Translation services are easily accessible in just about any language these days – including Kurdish. For a language hindered by numerous factors, you might find this some how surprising.
For a start, Kurdish obviously isn’t a main language in any country that it’s spoken in. Iraq is the only country in which it is an official language alongside Arabic, and even there it is only spoken by about 20% of the population. Just over half that percentage speaks Kurdish in Turkey, while a similar sized minority use it Iran where it has constitutional status as a regional language. A miniscule 1% of the Armenian population who consider it their first language allows it a status as a minority language there also.
An obstacle particularly relevant to Kurdish translation services is that it isn’t a standard unified language. Instead it has three standardised versions spread across a multitude of Kurdish-speaking regions; Kurmanji, Sorani and Kermanshahi. This of course means a distinct dialect has to be established for each translation, as they aren’t mutually intelligible enough for readers or translators of one to be fluent in another.
Kurdish Language Speaking
Controversy surrounding the language means dialects isn’t the only thing translators have to tread carefully around. In Turkey, the Kurdish alphabet is still not recognised, so names containing the letters X, W and Q – absent from the Turkish alphabet – are forbidden. Syria goes a step further by banning it from publication completely.
Taking into account all of these factors, is there actually a demand for Kurdish translation services? Increasingly, yes there is. Although it remains a touchy subject in Turkey, the government lifted the most severe restrictions on Kurdish back in 2002 and are continuing to become more liberal in their stance.
Kurdish municipalities in the south of the country now print water bills, marriage certificates, price tags and road signs in their native language. Iraq’s burgeoning economy since troubled times there further brings its other official language further into prominence. All Kurdish really needs is proper standardisation, to enable it to truly flourish.