8 Facts About the Kurdish Language That Everyone Should Know

The Kurdish language, with its rich history and unique cultural significance has fascinated linguists and scholars for centuries. It has played a vital role in shaping the identity and culture of the Kurdish people. But what makes this language so intriguing?

Let us explore the fascinating world of the Kurdish language and discover its hidden gems through these facts gathered by our team.

Fact No. 1: Why Is The Kurdish Language Named This Way?

The Kurdish language is named after the Kurdish people, the largest ethnic group in Kurdistan, a region spanning parts of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. The name "Kurdish" is believed to be derived from the ancient term "kurti", which means "mountainous". This is a fitting description as the Kurdish people historically inhabit the mountainous regions of Kurdistan. The Kurdish language has a long and rich history and is essential to Kurdish identity and culture.

Fact No. 2: The Kurdish Language Has a Rich Culture and History

The Kurdish language continues to be a source of inspiration for artists across various genres such as music and film. Kurdish musicians have gained worldwide recognition in recent years for their unique style and their captivating performances. The Kurdish-Iranian singer Helly Luv, who rose to fame with her music video "Risk It All", featuring the Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS, and the Kurdish-Turkish singer Şivan Perwer, known as the "Voice of the Kurds", have been prominent figures in Kurdish music for decades, using their music to promote Kurdish culture and identity. In terms of film, "A Time for Drunken Horses" and "Half Moon" have gained international acclaim.

Fact No. 3: The Kurdish Language Is Written in Several Scripts, Including Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic and Sorani.

The Kurdish language is written in several scripts, including Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic and Sorani, depending on the region and context. These different scripts reflect the diverse cultural and linguistic influences of the Kurdish language throughout history:
  • The Latin script is currently commonly used in Turkey and parts of Syria.
  • The Cyrillic script is used in Armenia and parts of the former Soviet Union.
  • The Arabic script is most widely used for Kurdish in Iraq, Iran and Syria.
  • The Sorani script, a variation of the Arabic script, is used specifically for the Sorani dialect of Kurdish.

Fact No. 4: The Kurdish Language Has No Gender Distinctions, With Nouns Not Being Categorized as Masculine or Feminine.

There is no need to worry about whether a noun is masculine or feminine when using the Kurdish language. This is because, unlike many other languages, Kurdish does not categorize nouns by gender. This makes writing poetry, singing songs and telling stories much easier, without worrying about whether the gender of a noun is correctly matched with its article, adjective or verb form. Instead, Kurdish relies on context and pronouns to convey the gender of a person or object. This is one of the many ways in which Kurdish is a unique and fascinating language.

Fact No. 5: The Kurdish Language Has a Strong Tradition of Folklore, With Many Traditional Stories and Legends Still Being Told Today

The Kurdish language is not only a means of communication, but also a window into a world of enchanting stories and legends. Within the pages of Kurdish folklore lie timeless tales of love, bravery and wisdom passed down from generation to generation:
  • The legend of Kawa the blacksmith, who single-handedly overthrew a ruthless king, remains a symbol of hope and resilience for Kurdish people worldwide and is celebrated yearly by Kurdish people.
  • The haunting story of Mem and Zin, the star-crossed lovers who met a tragic end, continues to stir the hearts of those who hear it. This story has been localized into many languages, including Arabic.
  • The clever fox and his adventures with the boastful rooster, including excellent morals that are mainly told to kids. The golden gazelle and her magical journey through the mountains.
These stories are more than just entertainment; they are a testament to the strength, courage and wisdom of the Kurdish people, as well as being a vital part of their cultural heritage.

Fact No. 6: The Kurdish Language Is a Colorful Mosaic of Dialects

There are three major Kurdish dialects: Kurmanji, Sorani and Gorani. Kurmanji is the dialect spoken in Turkey, Syria and Armenia. Sorani is the most widely spoken dialect in Iraq and Iran. Gorani, on the other hand, is a lesser-known dialect spoken by a minority group in the border region between Iraq and Iran.

Each dialect of the three is unique, but they all share a common ancestry and a deep sense of cultural heritage.

Fact No. 7: The Kurdish Language Has a Rich History, with the Oldest Known Texts Dating Back to the 16th Century

The Kurdish language has a rich history, with the oldest known texts dating back to the 16th century. These texts are written in the Sorani dialect and include religious and poetic works. One of the most significant texts is the "Mem u Zin", a love story written by the Kurdish poet Ahmad Khani in the late 17th century. Other notable works from this period include the "Sharafnama" by Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi, a historical text chronicling the rise of the Kurdish emirate of Bitlis, and the "Kurdish Dictionary" by Mullah Muhammad Hadi Kaki, which is still used as a reference by Kurdish scholars today.

Fact No. 8: Kurdish Has Been Heavily Influenced by Arabic, Persian and Turkish

The Kurdish language has a fascinating history through which interactions with neighboring cultures and languages, such as Arabic, Persian and Turkish, have helped to shape. Arabic has left a mark on the vocabulary of the Kurdish language, with many words borrowed and incorporated into everyday usage. Here are some examples:

1. سلام (salaam) - meaning "peace" or "hello"

2. سيف (sayf) - meaning "sword"

3. قلم (qalam) - meaning "pen"

Additionally, Persian has particularly influenced the grammar and syntax of the Kurdish Sorani dialect, with many Persian grammatical structures and segments of vocabulary finding their way into this language. Here are two examples: 

Persian loanwords

The Sorani dialect has incorporated many Persian words into its vocabulary, particularly in formal or technical contexts. For example, "mardom", which means "people", "keshvar", which means "country", and "nezam", which means "system".

The use of the "ezāfe" construction

This is a grammatical structure commonly used in Persian that has been adopted by the Kurdish-language Sorani dialect. It involves linking two nouns together using the "-i" suffix to indicate possession or association. For example, "kawa-yi-mast" (kawa of the wine) or "xanû-yi-erzan" (the house of the poor).

Turkish has also had an impact on multiple dialects, particularly on the Kurmanji dialect, with its influence evident in the pronunciation and intonation of the language, for example:


Turkish has contributed many loanwords to the Kurmanji dialect, particularly in everyday speech. For example, "para", which means "money", "kapı", which means "door", and "şikayet", which means "complaint".


Turkish has also influenced the grammar of the Kurmanji Kurdish language, particularly in terms of sentence structure and word order. For example, the Turkish language typically places the verb at the end of the sentence, which has been adopted to some extent in Kurmanji Kurdish.

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