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The Lost Links Between Modern Kurdish Speeches

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zimanzan's picture
Joined: 16 Sep 2008

Baba Taher (Bawa Tayer) was an Iranian poet and ascetic born in Hamadan/western Iran. He nearly lived in 1000 years ago. He is conventionally perceived as a Persian poet, outside of Iran. However within Iran Lurs and, in a lesser degree, Kurds consider respectively Lur and Kurdish nationalities for him. No one, including me, can certainly affirm his exact identity and for sure I don’t mean to discuss about it here.

The bulk of his poems are written in a mixture of Persian, Luri, and Kurdish. Sometimes they represent the Southwestern characteristics, and sometimes they appear with Kurdish ones (e.g. rújh ~ day; sujh ~ burn, dír- ~ owe). Evidently Mr. Mujtba Mínewí has found some poems alleged to Baba Tayer, held in a museum in Konya/Turkey. These poems are entirely different with the mainstream of Baba's poetry regarding to their language. This language is irrefutably a Northwestern speech and most likely a Kurdish variety. It's amazingly what we could ever name as the transitional speech between Kirmanjí and Pehlewaní groups of Kurdish. Here is a part of it which I relate from "Zrebar; A Quarterly Journal of Cultural / Literature / Social (by research and analytic); New Series (12&13)- Vol.11,No.65&66, Autumn&Winter 2008" (English translations on my own):

Zarijém dí werayí murij edxwerd

(I saw a partridge eating ants for meal)

Murijaní du destí we xweda derd

(The ants asked God)

Nagehan bamed an bazu darí

(Suddenly that potent hawk showed up)

Zarijish kusht u muran zarij edxwerd

(It killed the partridge and then ants were eating partridge)

Dalé je Elwend kohan kerd perwaz

(An eagle flew out of the Alvand montains)

Bazish bikusht u xunish pak vaxwerd

(Killed the hawk and drank its blood wholly)

Bamed necírewan derdín u dayín

(The relentless and implacable hunter came)

Be wekdesh tír u baz ejh kar baderd

(Released an arrow and took the hawk down)

"Bishe necírewan destit wo ca dest"

(So ants said: "Go hunter, good job!")

"Ci ínet bedkere ejh kar baderd"

("Because you took down this delinquent")

"Be namé neshéyé íne wed ke min kerd"

(The hunter replied: "what I did, doesn’t merit fame")

"Be min her an keran her wed ke min kerd!"

("They will treat me in the same way as I did treat it!")

Collation with Modern Kurdish Cognates

Baba's Poem : Kirmanjí : Goraní : Zaza : Meaning

zarij : kew (sporadically "zara") : jherec : zaranj : partridge

-é : -ék, -é : -éw : -é, -ek : a/an

werayí : xwerek : werak, werayí : - : meal

murij : mirow, múr : múrjele : mirjole? : ant

ed- : de-, e- : me- : -en- : durative indicator

xwerd- : xwerd- : werd- : werd- : eat

du : du : divé : di : two

xweda : xweda, xwedé : xwa : húmay : God

derd- : - : - : derd- : hang?

ame- : hat- : ama- : ame- : come

an : ew : ad : o : that

-ish : -í : -ish : (je)y : third person pronoun (oblique)

dal : dal : dal : - : kind of eagle

je : jhe : je : - : from

koh : kéw : ko : ko : mount

kerd- : kird- : kerd- : kerd- : do

xún : xwín, xún : winí, hún : gúní : blood

vaxwerd- : vexwerd- : werd- : shimit- : drink

necírewan : necírewan : - : - : hunter

ejh : jhe : je : - : from

bishe : bice, bico : bisho : sho : go (imperative)

wo : bo, wo : bo : bo, vo : (may) be

ín : em : ín : en- : this

bedkere : bedkere : bedkere : - : delinquent

be : be, we : pey, we : be, ve : to

namé : nav, nam : namí : name : name

wed : we, wa : - : - : such, manner; way

min : min : min : min : me

her : her : her : ? : just, only

keran : biken, bikerin : keran : biké, bikeré : they shall do

Evidently Baba's language could pose as a part of the lost link between Modern Kurdish speeches.

Blessed Are The Meek

Admin's picture
Joined: 7 May 2008
Lek or Lur?

I am puzzled how and why Bab Tahir become important factor in Yarisanism? I do not think the issue has anything to do with Nationalism but true identity and his rule as spiritual figure in one of the ancient religion of the Kurds. He is not just a poet. Baba Tahir is a primary avatar of the Sixth Cycle, whence the title "Baba".

I think the fine line is between Leki as variety of South Kurdish rather than Lurrí. Baba lived all his life in Lekistan among his follower. Today Leks are major follower of Yarisanism in Kurdistan.

zimanzan's picture
Joined: 16 Sep 2008
Lekí and Luri

Well I didn’t mean to certify Baba's identity because I don’t possess the appropriate information about this issue.

I agree with you, for sure words such as "rújh", "zún-", "sajh-", "sújh-", "búshim", etc. only convey the Kurdish significance rather than any thing else including Southwestern Luri. But I am afraid the above poem's speech is specifically a transitional variety between Kirmanjí and Pehlewaní rather than a sub-sort of either of them (like Leki). But first let me explain something. Contrary to the conventional believe among us, Kurds, Luri is not a Kurdish dialect in any ways. When I use the term "Luri" I address the speech of Lur people that mainly live in the eastern parts of modern Iranian Lorestan province as well as in some parts of Isfahan, Khuzestan, Chahar Mahal-e Bakhtyari, and Fars. They speak a Southwestern Iranian variety which is greatly influenced by Kurdish (in case of vocabulary), due to the tribal confederations between Kurds and Lurs during the last centuries:

Luri : Kur. : Per. : Mean. : Northwest. : Southwest.

dúma, dúva : zama, zava : damad : groom : z- : d-

dún- : zan- : dan- : know : z- : d-

bolend : berz : bolend : -rz- : -l-

ahin : asin : ahen : iron : -s- : -h-

ahí : ask : ahú : deer : -s- : -h-

mayí : masí : mahí : -s- : -h-

xa(h) : xwaz : xah : want : -z : -h

Lexical influences of Kurdish on Luri:

Lur : Kur. : Per. : Mean.

berd : berd : seng : stone

la : la : teref (aleg) : side

velat : welat : késhver : country

úsa : ewsa : sépes : thereafter

In some cases Luri may be speculated to impress some Southern Kurdish sub-dialects: the change of "a" > "u" which is a typical change among Central Iranian speeches as well as the conversational Persian:

Sub-dialectal Kur. : Kur. : Luri : Mean.

zún- : zan- : dún- : know

zúma : zama : dúma : groom

kúm : kam : kúdúm : which

Also "Pehlí" Kurds frequently refer to their tribe as "Lur" (due to the past tribal confederations), and specifically consider the term "Lur" as a Kurdish tribe and a genuine part of the body of Kurds. However their language is exactly a variety of Kurdish and substantially far from that of Southwestern-speaking Lurs:

Pehlí : Kur. : Luri

zan- : zan- : dún-

zama : zama, zava : dúma

asin : asin : ahin

ask : ask : ahí

xwaz- : xwaz- : xa-

About Baba Taher's poetry, I only know that the bulk of his poems resemble the contemporary Luri dialects since they are a mixture of Kurdish and Persian (and Luri is exactly a kin to Persian with a tough Kurdish influence). Although in some significant poems he uses another compound of Kurdish and Persian which is no longer resembling Luri, but implicating a Kurdish variety (e.g. rújh, sújh, zún-, etc.). And eventually in some rare poems we just find an interesting Kurdish dialect which is an incredible transitional variety between Pehlewaní and Kirmanjí groups of Kurdish.

As I said before, I am not competent to figure out whether Baba Taher was exactly Kurdish or not, but I can vouch that no Persian or Luri, and generally no non-Kurdish poet has ever composed his poems in a mixture of Persian and Kurdish, neither has ever used a Kurdish speech as the mere language of a poem. I personally believe Baba Taher was Kurdish but I cannot affirm yet.

Also the modern Lekí is explicitly a sub-dialect of Southern Kirmanjí and in some ways it differs with the grammatical structure of the above poem which agrees with Goraní as well as Northern Kirmanjí/Zaza grammatical features:

Poem : Lekí : Kirm. : Gor. : Za. : Mean.

-ish : -í : -í : -ish : -(j)í : third singular pronoun (oblique)

min kerd : kirdim : min kird : kerdim : min kerd : I did

-an : -in : -in : -an : -é : third plural pronoun (direct)

I reckon that Zaza was originally spoken in an area between the modern dominions of Central Iranian dialects and Kurdish speeches. Apparently this archaic Kurdish speech of Hamadan, as has been shown in the above poem, in some cases shares interesting similarities with Zaza and strengthens my presumption.

By the way you are right, the area of Hamadan city and its southern regions to the north of Khuzestan is referred to as "Lekistan" between Kurds. And surprisingly southern cities of Hamadan, such as Melayér, Tuysirkan, and Nehawend, still speak a variety of Kurdish (e.g. félúní le mal e? ~ is the fellow guy inside the house?). Also his title "Baba" as well as the spirit of his poetry implies the traces of Yarisanism.

Blessed Are The Meek

Rawaz_S's picture
Joined: 1 Sep 2009
Baba Tahír's ethic origin

I was planning to write a thread about this issue but as Zimanzan was good enough to post this interesting thread I will write my reflections here instead.

My reflections here are based on what is written on Wikipedia. Even though I am not a fan of Wikipedia, I believe it gives a good account of the general thinking about this great poet.
If we look at the article in Wikipedia (from 23 October 2009) it clearly states that "Baba Taher was an 11th century Persian poet and mystic." So according to this he was neither Kurd nor Lurr but Persian.
The article also states that he wrote his poety in "Fehlevíyat/Persian". This Fehleví is of course an arabization of Pehleví, derived from Pehlewí or Pehlewaní. What the article does not say is that Pehlewí/Pehlewaní is one of the main Language/dialect groups of the Kurdish language. Instead Fehleviyat is regarded as an ancient poetic style of writing, in Persian.
My hypothesis is however that Fehleviyat is actually refering to the Kurdish Pehlewaní/Pehlewí. Would this make Baba Tahír a Kurd? Not necessarily, however it makes the argument that he was a Kurd much stronger.
But there is yet something else which also may point to his ethnic origin. According to Yarsan tradition Baba Tahír was once asleep, but when he wakes up he can suddenly speak Arabic; he then says "Last night I was a Kurd and this morning I have become an Arab".

zimanzan's picture
Joined: 16 Sep 2008

Yes I have heard of that story too, regarding to Baba became Arab. Also being Persian is the fartehst possibility. Unless they would make mock of themselves by accessing this notion to mind that he, Baba Taher, is the only Persian poet who was born and lived in an originally non-Persian city and composed his peoms in a mixture of Kurdish and Persian and sometimes used Kurdish as the mere language of some poems, and the only clue to prove his Persian origin is the mixture of Kurdish and Persian in his poetry. Just despite of the plain fact that always Kurdish poets and scholars have written down their works in Persian and never ever a Persian poet has used Kurdish in such a large extent in his poetry.

Blessed Are The Meek