The Kurdish languages (Kurmanji Kurdish: Zimanê kurdî, Sorani Kurdish: زمانی کوردی, Southern Kurdish: زوان کوردی) constitute a dialect continuum, 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 to||Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Armenia, Azerbaijan|
|Region||Kurdistan, Anatolia, Caucasus, Khorasan, Kurdish diaspora|
|c. 20–30 million (2000–2010 est.)|
|Hawar alphabet (Latin script; used mostly in Turkey and Syria)|
(Perso-Arabic script; used mostly in Iraq and Iran)
Cyrillic alphabet (former Soviet Union)
Armenian alphabet (1921-29 in Soviet Armenia)
Official language in
A separate group of non-Kurdish Northwestern Iranian languages, the Zaza–Gorani languages, are also spoken by several million ethnic Kurds. The majority of the Kurds speak Kurmanji. 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, but the differences between Laki and other Southern Kurdish dialects are minimal.
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".