Kurdistan Regional Government
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The Kurdish language

SUN, 27 JUN 2010 21:32 | KRG Cabinet

Kurdistan, the first Kurdish newspaper published in 1898
Kurdish, the most widely spoken language in the Kurdistan Region, is in the Indo-European family of languages.

The Kurdistan Region’s official languages for government purposes are Kurdish and Arabic.

The two most widely spoken dialects of Kurdish are Sorani and Kurmanji. Other dialects spoken by smaller numbers are Hawrami (also known as Gorani) and Zaza.

The Sorani Kurdish dialect uses Arabic script while the Kurmanji Kurdish dialect is written in Latin script. Sorani is spoken in the cities of Erbil and Suleimaniah, while Kurmanji is spoken in Duhok. As the Region’s Kurdish-language media has developed and the population has moved, today nearly all people in the Kurdistan Region can speak or understand both of the major dialects. The Kurdistan Regional Government’s policy is to promote the two main dialects in the education system and the media.

Arabic is also an official language and is widely spoken or understood. Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and Turkmani are also spoken by their respective communities.

The Kurdistan Regional Government promotes linguistic diversity and rights, and schools have been established that teach mainly in Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Turkmen and Arabic.

Conversational phrases in Kurdish, Sorani and Kurmanji

A few basic expressions in the Sorani and Kurmanji dialects.

English - Sorani Kurdish - Kurmanji Kurdish
Hello - Rozh-bash - Rozh-bash
Good morning - Beyanee-bash - Beyanee-bash
Welcome! (on arrival) - Be kher bi(t) - Be kher hati
Goodbye - Khwa-hafees - Khwa-hafees
Thank you - Supas - Supas/Mamnoon
You’re welcome - Ser chaw / Sha-ee neeya - Ser Chaava
How are you? - Chonee? - Chaawayi?
Are you well? - Bashee? - Bashee?
I’m fine, thank you - Bashem, supas - Bashem, supas
What’s your name? - Naw-et cheeya? - Nav-ey ta cheeya?
My name is John - Naw-em John-ah - Nav-ey min John-ah
What would you like to drink? - Chee dakhoy? - Chi vadkhui?
Tea (without sugar) - Chai (bey shakir) - Chai (bey shakir)
Please - Zahmat Nabe - Bey Zahmat
Where is the bazaar? - Bazaar le chweya? - Bazaar la kidareya?
Where is the Khanzad Hotel? - Otel Khanzad la chweya? - Otel Khanzad la kidareya?
Yes - Aa / Balay - Aa / Balay
No - Na - Na
OK - Balay - Balay/Arey

Note: The spellings used here are transliterations from English, to make it easier for non-Kurdish speakers to read the pronunciation.