Kurdish language ... development post-repression - 1

Kurdish language has passed  several stages since ancient times that  had a great impact on it, though a  purely Kurdish alphabet came late, this oral transmitted language has maintained its originality.

Kurdish language's stages of development

Kurds celebrates Kurdish Language Day on May 15, 2006, as the Kurdistan National Congress had chosen this day because it is the date of the first issue of Hawar magazine in Latin Kurdish in 1932, in Damascus.

We will briefly review the stages of the development of the Kurdish language through milestones in history that influenced the language until it became an alphabet to be read and written.  

Discovering alphabets around the world dates back thousands of years, some of which are known and others are controversial, it is certainly that speaking is much older than the oldest alphabet ever discovered, since individuals in different societies spoke among themselves in an understandable language and for thousands of years before they came to invent the first form of writing.

Based on this idea, the steadfastness of the Kurdish language and its arrival to the present day is to confirm the authenticity and heritage of Kurdish culture, despite marginalization and attempts to crush and melt over centuries. No one can deny this originality because the Kurds delayed creating and writing their own alphabet.

Ancient history

Although the Kurdish language was influenced by the surrounding languages, it was able to maintain its independence, as generations passed on the language and culture through poems. Linguists believe that the beginning of writing in Kurdish dates back to the history of the Zoroastrian religion "Avesta" in the 6th century BC.

Historians trace the origin of the Kurdish language back to about 5,000 B.C., because it belongs to the Indo-European language group and includes several dialects. According to Sharaf Khan Badalis. Kurdish dialects, clans and groups of Kurdish communities in terms of language, tradition and community status are divided into four different dialects: North Kurmanji (Kurmanji), South Kurmanji (Sorani), Zazaki, and Gorani (Hawrami).

In modern history, Kurds have used three basic alphabets: the Arabic, Latin alphabet and Cyrillic alphabet by Kurds of the former Soviet Union. Many Kurdish magazines and books were issued with this alphabet, after displacing the Kurds in the Soviet Union this alphabet was replaced with the Latin alphabet that is now used in Arabic and Latin alphabets in the writing of the Kurdish language.

"The oldest alphabet written in the Kurdish language is the Aramaic alphabet, other documents were found in the Hewraman caves at the beginning of this century, some of which are considered the oldest Kurdish documents written in Aramaic script, documents written on, "deer skin" on trade conditions in those days. The earliest writings date back to 87-88 BC," the Kurdish writer and researcher Dilawar Zengi says in an article.

"It is such strange pens and strange drawings. I saw in Baghdad in Anous (a stone sarcophagus) from this line about thirty books, including two books that I had  in Damascus: a book on the cultivation of vines and palms, another one on the diseases of water and how to extract it from unknown lands. I translated them from the Kurds language to the Arabic," says the 13th-century writer Ibn Wahish in his book " the Lover's Longing for Learning of Pens Symbols", on Kurdish writing:

Sheikh Mohammed Murdochi Kurdistani also says that a man named "Massey Surati" appeared in the 10th century and put letters similar to the alphabet, later called "Maasiorati" and with these letters, writings were written that became the subject of research and controversy. These letters are similar to those known as "Besti Avasta", and remained rolling until before the advent of Islam among the Kurds, along with Aramaic, Syriac and Greek calligraphy.

For hundreds of years, the Yazidi kurds have been using a special alphabet, some call it the "Yazidi alphabet", but the author  and date of  the alphabet are unknown. It consists of "31" characters, written from the right to the left. "Sefi Burkei Zada " believes that the author of these letters used the Fahlwiya, Avastian and Arabic alphabets. In this alphabet, the holy Yazidi writings, such as "the Holy Meshefa Rash" and "Jellwah", as well as religious prayers and remembrances, are written, and still exist among the Yazidis to this day.

The Euphrates Center for Studies classifies in research the stages of the Kurdish language development : the first: several centuries before the birth of the Christ, specifically from 331 B.C., until 17 A.D./ 638 A.D., i.e. until the arrival of Islam in the Kurdistan regions. the Kurds wrote in cuneiform script when it appeared. The Arab teacher Abu Bakr Ahmad bin Ali al-Kazdani in his book "the Lover's Longing for the Knowledge of Pens Symbols" refers to this method of writing by the Kurds. 

The second phase runs from 638 to the 18th century AD, and the third period from the 18th century to the present time.

The British writer and researcher, Colonel Edgar O. Balance, 1918-2009, asserts in Kurdish Revolt: 1961-1970 that what distinguishes Kurds from other peoples is their language, culture and dress. 

Most of the old works on the Kurdish language, although less, were written by orientalists and non-Kurdish speakers for social and political reasons. The first book of Kurdish grammar entitled Grammatica e Vocabolario della Lingua Kurda/ Grammar and Kurdish Vocabulary), is a Catholic priest named "Muritzo Garzzoni (1734−1804)" published in Rome in Italian in 1787.

Others have also written grammatical rules, including J. Giorinli and Khodskoy, who also wrote a book on Kurdish grammar as well as other articles in this regard. The Russian orientalist and Russian consul in Izmir and Arzrum Alexander Jabba in the days of the Ottoman Empire invited a group of Kurdish intellectuals to help him in writing an anthology of classical poetry of a group of Kurdish poets. His most notable contribution is writing the Kurdish and French dictionary, as well as a large triple dictionary (Kurdish, French and Russian). In 1856, the Gospel was published in The Kurmanj dialect of Istanbul.

The British orientalist (Major Ely Bannister Soane, 1881-1923), who, after World War I, was sent to Sulaimaniyah and played an important role in Kurdish language research. He wrote Kurdish grammar in English in 1913, followed by prominent professors and scholar scholars worldwide, who also wrote and published articles and books on Kurdish grammar.

The evolution of the Kurdish alphabet and writing style

In the midst of development in Europe in the fields of science, industry and technology, the beginning of the last century the oppressed peoples were becoming increasingly vulnerable and backward, including the Kurds who suffered the two things at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, and a large number of Kurdish illuminati were forced to emigrate from their country to escape the oppression. After mixing with the West they became more interested in the Latin alphabet. They came to the full conviction that the Arabic language they mastered is not enough and is unable to meet the vowels of the Kurdish language.

In 1913, Dr. Abdullah Joudat called on Kurds to change their alphabet, because the Arabic alphabet does not respond to Kurdish linguistic sounds. In those days, there was extensive research and discussion among members of  Hevi Association of the Kurdish Students on this subject. 

The Kurdish illuminators of "Roji Kurd" magazine were seeking to achieve an alphabet close to the Latin characters, but World War I prevented them from continuing.

After the end of World War I, Major Soane developed an alphabet that corresponds to the Kurdish language and published two books in this alphabet: Elementary Kurmanjî Grammar, Baghdad, 1919, and Kitabi Awwalamini Qiraati Kurdi, 1920, which did not reach Kurdish popularity.

The first Kurdish alphabet in Latin, Prince Jaladet Badirkhan (1893-1915) began using the Latin alphabet to write the Kurdish language through Hawar magazine.

After signing Sever Treaty in 1920, which provided for the establishment of a Kurdish state, a committee of Kurdish leaders in Armenia was formed to participate in the census and to know the ratio between Armenian and Kurdish souls, to resolve the dispute over the border, and the English major Noel was the head of this body and the two brothers, Prince Badirkhan and Prince Kamran Badirkhan representing the Kurdish side and they came from Aleppo.

"In 1919, we were walking among the mountain reefs until we reached the homes of the Rashwan clan," says Prince Jaladet Badirkhan. With Major Noel, who was fluent in Kurdish in one of the dialects, he wanted to learn the dialect of the "North". He was seeking to do so and write everything he learned, but I was collecting stories, judgment slurs and proverbs that I hear from the mouths of individuals and record them on paper in Arabic script. Noel and I were reviewing what we wrote and reading what we wrote. This English man was reading what he wrote with ease. As for me, my reading was difficult and slow, I had a hard time distinguishing between (et) and (o) and (î) and (ê) what is the reason for that? The Major used Latin letters, but I used Arabic letters, and then I made the decision to create a Latin alphabet that responds to all the words in The Kurdish language."

Between 1925 and 1930, he met with Kurdish linguist mustafa Wehbe in Syria, to discuss and avoid shortcoming and flaws in the Kurmanji and Soran language, and develop a common alphabet for these two dialects, but Wehbe returned to Iraq without the fruition of their joint efforts and in 1932, he published the magazine Hawar and wrote in the Latin letters known today, and the magazine was publishing lessons on Kurdish letters and rules.

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