Northern Kurdish
Spoken in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, & neighboring countries
Native speakers unknown (4.0 million in Turkey cited 1980)
2.8 million in Iraq (2004)
2.5 million elsewhere (1988–2004)
Language family
Language codes
ISO 639-3 kmr

Kurmanji (Kurmancî in Kurdish) or Northern Kurdish (sometimes misspelled as Kirmanji, Kurmangi or Kermanji) is the most commonly spoken dialect of the Kurdish language.


Scripts and books

The Kurmanji language, which uses the Latin script, is the most common dialect of Kurdish language and spoken by 80 % of all Kurds.

Kurmanji is the ceremonial language[citation needed] of national[dubious ] Kurdish religion “Yezidism”. The sacred book Mishefa Reş (“Black Book”) and all the prayers are written and said in Kurmanji.


Most important native communities in Kurdistan
  • Kurmanji is the only Kurdish dialect that is spoken in all four areas which are vastly populated by Kurds.
  • The vast majority of Kurds in Eastern and Southeastern Turkey speak Kurmanji.
  • It’s also the mother tongue of the all Kurds in Kurdistan of Syria.
  • Iran and Iraq also have a significant amount of Kurmanji speakers:
  • Kurmanji in Southern Kurdistan (Northern Iraq)is spoken in the cities of Mosul, Duhok, Zakho, Akre, Amedia, Sheikhan, Shangal, Zummar.
  • In Iraq, Kurmanji is mistakenly called by some as Bahdini, simply because Kurmanji speaking Kurds live in Bahdinan region, which consists of the above mentioned cities and towns.
  • In Iran, Kurmanji is spoken in the northern parts of the country, in the cities of Urmia, Maku, Khoy, Salmas as well as exile by Kurds in Khorasan province of Iran.
  • In Iran, it is sometimes called "Shikaki", due to major Kurmanji tribe Shikak which is the tribe of legendary Kurdish leader Ismail Aghaye Shikak, also known as legendary Simko among the Kurds.
  • Kurmanji was also the official language of the autonomous Red Kurdistan (Russian Красный Курдистан) that established in Lachin, Kalbajar and Qubadli and surrounding cities in Azerbaijan, and existed between 1923 to 1929.
  • Kurmanji is also spoken by the entire Kurdish population that was exiled from the historical Kurdish homeland. Some two millions Kurds living in Khorasan Province of Iran in the cities like Quchan, Shirvan, Esfarayen, Bozhnurd (Bojnurd), Dargaz, Chenaran, Faruj, Bajgiran, Ashkhane and Kalat speak Kurmanji.
  • Kurdish exile community in Ankara, Konya, Kirsehir, Aksaray, Eskisehir and some other cities of Middle Anatolia of Turkey also speak Kurmanji.
  • Entire Kurdish population in Former Soviet countries such as Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Ukraine, as well as the all Kurds in Lebanon are the speakers of Kurmanji language.
  • Kurmanji is also spoken by 200,000 Kurdophones settled around Kabul, in Afghanistan and some in Pakistan.


The main theory about the etymology of Kurmanji is that the term Kurmanji, according to Prince Jaladet Bedirkhan, the great Kurdish intellectual who prepared the Latin Kurdish alphabet, comes from Kurd+man+cî which means, those Kurds who remained in their places (not moved like others). In earlier publications of this century, the term Kurmanji was sometimes spelled with a "d" like "Kurdmanji" but the standard spelling of the term is Kurmanji in English and Kurmancî in Kurdish.

One other theory is that the term Kurmanji is believed by some scholars to mean Median Kurd.[1] Some scholars say the older form of this word is Khormenj (also possibly Hormenj, which means “place of Khormens” or “land of Khormens” in Kurdish). Kurds historically lived in the area Greek sources defined as Armenia; thus Greek Armen could be a rendering of local Khormen. Note that modern Armenians' name for themselves has historically been Haiq.

See also


  1. ^ E.B. Soane, Grammar of the Kurmanji or Kurdish Language, Part I, p 5, London 1913

External links

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