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Laki (Lekí)

Laki, This vernacular is just a major dialect of Gurâni and is treated here separately not on linguistic grounds, but ethnological. The speakers of Laki have been steadily pulling away from the main body of Kurds, increasingly associating with their neighbouring ethnic group, the Lurs. The phenomenon is most visible among the educated Laks and the urbanites the countryside, the commoners still consider themselves Kurds in regions bordering other parts of Kurdistan, and Laks or Lurs where they border the Lurs. The process is a valuable living example of the dynamics through which the entire southern Zagros has been permanently lost by the Kurds since the late medieval period: an ethnic metamorphosis that converted the Lurs, Celus, Mamasanis, and Shabankdras into a new ethnic group (the greater Lurish ethnic group), independent of the Kurds.

Laki is presently spoken in the areas south of Hamadân and including the towns of Nahawand, Tuisirkân, Nurâbâd, Ilâm, Gelân, and Pahla (Pehle), as well as the countryside in the districts of Horru, Selasela, Silâkhur, and the northern Alishtar in western Iran. There are also major Laki colonies spread from Khurâsân to the Mediterranean Sea. Pockets of Laki speakers are found in Azerbaijan, the Alburz mountains, the Caspian coastal region, the Khurasani enclave (as far south as Birjand), the mountainous land between Qum and Kâshân, and the region between Adiyaman and the Ceyhan river in far western Kurdistan in Anatolia. There are also many Kurdish tribes named Lak who now speak other Kurdish dialects (or other languages altogether) and are found from Adana to central Anatolia in Turkey, in Daghistân in the Russian Caucasus, and from Ahar to the suburbs of Teheran in Iran.

The syntax and vocabulary of Laki have been profoundly altered by Luri, itself an offshoot of New Persian, a Southwest Iranic language. The basic grammar and verb systems of Laki are, like in all other Kurdish dialects, clearly Northwest Iranic. This relationship is further affirmed by remnants in Laki of the Kurdish grammatical hallmark, the ergative construction. The Laki language is therefore fundamentally different from Luri, and sin-iilar to Kurdish.

There are at least 1.5 million Laki speakers at present, and possibly many more, as they are often counted as Lurs.


The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilazation Harvard University, USA, 1992

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