A Kurdish Orthography TIMELINE

A Kurdish Orthography TIMELINE

Kurdish orthography is a set of writing conventions that is used to represent spoken Kurdish of various dialects in written form, allowing readers to connect spelling to sound to meaning.

Kurdish orthography, like that of most other world languages, has a high degree of standardisation in its subdialects. This standardisation began to emerge when newspapers and publications, as well as educational textbooks, became systematic throughout the divided Kurdish land. In the late 18th century, movable type spread to Kurdistan, and publishing media became a tool for the right to political and cultural coexistence. Unlike most languages, however, the Kurdish language has multiple codification attempts on dialectal bases and non-standard ways to spell nearly every phoneme (sound), and most letters have multiple pronunciations depending on their position in a word and the context and locality of the spoken dialect.

This is due in part to words borrowed from a large number of other languages throughout Kurdish’s history, in the absence of successful attempts at complete spelling reforms, and in part to historical accidents, such as some of the first mass-produced Kurdish publications being typeset by politically motivated, no literati trained, multilingual printing compositors, who occasionally used a spelling pattern more typical for another regional lingua-franca languages.

The majority of Modern Kurdish spelling conventions were derived from the phonetic spelling of a variety of North and Middle Kurdish dialects, and do not generally reflect sound changes in other major dialects such as Hewramí and South Kurdish. As a result, many words are spelled in the same way that they were pronounced in the two major dialects, North and Middle Kurdish.

Despite the various Kurdish dialects spoken from country to country and within different regions of the same country, there are only minor regional variations in Kurdish orthography, with North and Middle Kurdish spelling being the most well-known. On the other hand, it contributes to the disparity between how Kurdish is written and spoken in different locations.

Phonemic orthography

Letters in Kurdish orthography usually represent a particular sound (phoneme). For example, the word Dar /ˈda:ɾ/ consists of three letters ⟨d⟩, ⟨a⟩, and ⟨r⟩, in which ⟨d⟩ represents the sound /d/, ⟨a⟩ the sound /a:/, and ⟨r⟩ the sound /ɾ/.

Sequences of letters may perform this role as well as single letters. Thus, in the word shax (pronounced /ˈʃa:x/), the digraph ⟨sh⟩ (two letters) represents the sound /ʃ/.

Kurdish orthography Timeline

The table below contains a history of Kurdish codification attempts since the 17th century, and Kurdish is still not represented by a single common alphabet for the language as a whole, but the Kurdish Unified Alphabet (KUAL) Yekgirtú recommended by this platform (KAL). Please click the following link to view

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