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The Complicated Task of Standardizing the Kurdish Language

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The Complicated Task of Standardizing the Kurdish Language

PostAuthor: alan131210 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:44 pm

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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Though it is the second official language of Iraq, Kurdish is unique among most official state languages in that it has never been standardized into a common linguistic and grammatical system.

Largely organized under two broad dialects -- Sorani, spoken in Iraq and eastern Kurdish areas, and Kurmanji, spoken in western areas including Turkey -- along with other minor dialects, Kurdish has remained a fractured language with varying structural systems, making standard educational curricula, government services and other areas difficult.

Now, efforts are underway through the combined work of academics, non-governmental organizations and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to move the Kurdish language towards standardization. The efforts are geared towards establishing the elements of a “lingua franca,” or a working, communicable language.

“This issue affects every single Kurd no matter where he or she might be,” said Dr. Ahmed Ferhadi, a professor of linguistics at New York University and an expert on the Kurdish language. “From the 3-year-old child to the elderly, it affects every single person … it’s something that every Kurd uses on a daily basis.”

“It is deplorable that more and more Kurds are becoming interested in regionalism, rather than a pan-Kurdish language where you’d have one unified language or at least one language that you can use in any part of Kurdistan,” said Ferhadi, noting that some people have called for two standards – one for Kurmanji speakers, and another for Sorani.

Last September, the KRG Ministry of Youth and Culture hosted a conference attended by academics, lawyers and government officials to identify an effective strategy towards standardizing the Kurdish language.

Nawzad Abdul-Aziz Salih, a senior advisor at the Ministry of Youth and Culture, explained some features of the conference: “We discussed the characteristics of the Kurdish language, including the Kurdish alphabet, Latin and Arabic script … whether studying scientific modules in the Kurdish language would be successful or not, the status of the Kurdish language in other parts of Kurdistan and comparing Turkish Kurdistan’s language with the language of Iraqi Kurdistan.”

Salih pointed out that the process will take more than a conference or series of workshops. “Standardizing the Kurdish language is something that needs time and is closely linked with economic and scientific perspectives,” he said.

While the Ministry of Culture helped organize the conference, Salih emphasized that all debate and negotiations were left to “only the experts; the government does not interfere in that manner.”

However, Ferhadi noted, “Political party affiliation has produced its own trademark of language.” For example, officials might include both the Kurmanji and Sorani version of a word back to back in a public speech, causing unnecessary complications.

“At a time when the [KRG] tries to bring people together and start some dialogue towards a standard Kurdish language, or a lingua franca … they themselves, in the government, have also created a dichotomy,” the professor said.

Last week, a workshop was held in Kurdish Parliament which focused on creating a draft law to organize efforts to standardize the Kurdish language.

“Many articles may be drafted, and one of them may be about teaching Kurdish language in the other parts of Iraq,” Salih noted.

Critics of the efforts towards standardization allege that the measure lacks popular support, and some view the dialects of Kurdish as something to be nurtured.

However, Salih said, “There is no doubt that [people] on the street are with us. The street was the place where language developed, but this development was arbitrary, and now we have to control it.”

Mohammed Palasin, a speaker of the Sorani dialect, is old enough to remember when Arabic was forcibly taught by Saddam Hussein’s regime throughout the 1980s and 90s.

He says, “I never really wanted to learn Arabic, but I spoke it in school when Saddam tried to kill the Kurdish language.”

Today, he believes the only way to ensure the continued existence of Kurdish is to create a standard language.

“Often, we are separated by what dialect someone speaks … instead, we should be making the language stronger for many years to come by creating one system,” Palasin said.

However, Mazin Hawati, a Kurd from Turkey, maintains that efforts should instead focus on developing the dialects themselves, pointing to a wide gulf in the differences that would have to be bridged for a standard language to be effective.

“I don’t think it will ever happen. There are just too many differences, and we should not waste time with this. Maybe we should just organize the dialects,” said Hawati.

Ferhadi believes one possible long-term solution is to try to bring up a generation that speaks both dialects. “It’s not farfetched. Look at the Kurdish leadership … they switch seamlessly from one dialect to the other, and you don’t even feel it. So why not start with that?”

The issue has implications for the whole of Iraq, Ferhadi said, adding, “When they start teaching Kurdish in Basra, what kind will it be?”
…………………………………………………………

KERKUK is the Heart of Kurdistan
Kurdish state is on the horizon with WK now freed great kurdistan is closing in.
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The Complicated Task of Standardizing the Kurdish Language

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Re: The Complicated Task of Standardizing the Kurdish Langua

PostAuthor: unitedkurdistan » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:22 pm

What's your opinion guys?
I say that they should focus on the two main dialects and that every Kurd should be able to read, write in kurmanci and sorani. However what they should do with the smaller dialects i'm not sure cause I don't want any kurdish dialect to be lost however we need kurds to understand eachother. But if this option is to hard I say they mix the kurdish words from each dialect and standardize it.
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Re: The Complicated Task of Standardizing the Kurdish Langua

PostAuthor: Kurdistano » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:34 pm

unitedkurdistan wrote:What's your opinion guys?
I say that they should focus on the two main dialects and that every Kurd should be able to read, write in kurmanci and sorani. However what they should do with the smaller dialects i'm not sure cause I don't want any kurdish dialect to be lost however we need kurds to understand eachother. But if this option is to hard I say they mix the kurdish words from each dialect and standardize it.


they should take the grammar system of Kurmanji(because Sorani, Hewrami grammar is really shitty to learn and I am not saying this out of bias) and mix it with words of Sorani, Hewrami, Leki and Zazaki. And of course The people should still be allowed and learn their mother tongue like Kurmanji in Kurmanji-areas. Just the standardizedlanguage should be more like an "English for Kurds".

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Re: The Complicated Task of Standardizing the Kurdish Langua

PostAuthor: brendar » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:58 pm

“This issue affects every single Kurd no matter where he or she might be,”


This statement really scared me. I am personally worried about Kurdish language and without a standardized language, we will be lost in the upcoming years. However, i can not see or think of a solution that will help to unify those dialects.

The best solution is to bring experts in US, england, Russia, china etc.

Everybody in this forum should tell us their ideas and i would to make this topic go beyond a thousand comment.
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Re: The Complicated Task of Standardizing the Kurdish Langua

PostAuthor: alan131210 » Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:47 am

they should take the grammar system of Kurmanji(because Sorani, Hewrami grammar is really shitty to learn and I am not saying this out of bias)


How do you know ? Have you studied sorani grammar ? No, I have and it's great and strong, just remember most SK and EK speak Sorani too.

I think it should be a mix of sorani-kurmanji

Other dialects can speak their dialect but reading writing should be in those two dialects
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Re: The Complicated Task of Standardizing the Kurdish Langua

PostAuthor: hevalo27 » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:08 pm

Sherefxan wrote the kurds consist of 4 groups.

1. kurmanc
2. kelhor
3. lor
4. gor

he didnt mention the kirmanc and sorani kurds, what i think is easy to explain.

my own theori:
the sorani kurds were in the past also kurmanc`s, which explains the close relatives by the language. slowly northkurmanci and sorani (southkurmanci) language evolve differently. in the past, if im not mistaken, the sorani speaker identified himself also kurmanc.

furthermore he didnt mention the kirmanc (zaza) either they were in that time in southkurdistan or elsewhere and seperated later from the gorani kurds (one sign is the relatve to gorani-kurdish and another sign is, most gorani kurds are Ahle-heqq`s, they are very similar to alevites, many kirmanci-kurds are alevites.)
or becaue in that time the kirmanc`s identified himself as kurmanc`s, like today. kirmanc and kurmanc is the same word, but i think kirmancs were gorani-kurds and later deported by the safafides to northkurdistan. that explains why they belive that ali is successor of prophet mohammed.

what i meant, we should have 3 standardized languages.

1. kurmanci and sorani mix
2. kirmanci and gorani mix
3. kelhori for all southkurdish languages

or only two standardized languages

1. kurmanci, sorani and kelhori mix
2. kirmanci and gorani mix

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Re: The Complicated Task of Standardizing the Kurdish Langua

PostAuthor: Kawe » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:40 am

A language based off one of the dialects grammar with vocabulary from all four.

In order to do this, we would have to standardize each of the dialects as well. This means we can have one Kurdish language which we all speak, and still preserve our dialects.

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