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Kurmanji Kurdish, A Reference Grammar with Selected Readings

Kurmanji has been and is written in a variety of alphabets. Foremost today is the Kurmanji used in Turkey and Europe, which is written in a modified Turkish Latin alphabet. In Armenia and Azerbaijan,1 Kurmanji is written in Cyrillic letters, and enough readings in Cyrillic Kurmanji have been given, together with a brief analysis of the main differences between Turkey Kurmanji and ex-Soviet Kurmanji, to enable the student to develop a facility in reading that medium.

There were once Kurdish-speaking Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, and they wrote Kurmanji in the Armenian alphabet. With the exception of Syria, Kurmanji is not widely spoken in countries that use the Arabic alphabet, and since Syrian Kurds use the Latin script when they write Kurdish, the Arabic script is little used for modern Kurmanji. In the early days of literary Kurdish, however, when the Arabic alphabet was still widely known in Turkey and Latin-script Kurdish was new in Syria, Arabic was used in tandem with the Latin.

Two articles by Jeladet Ali Bedir-Khan from early issues of the journal Hawar, when it was published in both alphabets, are given as examples. Some Iranian Kurdish journals include a few pages of Arabic-script Kurmanji for the Kurmanjispeaking Kurds who live in Iran, and a specimen of this type, a story by Perwîz Cîhanî, is given at the end of the reading selections both in the Sorani-based Arabic script in which it was printed in the Iranian Kurdish journal سروه Sirwe in 1990 and in the Latin Kurmanji in which it was reprinted in Alole (pp. 23–27), a collection of his stories published by Doz Yayınları in Istanbul in 2005. There are some minor differences between the two versions, and they are signaled by asterisks in the Latin text.


Kurmanji Kurdish,
A Reference Grammar
with Selected Readings

by W. M. Thackston

Iranian Studies at Harvard University

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