A Proposal For Latin-Based Kurdish Alphabet (2)

                                                   (Kurdistan, the first Kurdish newspaper)

As Celadet Bedrxan had once advised us, Kurds ''need to develop a writing system that allows all speakers hailing from every Kurdish dialect to use that writing system''. The Kurdish alphabet must be a means of unification of various Kurdish dialects and vernaculars. This means while every Kurd should feel comfortable to write and read in Kurdish according to his/her native dialect, still other Kurds too must be able to easily read and understand it.

One of annoying features of writing in Kurdish caused by various regional variations is the different renderings  of izafe marker:
Northern Kurdish uses -a/-ê for grammatical masculine and  feminine respectively.
Central Kurdish uses -i
Further south, no izafe marker is used
In southernmost regions of Kurdistan, -ê is used.

(all used for both possessive and descriptive cases).

Looking for powerful oriental languages, such as Arabic and Persian we see this problem has long being solved through an easy solution. Namely, by ''not indicating izafe marker''.
Thus while in Eastern Persian (Dari) ''-î'' is used, in western Persian (Farsi) ''-ê'' is used when reading an izafe compound, however Persian scholars has solved this distinction by a simple trick: They do not indicate the i/ê izafe when writing at all. Thus same compound may be read by an eastern Persian speaker as ''-i'' while a Western Persian speaker reads it as ''-ê''.
For example,  زبان فارسی (transliteration: Zabân Fârsi), could be read ''zabâni fârsi'' by an eastern speaker, and ''zabânê fârsi'' by a western speaker.

Same method could be used even for Kurdish; While keeping regional spoken variations when reading a text, Kurds can at least when coming to writing, use a unified standard writing system as in Persian.

Some examples in Kurdish:

Kurmanci: Rojhelata Kurdistan, Xebata pîroz, Alaya rengîn
Current standard Sorani: Rojhelatî Kurdistan, Xebatî pîroz, Alay rengîn
Southern Sorani: Rojhelat Kurdistan, Xebat pîroz, Alay rengîn
Southern Kurdish: Rojhelatê Kurdistan, Xebatê pîroz, Alayê rengîn
Proposal: Rojhelat Kurdistan, Xebat piroz, Alay rengin (But the reader is free as to how he/she wishes to read it)

If this proposal is accepted, we have been able to put one more major step towards standardization of Kurdish  and unification of its written variations. Furthermore, one my expect to use this method in other regional distinctions appearing in Kurdish such as case-markers which nowadays appear only in Kurmanji dialect.

It would not be impossible that in future, depending on strength of media, social, economical and other factors, a specific form of ''standard colloquial Kurdish'' will emerge which could even be chosen as ''official standard form of reading Kurdish'' texts.

(See part I)


Anonymous said...

Another well-written piece Tigris!

Though I have a note; assuming we have a standardized language, don't you think that instead of simply excluding the izafe marker at the end and leave it to the reader to guess which izafe must be used (a, ê, i...etc), it is better to simply turn one of them (the one grammatically most correct) into the standardized form for all speakers of the language, and also foreigners who want to learn/speak this official lingua france use it, at the same time keeping regional spoken variations as they are.

Not to mention that by excluding the izafa markers at the end, the language loses its unique 'perfect orthography', meaning for words to be pronounced exactly as they are written! Because when the izafa is removed, the word is read differently from how it's written, hence losing this unique condition.

Tigris said...

The proposal does not suggest ''guessing''which izafe marker to be used, but freely ''choosing'' one the reader is more comfortable with. Even if the reader does not choose any izafe, it won't cause any problem, as there is already Kurdish dialects where no izafe marker exists (southern Sorani); It is even in a process of eroding in northern Sorani (standard sorani) and Southern Kurdish too (Kirmashan and Ilam). There are some cases indicating even Kurmanji is losing izafe marker.

As for deep and shallow orthography, I do not think we have a better choice than excluding izafe izafe markers, since it is not likely that speakers of Kurdish dialects would see it OK to accept another dialects izafe as standard. It helps us to conceal an irregularity among Kurdish dialects.
To sum it up, its benefits are more than its disadvantages.

Anonymous said...

I agree Mr. Tigris.

Thanks for your clarifications and keep it coming!

Qendil said...

Tigris you're a genius. One must not complicate matter, just look around and learn from other as in your case you take farsi as an example, that's a perfect example: I myself can without a problem read farsi without any ezafe's and I have not taken any courses in farsi (except as a 6 year old kid). So why not do the same in Kurdi as you purpose? Awesome! Is there any body/organization that can settle these issues and make them official or do you think this problem will always be around?

Thanks for you blog!

Tigris said...

Dear Qendil. Thanks for your kind comment.
I'm not yet aware of any organisation to be contacted and informed about proposals made on this blog for reform in Kurdish Latin alphabet.
However, I've fortunately encountered numerous cases (both on the net and TV's) in which knowingly or unknowingly, Kurdish words have been spelled and written in the same way as the proposals on this blog suggest. This is most probably because a lot of Kurds write Kurdish in Latin script, based on their experience on Arabo-Kurdish script!

Lemongrass said...

Thanks so much it's been very useful for me coz I just started learning Farsi and couldn't get enough info about izafet compound anywhere.

Kind Regards!

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