The Kurdish People


PEOPLE NAME COUNTRY LANGUAGE BRANCH LANGUAGE DIALECTS ALTERNATE NAMES FOR THIS PEOPLE OR LANGUAGE OTHER ETHNIC NAMES (TRIBES, CLANS) PLACE NAMES ASSOCIATED
WITH THIS
PEOPLE RELIGIOUS SECTS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS PEOPLE ROPAL
(FROM THE ETHNO-
LOGUE) PEOPLE POPULATION
IN THIS COUNTRY PEOPLE POPULATION
IN THE WORLD SPEAKERS OF THIS LANG IN THE WORLD
Bajelan Iraq ZAZA-GORANI BAJELAN Shabak, Gurani Barzinji, Gergeri, Gorani, Hamawand, Hariri, Jaf, Mawsili, Manusi, Sarli, Yarsan Arbil, Eski Kaiak,
Mosul, Tobzawa Bajelan, Shabaki, Sarli, Kakai, Qizilbashi, Ibrahimi,
Bektashi BJM00 20,000 20,000 20,000
Behdini Germany KURDISH BEHDINI BDF00
Behdini Iraq KURDISH BEHDINI BDF00
Dimli Turkey ZAZA-GORANI DIMLI Sivereki, Kori, Hazzu, Motki, Shabak, Dumbuli Zaza, Dimli Lolan, Xormak, Shamlu, Shaykhawand, Shadlu, Khajawand, Zafranlu, Stajlu, Quvanlu Elazig, Bingol,
Diyarbakir Alevi (Alawi), Shabaki ZZZ00 980,000 1,010,000 1,010,000
Dimli Syria ZAZA-GORANI DIMLI Zaza, Dimli Jezirah, Syria ZZZ00 20,000 1,010,000 1,010,000
Dimli Germany ZAZA-GORANI DIMLI Zaza, Dimli ZZZ00 10,000 1,010,000 1,010,000
Hawrami Iran ZAZA-GORANI HAWRAMI Gurani, Bajalani Guran, Hawraman Ahl-i-Haqq (Yaresan) HAC00 18,000 40,000 40,000
Hawrami Iraq ZAZA-GORANI HAWRAMI Gurani. Kakai, Macho Awaspi,
Eski Taiak, Tobzawa Ahl-i-Haqq (Kakai), Shabaki, Sunni HAC00 22,000 40,000 40,000
Herki Iran KURDISH HERKI associated with Kurmanji HEK00 *71,000 71,000
Herki Iraq KURDISH HERKI associated with Kurmanji HEK00 *71,000 71,000
Herki Turkey KURDISH HERKI associated with Kurmanji HEK00 31,000 *71,000 71,000
PEOPLE NAME COUNTRY LANGUAGE BRANCH LANGUAGE DIALECTS ALTERNATE NAMES FOR THIS PEOPLE OR LANGUAGE OTHER ETHNIC NAMES (TRIBES, CLANS) PLACE NAMES ASSOCIATED
WITH THIS
PEOPLE RELIGIOUS SECTS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS PEOPLE ROPAL
(FROM THE ETHNO-
LOGUE) PEOPLE POPULATION
IN THIS COUNTRY PEOPLE POPULATION
IN THE WORLD SPEAKERS OF THIS LANG IN THE WORLD
Kirmandz Armenia ZAZA-GORANI KIRMANJKI Zaza, Dimli, Dimilki QKV00 59,000 1,500,000 1,500,000
Kirmandz Georgia ZAZA-GORANI KIRMANJKI Zaza, Dimli, Dimilki QKV00 35,000 1,500,000 1,500,000
Kirmandz Turkey ZAZA-GORANI KIRMANJKI Tunceli, Varto Zaza, Dimli, Dimilki, Alevi Tunceli, Erzincan,
Cayirli, Elazig,
Sivas, Varto,
Also in Austria,
Denmark, France, Netherlands, UK,
Sweden, Switzerland Alevi (Alawi) QKV00 140,000 1,500,000 (Country totals not itemized in sources) 1,500,000
Kirmandz Germany ZAZA-GORANI KIRMANJKI Zaza, Dimli, Dimilki, Alevi QKV00 1,500,000 1,500,000
Carduchi Iran KURDISH KURDI Southern Kurd KDB03 2,760,000 2,760,000 7,329,500
Kurd Iran KURDISH KURDI Jafi, Kirmanshahi Southern Kurd, Sorani Barzinji, Jaf, Bosikan, Kurian, Musi, Sarmi, Talabani, Zekiri, Zubari Kermanshah (Bakhtaran), Khorasan, Kordestan, Sanandaj, West Azerbaijan Yezidi, Shabaki, Ahl-i-Haqq (Yaresan), Sarli KDB00 605,000 4,197,500 7,329,500
Kurd Iran KURDISH KURDI Mukri Central Kurd, Mukri Yezidi, Shabaki, Ahl-i-Haqq (Yaresan), Sarli KDB02 604,000 1,052,000 7,329,500
Kurd Iraq KURDISH KURDI Mukri Sorani Kurd Yezidi, Shabaki, Ahl-i-Haqq (Kakai), Sarli KDB02 448,000 1,052,000 7,329,500
Kurd Iraq KURDISH KURDI Arbili, Adaiani (Sanandaji), Khushnaw, Sulaymani, Pizhdar, Mukri, Warmawa, Garmiyani, Garrusi (Bijari), Kolya'i, Zangana, Kirmanshahi Sorani Kurd, Southern Kurd Arbil, Halabja, Kirkuk, Mosul, Sinjar, Soran, Sulamanya, Zengana Yezidi, Shabaki, Ahl-i-Haqq (Kakai), Sarli KDB00 2,785,500 4,197,500 7,329,500
PEOPLE NAME COUNTRY LANGUAGE BRANCH LANGUAGE DIALECTS ALTERNATE NAMES FOR THIS PEOPLE OR LANGUAGE OTHER ETHNIC NAMES (TRIBES, CLANS) PLACE NAMES ASSOCIATED
WITH THIS
PEOPLE RELIGIOUS SECTS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS PEOPLE ROPAL
(FROM THE ETHNO-
LOGUE) PEOPLE POPULATION
IN THIS COUNTRY PEOPLE POPULATION
IN THE WORLD SPEAKERS OF THIS LANG IN THE WORLD
Kurd Kuwait KURDISH KURDI Sorani Kurds KDB00 127,000 4,197,500 7,329,500
Kurd Netherlands KURDISH KURDI Sorani Kurds KDB00 4,197,500 7,329,500
Kurd United Kingdon KURDISH KURDI Sorani Kurds KDB00 4,197,500 7,329,500
Kurd Armenia KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji, Northern Kurd KUR00 58,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Azerbaijan KURDISH KURMANJI Kurmanji KUR00 20,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Bahrain KURDISH KURMANJI KUR00 25,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Belgium KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji KUR00 22,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd France KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji, Northern Kurd KUR00 74,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Georgia KURDISH KURMANJI Kurmanji KUR00 33,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Germany KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji KUR00 480,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Iran KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji Sunni KUR00 200,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Hakari Iraq KURDISH KURMANJI Hakkari KUR01 7,661,000
Kurd Iraq KURDISH KURMANJI Jezire (Botan) Kermanji, Northern Kurd Jazira, Mosul, Rwandiz, Sinjar, Zakhu KUR00 1,457,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Jordan KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji KUR00 4,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Kazakhstan KURDISH KURMANJI Kurmanji KUR00 25,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Kuwait KURDISH KURMANJI Kurmanji KUR00 48,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Kyrghyzstan KURDISH KURMANJI Kurmanji KUR00 14,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Lebanon KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji, Northern Kurd KUR00 173,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Netherlands KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji KUR00 40,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Norway KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji KUR00 3,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Sweden KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji KUR00 10,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Switzerland KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji KUR00 53,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
PEOPLE NAME COUNTRY LANGUAGE BRANCH LANGUAGE DIALECTS ALTERNATE NAMES FOR THIS PEOPLE OR LANGUAGE OTHER ETHNIC NAMES (TRIBES, CLANS) PLACE NAMES ASSOCIATED
WITH THIS
PEOPLE RELIGIOUS SECTS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS PEOPLE ROPAL
(FROM THE ETHNO-
LOGUE) PEOPLE POPULATION
IN THIS COUNTRY PEOPLE POPULATION
IN THE WORLD SPEAKERS OF THIS LANG IN THE WORLD
Kurd Syria KURDISH KURMANJI Jezire Kermanji,
Western Kurd Arab Pinar,
Jazirah (Hasakan), Kurdh-Dagh, Damascus,
west of Aleppo,
Lake Khatun KUR00 938,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Turkey KURDISH KURMANJI Guwii, Hakkari, Jezire (Botan), Urfi, Bayazidi, Surchi, Qochani, Birjandi, Alburz, Sanjari, Judkani Kurmanji, Bahdinani Doudjik, Jibran, Kizibakh, Subhan, Bokhti, Bakran, Tirigan, Karachul, Chol, Oghaz, Jambul, Devalu, Iva, Karaqich, Chichak Adiyaman, Agri, Ankara, Badinan, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Mus,
also Elazig, Sivas, Tunceli, others Alevi (Alawi), Yezidi,
Sufi orders KUR00 3,950,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Turkmenistan KURDISH KURMANJI Kurmanji KUR00 3,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd UK KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji KUR00 6,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Kurd Uzbekistan KURDISH KURMANJI Kermanji, Northern Kurd KUR00 2,000 7,661,000 7,661,000
Feyli Iran LURI LURI Shia LRI02
Feyli Iraq LURI LURI near Baghdad Shia LRI02
Kurd Armenia SLAVIC, EAST RUSSIAN Kermanji, Northern Kurd RUS00 70,000 70,000 151,000,000
Shikaki Iran KURDISH SHIKAKI associated with Kurmanji SHF00 24,000 *64,000 64,000
Shikaki Iraq KURDISH SHIKAKI associated with Kurmanji SHF00 *64,000 64,000
Shikaki Turkey KURDISH SHIKAKI associated with Kurmanji SHF00 *64,000 64,000
Surchi Iraq KURDISH SURCHI associated with Kurmanji,
different form Surchi dialect
of Kurmanji SUP00 11,000 11,000 11,000
* These totals are uncertain.
Summary of the Kurdish Peoples and their Speech Forms

The following comments summarize research on the Kurdish peoples, supplementing the conclusions presented in the chart. The purpose of the research was to clarify the names of the various Kurdish groups, and approximate populations, correlated as possible with religious sects and place names.

After observations and findings, I will present some conclusions as very basic considerations for communication strategy.


Observations and Findings
=================

Names

1. The various Kurdish people are commonly identified by the language they speak. Kurmanji is the most widely spoken Kurdish language.

2. Many names referring to various Kurdish people also are names of places. Even the "names" of many of the speech forms are place names, applied to the people and the speech of people in that area.

3. I have followed the classification of languages and dialects used by the Summer Institute of Linguistics, as published in the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, 1996, online. This represents a revision of names and dialect groupings among the Kurds, based on later research than other sources used. This appears to be the most recent schema summarizing research on the Kurdish languages.

4. Many sources available on the Internet were posted in 1997 or later, but were dated from 1992 to 1996, thus using older classifications and terminology, similar to what appeared in the 1992 (12th Edition) of the Ethnologue. I have correlated all available database figures to get a reasonable update, favoring most recent research.

5. Further, there was considerable discrepancy between various authors in older literature. The SIL terminology and classification, therefore, represents an update that is useful as a standard reference point.

6. The summary chart presents a correlation of selected place names, tribal or clan ethnic names, religious sects and alternative names for the peoples or speech forms.

7. The various literature overlaps, often in the same author, in use of sect name, location name, tribe or ethnic name.
Identities are strong around religious sects. Sects may be associated with some ethnic names, but cut across strictly ethnic lines.

8. Religious affiliation, however, does affect speech forms somewhat, as the terminology specific to a certain Sufi or Shia (or "heretical") sect may be specialized, thus affecting certain vocabulary and thought-forms. Thus some writers have referred to the speech of some of the Yazdani (Cult of Angels) sects as dialects.

9. Shabak and Bajelan are vaguely referred to as separate religious or ethnic groups. No discrete figures or descriptions are available in sources. The terms Goran, Shabak and Bajelan are used interchangeably by some authors. Hawrami is more distinctly used, but is also associated with Shabak and Bajelan. Leezburg says the Shabak, strictly speaking, have never been a tribe.

10. It appears that each sect has a somewhat distinct subgroup identity within whichever broader language and ethnic group they belong to.


Languages

1. The Kurdish peoples speak 12 languages among them, as indicated on the chart. One source also showed Kurds in Iran speaking Eastern Farsi, but later data did not indicate that. I could not confirm that this language is spoken by any Kurdish group. There may be some Kurds with native language Arabic, but I found no information on this.

2. Some peoples show no population, indicating some uncertainty in reported data. Global totals for those peoples are likewise uncertain, but are taken from a 1996 database, but repeated in later materials. Some of the figures were suspect, with identical country figures and global totals for several groups.

3. Kurmanji (Kurmanci) is the most widely spoken language of the Kurds. This language was commonly referred to in earlier literature as Northern Kurmanji. Most speakers of Kurmanji are found in Turkey. They are also the most dispersed into other countries outside "Kurdistan."

4. The next largest language group is Kurdi, also called Sorani, and formerly called Southern Kurmanji by some and Central Kurdish by others. Most speakers of speech forms considered to be dialects of Kurdi live in Iran, though the term Sorani and the Kurdi language seem more associated in popular thought with Iraq. (Soran is a place in Iraq.)

5. The term Kurmanji was also formerly used as a general term for the broader grouping including the former Northern Kurmanji (now Kurmanji) and Southern Kurmanji (now Kurdi). The term "Kurmanji" is applied now only to the northern forms of speech, as this is what those speakers call that language, while the Sorani Kurds call their language Kurdi ("Kurdish"), as do also some of the smaller Kurdish language groups.

6. Most of the Kurds in Syria are Kurmanji speakers (also called Bahdinani by some writers), but some in Syria are Dimli Kurds.

7. Most Kurmanji speakers are in Turkey. Most of the Kurdi speakers are in Iran. Almost all the Kurds in Iraq speak Kurdi, while most in Syria speak Kurmanji.

8. Kirmanjki speakers similarly call themselves Kirmandz or Kirmanj.

9. Figures from SIL indicate most Kirmandz (Kirmanjki) are in Germany. This seemed a bit suspicious, but I found no information to contradict this indication.

10. Speakers of various speech forms are interspersed in much of the area. The chart indicates some key locations of each language group, where available in verified sources.

11. Each language tends to borrow terms from the dominant language in their geopolitical sphere, thus Kurmanji in Turkey has borrowed more from Turkish, while Sorani speakers in Iran and Hawrami speakers have borrowed from Persian, while Sorani speakers in Iraq tend to borrow Arabic terms. Likewise the Kurmanji and Dimli speakers in Syria have borrowed some Arabic terms.

12. The larger languages further have several dialects. The respective speech forms classified by SIL as dialects of the various languages, however, remain mutually intelligible among themselves, while the broader languages are characterized as not mutually intelligible.

13. Many Kurds are fluent in more than one of the languages spoken among the Kurdish peoples.

14. A group of 70,000 Kurds in Russia speak Russian as a mother tongue. It is not clear if they also still speak one of the original Kurdish languages.


Political or National Identity

1. The Kurds are known for their resistance against ethnic, military and political oppression, desiring their own separate Kurdish political entity. There has, however, been some ambiguity among the various peoples considered Kurd.

2. The Kurdish people are of mixed origins, as are virtually every other ethnic group in the world. Some of the clans have Turkish names, and there are various traditions of origin, as well as various historical testimonies concerning them for three thousand years of recorded history. Some of the members of Yazdani sects are of Arabic origin. In Syria, for instance many Turkish Alevi (Alawi) are of Arab origin. Likewise, some who now consider themselves Arab were originally of the Kurdish nation and language.

3. While there is a level of common ethnic identity among most of the Kurdish peoples, particularly in terms of nationalistic aspirations, there is still notable animosity or suspicion between the various religious sects that divide the Kurds. Also sects tend to follow family and clan lines, except among some of the smaller ethnic/religious groupings speaking the "smaller" languages.

4. History indicates not all Kurdish ethnic groups have been actively involved in protest against the non-Kurdish governments in the region. Indeed, some clans, tribes or other groupings have remained neutral, or been involved in the government military, even in operations against other Kurds.

5. There is a greater unity of identity now after the Anfal (Iraqi government campaigns against the Kurds 1987-89) and other recent persecutions, exercised against some uncommitted or marginal southern groups, who have now declared their identity as Kurds.

6. The Shabaki/Kakai sect has some converts from Arab tribes. Since the Anfal, these groups have more decisively identified with the Kurds.

7. Southern peoples are mixed at an early stage in history with another early population called Gorani. This is the source of the ethnic and place name, and language designation for some southern dialects of the Kurdish peoples.


Badinani~Kurmanji

A specific question investigated was the relationship between the terms Badinani and Kurmanji as a people/language name.

1. The term Kurmanji is attested from ancient times as the name of a people and language. It is reported that this is what the Kurmanji speakers call their language.

2. The term Badinani (Bahdinani) is used in some older literature interchangeably with the name Kurmanji to refer to the Northern groups of Kurdish speech. No source makes a distinction between two different peoples or languages with these two terms. Some sources do not use this term at all, including Encyclopedia Britannica, which uses the same schema otherwise, with the term "Kurmanji." Note that these are all used as language names.

3. The word Bahdinani is given in the Ethnologue as an alternative name (one that has some time in the past been used for the speech of some portion of the speakers) in Turkey and Azerbaijan for the listing of Kurmanji language.

4. Badinan is a place name in a heavy concentration of Kurds in Turkey who speak the Kurmanji language. Soran and Badinan are two towns (the "i" ending makes it an adjective, thus "of Badinan," or "of Soran") whose names have been used by some as a shorthand for these two groups. Sorani is more commonly used as the name of the group of Kurds speaking Kurdi. Badinan(i) is not as common or consistent in the literature for northern speech forms.

5. Badinan (Bahdinan) is a town in Southern Turkey, also found as Gürmese or Gürmeêe on some maps. This is the source of the use of this word to refer to some speakers of Kurmanji. Like Soran (Iraq), Gorani (Iran), it is a place name. The town is a good bit north of a line from Mosul and Aleppo, and about half way between. Some maps do not show Badinan or Gürmese, but show Batman, a nearby oilfield town.

6. The people group name is Kurd. They also have smaller groupings referred to as tribes, which also have a specific name. But the most common way of relating among the Kurds is by what language they speak. Then the religious sect seems to be a further differentiating or descriptive factor. Many of the tribal names, and also many names of speech forms (languages/dialects) are place names, applied to the people who live in that area and to their form of speech.


Conclusions
========

1. The vast majority of all Kurdish peoples live in Turkey (Kurmanji, Kirmanjki and Dimli) and Iran (Kurdi).

2. Language will be a primary identifying factor among the Kurdish people, and thus a primary factor in considering communication strategy.

3. Religious affiliation is the next consideration for relationships and communication strategies. That is, language groupings must be further segmented by religion.

4. Because of the variety of sub-ethnic identities, religious sect divisions and uncertain political alignments, strategies must be varied for different groups, even among the same language group. Likewise the same sect cuts across various languages. this is most notable in the smaller languages and ethnic groups.

5. For any communication dealing with worldview and identity-affecting decisions, separate strategies will likely be needed at the local level, based on sect and local unique characteristics, as would be expected in any multi-cultural people. Thus a study of the larger religious sects will be of use and likely indispensable for clear communication of universal realities.

6. The largest language group of all Kurds is Kurmanji. That language is also the one most spoken by Kurds in Europe. Kurmanji is also the most common inter-language used among Kurds with different mother tongues. These expatriate (diaspora) communities would be a likely point of access. Thus Kurmanji should likely be the Kurdish people/language for accessing Kurds outside their "homeland."

7. If SIL's figures are correct, Kirmanjki is the next most likely language for European access. Few Kurdi speakers live outside Iran or Iraq.

8. By those figures, the Kirmanj (Kirmanjki speakers) are the largest single expatriate group of Kurds. They are mostly Alevi in faith.
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