 1 da bíníman, u dísan le bendí 7-í em kitébe da deybínín, ewey ke daxuda shéwezarékí zimaní zimanéke yan na be híc jor be tewawí meseleyekí zimannasane níye. Katék babetí lew jore péwendí be babetí étnísítí peyda dekenewe le rastída ewan detuwanin zor alloz u pécellpécyan lé bé: zimanék bewe kotayí dé ke bibé be sé ziman.

Éme her ésta jexitman le ser ewe kirdewe ke hukúmetekaní nwé le Yugoslaviay péshú be anqeste hewill deden ‌ pédabigrin le ser jwébúní neteweyetí u étnístey xoyan be pallpishtí jíyawazíy wushey qamúsí. Legell ewesh, le nimúney díkeda, jíyawazí girúpí étníkí lewaneye zor be shéweyekí xorriskítir péwendí hebé be jíyawazí dengnasí u rézimaníyewe.Bo nimúne yekék lew rastíye cawrrakéshaney le lékollínewey Labov le New York derkewt ewe bú ke jíyawazíyekí kem bellam be ruwallet giríng heye le telefoz kirdiní zimaní Inglísí da le néwan axéweraní ke pashxaní Júleke u ewaney pashxaní Italíyayyan heye. Ew jíyawazíyane le rúy hejhmaríyewen ta ewey ke níshaney bawerrpékiraw u tewaw dabirrawí jíyawazíyekaní girúpí étníkí bin, bellam ewan be rúní le ber ew rastíyen ke girúpe étníkíye jíyawazaekan meylyan berew eweye ke le néw sharekeda komellgey jwéy xoyan damezrénin. Le binawanda ew jíyawazíyane wa wédecé le ber, bellaní kemewe ta radeyek, berdewambúní kartékerí ewey bin ke zor jar be shéwezarekaní substratum néw zed dekirén - wate ew zimananey yan shéwezaraney ke le layen ew girúpanewe yan ejhdadíyanewe qiseyan pékirawe ber lewey ke bibin be axéwerí Inglísí sharí New York – wate Yiddísh u Italíyayí. Tékel bún u téwehatiní zimaní kon bo néw zimaní taze (ba billéyín 'rawéjhékí Yiddísh' bo néw ínglísí) [ lem wergérraneda "rrawéjh" le birí “accent” dekar kirawe, wergérr] le wejí yekemda wédecé geyshtibéte bekarhénaní nastandardí níshanekaní zimanékí bégane le layen wejí dúyemewe. Bo nimúne, yekék le xeslletekaní Inglísíy New York, her wek le bendí péshú da bíníman ( laperrey 38), péshxistiní derrbirríní wavélí néw wushey beard búwe le wushey jorí bad u bag da. Wa wédecé ew péshxistine le ber wístí wejí dúyemí Italíyayíyekan xératir kirabé‌, renge nawshíyaranesh bo ewey be rawéjhékí Italíyayí be Inglísí qise neken. Axéweraní búmí zimaní Italíyayí wavélékí jorí ]a ] zor kirawetir le denge Inglísíyeke, lew wushe Inglísíyaneda ke ew dengeyan tédaye, bekar dehénin, u mindallekanyan, bo xo parastin lew telefuz kirdine, lewaneye shéwey here diréjhí ew wavéleyan wergirtibé ke le ber destyan da búwe. Be dillníyayíyewe ésta Italíyayekan meylékí zíyatir níshan deden bo bekarhénaní wavélékí diréjhtir le berawird kirdin legell xellkí Júlekey.

New York da, u duwajar ewe detuwané bigate barudoxék ke wavélí diréjh le wushey wek bad u bag da bibé be níshaneyekí nasínewey ew New Yorkíyaney ke pashxaní Italíyayíyan heye. Le layekí díkewe, axéweraní Júleke le wushey jorí off u lost u dog da wavélékí diréjhtir le Italíyayekan bekar dehénin u ulgúyekí her awa nastandard detuwané berpirsí eme bé: zor le axéweraní búmíy dísh ke zimaní Inglísí wek zimanékí bégane férbún ferq be jíyawazí dengí /o/ le wushey coffee u wushey cup/à/ da naken, lewaneye coffee cup biken be / kOfi kOp /. Ja lewaneye wejí dúwemí axéweran jíyawazíyekeyan le néwan dú wavélekanda gewretir kirdibétewe, bo ewey jext le ser ew rastíye bikenewe ke ewan ewane lék dekenewe, u akamí ewe búwe ke le wushey wekú coffee, dog da wavélekan diréjhin. Ew wavéle diréjhane akamí gusharí ew jore nín, cunkú diréjh derbirríní wavél tené be axéweraní Júlekewe nawesté, bellkú dekré le ber kartékey sabstratum le layen ew girúpe étníkíyewe pésh xira bé.

Heman jorí kartékerí sabstratum dekré le Inglísíy Scoatlandí da bibíndiré. Zorbey skatekaní ésta lem rojhgare da be sadeyí xoyan be ' Scotlandi' dadenén, bellam le rúy méjhúyiyewe ewan toremey dú girúpí jwéy étníkín. Bo ewey héndék shitekan sade bikeynewe, detuwanín billéyn skatekaní berzayíyan Highland Scots, ke babubapíranyan be recellek le Irlendewe hatún, le Gaelekan bún u be zimaní Séltíkí Gaelík qiseyan kirdúwe ( ke éstash zor lewan qisey pédeken le Rojhaway Highlands u le durrgekaní Hebrides ), le katékda skatekaní Deshtayíyan Lowland wek gelí Inglísí, be recellek Jhérmení u Anglo Saxson bún. ésta ke le Scotland teqríben le layen hemú kesewe be zimaní Inglísí qise dekirdiré, ew jíyawazíye lew jore Inglísíyey ke miro le beshe jíyawazekaní wullateke da deybísté mawetewe. Skate Deshtayíyekan yan be yekék le lehje xojéyíekaní Scotekan qise deken ( bo zanyarí zíyatir le ser eme birruwane bendí 7-í em kitébe), yan be standardí Inglísíy Skatlendí be rawéjhékí xojéyíyewe (yan shiték le néw herdúkíyanda). Le layekí díkewe, Beriznishínekan Highlandres yan be standardí Inglísíy Skatlendí qise deken (ke em girúpe be tékirra ewe wekú zimanékí bégane fér búwe) yan be shéweyek ke hénde lewe dúr níye - hercunék bé, nek hénde dúr lewewe wekú lehjekaní Deshtayíyan. Bo nimúne Beriznishínekan be asayí nallén I dinina ken, wek ewey ke Deshtayíyekan lewaneye bíllén, bellkú dellén I don’t know. Legell ewesh, zor jar ta radeyek kartékerí sabsiratum le zimaní Gaeylíkewe lew Inglísíyey ke Berznishínan qisey pédeken hest pédekré u bewe ra miro dezané xellkí Highlands n. Hellbet, axéweraní búmí zimaní Gaeylík le Inglísí da zorjar rawéjhí Gaeylíkí yan heye, bellam miro detuwané jíyawazíyekaní wusheyí u rézimanísh tenanet le axawtiní ew Berznishínaneshda be dí bika ke le jhíyanyanda qetyan be zimaní Gaeylíkí qise nekirdúwe. Nimúnekaní em jore jíyawazíyane wek emaney xwarewen:

standardí Inglísíy Skatlendí                  Inglísí Rojhaway Highland

Bring that whisky here.                        Take that whisky here.
I can see you !                                     I’m seeing you! 
I don’t want that.                                 It’s not that that I’m wanting.

Le dinyay Inglísíy zimanda be gishtí, yekék le nimúne here cawrrakéshekaní jíyawazí zimaní girúpí étníkí - ke téyída dewrí ferzí joreyek le kartékerí sabstratum babetékí qisehellgir u jéyí munaqesheye - jíyawazí néwan axawtiní Emríkayíye Resh u Sipíyekane ke péshtir hédékman amajhe pékird. Ew jíyawazíyane be híc jor le axawtiní hemú Emríkayíyekanda dernakewin, bellam ewan ewende billaw búnetewe bo ewey sirinjyan bidrétí u be giríng dabindirén. Zor le méjhe ewe selmawe ke ew Emríkayíyaney be recellek ‌ xellkí shéwe Sehray Efríqan be Inglísíyekí jwé le Sipíyekan qise deken. Geshtwerékí Brítaníayí ke le sallí 1746 da sebaret be kolonístekaní (muhajír nishínekan) Emríkayí núsíwe dellé: "Shiték ke ewan zorí helle téda deken, sebaret be mindallekanyan.... ewe ye katék ewan juwanin léyan degerrén le gell juwaní Resh da hestin u daníshin u emesh xemsarane debéte hoy ewey xúy wan bigrin u be zimane sheq u shirrekey ewan qise biken." Lére da, jíyawazí nek her jext kirawetewe bellkú berawerdísh kirawe be shéweyek ke lem rojhgare da bo éme be tewawí hejhénere: ew Inglíssíyey wa xellkí Resh qiseyan pékirdúwe, her wek em qisegérranewey serewe derídexa, be nizim dandirawe.

Em térruwaníne píse tenanet emrrosh nakré be tewawí cawí lé hellbibuwérdiré cunkú kartékerí hebúwe leser méjhúy lékollínewe le Inglésíy Reshí Emríkayí.Shwén tékirdiní ew térruwaníne regezperistaneyey berayí bem shéweyey xuwarewe her mawetewe: le ber ewey jíyawazí le axawtiní Reshane da be resmí wekú níshaneyekí nizim bún dandirawe, de rastída dijhware péy lébindiré ke shéwe axawtiní Reshane jíyawaze be bé em térruwanínesh ke wédecé regezperestane bé. Bawekú emesh, duwajar ew bocúne wekú kardaneweyekí búní jíyawazí girúpí étníkí didaní péda hat, ke díyare ewesh her helleye, wate jíyawazí le néwan lehje komellayetíyekan be ser dagírawí be watay berzitir búní shéwezarék le shéwezarékí dí bizandiré. Eger Sipíyekan u Reshekan be jíyawaz qise deken, ewe be sadeyí manay eweye ke ewan be shéwezarí zimaní girúpí étníkí jíyawaz qise deken (ke le ruwangey zimannasanewe nirxyan yeksane). Boye, lem rojhgare da zimannasan le ser ewe rékin ke le néwan axawtiní Resh u axawtiní Sipí da jíyawazí heye, u le ber ewey ke le ruwangey zimannasanewe híc régeyek níye ke péy da shéwezarék le ewídí be beriztir dabindiré, ídí ewe regezperestane níye ke awa bigutiré. ésta be xoshíyewe keshuheway síyasí u komellayetí awaye ke dekré babetí zimannasane be berbillawí léy bikolldirétewe u qisey léwe bikré, egercí héshtash héndék nazimannas hen ke dijhí lékollínewey jíyawazíye zimaníyekaní girúpí étníkín le komelley Emríka da.

De rastída, le mawey cendín sallí rabirdú da ewende enbarí cawrrakéshí zanyarí dozrawnetewe ke lékollínewe le shéwe zimaní Inglísíy Emríkayí Efríqayí (AAVE) ésta yek le biware here serekíyekane u sirinjí zor zimannasaní berew lay xoy rakéshawe. Zarawey shéwezimaní Inglísíy Emríkayí Efríqayí AAVE be gishtí bo amajhe bew Inglísíye nastandardey ke le layen cíní xuwarewey Emríkayíye Efríqayíyekan qisey pé dekiré bekardehéndiré. Zarawey Inglísíy Resh Black English, ke jar jar AAVE sh her bew néwe helldediré, ew kemayesí u xewshey hebú wek billéy ke gisht Reshekan her bew shéwezarey Inglísí qise deken - ke díyare waníye. Le layekí díkewe bekarhénaní zarawey 'Vernacular' (shéwe ziman) ew Reshaney ke be standardí Inglísíy Emríkayí qise naken u ewaney qisey pédeken le yekitrí dekatewe.

Legell ewesh, mishtumirr ú wushebeyekdadan héshta her le gorrédaye _ u ewane mishtumirrí zor cawrrakéshíshin, egercí be xoshíyewe, zorbey ewe be yekda hellshaxane ésta be tewawí mishtumirrí akadémí u zanayanen. Yekék le dimeteqe here cawrrakéshekan le ser ew rastíyeye ke le katékda milí bo radekéshré ke be girdibrrí jíyawazí le néwan AAVE u shéwezarekaní dí da heye, natebayí u rékinekewtin leser ríshey ew jíyawazíyaneye.
Dú bocúní serekí le ser em babete dekiré bem shéweyey xwarewe binaséndirén. Bocúní yekem dellé‌ ke zorbey níshanekaní AAVE le ruwangey méjhúyíyewe rísheyan le lehje ínglísíyekaní durrgekaní birítaníyayíyewe British Isles aw dexonewe. AAVE le ber ew judawazíyaney ke le mawey sésed sallí rabirdú u ewane da qewimawin jíyawazí le gell shéwezare sipíyekan peyda kirdúwe. Níshane jíyawazekaní Durrge Birítaníyayekan le lehje Sipíyekan u le lehje reshekanda bizir bún u parézrawin, u he‌r weha dahénaní serbexoy jíyawazísh rúyandawe. Péshwecúní serbexo le ber radey kemí tékellawí u péwendí komellayetí le néwan Reshan u Sipíyan le zorék le beshekaní Dewllete yekgirtúwekaní Emríka hasantir búwetewe. Wushyaríy lemerr jíyawazíyekan her weha le ber ewey ke jhimareyekí zor le xellkí Resh le Bashúrewe berew sharekaní bakúrí Dewillete Yekgirtúwekaní Emríka cún be duway hellweshanewey sístémí koyledarí da, ewendey díkesh zíyatir búwe, ja boye ew jíyawazíyane ke le seretawe jíyawazí jugrafíyayí bún, le Bakúr, bún be jíyawazí girúpí étníkísh.

Bocúní dúwem bo recellekí AAVE caw le Durrgekaní Birítaníyayí na bellkú le Efríqa xoy deka.Layengiraní ew bocúne dellén ewe be zeq u ashkrayí díyare ke aba u ejhdadí Emríkayíye Efríqayíyekaní modérrn le Efríqawe hatún u he‌r ewendesh ashkraye ke ewan axéwerí (zorbe) búmí zimanekaní Rojhaway Efríqa bún. Hellbet, her boyeshe jhimareyekí zor wushey be recellek Rojhaway Efríqayí régeyan derkirdúwe bo néw Inglísíy Emríkayí Bashúrí, u le rastída le zor nimúnanda bo néw Inglísíy jíhaní gishtísh. Ew wushe qamúsíyaney ke le zimane Efríqayíyekanewe hatúnete néw Inglísíy Emríkayí birítín le voodoo, pinto wate ' tabút ' u, , goober be manay 'badamí zewíní'. Wushey seyr u he‌ta billéy berbillawí OK ísh be lébirrawí wusheyekí Efríqayí Rojhawayí ye, u he‌r weha zor wushey díkey ke péwendí peyda dekenewe be kultúrí Emríkayí Efríqayí wekú jazz, juke, gig u hep ( ewe jéyí sirinje le merr piley Emríkayíye

Efríqayíyekan le ruwangey méjhúyíyewe ke ew jore wushane zor jar‌ le qamúsekaní ríshenasí wushanda wekú "rrecellek nenasraw " aste kirawin.)qisekaní layengiraní bocúní dúwem lewanesh zíyatirn u dellén: her nebé, zor le xeslletekaní AAVE dekré shíbikrénewe be wadananí ke yekem Reshe Emríkayíyekan be joreyek le Inglísíy Kirul English Creole qiseyan kirdúwe. Emin léduwanékí tewaw helldegirm bo bendí 9-í em kitébe. Eger hasaní bikemewe zarawey kirul (Creole) bo zimanékí Pidgin bekardehéndiré ke búwe be zimaní búmí komellgeyekí axawtin, u he‌r boyesh dísan perey pédirawe, u gisht ew erk u xeslletaney wexo kirdúwe ke zimanékí tewawí xorriskí heyetí. Píjin zimanékí kurtkirawe, résabo dandiraw u tékellawe, ke le layen ew axéweraney ke zimaní hawbeshyan níye, ba billéyn mebestgelí bazrganí, péshxirawe. ‌Shéwezarekaní Inglísíy Píjn éstash be berbillawí le herémekaní qerax deryay Efríqay Rojhawa qiseyan pédekiré. U Creolekaní Inglísí ( wate ew Inglísíye Píjney ke Creole léndirawin) be berbillawí le layen xellkí Híndí Rojhawa ke recellekí Efríqayíyan heye qiseyan pédekiré. Ew Creole ane le shíweí " here pakí" xoyanda destbejé shíyawí lé tégeyshtin nín bo Inglísí axéweran, egercí vokabularíyekanyan wek yek wan, u kartékeríyekí bercawí zimane Efríqayíyekanyan péwe díyare.

Ja boye, waydadenén, ke AAVE rastewxo le lehjekaní Inglísíy Birítaníyayíyewe nekewtúwetewe, bellkú le Inglísíyekí Creole we saz búwe ke, ba billéyn zor we ewey Jamayíka decé. Ew bocúne péy waye ke Reshe Emríkayíyekaní berayí zimaní búmíyan zimanékí Creole búwe, u ew zimane, be mawey sallan, le pévajhoy Creole welananda (birruwane bendí 9) zortir u zortir le zimaní Sipíyekan nizík kewtúwetewe. Be gutinékí dí, le katékda ke ésta be rúní debé be zimaní reshe Emríkayíyekan bigutré Inglísí, lew xallaney da ke AAVE jíyawazí heye le gell shéwezarekaní díkey Inglísída, ewane akam u derenjamí parastiní níshanekaní Creole in. Layengiraní em ruwangeye her weha dellén ke héndék weyek cún le néwan axawtiní Reshe Emríkayíyekan u Sipíyekaní Bashúrí Emríka lewaneye le ber kartékerí ewan le ser axéwere Reshekan bé, nek be pécewane.

Xallí néwendí bellgehénanewey ew ruwangeye lemerr ríshey jíyawazí lenéwan AAVE u shéwekaní díkey Inglísí da níshanekaní rézimaní ye.

1- Zorék le axéweraní AAVE le doxí kesí séyemí tak le zemaní ésta da -s  bekar nahénin ja boye shéwey wekú he go, it come, she like asayí ye. Eme shéweyeke lew zimane Píjnanesh da her waye ke leser binaxey zimaní Inglísí hellnirawin, her weha le Creole kaní Karayíbísh ke le ser binemay zimaní Inglísí dandirawin her awaye.Layengiraní hellwéstí.

Efríqayetí dellén ew weyek cúne zor lewe zíyatire ke bikré be hellkewt dabindiré. Le layekí díkewe dijhberaní ew bocúne amajhe deken, her wek le bendí 2-í em kitébeda bíníman. Nebúní -s le doxí kesí séyemí tak le zemaní ésta da her weha níshaneyekí lehjekaní Inglísíy Birítaníyayíshe le Angliayay Rojhhe‌llat u lewane le Norwich.

2- Yekékí díke le xesllete girínge rézimaníyekaní AAVE nebúní kirdarí likéner - kirdarí hebún – e ‌ le zemaní ésta da. Em xesllete xallí serekíye lew mishtumirrey ésta da. Le AAVE da wekú zimaní Rúsí, Mejarstaní, Taylendí u zor zimaní díke, u lewane, le Creole kaníshda ew jore ristaney xuwarewe tewaw rézimananen.

She real nice
They out there
He not American
If you good, you going to heaven

(katék kirdarí likéner le halletí 'díyar' da bé, wek lem ristane da I know what it is, yan Is she? hemíshe le zimaní ésta daye ). Bashe ríshey ew xesllete le AAVE da le cídaye? Creolistekan amajhe bewe deken ke Creole Inglísíyekaní Karayíb kirdarí likénerí negorríyan níye. Wédecé qisey ew Creolistane zor pitew u behéz bé. Cunkú nebúní kirdarí likéner níshaneyekí rasteqíney ew Creole-naeye ke leser zimaní ínglísí binyat nirawin u Reshekan le Karayíb qisey pédeken, u he‌r weha eme xeslletékíshe ke betewawí le Inglísí Durrgekaní Birítaníya (British Isles) da níye.

3- yekék le xesllete here giríngekaní AAVE hebúní ' negorrí be ' ye: wate be kar hénaní formí be wekú kirdar be bé gerdan kirdiní lem nimúnaney xwarewe da,

He usually be around.
Sometime she be fighting.
Sometime when they do it, most of the problems always be wrong.
She be nice and happy.
They sometimes be incomplete.

Le yekem térrwanínda, ew shéwe bekar hénaní be ye jíyawaz níye lewey ke le héndék le lehjekaní Birítaníya da rúdeda, ke forrmí I be, he be htd, wek Inglísí standarí he is , I am be kar dehéndiré. Le gell eweshda, jíyawazíyekí giríng le néwan AAVE u gisht shéwezarekaní díkey Inglísída heye. Her wek awellkarekaní usually u sometimes lew ristaney sereweda níshandeden, negorrí be le AAVE da tené bo ' doxí 'adetí' be kardehéndiré - wate bo héma kirdin be rúdawék dekar dekirdiré ke dúpate debétewe u nek ewey ke berdewam bé. Ja boye le AAVE da haugunjandinékí kirdarí heye ke le Inglísíy standard da dest nada.

Shéwezimaní Inglísíy Emiríkayí Efríqayí ( AAVE )    Inglísíy Standard

He busy right now.                                           He’s busy right now.
Sometime he be busy.                                       Sometimes he’s busy.

Le Inglísí standard da formí kirdar le her dúk doxekanda wek yek waye, le katék da le AAVEda jwén.
Le katékda ristey yekem héma naka be kirdeweyekí dúpatebúwewey naberdewam, ewí dúwemíyan deyka. Le AAVE da pékhatey wekú *He be busy right now u *He be my father ristey rézimanane nín (ristey dúwemíyan dekré ew manayeshí tébixuwéndirétewe ke ‘ He is only my father from time to time’ [wate ew tené jar u bar detuwané babí min bé ].) Ew jore jwéyetíye le kirdar da be dillníyayíyewe wekú zimane creole kan decé. Le creole kaní Karayíb da, halletí kirdar - dabeshbúní rúdawék be ser zemanda (ke dekré dúpate bibétewe, berdewam bé, tewaw bikré u lewane) - giríngíyekí zíyatirí heye le zeman- wate jéy rasteqíney rúdawék le zemanda (birruwane laperrey 177). Le heman katda, debé bigutiré ke ew jore jíyawazíye 'adetí – na 'adetíyane wenebé bo lehjekaní Dúrrgekaní Birítaníyash (British Isles) nenasíyaw bin, egercí ewey le wanda rúdeda wenebé be tewawí be heman form bé. Le lehjey koní Dorset da, bo nimúne He beat her be manay ‘He beat her on one particular occasion in the past’ [ ew jarék le boneyekí taybetí le rabirdú da lewí da ]beranber dananéke legell He did beat her, be manay ewey ke ew le halletékí wa dabú ke karékí ewto bika. Jige lewe le dú layení díkeshewe sístimí nuandiní AAVE le Inglísíy Standard jíyawaze ( u zor le nizíkewe we héndék le zimane Creole kan decé). AAVE u Inglísíy Standard le formí kirdarí rabirdúy nizík da hawbeshin: I have talked u le formí kirdarí rabirdúy dúr da: I had talked. Bellam AAVE, jige lemane dú formí díkeshí heye: I done talked, ke néwí lénrawe ' layení tewawkarí ' bo níshandaní ewey ke kirdeweke tewaw búwe؛ u formí I been talked‌, ' layení dúr' bo níshandaní ewey ke rúdaweke le rabirdúyekí dúr da qewmawe. ' layení tewawkarí' dekré le héndék le lehje Sipíyekanda bibíndiré, bellam 'layení dúr' wédecé shitékí seyrí AAVE bé (egercí dibé bigutiré seyrísh níye, cunkú tenanet lewéshda zor bawe).

4- Níshaneyekí dí cawrrakéshí ristesazí AAVE ewey xuwareweye. Le Inglísíy Standard u shéwezare Sipíyekaní Inglísíy nastandard da em jore ristaney xuwarewe dekiré saz bidrén:

Inglísí Standard:
We were eating – and drinking too. 
Inglísíy nastandardí Sipí:
We was eatin’ – and drinkin’ too

Lew shéwezaraneda dekré ke forrmékí tewawtirísh hebé: "We were eating_ and we were drinking too", bellam zor asayítire ke jénawí we u kirdarí yareyderí were/was le risteamaly (clause) dúwemda labidrén. Le layekí díkewe le zorék le Creole Inglísíyekanda, zor asayítire ke tené kirdarí yarídeder labibrdiré. Wergérrdirawí ew nimúneyey serewe be zimaní Gullah le ber caw bigrin, Gullah, Creole kí Inglísí ye ke le beshékí terík kewtúy kenarekaní Bashúrí Emríka qisey pé dekirdiré, Creole y Jamayíkayí u Sranan, zimanékí Creole y Inglísíye ke le Surínam qisey pédekiré:

Gullah : We bin duh nyam – en’ we duh drink, too.
Creole y Jamayíkayí: We ben a nyam – an’ we a drink, too.
Sranan: We ben de nyang – en’ we de dringie, too.