Kurmanji

Overview Kurmanji, also referred to as Kurmancî, is one of the primary Kurdish languages. It comes from the branch of Indo-European languages common to Northwest Iran. Kurman

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Overview

Kurmanji, also referred to as Kurmancî, is one of the primary Kurdish languages. It comes from the branch of Indo-European languages common to Northwest Iran. Kurmanji uses Subject-Object-Verb word order in a similar way as other languages of Iranian origin. Circumpositions, the use of both prepositions and postpositions for the same word, is also a commonality the language shares with others in its category. Differentiating it from the other main Kurdish language of Sorani, Kurmanji maintains a strong grammatical gender system. There are several varieties of Kurmanji dialects, depending on the local tribal heritage.[i] 

Kurmanji, especially in Turkey and Europe, uses a Latin script for writing. However, in other populations, Arabic and Cryllic scripts have been adopted as well. In the Latin script, there are 8 vowels and 23 consonants.[ii] 

 

History

The Kurdish people, a group indigenous to Eastern Anatolia and Mesopotamia, are the founders of Kurmanji. In the early part of the 20th century, an aristocratic Kurdish man named Celalet Bedirxan codified the Kurmanji language into Latin script.[iii]

For many years the Kurdish language was discouraged by the Turkish government. Even now, only Turkish is used in the education system, effectively eliminating Kurmanji from general use and literary growth.[iv]

 

Contemporary Uses

The Kurmanji language is primarily used by Kurds residing in or originating from the Northern Kurdistan areas of southeastern Turkey, Syria, and the most northern parts of Iran and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Kurmanji is the most widely spoken Kurdish language with about 15 million world-wide speakers.[v]

Presently, the topic of an official language for Kurdistan is hotly debated. Some are proponents of either Sorani or Kurmanji, while others recommend that both be simultaneously taken on as official languages. The source of debate revolves around forming a singular national identity while still accounting for the variances within Kurdish culture and history.[vi]

 

 

Common Phrases

These simple and very basic conversational phrases are useful for travelers in Kurdish areas where Kurmanji is spoken. Please note, the Kurmanji spellings are transliterations meant to assist English speakers with pronunciation of the Kurmanji words.[vii] The spellings in parenthesis are from the actual Kurmanji code.[viii]

"Hello" informal - "Rozh-bash" (Roj baş) 

"Good morning" - "Beyanee-bash" (Beyanît baş)

"Please" - "Bey Zahmat" (Bê zehmet)

"Thank you" - "Supas" (Sipas)

"Yes" - "Aa" or "Balay" (Erê or Balê)

"No" - "Na" (Na)

"What's your name?" - "Nav-ey ta cheeya?" (Navê te çi ye?)

Philip G. Kreyenbroek, Stefan Sperl

 

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[i] "Kurmanji." Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region, Indiana University. Retrieved 2014-05-20.

 

[ii] Umîd Demîrhan. "Kurmanji Kurdish for the Beginners.". Academia.edu. Retrieved 2014-05-21.

 

[iii] "Kurmanji." Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region, Indiana University. Retrieved 2014-05-20.

 

[iv] Philip G. Kreyenbroek, Stefan Sperl. The Kurds: A Contemporary Overview. (2005.) Routledge. p.64. 

 

[v] "Kurmanji." Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region, Indiana University. Retrieved 2014-05-20.

 

[vi] "Professor, You're Dividing My Nation." The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-05-20.

 

[vii] "The Kurdish Language." Kurdistan Regional Government. Retrieved 2014-05-20.

 

[viii] Umîd Demîrhan. "Kurmanji Kurdish for the Beginners.". Academia.edu. Retrieved 2014-05-21.

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