Kurdish (Kurdî / کوردی)

Kurdish is a member of the Western Iranian branch of Indo-European languages. It is spoken in parts of Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Kazakstan and Afghanistan. In 2010 an estimiated 20-30 million people spoke Kurdish.

Varieties of Kurdish

There are a number of varieties of Kurdish, which are not mutually intelligible.

Status and use of Kurdish

Central Kurdish is an offical language in Iraq. along with Arabic.

Before 2002, there were many restrictions on the use of Kurdish in Turkey, especially in education and the media. However, since then then the use of Kurdish has gradually increased as most of these restrictions have been lifted. It is now used on radio and television, in schools, in local government, and on road signs.

In Iran Kurdish is recognized as a regional language. It is used in some local media, but not in public schools.

Written Kurdish

Kurdish began to appear in writing in a version of the Persian alphabet during the 7th century AD. However, for much of their history, the Kurds have prefered to use Arabic, Persian or Turkish for their literary works. The first well-known Kurdish poet was Ell Herirl (1425-1495), and Kurdish literature started to become popular during the 16th century.

Since 1932 Kurdish has been written with the Latin alphabet in Turkey and Syria. Before then, it was written with a version of the Arabic script. In parts of the former USSR it is written with a version of the Cyrillic alphabet, and in Soviet Armenia it was written with a version of the Armenian alphabet.

When Kurdish is written with the Arabic script, Arabic loan words retain their original spelling, though are often pronounced quite differently in Kurdish.

Armenian alphabet for Kurdish

Between 1920 and 1929 Kurdish was written with a version of the Armenian alphabet in Soviet Armenia.

Armenian alphabet for Kurdish

Source: http://www.skytower.org/~ernstjtremel/downloadableKurdishFiles/

Hawar Latin for Kurdish

This version of the Latin alphabet for Kurdish is known as the Hawar alphabet. It is was invented by Jeladet Ali Bedirkhan (1893-1951), and was presented in his magazine, Hawar in the 1932. It is the main alphabet used for Northern Kurdish, but is not recognised in Turkey.

Kurdish Latin alphabet (Hawar)

Kurdish Unified Alphabet (Alfabéy Yekgirtú)

The Kurdish Unified Alphabet was devised by the Kurdish Academy of Language, and can be used to write all varieties of Kurdish.

Kurdish Unified Alphabet (Alfabéy Yekgirtú)

Cyrillic alphabet for Kurdish

Kurdish Cyrillic alphabet

Soranî alphabet

The Soranî alphabet for Central Kurdish was devised by Sa'íd Sidqi Kaban and Taufiq Wahby in the 1920s. It became the standardized form of written Kurdish used in Iran. It was also used in Iraq. The name Soranî comes from the Soran Emirate, a former Kurdish emirate that was located in the area now known as Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kurdish (soranî) alphabet


Kurdish Numerals

Download alphabet charts for Kurdish (Excel)

Sample text (Arabic alphabet)

.هەموو مرۆڤ ئازاد و دوەقار و مافان دە وەکهەڤ تێن دنیایێ. ئەو خوەدی هش و شوئوورن و دڤێ لهەمبەر هەڤ بزهنیەتەکە براتیێ بلڤن

Improvements to these charts and sample text in the Arabic alphabet provided by Michael Peter Füstumum

Kurdish (Kurmanji) sample text

Hemû mirov azad û di weqar û mafan de wekhev tên dinyayê. Ew xwedî hiş û şuûr in û divê li hember hev bi zihniyeteke bratiyê bilivin.

Hear a recording of this text


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample videos in Kurdish



Information about Kurdish | Phrases (Kurmanji) | Phrases (Sorani) | Numbers (Kurmanji) | Numbers (Soranî) | Tower of Babel | Learning materials


Information about Kurdish

Other Kurdish alphabets

Kurdish Academy of Language Online

Online Kurdish lessons

Kurdish phrases

Online Kurdish dictionaries

Kurdish fonts

Kurdish search engine and links directory

The Encyclopedia of Kurdistan

Iranian languages

Avestan, Baluchi, Bartangi, Dari, Gilaki, Hazaragi, Ishkashimi, Judeo-Persian, Juhuri, Khufi, Kurdish, Luri, Mazandarani, Ossetian, Ormuri, Oroshor, Persian, Parthian, Pashto, Rushani, Sanglechi, Sarikoli, Shabaki, Shughni, Tajik, Talysh, Tat, Wakhi, Yaghnobi, Yazghulami, Zazaki

Other languages written with the Latin, Cyrillic and Arabic alphabets.

Green Web Hosting - Kualo

Why not share this page:


If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.

If you like this site and find it useful, you can support it by making a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or by contributing in other ways. Omniglot is how I make my living.


Note: all links on this site to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr are affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you click on any of them and buy something. So by clicking on these links you can help to support this site.