Kurdish is spoken in Armenia

Current technical articles


Kurdish is not a uniform, standardized language (Paul 2008), and to this day there is still no consensus as to whether Kurdish is a language with dialects that are far apart or whether there are several Kurdish languages ​​(Schmidinger o.J.a). With some varieties, it is disputed whether they belong to the Kurdish varieties or whether they represent independent languages ​​- this is a question that has to be decided less linguistically than politically (Schmidinger undated b)

The Kurdish language area extends over parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. There are also Kurdish population groups in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (Lewis et al. 2015; Schmidinger undated). The total number of Kurdish speakers is estimated at almost 30 million (Lewis 2015).

In the autonomous region in Iraq, Kurdish has the status of an official language (in addition to Arabic) and is also used in education, but without an official specification of a specific variety being made (Schmidinger o.J.a). In Syria and Iran, the Kurdish language is disadvantaged and is mainly used in private areas, while Arabic and Persian are used as written languages. For a long time Turkey had a policy of assimilation towards the Kurds, the Kurdish language was forbidden. In Armenia, where around 45,000 Kurdish speakers live, the language is recognized as a minority language within the meaning of the European Charter (Council of Europe 2015b). Due to the different history of the individual Kurdish regions, the language competence of the speakers is very different - it ranges from monolingualism in a Kurdish variety to speakers who only understand individual Kurdish words. Many of the speakers do not have sufficient written language skills; Overall, efforts are being made to regain the status of the language (Schmidinger, n.d.).

The three main groups of Kurdish are Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish), Soranî (Central Kurdish) and Southern Kurdish. These varieties are closely related to one another and, like German, belong to the Indo-European languages; they each have numerous dialects, some of which are not mutually understandable (Schmidinger o.J.a; b).

Kurmanji (Kurmancî, Northern Kurdish) is spoken mainly in Turkey (approx. 15 million speakers), but also in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Turkmenistan. Kurmanji is the most widespread Kurdish variety with a total of around 20 million speakers, but around 17 million of these speakers use Kurmanji in addition to another language (usually in addition to Turkish) (Schmidinger o.J.a; Lewis 2015). Since Kurmanji was only taught in a few schools in the past, Kurds in Turkey mostly use Turkish as the written and educational language (Schmidinger o.J.a).

Soranî (Central Kurdish) is spoken by around 3.5 million speakers in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in Iraq, most of whom acquire the variety as their mother tongue. There are other Soranî speakers in Iran (Lewis 2015). The dominant varieties in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan are Soranî and Bahdînî (the Iraqi dialect of Kurmanji); Teaching materials, newspapers and books appear exclusively in these two varieties (Schmidinger o.J.a).

The term South Kurdish encompasses various dialects that are spoken in Iraq and Iran; they have a total of around 3 million speakers (Lewis 2015). These include the dialects Feylî, Kermanshahî and Kelhurî, and Laki and Lekî are also part of the South Kurdish dialects (Schmidinger, n.d.a.).

It is disputed whether the Zazakî (Dimili) variety should also be counted among the Kurdish varieties or whether it is a separate language. The variety in turn breaks down into very different dialects, which are hardly understandable among each other. One of these dialects, the so-called northern dialect, is spoken by the religious minority of the Alewites (Schmidinger o.J.a).

Different scripts have been used for the individual Kurdish varieties over the course of time. In the past century, the alphabet of the respective national state was adopted (Arabic, Latin, Cyrillic). Today an alphabet based on Arabic characters is mostly used for Sorani and South Kurdish as well as in Iraq and Iran for Kurmanji, while a writing system based on the Latin alphabet is used in Turkey for Zazakî and Kurmanji (ibid.)

Last edited on: Monday, November 30th, 2015 09:20 AM by Karsten Herrmann