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Title: Sorani  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Alphabet, Kurdish people, Kurdish languages, Languages of Iran, History of the Kurdish people, Halabja, Ergative–absolutive language, Sulaymaniyah, Lexin, Gorani language
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For the Romanian commune, see Surani, Prahova.
کوردیی ناوەندی
Native to Iran, Iraq
Native speakers unknown (undated figure of 6,750,000 million)
Language family
Writing system Perso-Arabic (Sorani alphabet)
Official status
Official language in  Iraq[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ckb
Linguist List
Linguasphere 58-AAA-cae

Sorani (کوردیی ناوەندی، سۆرانی), also called Central Kurdish,[2] is a Kurdish language spoken in Iran and Iraq. Along with Kurmanji, Sorani is one of the most influential of the Kurdish languages.


To refer to southern Kurmanji dialects as Soranî is a recent naming by linguists after the name of the former principality of Soran. D.N. Mackenzie writes that the present Kurdish standard called Sorani is in fact an idealized version of the Silêmanî dialect, which uses the phonemic system of the Píjhdar and Mukrî dialects. Objections have been made to the name Sorani on the grounds that the name of one dialect, Sorani, spoken in the region Soran should not be extended to cover a group of dialects.


Ottoman era

In Silemani (Sulaymaniyah), the Ottoman Empire had created a secondary school (Rushdíye), the graduates from which could go to Istanbul to continue to study there. This allowed Sorani, which was spoken in Silémaní, to progressively replace Hewrami (Gorani) as the literary vehicle.


Since the fall of the Ba'athist regime in Iraq, there have been more opportunities to publish works in the Kurdish language in Iraq than in any other country in recent times.[3] As a result, Sorani Kurdish has become the dominant written form of Kurdish.[4]


Sorani Kurdish is written with a modified Perso-Arabic script; This is in contrast to the other Kurdish dialect, 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 Sorani.


The exact number of Sorani speakers is difficult to determine, but it is generally thought that Sorani is spoken by about 6 million people in Iraq and Iran.[5] It is the most widespread speech of Kurds in Iran and Iraq. In particular, it is spoken by:

Around 3 Million of the Kurds in Iran. Located south of the Urmia Lake that stretches roughly to the outside of Kermanshah.
Around 3 million of the Kurds in Iraq, including the Soran clan. Most of the Kurds who use it are found in the vicinity of Hewlêr (Arbil) , Sulaymaniyah (Silêmanî) , Kerkuk and Diyala governorate.


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

  • Mukriyani; The language spoken south of Lake Urmia with Mahabad as its center, including the cities of Piranshahr, Bokan, Sardasht, Oshnavieh and the Kurdish speaking parts of Naghadeh and Miandoab. This region is traditionally known as Mukriyan.
  • Ardalani, spoken in the cities of Sanandaj, Marivan, Kamyaran, Divandarreh, Ghorveh and Dehgolan in Kordestan province and the Kurdish speaking parts of Tekab and Shahindej in West Azerbaijan province. This region is known as Ardalan.
  • Garmiani, in and around Kirkuk
  • Arbili, spoken in and around the city of Hawler (Arbil) in Iraqi Kurdistan. Its main distinction is changing the consonant /l/ into /r/ in many words.
  • Babani, spoken in and around the city of Sulaymaniya in Iraq and the cities of Saghez and Baneh in Iran.
  • Jafi, spoken in the towns of Javanroud, Ravansar and some villages around Sarpole Zahab and Paveh.

As an official language

A recent proposal was made for Sorani to be the official language of the Kurdistan Regional Government. This idea has been favoured by some Sorani-speaking Kurds but it has disappointed Kurmanjis.[6]

Grammatical features

There are no pronouns to distinguish between masculine and feminine and no verb inflection to signal gender.[7]

Dictionaries and translations

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

English and Sorani

  • English–Kurdish Dictionary by Dr. Selma Abdullah and Dr. Khurhseed Alam
  • Raman English-Kurdish Dictionary by Destey Ferheng

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

The standard word order in Sorani is SOV (subject–object–verb).[8]

Sorani and Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish) comparison

Sorani Kurmanji English
min (for all verbs) min (for transitive verbs)/ ez (for intransitive verbs) I
dest dest hand
to tu you
ewa ew him/her

See also



External links

  • the New Testament in Soranî
  • the Kurdish Academy of Language (unofficial)
  • Working with Sorani Speaking Patients NHS (UK) Guide
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