Kurdish Language

Kurdish (Kurdish: Kurdí, كوردی, Kurdî, Кöрди) language belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. Kurdish dialects are members of the northwestern subdivision of the Indo-Iranic language, Iranic branch of this largest family of language in the world. The Kurdish language is an independent language, having its own historical development, continuity, grammatical system and rich living vocabularies. The Kurdish language was derived from the ancient “Median” language or “Proto-Kurdish”. Ca. 30 million people in the high land of Middle East, Kurdistan, speak different dialect of Kurdish.

Kurdish dialects divide into three primaries groups: 1) the Northern Kurdish dialects group also called Kurmanjí and Badínaní, 2) Central Kurdish dialects group also called Soraní (see also basic linguistic differences between these two major branches) and 3) the Southern Kurdish dialects group also called Pehlewaní or “Pahlawanik” group in some sources. The two other major branches of Kurdish language are, Dimílí group also called “Zaza” and Hewramí group also called Goraní (Gúraní) in some sources. These are further divided into scores of dialects and sub-dialects as well, Please see KAL’s Kurdish Genealogy Tree.

In some linguistic sources the south west Iranic branch of Indo-Iranic languages Lurrí (Luri) group has been classed as a subgroup of Kurdish language. Although Lurrí contain a great number of Kurdish words there are still many unanswered questions regarding the relation between Lurrí and the rest of Kurdish language.

There is no standard nomenclature for the divisions of Kurdish dialects, not just in the works of Western scholars but among the Kurds themselves. All the native designators for local language and dialects are based on the way the spoken language of one group sounds to the unfamiliar ears of the other. Dimila and their vernacular, Dimili, are therefore called Zaza by the Badínaní speakers, with reference to the preponderance of Z sounds in their language (Nikitin 1926). The Dimila call the Badínaní dialect and its speakers Xerewere. The Gorans refer to the Soraní as Kurkure and Wawa. The Soraní speakers in turn call the Gorans and their vernacular, Goraní, Mecú Mecú, and refer to the tongue and the speakers of Badínaní as Ji Babu.


Table 1) Some alternative names for the Dialect Groups in Kurdish language.

M. Izady

A. Hassanpour


J. Nebez


North Kurmânji


Northern Group

North Kirmanci

Northern Group

South Kurmânji


Central Group

Middle Kirmanci

Central Group




Goraní / Zazai

Hawrami / Dimili



Southern Group

South Kirmanci

Southern Group



  1. Dr. A. Hassanpour, Nationalism and Language in Kurdistan 1918 – 1985
  2. Prof. M. Izady, The Kurds: A Concise Handbook, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilization Harvard University, USA, 1992
  3. Dr. Jemal Nebez, Towards a unified Kurdish language, 1976
  4. Language Family, Wikipedia


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