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Zazaisch phrasebook

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Zazaisch phrasebook

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Zazaki (Zazaish) is a language spoken by Zazas in eastern Anatolia (Turkey). According to Ethnologue, the Zazaki language is a part of the northwestern group of the Iranian section of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family.

Zazaki dialects and regional variants

There are there main Zazaki dialects:

Gumushane, Mus (Varto), Kayseri (Sariz) proviences. Sub-dialects are:

  • West-Dersim
  • East-Dersim
  • Varto
  • Border Dialects like Sarız, Koçgiri (Giniyan-idiom)
  • Central Zazaki: It is spoken in Elazig, Bingol, Diyarbakir proviences.

Sub-dialects are:

  • Bingol
  • Palu
  • Border Dialects like Hani, Kulp, Lice, Ergani, Piran

Egil), Adiyaman, Malatya proviences. Sub-dialects are:

  • Siverek
  • Cermik, Gerger
  • Border Dialects like Mutki and Aksaray

Zazaki literature and broadcast programs

The first written statements in the Zazaki language were compiled by the linguist Peter Lerch in 1850. Two other important documents are the religious writings (Mewlıd) of Ehmedê Xasi of 1899, and of Usman Efendiyo Babıc (published in Damascus in 1933); both of these works were written in the Arabic alphabet.

The use of the Latin alphabet to write Zazaki became popular only in the diaspora in Sweden, France and Germany at the beginning of the 1980s. This was followed by the publication of magazines and books in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul. The efforts of Zaza intellectuals to advance the comprehensibility of their native language by alphabetizing were not fruitless: the number of publications in Zaza has multiplied. The rediscovery of the native culture by Zaza intellectuals not only caused a renaissance of Zaza language and culture, it also triggered feelings among younger generations of Zazas (who, however, rarely speak Zaza as a mother tongue) in favor of this modern Western use of the Zaza language, rekindling their interest in their ancestral language. The diaspora, has also generated a limited amount of Zaza-language broadcasting. Moreover, after restrictions were removed on local languages in Turkey during their move toward accession to the European Union, the state-owned TRT television lanched a Zazaki TV program and a radio program on Fridays.

Comparison between Zazaki, Persian, Kurdish, English, and Turkish

Zazaki Persian Kurdish English Turkish
bâlişna bâlesh balinc pillow yastık
bermayiş gerye girîn cry aglama
dew deh dê / gund village köy
estor asp / astar Esp / êstir horse at
homa xoda xwedê god / deity tanrı
gişt angosht tili/qamik/bêçî/engust finger parmak
mase mahi masî fish balik
tarîk tarik tarîk dark karanlik
vızêr dirouz duh yesterday dun
waşte nâm-zad dergisî fiancé sözlü / nişanlı
xoz xok xû / berez pig domuz

Controversy over classification

As with many other languages in the region, the exact positioning of Zazaki in terms of language families is controversial; it parallels a similar controversy about the relationship of the various ethnic groups and is politically fraught. Ethnologue favors the following hierarchy: [3]

Linguists connect the word Dimli with the Daylamites in the Alborz Mountains near the shores of Caspian Sea in Iran and believe that the Zaza have migrated from Daylamestan towards the west. Zazaki shows many connections the Iranian dialects of the Caspian region.

The language differs from most Persian dialects in that it contains archaic strains of Hurrian; it has this in common with the languages Auramani (Hawrami or Gorani) and Bajelani, and these languages are put together in the Zaza-Gorani language group, but also Goran-Zazaistan by those who want emphasize their distinctness from the Kurds.

Hawrami and Bajelani are spoken in region of northern Iraq sometimes referred to as Southern Kurdistan. Hurrian itself is extinct; however it is thought to have had a close relationship to modern Chechen and was a member of the Alarodian language family. On the other hand, the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS) lists Zazaki as a dialect of Kurdish language [4]. The US State Department "Background Note" lists Zaza as one of the major languages of Turkey, along with Turkish (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Greek, and Arabic. [5]. However, Encyclopaedia Britannica lists Zazaki as a subdialect of Kurdish language [6].

Some linguistic studies on Zazaki (Zazaish)

  • Paul, Ludwig. (1998) "The Position of Zazaki Among West Iranian languages" University of Hamburg,[7].
  • Lynn Todd, Terry. (1985) "A Grammar of Dimili" University of Michigan,[8].
  • Gippert, Jost. (1996) "Historical Development of Zazaki" Frankfurt University,[9].
  • Gajewski, Jon. (2003) "Evidentiality in Zazaki" Massachusetts Institute of Technology,[10].
  • Gajewski, Jon. (2004) "Zazaki Notes" Massachusetts Institute of Technology,[11].
  • Larson, Richard. and Yamakido, Hiroko. (2006) "Zazaki as Double Case-Marking" Stony Brook University and University of Arizona,[12].
  • Iremet, Faruk. (1996) "The difference between Zaza, Kurdish and Turkish" Stockholm, Sweden,[13].


  • Raymond Gordon, Jr., Editor. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Fifteenth Edition. (Classification of Zazaki Language.)
  • Paul, Ladwig. (1998) The Position of Zazaki Among West Iranian languages. (Classification of Zazaki Language.)
  • Bozdağ, Cem and Üngör, Uğur. Zazas and Zazaki. (Zazaki Literature.)
  • Blau, Gurani et Zaza in R. Schmitt, ed., Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum, Wiesbaden, 1989, ISBN 3882264136, pp. 336-40 (About Daylamite origin of Zaza-Guranis)

External links

ast:Zazaki az:Zazaki bs:Zaza br:Zazakeg da:Zazakiel:Ζαζαϊκή γλώσσαfa:زازاکیku:Zazakîsimple:Zazaki tr:Zazaca