Day 7 - Kurdish and its dialects (with a political sketch)

Day 7 will be dedicated to one of the important languages of the Middle East, Kurdish, and its dialects. Questions of the history of this language and its grammatical characteristics, political weight, usage in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region, Iran, and Turkey will be discussed in the class.

Homework (15 min.) - At the beginning of the class, the instructor will discuss the homework article and assignments with the students. This will include also asking and answering questions from yesterday’s lesson.

Part One (50 min.) - The language that is now called Kurdish, is actually a large cluster of correlated dialects which are divided between three main dialectical groups: Northern dialects, Central dialects, and Southern dialects. It is not implausible to view them as different languages, for they are mutually unintelligible, have separate literary standards, and use different writing systems. In the first part of the class, we are going to have a general overview of these dialects and their history.

Break (15 min.) 

Part Two (50 min.) - Northern dialects (Kurmanji) are mainly spoken among the Kurdish population of the Eastern Turkish provinces (historical Western Armenia). They are divided into North-Western (Bohtan, Diarbekir, Sinjar) and North-Eastern (most of the dialects of Eastern Turkey, Hakkari, Behdianan) subgroups. In the second part of the class, we are going to focus on Kurmanji, its grammatical structure, and differences from other Iranian dialects. Special attention will also be given to its speakers.

Discussion (20 min.) - Later in the class, the students and instructor will discuss different issues and questions related to Kurdish. The participants will also ask questions to the instructor concerning particular points of interest.


Mackenzie, D. N. (1961). ‘The origins of Kurdish’, in Transactions of the Philological Society, 60(1), 68–86.

Paul, Ludwig (1994). Kurdisch Wort für Wort (Sprachführer, Reise Know-How Verlag ), Bielefeld.

Thackston, W. M., Kurmanji Kurdish: A Reference Grammar with Selected Readings. 

Thackston, W. M., Sorani Kurdish: A Reference Grammar with selected reading. 

McCarus, E. N., ‘Kurdish’, in Windfuhr, G., The Iranian languages, Routledge, 2009, pp.587-633.