Northern Kurdish

Northern Kurdish language
Kurmancî, کورمانجی, Кӧрманщи
Kurdiya Jorîn, کوردیا ژۆرین, Кӧрдьйа жорин
Native to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey
Native speakers
"Very provisional" figure of 10 million in Turkey (2009)[1]
  • Toriki
  • Botani
  • Bazidi
  • Bakrani
  • Hakkari
  • Badini
  • Shengali
  • Judikani
  • Jiwanshiri
  • Alburzi
  • Qochani
  • Birjendi
  • Rihayi
Latin (Turkey), Perso-Arabic (Iran, Iraq, Syria); Cyrillic (formerly in the Soviet Union), Armenian (formerly in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic)
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 kmr
Glottolog nort2641[3]
Linguasphere 58-AAA-a

Geographic distribution of Kurdish and other Northwestern Iranian languages spoken by Kurds

  Northern Kurdish

  mixed areas

Northern Kurdish (کوردیا ژۆرین; kurdiya jorîn), also called Kurmanji (کورمانجی; Kurmancî), is a group of Kurdish dialects predominantly spoken in southeast Turkey, northwest Iran, northern Iraq and northern Syria. It is the most widespread dialect group of the Kurdish languages. While Kurdish is generally categorized as one of the Northwestern Iranian languages along with Baluchi,[4][5] it also shares many traits with Southwestern Iranian languages like Persian, apparently due to longstanding and intense historical contacts, and some authorities have gone so far as to classify Kurmanji as a Southwestern or "southern" Iranian language.[6][7]

Scripts and books

Northern Kurdish is written using the Latin script in Turkey, where most of its speakers live. Northern Kurdish is the most widely spoken Kurdish language, being spoken by 80% of all Kurds. The earliest textual record of a Kurdish language dates to the 16th century.[4]

Kurmanji is the ceremonial language[8][9] of Yazidism. The sacred book Mishefa Reş (the "Yazidi Black Book") and all prayers are written and spoken in Kurmanji.


Northern Kurdish forms a dialect continuum of great variability. Loosely, five dialect areas can be distinguished:[10]

The most distinctive of these is Badînî.[11]

See also


  1. Northern Kurdish language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Pavlenko, Aneta (2008). Multilingualism in post-Soviet countries. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. pp. 18–22. ISBN 978-1-84769-087-6.
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Northern Kurdish". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. 1 2 Paul, Ludwig (2008). "Kurdish language I. History of the Kurdish language". In Yarshater, Ehsan. Encyclopædia Iranica. London and New York: Routledge. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  5. Windfuhr, Gernot (1975), “Isoglosses: A Sketch on Persians and Parthians, Kurds and Medes”, Monumentum H.S. Nyberg II (Acta Iranica-5), Leiden: 457–471
  6. Paul J. White, ed. (2002). Turkey's Alevi Enigma: A Comprehensive Overview. Brill. p. 23. ISBN 978-9004125384.
  7. Gunter, Michael M. (2009). The A to Z of the Kurds. The Scarecrow Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-0810868182.
  8. Kurmanji is the language of almost all the orally transmitted religious traditions of the Yazidis.
  9. Yazidi people speak a northern dialect of Kurdish (Kurmanji). Except for a few Arabic poems, all religious texts are in Kurmanji, including their hymns (qewl). All Scriptures and texts that they have are also in Kurdish.
  10. Öpengin, Ergin; Haig, Geoffrey (2014), "Regional variation in Kurmanji: A preliminary classification of dialects", Kurdish Studies, 2, ISSN 2051-4883
  11. for Bahdinan, a historical Kurdish principality, paralleling use of Sorani, also the name of a historical principality, for southern dialects. See BAHDĪNĀN in Encyclopedia Iranica by A. Hassanpour, 1988 (updated 2011): "The majority of the population are Kurds (see figures in Edmonds, [Kurds, Turks and Arabs, London, 1957,] p. 439) and speak Kurmanji, the major Kurdish dialect group, also called Bādīnānī (see, among others, Jardine [Bahdinan Kurmanji: A Grammar of the Kurmanji of the Kurds of Mosul Division and Surrounding Districts, Baghdad, 1922] and Blau [Le Kurde de ʿAmādiya et de Djabal Sindjar: Analyse linguistique, textes folkloriques, glossaires, Paris, 1975])."
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