Use of Latin Character in the Writing of Kurdish /1931

Suggestions for the Use of Latin Character in the Writing of Kurdish

By Cecil John Edmonds
The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London, January 1931, pp 27-48.

Suggestions for the Use of Latin Character in the Writing of Kurdish

By Cecil John Edmonds
The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London, January 1931, pp 27-48.

The Kurdish language resembles the Persian in that it belongs to the Western Iranian group, but is dis­tinguished from it by striking differences of sound, form, vocabulary, and syntax. Before the year 1919 Kurdish was not ordinarily written: only poetry had been to any extent committed to writing, although a newspaper in the Bohtan dialect is recorded to have been published in Cairo and England between 1892 and 1902, and there was a certain amount of journalistic activity in Constantinople about 1912, following the Turkish revolution (See Encyclopcædia of Islam, article “Kurds", by V. Minorsky).

After the armistice of November, 1918, Turkish Southern Kurdistan was included in the territories occupied by the British Expeditionary Force in Mesopotamia. In pursuance of the policy of avoiding military commitments in the hills, a semi‑autonomous Kurdish province was formed comprising the whole liwa of Suleimani and the adjoining districts of the present liwas of Arbil and Kirkuk. Kurdish was introduced as the written official language of this administration in place of Turkish.

This is not the place to trace the political and administrative fortunes of the territory. Suffice to say that Turkish Southern Kurdistan was finally incorporated in the Iraqstate, following the Mosulaward of the League of Nations, in 192ê; in giving this award the League made certain stipulations intended to ensure the continued official use of the local language in the Kurdish districts.

In the early days even native civil servants and officers bad found great difficulty in expressing themselves, but a set official style gradually developed. By 1930 Kurdish has largely ousted Persian as the medium of private corre­spondence, and is widely used far beyond the limits of the original experimental province.

The script employed is, of course, the entirely unsuitable Arabic. Arabic and familiar Persian words generally retain their original form, while in distinctively Kurdish words there is a tendency to follow the Turkish practice of using the letter b to represent e or short a, and the letters و and ى to represent short u, and i. Actually little consistency is observed, whether in official and private correspondence or in the press. For example, ئه گرor ئه كه ر will be found alongside ofاكرmeaning if, and the bolder spirits freely introduce ه, و, and ی to represent short vowels in Arabic words, going so far as to write عاره ب for عرب.

As early as 1920 the adoption of the Latin alphabet was considered, and the Department of Education in Baghdad even published a small pamphlet, Kitab i Awalamin i Qiraat i Kurdi, by two Suleimani schoolmasters, Muhammad Zaki Efiendi and Mirza Muhammad Bashka, assisted by Major E. B. Soane and Captain W. J. Farrel, explaining the proposed system in Turkish and Persian. The matter does not appear to have progressed much beyond this stage; in any case the system recommended would not be satisfactory. It is sufficient to note that the characteristically Kurdish velar l and rolled r, and the peculiar swallowed dh referred to below, are recognized.

The Short Kurdish Accidence and Syntax of Sa’id Sidqi (Mulla Sa’id), written in Kurdish, printed at Baghdad in 1928 and adopted by the Iraq Ministry of Education for the fourth and fifth primary classes, admits in addition to the ordinary’ Arabic alphabet and the Persian additions two consonants, ڤ (ﻑ with three dots) already adopted in Arabic­ speaking countries to represent v, and ﻝ (ﻞ with a dot) to represent the velar L resembling the Russian. Mulla Sa’id also suggests, but does not use owing to absence of type, the diacritical mark ˇ over و and ى to distinguish the open sounds ô and ê, which have quite disappeared in Modern Persian but appear in Kurdish and survive in Persian as pronounced in India. As regards spelling, Mulla Sa’id lays down that Arabic words must retain their Arabic form in other words also it is unnecessary to represent short vowels (the examples given are the Persian words خدا God, غنچه bud, rice برنج ) unless the pronunciation is open to doubt (the examples given are, كورد   Kurd, and the Kurdish words كور   boy and كه وه ر   a bitter herb).

The Kurdish ABC of Ahmad‑i‑Aziz Agha (second edition, Baghdad, 1929) follows the system of Mulla Sa’id with the added recognition of rolled r: the distinction is again not made in writing owing to absence of type.

An important stage in the development of Kurdish as a written language is marked by the publication in August, 1929, of the first part of a new grammar, Usage of the Kurdish Language, (ده ستووری زمانی كوردی Part i by Tewfiq Wehbi, Haditha Press, Baghdad) by Tewfiq Wehbi Bey, Commandant of the Iraq Royal Military College at Baghdad. This talented officer has succeeded in evolving a system of spelling Kurdish based on the Arabic alphabet, which renders possible the reproduction of the nicest subtleties of Kurdish grammar and opens the road to the satisfactory employment of Latin character. Tewfiq Bey has, moreover, caused to be constructed at his own expense a special type including the new letters required for his publication.

It should be clearly understood that neither Tewfiq Bey’s alphabet nor the Latin equivalents I sue, est. in the following paragraph are intended to be systems of phonetic transcription. The intention is to produce a practical alphabet of reasonable size which shall be adequate to represent accurately the grammatical phenomena of the language. The systems, nevertheless, are sufficiently accurate phonetically to enable any Kurdish boy or foreigner knowing Kurdish to read any word correctly.

The following table shows Tewfiq Bey’s alphabet, the suggested Latin equivalents, and the names of the letters spelt accordingly.


Modified Arabic
Modified Arabic
w, u
h, e
i, j
waw, ‘u
hê, ‘e
jê, ‘i

It will be seen that of the twenty‑nine Arabic letters (including hemze) six disappear entirely: ﺚ,    ﺫ, ﺹ , ﺽ , ﻂ , ﻅ.

Three letters, representing sounds taken over by the Kurds in rather softened form with the Arabic words containing them, are retained: ﺡ,  ﻉ,  ﻕ,  (These sounds appears in a very few native Kurdish words). Similarly, the four Persian additions: ﭗ, ﭺ, ژ, گ and the modern ڤ are retained. Seven letters are entirely new. Of these five represent sounds already noticed in this note: دِ, رِ, لْ, وَ, ىْ. The sixth    ﺖrepresents a swallowed t and corresponds to دِ, as: ت to د. The seventh is ى written without dots (alike in the initial, medial, and final forms) and represents both consonantal and short‑vowel i, which I distinguish in transcription by using j and i. The letter يwith the dots is reserved for the neutral vowel.

Tewfiq Bey recognizes three double consonants; ﻧد ndh, ﻧﮓng, and للْ llh: and three "compound vowels”; ﻴﻰ ii representing long i, وو uu representing long u, and ﻮﻱ uyrepresenting French eu. (He has a fourth long compound vowel ﻳﻮ yu to represent the sound of German ü, but since the sound does not generally occur in Suleimani it may be treated as a provincialism for uu: the peculiar pronunciation can, when necessary, be indicated by writing ü.)

Since the letters ﻩ, و, and ﻯhave each a consonantal and a vowel value, thirty‑eight Latin symbols are required to correspond to Tewfiq Bey’s alphabet of thirty‑five letters. These are found by adopting the twenty‑six letters of the alphabet, nine digraphs composed of simple consonants combined with h, one vowel distinguished by a diacritical mark, the apostrophe and the inverted comma.

My choice of symbols may require some justification. Since the intention was to evolve a system for ordinary everyday use and not merely a method of phonetic tran­scription, it seemed essential to avoid invented letters and, as far as possible, diacritical marks, without sacrificing the accuracy so particularly necessary in Kurdish; no existing letter of the alphabet has therefore been left unused.

C for ﺝ has the advantage of corresponding with the Turkish, and unless used here would go begging and necessitate another diacritical mark elsewhere; incidentally, it contributes to uniformity in the construction of the digraphs; j is not available. The use of x to represent the sound of ﺥ is familiar, but kh is adequate for this; and since a distinct symbol is required to represent the allied sound of ﺡ, x appears suitable, and moreover, as remarked below, serves to hint at the foreign origin of the sound. In Kurdish words the proportion of vowels and weak con­sonants to strong consonants is peculiarly high and every .available symbol is required for them. To take an example almost at random, ‘ew pjawe, that man, contains, besides inaudible hemze, only one strong consonant against three weak consonants and three vowels. I do not therefore suppose that anyone will be disposed to quarrel with my adoption of y as a vowel and of the consonant j with its German value.

Of the nine digraphs, in seven the 4 reflects the additional .dots on the Arabic letter corresponding to the simple letter to which the h is attached, thus:

ﺖ t has ﺕٍ th

ج c has ﭺ ch

ﺪ d has ﺪِ dh

ر r has رِ rh

ﺯ z has ﮊ zh

ﺱ s has ﺵ sh

ﻞ l has لْ lh


In the remaining two cases, ﻍ gh and ﺥ kh, I have preferred to keep the existing convention, though xh would have been typographically possible. But the apparent, inconsistency is not without its significance. The letters ﻍ, ﺥ, represent native Kurdish sounds and are best represented by natural combinations such as gh and kh, while the corresponding un-dotted letters of the Arabic script being foreign to Kurdish are not inappropriately represented by distinct and exotic‑looking symbols ‘ and x. Thus all the digraphs either correspond to existing convention or, in the case of new letters, satisfactorily suggest the sound to the eye.

The two sounds represented by th and dh can perhaps best be produced by endeavouring to pronounce t and d while pressing the tongue against the lower teeth. The necessity of admitting them to independent places in the alphabet is open to argument. They appear to be restricted to part of the Suleimani liwa only and the use of the simple sound in place of them could never be considered incorrect. Never­theless in and around Suleimani, the dialect of which is rapidly establishing itself as standard Kurdish, the distinction is very marked.

There is no shadda in Tewfiq Bey’s script, and double consonants are written twice as in the Latin.

Initial hemze need not be written when the Latin character is used, but it is important, for certain purposes, to remember that in theory it is there before the initial vowel.

Where in the same word independent h follows a simple letter having a corresponding digraph, a short hyphen would be used to separate the two. Instances must be rare: I have not found a Kurdish example at the time of writing and can only give in illustration the Persian proper name, Fer‑had, and the Arabic word ﻤﺟﻬﻮﻞ (which becomes mec‑huul), unknown, passive voice.

Of the seven vowels four, e, i, u, y, are always short, and three, a, ê, o, are always long; long i and long u are repre­sented by doubling the letters, ii, uu; the diphthong which approximates to the sound of French eu is represented by uy, following Tewfiq Bey’s Arabic ﻮﻱ. It is to be noted that e represents the sound approximating to the English short a and should be pronounced as in bat rather than as in bet.

In order that the system here suggested may be adequately judged, three passages of some length are appended to this note. Before they are read, however, five simple rules touching modifications of vowel forms in certain circum­stances must be mentioned –

Three of Tewfiq Bey’s symbols‑.ﻩ, ﻭ, ﻯ‑have each both a consonant and a vowel value; he therefore gives a set of rather elaborate rules for distinguishing between them. In the Latin script, where separate symbols are used, little difficulty arises. Briefly, the principle is that no two vowels (except the two members of the recognized “compound vowels") may come together ; consequently if i or u is brought into juxtaposition with another vowel, it is changed into the corresponding weak consonant: e.g. Kerkuukii, man of Kirkuk, makes Kerkuukijeke, the man of Kirkuk; and khanu, house, makes khanweke, the house.

If the weak consonant j follows the compound vowel ii, the second member of the compound is dropped; e.g. tancii, gazelle‑hound, makes tancijan not tanciijan, their gazelle‑hound: this spelling actually represents the shortening of the long vowel ii before the suffix.

The neutral vowel y may be dropped between two consonants of which the second is followed by a vowel, e.g. shywan, shepherd, has the alternative form shwan; and ‘asyn, iron, with the demonstrative adjective makes ‘em ‘asyne or ’em asne, this iron.

Initial hemze following a word ending in a vowel is sometimes suppressed by contraction, e.g. ser, head, and. ‘êshe, ache, make serêshe, headache; and Whym ‘e malhewe, I go home, makes ‘echyme malhewe, or again, by rule (c), which now becomes applicable, ‘echme malhewe.

The y of the imperative prefix by, when followed by the i or j of the enclytic pronouns of the third person, becomes i, e.g. bykho, eat! biikho eat it ! and bijankho, eat them!

The measure of the unsuitability of the Arabic script is given by the circumstance that it has only three symbols to represent all vowels and the weak consonants, while the Latin, as here suggested, offers no fewer than nine or, counting the ‑ compound vowels ", twelve. In Kurdish, as I have already remarked, the proportion of vowels and weak consonants to strong consonants is high, and careful analysis of vowel sounds is required for the comprehension of the nicer points of the grammar.

Nevertheless, there can hardly be any question of substituting either Tewfiq Bey’s system or the Latin character for the Arabic in present circumstances. Religious prejudice against such a change would undoubtedly be strong. Further­more, Kurdish is now ordinarily written only in Iraq, where the Kurds are a minority and where the official language of the state as a whole is Arabic. Kurdish boys who wish to rise in Government service or are obliged, like men of the hills everywhere, to seek their fortune in the plains of the south, must be proficient in Arabic: there are many Arabic words currently used in Kurdish, and to learn them first in the modified Kurdish alphabet would lead to confusion and the serious handicap of bad spelling. The use of the Latin character for instruction in Kurdish would obviate these disadvantages but would tend to make Arabic, with its different script, even more than at present a foreign language difficult to acquire. Tewfiq Bey’s grammar, must, however, be indispensable to every serious student of Kurdish, and to every Kurdish schoolmaster, even though precluded from imparting to his pupils its contents as they stand.

The possibility of using the Latin alphabet has always, since the early experiment of 1920 already noticed, excited keen interest in enlightened Kurdish circles ; and indeed several of my friends, having doubtless heard that I was studying the matter, have recently written to me in Latin character. An increasing number of Europeans, whether civil officials, military and air officers, or servants of the great oil companies, are being brought into contact with Kurds and require to use their language. Use of the Latin character would contribute to rapidity in learning and ensure far greater accuracy than can be attained through the medium of the vague and inconsistent approximations of the Arabic script as used by the Kurds themselves. The adoption of the Latin character by the grown‑up intelligentsia for literary and scientific purposes might well give a valuable fillip to Kurdish culture.


ChiirokiMerh u Bzyn

Byznêk u merhêk legelh jek dost bun. Byzneke be merhekej wut, " Ewa zystan hat, ba bo khoman khanujêk bkejn, em zystanej tija helh kejn." Merhe wuti, " Myn duugi khom khosh bê le serma natyrsym." Byzneke khanujêki bo khoj duryst kyrd.

Zystan hat. Terh u tuushii w befr u baran desi pê kyrd. Merheke hate laj byzneke, wuti, "Le rhêj khwadha cêgam bkerewe; eger cêgat keme cêj serym bkerewe, cêj duugym mekerewe; jan cêj duugym bkerewe, cêj serym mekerewe." Byzneke bezeji pija hat, cêj ser u niiwej leshi kyrdewe. Shewê le shewan gurgê merhekej frhandh u rhoji. Byzneke le ser eme dergajêki bashi bo khanwekej duryst kyrd.

Khwan te’ala lem khanwedha chendh bêchuulejêkej dhaje. Rhaburdyni zor bash bu; be rozh echu bo lewerh, êwaran gwan pyrh le shiir egerhajewe. Ke echuwe derewe mnalhekani teme ekyrd ke le khoj zijatyr derga le kes nekenewe.

Tumez gurgêki xeramzadhe chawi le bêchwe besezmanekani byzne bêdeselhateke brhii bu. Byzne agaj le Mexmuudhi W zewadh nebu. Rhozhê le rhozhan ke puure bzyn le derewe bu, mam gurg be heli zani chuwe ber dergakejan. Derga kliil u kulhom, kra bu. Le dergaj dha. Karzholekan pyrsijan, " Ewe kaje?" Wuti, "Tiffile w biibilei daje, derga we ken le daje, shiiri spiim le byn gwanaje, gijaj sewzym le byn danaje." Bêchuulekan le kuni dergawe rhwanijan, tê gejishtyn ke eme dajki khojan nije, wutjan, " Daiki ême sunre." Gurge chu khoj le qurhe suurewe dha w gerhajewe. Disanewe le dergaj dha, wuti, "Tiffile w biibilej daje, derga we ken le daje ; shfiri spiim le bvn gwanaje, gijaj sewzym le byn danaje." Karzholekan wutjan, "Dajki ême spije." Gurge chu khoj le gle spijewe dha, gerhajewe ber dergakejan. Wutjan, "Dajki ême spije." Gurge chu, khoj le kholhe mêshewe dha, gerhajewe serjan. Jekê le karzholekan wuti, "Be khwa, eme dajkmane, ba dergakej lê Uejnewe." We weha dergakejan lê kyrdewe. Gurge lêjan chuwe zhuurê. Bêchuulekani khward u hate derewe. Belham jekê le bêchuulekan ke le hemuujan behuuktyr bu le gulhbênej tenuura khoj shardbwewe, le kelhbej mam gurg ryzgar buu bu.

Katê dajkekejan hatewe, temashaj kyrd; dergake le ser pyshte, bêchwekani niin dijar. Desi kyrd be qurh pêwan. Ew bêchwe ke khoj shardbwewe desi kyrde Inyl dajki we be gyrjanewe xikajetekej bo gerhajewe. Byzne hezhareke nej ezani kê em ketnej pê kyrdywe, wuti, "Her kesê emej kyrdybê ebê bgerhêm biidozmewe bangi kem bo sherh legelh leyrdyn ke tolhej lê bsênym."

Hesta le pêsha chuwe serbani khanuj seg, desi kyrd be tepetep. Sege le khwarewe wuti, " Xuu, xuu, xuu! Ewe kêje, le ser ban teptepan eka ; kase w kewchkym pyrh le kholhan eka, le miiwananym shermesar eka?" Byzneke wuti, "Maa! Mnym, mnym, myn mnoke, duu shakhym pêweje, bêlh bêlhoke, duu chawym pêweje byz bzoke; kê khwarduuje tiiti myn, kê khwarduuje biibi myn, bête sherh u cengi myn." Sege wuti, "Myn nemkhwarduwe tiiti to, myn nemkhwarduwe biibi to, najeme sherh u cengi to." Lewêwe bvzneke chuwe bani khanuj cheqelh, disanewe desi kyrd be tepetep. Cheqelh le zhuurewe wuti, "iiw!l iiw! iiw! Ewe kêje, teptepan eka, kase w kewchkym pyrh le kholhan eka, le miiwananym shermesar eka ?" Bzyn wuti, "Mnym, mnym, myn mnoke duu chawym pdweje, byz bzoke, duu shakhym pêweje, bêlh bêlhoke; kê khwarduuje tiiti myn, kê khwarduuje biibi myn, bête sherh u cengi myn." CheqeIh wuti, "Myn nemkhwarduwe tiiti to, myn nemkhwarduwe biibi to; najeme sherh u cengi to."

Lewêwe chuwe ser bani gurg, desi kyrd be tepetep. Gurgeke le khwarewe wuti, " Huu, huu, huu! Ewe kêje, teptepan eka, kase w kewchkym pyr le kholhan eka, le miiwananym shermesar eka?" ByzIicke wuti, "Mnym, mnym, myn mnoke, duu shakhym pêweje, bêlh bêlhoke, duu chawym pêweje, byz bzoke; kê khwarduuje tiiti myn, kê khwarduuje biibi myn, bête sherh u cengi myn ?" Gurgeke wuti, "Myn khwarduume tiiti to, myn khwarduume biibi to, dheme sherh u cengi to."

Hestan chune laj qazii. Gurgeke le gelh khoja be dijarii hemanejêki hêna bu ; prhi kyrdybu le fuu; derkekej tundh bestybu, belham le pêsha denke nokishi tê hawishtybu. Hemanej le ber dem qaziidha da na, wuti, "Qazii gijan, em dijarije tuutni Shawure henawmete khyzmetyth." Byznekesh kase mastêki ke le shiiri khoi duryst kyrdvbu be destewe rha gyrtybu,

Khalho Qazii, chunke dijarii gurgekej la khoshtyr bu, be khyzmethkarekej wuit, "A biikerewe temashajêki bkem." Khyzrnethkareke le ber demi qazii dha, derki hemanekej kyrdewe, denkenok der perhii, dhaj le chawi qazii, chawêki kuyr kyrd. Desubyrd puure bzvn kasekej byrde pêshewe. Ke qazii emustêki le masteke dha chawi cha bwewe. Emea qazii le ber khoj ewe wuti, "Ej gurgi zolhek shert bê em dakheth pê brhêzhvm."

Fermutij mejdhan rhê khen bo sherh, we nardi duu shakhi asyn u duu shakhi lbadhjan bo hena. Shakhe lbadhekani kyrd be ser gurgekewe, kiife asniinekani kyrd be shakhekani byznekedha. Emca henanje mejdhan, we wuti, “De beengyn." Gurg u bzyn destjan kyrd be sherhe qoch.

Mam gurg le pêsha qoehêki dha le byzneke, shakhekani nushtajewe. Ke byzneke qochêki dha le wurgi gurgeke drhii. Karzholekan hatne derewe. Dajkjan desi kyrd be Igstnewejan, we lêj pyrsiin, "Rholho, lekuy bun?" Wutjan, "Le mali khalhman danuuleman ekhward." Wuti, "Ej beshi myn!" Hemuu be dengê wutjan, "Kyrdme koshym, koshym suuta; kyrdme desym, desym suuta; kyrdme demym, demym suuta." Wuti, "Rholhej dajkiine, ja khwa, be kêr bênewe."

Herwa be jektyr shadh bunewe; mnish hatmewe, hiichjan nedhamê.


Fable of the Sheep and the Goat

A goat and a sheep were friends together. The goat said to the sheep: "Now winter has come, let us make a house for ourselves, where we may spend this winter." The sheep said: “All being well with my tail, I am not afraid of the cold." The goat made a house for herself.”

Winter came. Wet and bad weather and snow and rain began. The sheep came to the goat and said: “In the way of God, make room for me; if your room is scanty, make place for my head and do not make place for my tail, or make place for my tail and do not make place for my head." The goat took pity on him and made place for his head and half his body. One night of the nights a wolf snatched the sheep and went. The goat thereupon made a good door for her house.

God Almighty gave her some children in this house. Her existence was very good. By day she used to go to graze; in the evening she used to return, the udder full of milk. When she used to go out she used to admonish the children not to open the door to anybody besides herself.

But a base‑born wolf had fixed his eyes on the poor young ones of the helpless goat. The goat was not aware of the fate awaiting her. A day of the days when Aunt Goat was out, Uncle Wolf thought it a good opportunity and went to their door. The door had been locked and barred. He knocked on the door. The kids asked: "Who is that?" He said, “Mother’s darlings and sweetings, open the door to Mother I have white milk‑ under my udder and I have green grass under my teeth." The youngsters looked through the hole in the door; they understood that this is not their mother; they said: “Our mother is brown." The wolf went, smeared himself with brown mud and returned. He knocked again on the door and said: “Mother’s darlings and sweetings, open the door to Mother! I have white milk under my udder, I have green grass under my teeth." The kids said: “Our mother is white." The wolf went, smeared himself with chalk and returned to their door. They said: “Our mother is grey." The wolf went, smeared himself with ash and returned to them. One of the kids said: “By God this is our mother, let us open the door to her." And so they opened the door to him. The wolf went into the room against them. He ate the youngsters and came out. But one of the youngsters, who was smaller than all of them, had hidden himself in the flue of the oven, and had escaped from the fangs of Uncle Wolf.

When their mother returned she looked; the door is open, the young ones are not visible. She began to pour dust on her head. That young one which had hidden himself threw his arms around his mother’s neck and weepingly related the story to her. The poor goat did not know who has done this mischief to her and said: “Whoever may have done this, I must look for and find him and challenge him to a duel, that I may take vengeance on him."

She got up and first she went onto the roof of the dog’s house and began to stamp. The dog from below said: “Bow, wow, wow! who is that stamping on the roof, filling my bowl and spoon with dust and making me ashamed before my guests 2 " The goat said: "Maa! It is I, I, little I! I have got two horns like two little hoes, I have got two eyes, open wide ; whoever has eaten my darling, whoever has eaten my sweeting,

thim come and fight and war with me. The dog said: “live not eaten your darling, I have not eaten your sweeting will not come to fight and war with you."

From there the goat went to the roof of the jackal’s house id again began to stamp. The jackal from below said: Yap, yap, yap! who is that stamping, filling my bowl and spoon with dust and making me ashamed before my guests ? “lie goat said: " It is I! I, little I! I have got two horns like little hoes; I have got two eyes, wide open wide; whoever has eaten y darling, whoever has eaten my sweeting, let him come and fight and war with me. The jackal said: " I have not eaten your darling, I have not eaten your sweeting; I shall not come fight and war with you."

From there she went onto the wolf’s roof and began to stamp. The wolf from below said: “Hoo, hoo, hoo! Who is that stamping, filling my bowl and spoon with dust and making, me ashamed before my guests?" The goat said: "It is I, little I! I have got two horns like two little hoes, I have got two eyes open wide; whoever has eaten my darling, whoever has eaten my sweeting, let him come to fight and war with me "the wolf said: "I have eaten your darling, I have eaten your sweeting; I will come to fight and war with you."

They started off and went to the Qazi. The wolf had brought a small skin sack with himself as a present; he had blown it up, and tied the mouth tight, but beforehand he had thrown a single pea inside it. He put the skin down in front of the Qazi and said: " Qazi dear, this is present is Shawr tobacco, I have brought to your service.”The goat also was holding a bowl of curds which she had made of her own milk.

As the wolf’s present was more acceptable to him Uncle, Qazi said to the servant: “Here, open it and let me have a look at it. “The servant opened the mouth of the skin in front of the Qazi, the pea flew out, hit the Qazi in the eye and blinded one eye. Immediately Aunt Goat carried the bowl forward. When the Qazi took a fingerful of the curds his eye got better again. Then the Qazi said to himself; “O bastard wolf! I wear to take vengeance on you for this hurt."

He ordered the ring to be prepared for the fight and sent to fetch two horns of iron and two horns of felt for them. He put the felt horns on the head of the wolf and the iron scabbards on the horns of the goat. Then he brought them into the ring and said: "Off I fight!” The wolf and the goat began to have a bout of butting. Uncle Wolf first butted the goat, his horn, bent. When the goat gave a butt in the belly of the wolf, he ripped it. The kids came out. Their mother began to lick them and asked them: "My pets, where were you?” They said: “We were eating porridge at our uncle’s house." She said: "And my share?” They all said with one voice: “I put it in my shirt tail, my shirt tail burnt; I put it in my hand, my hand burnt; I put it in my mouth, my mouth burnt." She said Mother’s pets! O God! May you be welcome? “

And so they rejoiced over each other. I too have returned and they gave me nothing.


Dwanze Swarej Mertiiwan

Egêrhnewe ke le zemani xakmêtii Brajim Pashaj Bebedha, ke ew xele le Qelha Chwalan da nishtybu, Nadhyr Shaj Êran be leshkrêki dwanze hezar kesijewe wistybuj be ser wulhati Bebedha rha buurê bchête ser shari Muusylh, ke ew deme be des Tyrkekanewe buwe. Nadhyr Sha kheberêki nardybu bo Brajim ke rbêgaj bdhatê be ser wulhati Kurdekana bchête ser Muusylh, ke biigrê. Brajim Pasha lew serdemedha legelh Tyrkekan dost bu. Cge leme be shiini ezani ke leshkri bêgane be ser wulhatja byrhwa. Em tekliifej pesendh nekyrd, cwabi narhezaji bo Nadhyr Sha nardewe. Nadhyr Sha le ser eme zor dylhgiir u zür bu, we wuti : "Her ebê be ser wulhati Bebedha brhom." We bem core qerari dha.

Brajim Pasha kheberi wer gyrtybu ke chy rhozhê Êranijekan xereket eken. Desubyrd leshkrêk ke be destewe ebê koj ekatewe. Dwanze swar ke zor dynjadiiw u shareza bun kyrdni be pêshrbewi em leshkyrej kboj. Emane le pêsh leshkyrekewe be ghar erhon we le niiwej shewdha egene leshkrekej Nadhyr Sha, ke le deshti Meriiwan helhan dha bu. Her dwan dwan u sjan sjan ebyne destejêk, le rhast u chep u pysht u pêsh dewrej leshkyreke edhen, we le hemuu lajekewe ejkene hera w desrêzh.

Be helhkewt ew shewe zor tariik u nuutek u befr u baran ebê. Be cheshnêk serjan lê eshêwênyn ke leshkyreke wa ezanyn ke quwetêki zor dewrej dhawyn. Be rhengêki wa shêwan ke dost u dyzhmynjan pê lêk nekrajewe. Pelamari jektyr edhen. Ew shewe ta beri bejan le naw khojana le jektyr kushtar eken. Qelachojan khystanaw khojan.

Ke dynja rhuunak ebêtewe ebiinyn ke gelekjan le jektyr kushtuwe, zor shpyrze bun we pelupoj xereket u hêzi beramber westanjan nemawe; be nacharii egerhênewe dwawe.

Em azajije her le lajeni em dwanze swarewe krawe. Xele ke leshkrekej Brajim Pasha egat temasha eken ke leshkyri Êran hiichjan nemawe we zor pêjan nakhosh ebê ke be ser hewari khaliidha egen.


The Twelve Horsemen of Meriwan

They relate that in the time of the ruler-ship of Ibrahim Pasha Baban, who at that epoch resided at Qala Chwalan, Nadir Shah of Persiawith an army of twelve thousand persons had wished to traverse the Baban country and march against the city of Mosul, which at that moment was in the hands of the Turks. Nadir Shah had sent a message to Ibrahim to give him passage through the country of the Kurds, for him to march against Mosul, to take it. Ibrahim Pasha at that particular moment was friendly with the Turks. Apart from this he thought it disgraceful that a foreign army should go through his country. He did not .approve of this demand and sent an answer of refusal back to Nadir Shah. Nadir Shah for this reason became very annoyed and upset, and he said: “I must nevertheless go ‑through the Baban country." And thus he decided. Ibrahim, Pasha had received information as to which day the Persians are to start. As quickly as possible, he collects an army such as can be got. He made twelve horse­men, who were very experienced and acquainted with the ground, the advance-guard of this army of his. These gallops in front of the army and in the middle of the night reach the army of Nadir Shah, which had camped in the plain of Meriwan. They form sections by twos and threes. They surround the army to right and left, in rear and in front, and Shout and fire volleys from every side.

By chance that night is pitch dark with snow and rain. They confuse them in such a way that the army think that a very large force has surrounded them. They were confused in such a way that friend and enemy could not be distinguished by them. They attack one another. All that night till dawn they make’ a slaughter of each other among themselves. They reduced themselves to exhaustion.

When it gets light they see that they have killed many of each other, they have become very demoralized and ability to move and strength to resist has not remained. They are obliged to retreat.

This brave deed was performed by these twelve horsemen only. When the army of Ibrahim. Pasha arrives they see that none of the Persian army have remained and they are very sorry that they find an empty camp.


From “Usage of the Kurdish Language," by Tewfiq Wehbi Bey

Edati nida dengêke ke bo pishandhani xissêki weku khoshii, ‘acbatii, pzhare, tyrs . . . . htd: be kelhk ehênrê. Emane legelh kelimekanityri cumledha laqejêkjan nabê; weku:

Aj ! le Mirym. chu.

Okhkhej! rhyzgar bum.

Of ! le des to wekhte shêt bym.

Lem cumlanedha ”Aj!” bo ‘acbatii, ”Okhkhej!” bo khoshii, "Of!” bo pzhare be kelhk hênrawyn.

Bonawi lêkdher emanen : ke, -i ; weku

Myn le khanweke ke par Awe krhiitan da nisbtuum.

Ew pjawej bêredha rha burd nasjawym bu.

Emane ew mnalhanen ke duyne le imtixan der chun.

Le cumlej jekema duwem "ke" bonawi lêMhere; chunke cêj nawi "khanweke" egrêtewe we eumlej "myn le khanwekedha da nishtuum" -i be cumlej "êwe par krhiitan" -ewe nuusandhywe. Le cumlej duwema "j" -i dwaj "ew pjawe” bonawi lêkdere, chunke cêj "ew pjawe" egrêtewe we cumlej "ew pjawe bêredha rha burd" -i be cumlej "ew pjawe nasjawym bu" -wewe nuusandhywe. Le cumlej sejema "ke" -j dwaj "ew mnalhanen" bonawi lêkdhere, chunke cêj "ew mnalhane” egrêtewe we cumlej "emane ew mnalhanen" -i be cumlej ”ew mnalhane duynê le imtixan der ebun" –ewe nuusandhywe.


An interjection is a sound which is used to express a feeling such as joy, surprise, grief, fear, etc. These can have no connection with the other words of the sentence, e.g.,

Oh! I forgot.

Hurrah! I am freed.

Alas! I shall soon be driven mad by you.

In these sentences “Oh!” is used for surprise, “Hurrah is used for joy; “Alas!” is used for grief.

Relative pronouns are the following: ke, -i, which, that, e.g.,

I am living in the house which you bought last year.

That man that passed by here was an acquaintance of mine.

These are the children who passed the examination yesterday.

In the first sentence the second ke (which) is a relative pronoun, because it takes the place of “the house“ and has connected the sentence “I am living in the house“ to the sentence "You bought last year." In the second sentence the “that” (-i) after "that man" is a relative pronoun because it takes the place of "that man" and has connected the sentence "that man passed by here" to the sentence "that man was an acquaintance of mine". In the third sentence the “who“(ke) after “those children” is a relative pronoun be­cause it takes the place of ”those children and has con­nected the sentence" these are those children “to the sentence those children passed the examination yesterday”.