Kurdish – not just one language

Kurdish – not just one language

Kurdish is a common interpreting language, but is not just one language – it has many different dialects. Sofia explains more.

Published 12/14/2015

The history of Kurdistan

Kurdistan is a mountainous area in the borderland between the nation states of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and – to a lesser degree – Syria and Armenia. Kurds are the largest ethnic group in this area, estimated at almost 35 million people. Today, Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without their own state.

Historically, this region has been part of many empires, including the Ottoman Empire, but has not been part of any lasting Kurdish state of its own in modern times. The Kurds remain a divided people.

Language

Several different dialects are spoken in Kurdistan. These differ from region to region, and from people to people. Southern Kurdish (Sorani) and Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji) are the biggest, but other dialects include Bahdini, Zaza, Gurani and Feyli. It is in Southern and Northern Kurdish that interpreters are most commonly requested from Semantix. It is also interesting to note that the Kurds are ethnically and linguistically related to the Persians in Iran and the Pashtuns in Afghanistan. This may be one reason why many of our Persian interpreters here at Semantix also interpret Southern Kurdish…

When looking at the authorised interpreters listed by Kammarkollegiet for the two different languages, it can be seen that demand in Sweden largely corresponds to our own experience: Southern Kurdish is the more common variant. In Sweden, there are 36 Southern Kurdish and four Northern Kurdish interpreters with some form of authorisation. The majority of these work with us.

Useful information

If by chance you wanted to write in Kurdish, it might be worth knowing that Southern Kurdish (Sorani) is generally written using a slightly adapted Arabic alphabet, but is now sometimes also written using Latin letters. Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji) is written using the Latin alphabet, and in some cases in Cyrillic.

Conclusion

I hope that I have answered some of the questions you might have if you want to book a Kurdish interpreter, or if you are just curious!  :)

Sofia Blomkvist
Sofia Blomkvist Team Leader Remote Interpreting

I’ve worked at Semantix for a few years now, mainly within remote interpreting. This involves providing interpreters on a daily basis by telephone, for the whole of Sweden and Norway. My colleagues and I deal with up to 10,000 assignments a week in every language imaginable, and answer all manner of language-related questions every day. I’d like to tell you a bit more about one of these now.

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