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Southern dialects group

In far southern Kurdistan, both in Iraq and Iran, in an area from Shehreban to Dínewer, Hemedan, Kirmashan, and Xanekin, all the way to Mendelí, Pehle, Southern Kurdish Dialects group predominates. It is also the language of the populous Kakay tribe near Kerkúk and the Zengenes near Kifri. The Kurdish colony of western Baluchistdn is also primarily Gurâni speaking. There are also poulous pockets of Southern Kurdish Dialects group found in the Alburz mountains (see map).

Southern Kurdish Dialects group and its dialects (Laki) began their retreat in the 17th and 18th centuries and are now still under great pressure from Central Kurdish Dialects group speakers. With the avalanche of the Southern Kurdish refugees, nearly all speakers of Central Kurdish Dialects group, into eastern and southern Kurdistan (Kurdistan in Iran), the process of Southern Kurdish Dialects group dilution and assimilation has been hastened tremendously. Kirmashan, once the center of the Southern Kurdish Dialects group, is now a multi-lipgtial city, and very likely has a Central Kurdish Dialects group plurality.

The past expanse of Southern Kurdish Dialects group can still be detected in pockets of Gurâni-speaking farmers from the environs of Hekkarí in Turkey to Mosul (the Bajelans), and to Shehreban-Iess than forty miles northeast of Baghdad. Other major dialects of Souther Kurdish Dialects group, besides Bajelaní, are Kelhirí, Guraní, Nankilí, Kendúley, Senjabí, Zengene, Kakayí (or Dargazini), and Kirmashaní. Today, there are roughly 1.5 mil'lion Southern Kurdish Dialects speakers in Kurdistan.

Baba Tahir (ca. 1000-1060) of Hemedan is one of the very first poets in the East to write rubaiyats, the medium of Omar Khayyam’s fame. Baba Tahir’s rusticity and mastery of both Laki/Hewramí, Persian (and Arabic) have rendered his works unusually dear to the common people of both nations. His particular poetic meter is perhaps a legacy of the pre-Islamic poetic tradition of southeastern and central Kurdistan, or the celebrated "Pahlawiyât/Fahlawiyât," or more specific the "Awrânat" style of balladry. Many Yaresan religious works and Jilwa, the holy hymns of the Yezidi prophet Shaykh Adi, are also in this Pahlawiyât style of verse. Baba Tahir himself has now ascended to a high station in the indigenous Kurdish religion of Yaresanism as one of the avatars of the Universal Spirit.

The term Pehlewaní itself has clearly evolved from Pahlawand, i.e., that of "Pahla". Pahla comprised southern Kurdistan and northern Lurestan, perhaps the original home area of the language. The word Pahla is still preserved in corrupted from in the Kurdish tribal name Feylí or "Pehlí", who incidentally still reside in southern Kurdistan, in the old Pahla region.


  1. Prof. M. Izady, The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilization Harvard University, USA, 1992


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