PDA

View Full Version : [split] Kurdish Languages: How Should They Be Classified?



StarDS9
06-28-2020, 12:16 PM
According to Kurdish historians (which I personally find more credible than European orientalists), Kurds are an amalgamation of mainly the Medes and Hurrians. Now history, of the Middle East especially, has been full of population assimilation.

Given that the Medes eventually dominated much of the Hurrian heartland it would make sense that the Hurrians pretty much were assimilated by the Medes and became Median speaking people. Most importantly the Cyrtians, who were a Median speaking tribe according to Minorsky, most likely gave the Kurds their name.

The Indo-Iranian speaking elite of Mitanni most likely got assimilated into Hurrian society after their downfall.
If we accept this view then,
Mitanni elite -> Hurrians -> Medes -> Kurds and also other NW Iranian people.

I know it’s much more complex than that but, if we are to accept this view, by stage 3 the Mitanni autosomal DNA would barely be detectable let alone with their descendants.

I believe the best theory is the with the word Kurd that was used for Nomads during the Parthian to Sassanid era and later by Arabs. The first known tribe to be known as Kurds were the Shabankara who lived in South Iran(Who were likely Lurs or Persians). It's the same tribe that gave birth to Ardashir 1.

The term Kurd probably later got applied to what is today Kurds. The Arabs reffereed to Nomads in Fars for example as "Kurds of fars". The term was used all around Iran for Iranian Nomads. Post Islamic era the term slowly became a ethnic term for what is today Kurds, something giving by outsiders.

Halgurd
06-28-2020, 12:55 PM
Over half of Kurds actually don't even call themselves Kurd in their own language. only central Kurds (aka sorani), southern Kurds, some kurmanjis in northen iraq and some groups of zaza(kird) used the term Kurd/Kird.

In our region and most of other kurmanjis refer to themselves as "kurmanj" and their language "kurmanji", but called kurds by foreigners. The term Kurd got more popular in recent times.

zaza have various terms for themselves: kirmanj(alevi zaza of dersim), zaza(central), kird, dimili.

sorani is a tribe name and not used in the same sense as kurmanj, but rather a recent term to distinguish with their kurmanj neighbours. They refer to themselves as "Kurd" and their language as "Kurdi". They actually surprise when they hear we call ourselves just "kurmanj".

'Kurmanj' was/is synonymous with being a Kurd. Soran is the traditional name of the region north of Erbil, where the Soran emirate was centred. Sorani Kurds are a subsection of the Kurmanj traditionally speaking. Both terms were always used interchangeably. Iraqi Turkmens, for example, call all Kurds Kurmanj regardless of dialect because this is traditionally how we were identified. Kurmanj simply means 'commoner' (in Sorani).

Bedirkhan Bidlisi in the Sharafnama mentioned 4 sections of the Kurds: Kurmanj, Goran, Lor and Kalhor.

Lastly, Soran isn't a tribe name it was the name of an old principality. It's last rulers were of the Rawanduzi tribe.

Halgurd
06-28-2020, 02:25 PM
Yes I know that sorani is connected to kurmanji. And those goran got largely assimilated by early sorani.

In my opinion we speak different languages not dialects.

Kurdish proper languages (northern-, central- and southern kurdish) have SW iranic influence compared to zaza and gorani.

While numbers in Kurmanji, Sorani etc are allmost identical to farsi, they are distinct in zazaki and more archaic.

That's Mehrdad Izady's theory about the expansion of Kurmanji and Sorani. He says that at one point Zazaki and Gorani were much more widespread than they are now. The centre of this expansion, according to him, was in Hakkari.

Which dialects do you view as separate languages? I disagree regarding these being separate languages. You have to remember that Kurds have been isolated from each other due to geographical and political boundaries for hundreds of years now, so the distinction between dialects over time becomes much more apparent. As a result of foreign influence (Turkish, Arabic, Farsi in particular) these distinctions become even more apparent.

However all Kurdish dialects have certain structural commonalities. All Kurdish dialects are ergative and agglutinative, features which some of our neighbouring populations do not have combined. Turkish is also agglutinative but lacks ergativity. Farsi is ergative (I believe, someone correct me if I'm wrong) but is not agglutinative. Kurdish is unique in that sense which actually reflects some of the ancient languages of the region in particularly the language of the Hurrians and other pre-Iranic populations of West Asia.

Furthermore, it is well established that there is a linguistic continuum across Kurdistan. The Behdini sub dialect of Kurmanji is much closer to the Hewleri sub dialect of Sorani than any other Kurmanji sub dialect. Similarly, Sorani sub dialects in the traditional region of Hawraman would be much closer to Gorani than Hewleri Sorani for example. This alone would negate any notion of being separate languages.

This theory of being separate peoples and separate languages was first put forward by orientalists, especially Minorsky who wrote an entire journal about why Gorani Kurds are not Kurds. Such theories have clear agendas behind them, especially considering how states in the region have been partially successful in assimilating many Kurds to the point where they do not speak their mother tongue or even self identify as Kurdish.

Halgurd
06-28-2020, 08:13 PM
Actually more linguist argue now similar theories.

I am not disagreeing with it. But if you accept this theory, then the idea that these are separate languages would be simply untrue.


Its really not true. I can understand all Kurmanj around the world, from Afrin, Urmiye, Zaxo, Duhok to Northern Khorasan. I have met people from Zaxo, Duhok, Syria, Lebanon and could easily communicate but I was never able to communicate with sorani speaking people from Erbil, Suleymani, Saqiz and Kermanshah. There are around 5 different Kurdish languages, whom all have their own dialects (mutually inteligible).

Thatís not what I meant. Kurdish that is spoken by southern and western Kurds is more Arabic influenced. Behdini in particular is very influenced by Arabic. Similarly, Kurmanji that is spoken in Maras nowadays is heavily influenced by Turkish. A Kurd from Duhok will understand a Kurd from Slemani easier than a Kurd from Maras, despite Slemanis speaking Sorani and Duhokis speaking Kurmanji.


Yes and no. Not all kurdish languages are ergative or agglutinative. Farsi and many southern kurdish dialects are not ergative (like feyli).
Kurmanji is not as agglutinative as Sorani. Sorani lack cases.

Do you have a source for that?

I also want to add that certain sub-dialects have different features that do not follow the features of its general dialect. The Balakayati sub-dialect of Sorani (which is actually centered in the traditional region of Soran), for example, has gender which is absent in other Sorani sub-dialects but is present in Kurmanji. Again this is not surprising because, as I said, there is a continuum amongst the Kurdish dialects and sub-dialects. The region of Soran borders Badinan, and these areas have intermingled so much to the extent that people refer to this sub-dialect as ĎSormanjií.


Not true. Behdini is only called behdini in Iraq, but its closest to the dialects spoken in Hakkari and Urmiye. I have witnessed that I understand behdini better than a guy who was Sorani from Kirkuk.

Behdini is a sub dialect of Kurmani centered around the traditional region Badinan. Yes, itís very similar to the Kurdish spoken in Colemerg and Wirme, but itís more similar to Sorani spoken in Erbil than Kurmanji spoken in Maras, Riha, Malatya and the general Serhed region for example.


I have witnessed that Sorani from Erbil and Suleymani and Iran having no problems in communication. But the same can't be said about hawrami:

I think you have missed my point. Kurdish dialects are not all mutually intelligible, I did not claim that they are . Dialects are rarely mutually intelligible, but that does not make them different languages. No one disputed that the traditional German dialects were German, despite these dialects not being mutually intelligible.

Iíll give you a more modern example. The Arabic thatís spoken in Morocco is strikingly different to the Arabic that is spoken in Iraq and quite difficult to understand. They are simply different dialects, not different languages. These things are expected when you take geographical and political factors into account.

StarDS9
06-28-2020, 08:49 PM
Maras Kurmanji does not have much more influence from Turkish then any other Kurmanji spoken in Turkey.

Maras dialect is a very Bold accent, its closest to Khorasan Kurmanji, there are few differences due to the length been separated.

DMXX
06-29-2020, 06:33 AM
The NW Iranian languages as a whole (beyond the Kurdish grouping) don't represent a particularly "stable" grouping to begin with - As 'mountain' correctly states, there are all sorts of irregular grammatical groupings that make a linear, reverse projection of the current distribution exceptionally difficult.

One (common) pitfall in these discussions is selective citation of the evidence, or particular linguistic considerations not being fleshed out fully before another is assessed.

Let's consider ergativity first (from Winfuhr's expansive publication on the topic);

- The type encountered in Iranic languages is of an oblique case ending (OBL), personal enclitic (ENC) case or a post-verbal condition (the first two are considered core features; last one a derivation)
- Found in Young Avestan and Old Persian texts
- Persisted in Middle Iranian languages (e.g. Parthian, Soghdian, Middle Persian)
- All Kurdish languages display ergativity; however, not all show both oblique case endings and the personal enclitic case
- Gorani, Talysh and Kurdish dialects from Bingerd, Pisrydar, Arbil, Rewandiz and Khoshnaw are all OBL+ ENC+
- Other modern Iranic languages which are OBL+ ENC+ include Talysh, the Persian dialect spoken in Tafresh, Pashto and the Pamiri languages
- Other Kurdish groups are either OBL+ ENC- or OBL- ENC+
- Modern Standard Persian, as we probably all know, is OBL- ENC- (as is Ossetian) - However, specific dialects (e.g. Tafresh), or other SW Iranian languages, have retained some degree of ergativity (e.g. Semnani, Larestani). The common generalisation you see on this topic ("Persian lacks ergativity") is incorrect.

I have no idea where the Feyli dialect fits into the above (mountain indicated they're OBL- ENC- like Modern Standard Persian).

I think we'll have a much more productive discussion if we appraise each of the linguistic features in order, come to a consensus and then move from there.
Probably also best to avoid anecdotes (lowest form of evidence) if we'd like a substantive discussion. Some of what I've seen and heard over the years partially matches both Halgurd and mountain's personal accounts, so I have nothing of worth to add there.

Agglutination is, on a side note, improperly applied to the Iranic languages. We'll get to that discussion hopefully.

Halgurd
06-29-2020, 09:51 AM
Maras Kurmanji does not have much more influence from Turkish then any other Kurmanji spoken in Turkey.

Maras dialect is a very Bold accent, its closest to Khorasan Kurmanji, there are few differences due to the length been separated.

In its pure form that’s true. But I’ve noticed that Maras Kurmanji has been influenced in recent years by Turkish. You’ve all heard those words such as ‘kapasmis kir’ (I don’t even know if I’m saying it the right way to say it) which are essentially Turkish and Kurmanji mixed. I am sure those words aren’t used in all Kurmanji spoken regions, I have not heard them.

I once went to a Marasli household where we were speaking in Kurmanji and the woman told me ‘cocuk bu’ meaning ‘he was a child/he was young’ and I was confused for a second because I didn’t know what cocuk meant. I know these are just a few examples, but I’m sure there are many more.

Similarly we use many Arabic words in my region especially by the elderly. However as a result of Kurdish mother tongue education these influences are slowly going away.

StarDS9
06-29-2020, 10:12 AM
In its pure form thatís true. But Iíve noticed that Maras Kurmanji has been influenced in recent years by Turkish. Youíve all heard those words such as Ďkapasmis kirí (I donít even know if Iím saying it the right way to say it) which are essentially Turkish and Kurmanji mixed. I am sure those words arenít used in all Kurmanji spoken regions, I have not heard them.

I once went to a Marasli household where we were speaking in Kurmanji and the woman told me Ďcocuk buí meaning Ďhe was a child/he was youngí and I was confused for a second because I didnít know what cocuk meant. I know these are just a few examples, but Iím sure there are many more.

Similarly we use many Arabic words in my region especially by the elderly. However as a result of Kurdish mother tongue education these influences are slowly going away.

Yes there aee some Maras speakers who mix Kurmanji with Turkish I have noticed this, but it's pure form Maras Kurmanji has minimal Turkish influence. It is more of the new generation that tend to use Turkish words when speaking Kurmanji.

It's the same with other Kurmanji speakers in Turkey. When I listen some Kurmanji songs from Turkey I sometimes notice they use a few Turkish words. I just hope it does not reach point where it becomes a hybrid.

StarDS9
06-29-2020, 10:18 AM
Also most of the new generation of Kurds from Turkey tend to speak to each other mostly in Turkish.

Halgurd
06-29-2020, 10:19 AM
The reason the Kurd from Duhok will understand Sorani is only because that Sorani is the second official language of Iraq. A kurd from hakkari will understand a kurd from afrin much better than any sorani.

Kurdish only became an official language in Iraq in the past decades but Soranis and Badinis (not all, but in most cases) have always been able to understand each other. There is a synthesis of dialects in this region which can be explained by the fact that most of these cities are actually very mixed between Kurmanji and Sorani speakers.

I on one hand can understand Hakkari Kurmanji very well which is very similar to Duhoki Kurmanji anyways. As a Sorani speaker my main difficulty is understanding the more western regions.

But as you say, other Kurmanji speakers would be able to understand those more western regions. If this is not a continuum, then I don’t know what is.


I previously mentioned that I have witnessed Soranis who could not really understand badini nor other kurmanji dialects. I have witnessed this a lot of times.

True, but that doesn’t explain why these would be considered separate languages. Not all dialects must be mutually intelligeble.


I am familiar with kurmanji of Maras, its similar to kurmanji spoken in Adiyaman, Afrin, Kilis, Antep, Malatya, Konya, Ankara and Iranian Khorasan. 'The dialects here have turkish influence but the main difference with other dialects are not turkish influence. They have archaisms not found in other dialects. Most of the turkish influence is from the last 100 years anyway so that same influence is also present in kurmanji of Van.

I agree with this, except that the western parts of Kurdistan especially around Central Anatolia, Maras, Semsur etc have been much more influenced by Turkish. This is because these were the first and most intensely targeted areas by Turkish assimilation policies which continues till this day.


Kurmanji generally has a lot arabic vocabulary across all dialects. As a central anatolian I really don't hear much more arabic influence in southeastern kurmanji than anyother dialects. Accents of shingal, mardin and surrounding areas sound very semitic in my ears, but I am still able to understand by ease.

Merdin, Riha and Sert have a lot of Arabs residing there so that would make sense.


Ergin ÷pengin and Geoffrey Haig and other linguists now distinguish between 3 main kurmanji dialects: Western, Central and Southeastern.

As dialects, not as separate languages. Furthermore linguists generally agree that Kurmanji, Sorani and Feyli all form one language, whilst Zazaki and Gorani are classified under Zaza-Gorani.


Nope. Kurdish is not a real Dialect-continuum. There might be small regions with mixed varieties of languages and influences but there are still large clusters of what we could call languages. Look for Geoffrey Haig and Ergin ÷pengins works.

The dialect-continuum has actually been established.

dialect continuum is an area between two dialects that covers most similarities between them. Understanding will decrease with travelling to any direction from the area. Kurdish language dialects could be one of the best examples for this continuum

https://www.academia.edu/28277681/Kurdish_Dialect_Continuum_as_a_Standardization_Sol ution



Yes German dialects are actually disputed. Low German is closer related to Dutch than High German.

The general consensus is that these are still considered German dialects, and not as separate languages. There is no reason to believe that all Kurdish dialects are separate languages, when not even orientalists dared to say such things.


A lot of Sorani speakers agree on, that we speak different languages.

I have not heard any Sorani speaker ever say this.

StarDS9
06-29-2020, 06:10 PM
Mackenzie also theorised that Kurmanji/Sorani speakers originally inhabited central west Iran. I have read some say Kurmanji shares some similarties with Central Iranian languages.

Where as others say its Parthian/Saka with Median elements.

DMXX
06-29-2020, 08:10 PM
Agglutination is one of the other grammatical features that was brought up earlier in this thread.

Note in advance: I am not a linguist, just a reasonably well-read lay language enthusiast, so if a language expert (e.g. @Agamemnon) comes in and poo-poos or corrects anything stated here with internally consistent or sourced comments, consider their words over mine in this post.

Agglutination is an inconsistently-defined feature in lay discussions as a result of the imprecision of the term historically (and the inferred ambiguity brought about by inconsistent delineations between it and inflectional morphology). See this linguist's review for corroboration (https://www.eva.mpg.de/fileadmin/content_files/staff/haspelmt/pdf/Agglutination.pdf), see also this 1989 article (https://search.proquest.com/openview/d247370e73542006e1b2dffbd412a6e8/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1818029) outlining the longstanding ambiguity of the term from an Indo-European linguistics perspective.

In basic terms, agglutination is the formation of words through the "gluing" together of separately identifiable words or stems (i.e. you can pick out each of the individual words/stems within the resulting, larger term). It's a means of morphological derivation (forming a new word from an existing word(s)) and is a subset of the synthetic morphological type (the other two being fusional and polysynthetic).

Many disparate language families (e.g. Dravidian, Bantu, Turkic, Mongolic, Finno-Ugric) feature some form of agglutination. Languages from these families are generally quite agglutination-heavy. However, no individual language is purely agglutinative in character. Many of these languages (notably the Finno-Ugric daughter languages) are also inflectional/fusional to varying degrees.

Agglutination was not a feature of reconstructed PIE, or indeed, any of the daughter proto-languages (including pIIr). PIE was a purely inflectional language.
From what I've read over the years, a perspective I've observed from several linguists is that the inflectional status of a language is subject to "degradation" to other derivation forms (e.g. analytic syntax). This is described linguistically as deflexion. Agglutination is one of the several resultant outcomes of deflexion (another being the analytical syntax, which is especially the case in English).
One historical proposal for deflexion in IE languages was language contact (on the basis that a similar finding is seen in creole languages). Theoretically, however, I haven't seen any convincing proposals in the literature which suggest that deflexion in IE languages must be a result of language contact with non-IE languages.

Hardly any of the modern Indo-European languages are "agglutination-dominant". A handful of them (such as Modern Standard Persian, the Kurdish languages (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281068221_New_Forms_and_Functions_of_Subordinate_C lause_in_Kurdish) and German) have features of agglutination. For the sake of completion, Modern Standard Tajik also has agglutination (f.ex. garmkonand, their replacement for the Russian loanword for "heater", is an outcome of agglutination - "heat-to-make").
The Yaghnobi language is the only IE (and Iranic) one I'm aware of that makes extensive use of agglutination. Per Windfuhr, attested Soghdian - The highly related (or ancestral) language to Yaghnobi - Also demonstrated agglutination.
Despite featuring some degree of agglutination, none of the above languages are purely so. They are all, in keeping with their IE origin, inflectional languages to varying degrees. The types of inflection (e.g. nominal inflection in northern Kurmanji) also varies between languages. I haven't seen any formal estimation of just how "agglutination-shifted" any of these languages are, but an informal skim-through of public core vocab dictionaries for Kurmanji, MSP and Sorani demonstrate they aren't significantly agglutinative. I can pick out perhaps 1 out of every 50-100 words which could serve as examples of agglutination in these languages (wide range as I don't speak Kurmanji or Sorani, but do recognise some of the words due to the common W. Iranic shared core vocab, e.g. Sorani bumilarza, "earthquake" (earth-[of the]-shake).

In summary, if one were compelled to summarise the morphological state of the W. Iranic languages in a single sentence, they're basically inflectional languages which have varying degrees of agglutination.
It's (ironically given the strange pedestal some folks put the Pamiri(-adjacent) languages on) Yaghnobi that's closer to being a " significantly agglutinative" language over MSP or anything else found around the Iranian plateau. To clarify one point - The Pamiri languages are most certainly "inflectional" languages by and large.

A linguistic pet peeve I have is the recycled "blind leading the blind" assertion that agglutination in the Iranic languages (specifically MSP) must be due to the influence of Turkic. There's no firm evidence of this, to be frank. It's a plausible hypothesis, but it requires proof beyond simply citing the historical interactions and the litany of Turkic loanwords in MSP.
I am not particularly convinced that either MSP or the Kurdish languages developed occasional agglutination morphology as a consequence of interactions with Turkic. That lack of conviction is based on the precedent as demonstrated by Medieval Arabic - Despite contributing a significant number of loanwords to both post-Sassanid Middle Persian and the various Kurdish languages, there has been remarkable grammatical integrity (i.e. the influence of Arabic has largely been vocabulary-based without affecting the syntax or grammatical structure of MSP in particular).

Given that i) Soghdian (a Classical period E. Iranic language which hadn't had any obvious influence from an agglutinative language like Turkic) already featured elements of agglutination, ii) Yaghnobi is heavily agglutinative, iii) a Germanic language (Modern Standard German) has some form of agglutination, and iv) agglutination is thought to be one theoretical outcome of deflexion in IE languages, one must consider the scenario whereby agglutination in MSP, MST and the Kurdish languages are actually an organic manifestation of deflexion as equally plausible to the widespread belief that it must be due to Turkic influence (this hasn't been definitively demonstrated; it's based on the circumstantial evidence stated above).

On other sites, I've seen people claim the "agglutinative nature" of MSP, alongside the lack of ergativity, as some sort of buttress argument to further the notion that the Kurdish languages are "closer" (whatever this means) to the Middle Iranian languages than MSP is. Clearly, as demonstrated in this post and the previous one, that argument cannot be made based on a fine-scale assessment of both linguistic features across the Iranian languages.
Nobody's doing that here thankfully, but I state it for the sake of completion.

Agamemnon
06-29-2020, 09:43 PM
What needs to be kept in mind is that ergative alignment and agglutination are typological features, by themselves such typological types are useless if we are to classify a set of languages, what is of use when classifying languages are common innovations (or "mutations" if you will) that characterise and set them apart. These common innovations are morphological elements (AKA morphemes or "grammemes"), they can also be morphophonological in nature.

In simpler terms, what interests us is not the "ergativity" or the agglutination, but rather the inflexions and endings used in this system. To give you a more colourful analogy, the typology is the skeleton while the morphemes are the flesh, blood and nerves of the language.

To get back to ergativity, Proto-Indo-Iranian had nominative-accusative alignment like its Proto-Indo-European ancestor (some argue, thanks to the Anatolian evidence, that in its earliest stages PIE had some degree of ergative alignment, so a mixed ergative-nominative type similar to Georgian, IMO this is far-fetched). Many Indo-Iranian languages now have ergative alignment of some sort, and this isn't just the case for Kurdish languages but also for Hindustani and Pashto, so the theory according to which ergativity in Kurdish is due to an underlying Hurrian substrate doesn't really withstand scrutiny. On the contrary, a closer look at Indo-Iranian languages from a diachronic perspective would show that Indo-Iranian languages have a tendency to adopt ergative alignment. The actual process driving this is an open question, that being said typological evolution within a language tends to be cyclical, the language for which we have the longest continuous written record (Egyptian) shows considerable typological shifts throughout its pluri-millennial history as a spoken language.

Same thing with agglutination, in fact a sound argument could be made in favour of an agglutinative typology for the Proto-Indo-European parent language until PIE became a language of the fusional type. So while contact-induced change could explain agglutination, there are other explanations available that involve internal development. If we take the morphemes into consideration, internal development is the soundest explanation.

So where does that leave us? I do not think the Northwest Iranian branch is necessarily incorrect, on the contrary along with SW Iranian it seems to be among the relatively secure nodes established by the classification of Iranian languages thus far. The really problematic branch as far as I can see in the Iranian languages is the Eastern one, though I strongly suspect there is an underlying reality that justifies its existence, it looks more like a dialect continuum rather than a genuine branch defined by common innovations (in other words, it looks like SW & NW Iranian innovated while the Eastern branch is a more basal type with only a handful of sub-branches sharing common innovations).

Regarding the issue of Median, Parthian and how they relate to the Kurdish languages (not dialects, they are languages in their own right), while it is reasonable to assume that Parthian probably lies at the root of both Kurdish and Zaza-Gorani, the Median language (or rather its dialects) is bound to be directly ancestral to Old Azeri, Talysh as well as other Caspian languages (meaning that the speakers of those languages as well as present-day Iranian Azeris are by and large descendants of the Medes).

RCO
06-29-2020, 11:02 PM
We can find J1-FGC6064<M365 in Kurds, Zaza, Erbil, Kakay and Caspian Iranians and they were related in the same branches.

Halgurd
06-30-2020, 08:30 AM
I understand what everyone is saying, however I think we have strayed a bit off from my original post. My post isn't regarding whether it descends from Parthian or Median, whether it is NW or SW Iranic.

My main point and concern is regarding Mountain's argument of Kurdish dialects being separate languages. This is not academically accepted anywhere, other than Zaza-Gorani being considered separate, and simply saying that the dialects are not mutually intelligible is not a determining factor for classifying the Kurdish dialects as separate languages.

The points about Kurdish being ergative and agglutinative (no matter the degree) I mentioned because our neighbouring populations do not have both of these features combined and therefore this shows certain commonalities in the Kurdish dialects.

@mountain
You still have not properly addressed the dialect continuum in Kurdish. The quote you mentioned from Mackenzie did not suggest these would be considered separate dialects and in all honesty it in itself is a bit contradictive. Surchis are actually my tribe’s neighbouring people and their sub-dialect is quite similar to ours. People jokingly say we speak ‘Sormanji’ however we still consider ourselves and have always considered ourselves Sorani speakers.

Let me explain this more.

It it is not simply enough to look at it from a linguistic point of view. The region that we inhabit is the traditional region of Soran. This is where, according to tradition, the first Sorani speakers appeared under the leadership of Kulos who united the Soran tribes and established the principality of Soran. Now according to this tradition, the closest dialects to archaic Sorani would therefore be the Sorani and possibly some Kurmanji speakers of this region. This would include the Surchi, Xoshnaw, Balakayati etc which all display huge similarities with both Kurmanji and Sorani.

It is quite funny and illogical to say that “MacKenzie considered neither one nor the other” when this is probably the most archaic form of Sorani that we have.

Furthermore the reason why these sub-dialects differ from the other sub-dialects is because many Sorani tribes used to be Gorani speakers, hence the further south east you go the more distinct and closer it becomes to Gorani. The more north west you go, the closer the Sorani dialects become to Kurmanji. Likewise it would be the same for Kurmanji.

Honestly this is the first time I've ever come across a supposedly academic forum finding it appropriate to state that Kurdish dialects are separate languages, despite it not being academically accepted anywhere or even amongst its speakers. This parrots the very same attitudes that Kurds have had to face at the hands of oppressive regimes. "You are not a Kurd, you are Zaza" etc.

DMXX
06-30-2020, 09:23 AM
I understand what everyone is saying, however I think we have strayed a bit off from my original post. My post isn't regarding whether it descends from Parthian or Median, whether it is NW or SW Iranic.


That was only mentioned by Agamemnon in his final sentence. The majority of the posts in this derived thread haven't discussed the possible antecedents of Kurdish.



My main point and concern is regarding Mountain's argument of Kurdish dialects being separate languages. This is not academically accepted anywhere, other than Zaza-Gorani being considered separate, and simply saying that the dialects are not mutually intelligible is not a determining factor for classifying the Kurdish dialects as separate languages.


I'm agnostic on this discussion, but I'd like to see 'mountain''s evidence that they are separate languages. Agamemnon indicated they are (I'm certain he has a sound basis for stating that, but am ignorant of the reasoning as to why).

The estimated age of separation between lingustic entities X, Y and Z is, I'd infer, a critical factor of determining whether said entities (and their intermediaries) count as actual dialects of a language or constitute different languages within a particular sub-branch.

Your citation of Arabic is an interesting one, though from a timeframe perspective, it can't be considered as analogous to Kurdish in this discussion.
The modern Arabic-speaking world is the result of 1.3ky of distribution following the rise of Islam. The Kurdish languages are, by all accounts, much older than this.
Even if one were to consider 1.5ky as the date of separation between "core" Kurmanji, Sorani and Laki, we observe that other language entities with similar ages (f.ex. Slavic, Turkic) have multiple branches within them that are identified as distinct languages and not dialects, even though transitional dialects exist between all of them for various historical or developmental reasons.
An establishment of what constitutes a "dialect continuum" has to be agreed upon to resolve the underlying question here, but that won't happen anytime soon, given linguists don't appear to have a concrete definition themselves.

For what it's worth, what I've read over the years matches your main point (traditionally, in academia, Zazaki and Gorani are considered as Kurdish languages that are separate from the Kurmanji-Sorani-Laki continuum).



The points about Kurdish being ergative and agglutinative (no matter the degree) I mentioned because our neighbouring populations do not have both of these features combined ...


They do. The Tafreshi dialect of Persian, as stated in my first post in this thread, is both ergative and (as far as I recall from an off-site discussion with a former member here) does have the same agglutination morphology as MSP and various Kurdish languages.
Tafresh is situated in NW-C Iran and there's no reason for us to suspect that it's a "Kurdified" form of Persian. More likely that it represents a variant of Persian that retained some NW Iranic anachronisms (likely from the Median-Old Azari-Talysh-Pahlavi cluster, which fits geography-wise).

I went into detail regarding both agglutination and ergativity to emphasise the rather complex picture that exists in the region and using those two as a cladistic trait to form differentiation with other languages isn't particularly straightforward. Agamemnon's also advised that it's inappropriate for us to use intra-synthetic morphology patterns + ergativity for that purpose to begin with.



Honestly this is the first time I've ever come across a supposedly academic forum finding it appropriate to state that Kurdish dialects are separate languages, despite it not being academically accepted anywhere or even amongst its speakers. This parrots the very same attitudes that Kurds have had to face at the hands of oppressive regimes. "You are not a Kurd, you are Zaza" etc.

There's no discourse benefit whatsoever in becoming exasperated and raising a strawman argument against another user (associating 'mountain''s perspective with non-Kurdish authoritarian regimes). Particularly as the user you happen to be having the bulk of this discussion with is Kurdish himself.

'mountain' has a claim that deviates from what multiple authoritative sources indicate. Let's understand the basis of his claim first. Far more absurd ideas have been expressed (and duly refuted) on this site. This is a discussion forum.

'mountain', what specifically led you to the conclusion that a dialect continuum doesn't at least exist for Kurmanji-Sorani-Laki(+-Feyli)? Any formal arguments in the literature?

Halgurd
06-30-2020, 09:35 AM
@DMXX

Thanks for your response.

My main issue is that I have often had to face such arguments with far-right nationalists who even deny the existence of my people, which is why I am bit jumpy about all of this. I do apologise for that, it is the atmosphere that I am used to.

Farroukh
07-05-2020, 04:29 AM
Interesting feature of NWIL. Languages of Caspian area are close to each other and can be considered as dialects (Talysh/Iranian Tati/Gilaki/Mazandarani...) because all of them co-understandable at ~70%. But in real life all these groups have strongly differentiated ethnic separation

NWIL of Kurdistan are co-misunderstandable at ~70% but considered as one Kurdish ethnic group with common identification even despite different religions.

xenus
07-05-2020, 06:32 AM
Far more absurd ideas have been expressed (and duly refuted) on this site. This is a discussion forum.


I'm gonna throw an absurd idea out here. What constitutes a language can be answered from at least 4 perspectives and each of these 4 can be seen as the truth for a person/group.

First is the collective consensus (if one exists) about what is a language for the native speakers. This perspective can drag in all the cultural baggage it wants, it can decide two or more of what someone could label a language as the same. It can also also foster an idea that even if a neighboring language is basically the same, it's not the same because one group considers their language part of their special cultural heritage and they aren't willing to share with a neighboring group who has another group identity.

Second is an academic consensus coming from inside of a culture or regional zone. In two words i'll just call this the "Chinese approach" for various reasons.

Third is the lay outsiders view point of view. From this perspective it's most entirely mutual intelligibility. If they can pick up X language enough to get by as a traveller or trader etc and they can cross a border and use it anywhere else then it's the same language. I'll just get out of the way that I'm not saying they won't express the locally accepted view for acceptance but they don't have a natives view.

Fourth is the outside academic view. It may have it's own biases and baggage but it's overall the most detached of the four. On here we all usually take this standpoint because our community consensus is usually aligned to academia or at least scientific principles.

Two of these are definitions that are experiential and pragmatic, these are lived. The other two are the results of studying something from various perspectives. Any of them can easily be taken as truth.

DMXX
07-05-2020, 07:59 AM
I'm gonna throw an absurd idea out here. ...

Not absurd in the least, my friend. In fact, this is the sort of content I'd gladly see more of in the forum (contextualising paradigms and exploring the underlying processes which guide these > basic anecdote-sharing).

I take special interest in your use of the word "truth" - This is, fundamentally, a philosophical question (and one which continues to rage in social academia, at least within the student-community in the West). I'm sure you're aware of the dialectical warfare going on in such communities (e.g. "there's no such thing as objective truth", "subjective truth is equally valid to objective truth"). Discourse surrounding "truth" has, humourously (and sadly IMO) become the philosophical equivalent of Godwin's law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law). Though I'm pleasantly surprised to have reached it after only three pages into this tangent (likely due to the subject matter facilitating it so directly).

Applying these considerations to the Kurdish languages in a prospective and hypothetical sense - Suppose that most Western academics consider the Kurdish languages (even between Kurmanji-Sorani-Laki) to be separate (with any fluidity in overlap being due to post-positional transitional dialects forming between them over almost two millennia). Also suppose that definitive convincing linguistic evidence is presented of the above.
Given the culturo-historical overlap (and the added influence of post-70's Kurdish nationalism, which cannot be ignored from a narrative perspective), would a sufficient number of individuals from the speech communities from central Turkey through to SW Iran and E Iraq accept such a proposition? Would there be a reflexive rejection of it (potentially with accusations of conspiracy against the "outgroup", a very typical feature of communities across the entire region)?

Focusing on the available evident at present - The above clearly isn't our current reality (but may be, in the coming years).
I'm still interested in seeing the evidence in the literature that suggests Kurmanji-Sorani-Laki are separate languages (as mentioned previously, my lay experience with this material aligns with Halgurd's).
It may (or may not) have any bearing on Kurdish identity as is currently presented by various diasporan and Iraqi Kurdish-sponsored institutions, but it's a useful academic exercise nonetheless.