Central Kurdish

Central Kurdish
سۆرانی، کوردیی ناوەندی
Native to Iraq, Iran
Native speakers
6 million in Iraq (2012)[1]
3 million in Iran
  • Mukriyani
  • Hewleri
  • Ardalani
  • Gerrusi
  • Babani
  • Wermawi
  • Germiyani
  • Jafi
Sorani alphabet
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ckb
Glottolog cent1972[3]
Linguasphere 58-AAA-cae

Geographic distribution of Kurdish and other Iranian languages spoken by Kurds


  mixed areas

Central Kurdish (کوردیی ناوەندی; kurdîy nawendî), also called Sorani (سۆرانی; Soranî) is a Kurdish language spoken in Iraq, mainly in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as the Kurdistan Province of western Iran. Central Kurdish is one of the two official languages of Iraq, along with Arabic, and is in political documents simply referred to as "Kurdish".[4][5]

The term Sorani, named after the former Soran Emirate, is used especially to refer to a written, standardized form of Central Kurdish written in the Sorani alphabet developed from the Persian alphabet in the 1920s by Sa'íd Sidqi Kaban and Taufiq Wahby.[6]


In Sulaymaniyah (Silêmanî), the Ottoman Empire had created a secondary school, the Rushdiye, graduates from which could go to Istanbul to continue to study there. This allowed Central Kurdish, which was spoken in Silêmanî, to progressively replace Hawrami dialects as the literary vehicle for Kurdish.

Since the fall of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region, there have been more opportunities to publish works in the Kurdish languages in Iraq than in any other country in recent times.[7] As a result, Central Kurdish has become the dominant written form of Kurdish.[8]


Central Kurdish is written with a modified Persian alphabet. This is in contrast to the other main Kurdish language, Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji), which is spoken mainly in Turkey and is usually written in the Latin alphabet.

However, during the past decade, official TV in Iraqi Kurdistan has mainly used the Latin script for Central Kurdish.


The exact number of Sorani speakers is difficult to determine, but it is generally thought that Sorani is spoken by about 6 to 7 million people in Iraq and Iran.[9][10] It is the most widespread speech of Kurds in Iran and Iraq. In particular, it is spoken by:


Following includes the traditional internal variants of Sorani. However, nowadays, due to widespread media and communications, most of them are regarded as subdialects of standard Sorani:

As an official language

A recent proposal was made for Central Kurdish to be the official language of the Kurdistan Regional Government. This idea has been favoured by some Central Kurdish-speakers but has disappointed Northern Kurdish speakers.[11]

Grammatical features

There are no pronouns to distinguish between masculine and feminine and no verb inflection to signal gender.[12]

Dictionaries and translations

There are a substantial number of Sorani dictionaries available, amongst which there are many that seek to be bilingual.

English and Sorani

As a main program, Iranian Kurdish-speaker scholar, Hamid Hassani, is supposed to compile a Sorani Kurdish Corpus, consisting of one million words.

The standard word order in Sorani is SOV (subject–object–verb).[13]

See also


  1. Central Kurdish at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. "Full Text of Iraqi Constitution". Washington Post. 12 October 2005. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Central Kurdish". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. Allison, Christine (2012). The Yezidi Oral Tradition in Iraqi Kurdistan. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-74655-0. "However, it was the southern dialect of Kurdish, Central Kurdish, the majority language of the Iraqi Kurds, which received sanction as an official language of Iraq."
  5. "Kurdish language issue and a divisive approach | Kurdish Academy of Language". 5 March 2016. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016.
  6. Blau, Joyce (2000). Méthode de Kurde: Sorani. Editions L'Harmattan. ISBN 978-2-296-41404-4., page 20
  7. "Iraqi Kurds". Cal.org. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  8. "Language background of major refugee groups to the UK - Refugee Council". Languages.refugeecouncil.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  9. "Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iraq". Knn.u-net.com. Archived from the original on 2012-08-07. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  10. SIL Ethnologue (2013) under "Central Kurdish" gives a 2009 estimate of 3.5 million speakers in Iraq and an undated estimate of 3.25 speakers in Iran.
  11. "Kurdish language issue and a divisive approach | Kurdish Academy of Language". Kurdishacademy.org. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  12. Kurdish Sorani language developmental features
  13. Soranî Kurdish, A Reference Grammar with Selected Readings, by W. M. Thackston


Central Kurdish edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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