Kurdish languages

The Kurdish languages (Kurmanji Kurdish: Zimanê kurdî,[12] Sorani Kurdish: زمانی کوردی,[13] Southern Kurdish: زوان کوردی[14]) constitute a dialect continuum,[15] belonging to the Iranian language family, spoken by Kurds in the geo-cultural region of Kurdistan and the Kurdish diaspora. The three Kurdish languages are Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji), Central Kurdish (Sorani), and Southern Kurdish (Xwarîn).

Kurdî / کوردی
Native toTurkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Armenia, Azerbaijan
RegionKurdistan, Anatolia, Caucasus, Khorasan, Kurdish diaspora
Native speakers
c. 20–30 million (2000–2010 est.)[1]
Standard forms
Hawar alphabet (Latin script; used mostly in Turkey and Syria)
Sorani alphabet
(Perso-Arabic script; used mostly in Iraq and Iran)
Cyrillic alphabet (former Soviet Union)
Armenian alphabet (1921-29 in Soviet Armenia)[4][5][6]
Official status
Official language in
 Iraq[7][lower-alpha 1]  Rojava[9][10]
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1ku
ISO 639-2kur
ISO 639-3kur – inclusive code
Individual codes:
ckb  Sorani
kmr  Kurmanji
sdh  Southern Kurdish
lki  Laki language
Linguasphere58-AAA-a (North Kurdish incl. Kurmanji & Kurmanjiki) + 58-AAA-b (Central Kurdish incl. Dimli/Zaza & Gurani) + 58-AAA-c (South Kurdish incl. Kurdi)
Map of Kurdish-speaking areas of West Asia
Geographic distribution of Kurdish dialects and other Iranian languages spoken by Kurds
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A separate group of non-Kurdish Northwestern Iranian languages, the Zaza–Gorani languages, are also spoken by several million ethnic Kurds.[16][17][18] The majority of the Kurds speak Kurmanji.[19][20] Most Kurdish texts are written in Kurmanji and Sorani. Kurmanji is written in the Hawar alphabet, a derivation of the Latin script, and Sorani is written in the Sorani alphabet, a derivation of Arabic script.

The classification of Laki as a dialect of Southern Kurdish or as a fourth language under Kurdish is a matter of debate,[3] but the differences between Laki and other Southern Kurdish dialects are minimal.[21]

The literary output in Kurdish was mostly confined to poetry until the early 20th century, when more general literature became developed. Today, the two principal written Kurdish dialects are Kurmanji and Sorani. Sorani is, along with Arabic, one of the two official languages of Iraq and is in political documents simply referred to as "Kurdish".[22][23]