Language of the Day: Kurdish, Northern

7794-Kurdish-350x252.4Let’s take a journey…

The air you breathe is arid and the sun beats down making the ground hot to the touch and your skin warm. The land is mostly covered in light brown sand which comes together in dunes which look like the frozen waves of a great sea. The sand sways with the passing wind which picks up grains as it dances through the desert carrying its passengers from the Mediterranean in the west to India and central Asia in the east. While there is not much water there are a number of lakes speckling the land and a couple major rivers which twist and turn their way through the sands.

It is on the banks of these major rivers, namely the Aras, the Tigris and Euphrates, where more habitable lands are found, where agriculture can flourish and irrigation is possible. And it is because of this that the speakers of Northern Kurdish made their homes in the Middle East. The people are spread across Azerbaijan, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan but are mostly routed in Turkey in the north east of the Middle East.

Northern Kurdish comes from the general Indo-European language family and the Kurdish subset of the family. It is the most spoken form of Kurdish and is also called Kurmanji and Bahdini depending on where you are. Northern Kurdish is closely related to other Iranian languages like Persian due to the historical closeness of the speakers.

There have been many books written in Northern Kurdish and it is taught in many schools throughout the regions where it is spoken. There are 20 million speakers of the language worldwide with 3 million of those being monolingual. Although Northern Kurdish is currently in decline in Turkey where about 15 million speakers reside, all in all the language is in good standing and is continually taught in schools and has a number of publications made in the language.

Even though the land of the Middle East may be harsh and sand covered there are many people with many different languages residing there and Northern Kurdish is one of them.

Thanks for joining us on this journey in language.

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