Li pirtûka:
A Kurdish-English Dictionary
Taufiq Wahby, C. J. Edmonds
 14 Xulek  869 Dîtin

A. Vocabulary

The Kurdish of this Dictionary is the standard language of belles-lettres, journalism, official and private correspondence, and formal speech as it has developed, on the basis of the Southern-Kirmanji dialect of Sulaimani in Iraq, since 1918, when Kurdish was established as the official language of the administration and of primary education in the liwa of that name and in parts of the liwas of Arbil and Kirkuk; it is moreover the language which has been adopted in Persia for Kurdish broadcasts and government-sponsored publications. Dialectical variants of the same word current in the three liwas have generally been ignored. Borrowings from dialects further afield have been indicated as follows: (N) Northern Kirmanji, (M) Mukri, (SN) Sanandaji (Ardalani), (G) Gorani including Bajalani and Hawrami. On the other hand, since our hope is that this work will contribute in some measure to the standardization of the literary language, we have felt obliged to exclude certain eccentricities which, though now frequently encountered in some sections of the Kurdish press, are repugnant to the genius of Kurdish and would better be forgotten.

As regards other loan words we have in general included, and marked (A), such Arabic words, whether in their original form or recognizable as such although recast in a Kurdish mould, as are felt to be completely naturalized, are in common use among all classes, or seem to meet a real need; it follows that not all Arabic words, which the student will encounter in the course of his reading will be found in the dictionary. The case of Persian is rather different, since many words may reasonably be considered to belong equally to both languages; only recent and clearly distinguishable borrowings have been marked (P). Obvious loans from modern literary Turkish (T) and European languages (E) have also been indicated. We have not sought to trace to their origins words not falling into these limited categories. Cross references are given to the Kurdish word or words which could be substituted for the foreign word in most contexts.

We have to thank Dr. C. T. Wahby for the English translations of many medical and anatomical terms. The names of plants and birds have presented a special difficulty, and the definitive fixation of this part of the vocabulary awaits the emergence of a new generation of trained Kurdish botanists and ornithologists; for a number of our identifications of plants we are indebted to Mr. Evan Guest of Kew. Where it has not been possible to give even a provisional translation of names current in Southern Kurdistan we have not hesitated, in these as in other specialized fields, to give a general indication such as ‘name of a small bird’, ‘name of an aromatic herb’, or ‘name of a parlour game’, as likely to help to make sense of passages the meaning of which might otherwise remain obscure; many of such botanical names we owe to Sheikh Muhammad-i Khal, who was good enough to send us copies of the first two parts of his Ferheng y xaḻ published at Sulaimani while this work was in course of preparation.

B. Transcription

At the present time in Iraq Kurdish writers generally use a modified Arabic alphabet based on a system devised by Wahby, accepted by the Ministry of Education for instruction in elementary schools, and published by him in his Kurdish Grammar, qawā‛id al-lughati 'l-kurdiya, parts I and II, Beirut, 1956 (an adaptation for Arab students of his earlier pioneering work, Destûr y Ziman y Kurdî, Baghdad, 1929-30). The Roman spelling here used is a close transliteration of this modified Arabic as set out on pp. ix and x. Since this is meant to be a practical alphabet for eventual everyday use and not a system of phonetic notation we have thought it essential to avoid invented letters altogether and to reduce the number of diacritical marks as far as reasonably possible; for these reasons we have preferred the familiar digraphs ch, gh, and sh to possible alternatives such as ç, ğ, and ş. A specimen text will be found in Appendix VI.

C. Arrangement

1. General

The arrangement of the articles has presented several perplexing problems. After much trial and error we have worked out the scheme which we feel is open to the fewest objections. The general order is, of course, alphabetical but, subject to the derogations mentioned below, compound and derived words have been placed under the heading of the main word as far as possible. The swung dash represents the main word or the part of it to the left of the oblique line. Homonyms are distinguished by small Arabic numerals. In a very few cases, e.g. the preposition be or the noun diwan, distinct uses of the same word have been given in separate articles so numbered. In Kurdish the stress is normally on the last syllable; exceptions are indicated thus: (.'.), (..'.), etc. The grammatical terminology is the traditional terminology of English. The parts of speech are indicated by the appropriate abbreviation placed immediately after the word. A certain amount of grammatical explanation will be found in the body of the dictionary, e.g. in the articles dealing with the prepositions , , and and with the pronominal affixes, and also in Appendixes IV and V.

2. Nouns and adjectives

These are arranged as follows:

  • (a) the head word and its meanings, followed by idiomatic usages not falling under (b);
  • (b) idiomatic usages of the head word in conjunction with particular verbs, simple and compound, arranged in the alphabetical order of the simple verbs;
  • (c) derived and compound words of which the head word (or the part of it to the left of the oblique line) is the first element.

Compound nouns and adjectives formed by the addition to the main word of the past participle or the present stem of a verb are given in brackets, generally introduced by the word hence, under (b) and not under (c). Where necessary idiomatic usages of the derived and compound words are given in brackets after each. In cases where the article would be inordinately long part (c), or both parts (b) and (c), are printed as separate articles. Nouns and adjectives are freely used as adverbs; those most commonly so used are indicated adv.

3. Prepositions

The use of the prepositions and of îzafe (y2), which in many of its uses is for all practical purposes equivalent to the preposition ‘of’, is highly idiomatic. The proper preposition for use in conjunction with a particular verb is indicated after the translation of the verb.

4. Verbs

  1. Verbs are quoted in the infinitive, followed by the present stem in brackets, and independently of the related nouns and adjectives, the only exception being adjectives formed by the addition of to the infinitive to give the meaning ‘fit for’, ‘worthy of’.
  2. The abbreviations v.i. (intransitive) and v.t. (transitive) indicate the conjugation of the Kurdish verb and not necessarily the meaning; unless otherwise indicated, however, it may be assumed that the Kurdish and the English do correspond in this respect.
  3. A causative can be formed by the addition of the infinitive ending -anḍin (present stem -ên) to the present stem of many intransitive verbs. These are not necessarily shown unless they are in particularly common use or have a special meaning. Verbs describing sounds are often causative in form and are therefore conjugated as transitives.
  4. The passive is normally formed by the addition of the infinitive ending -ran (pres. stem. -rê) to the present stem of a transitive or causative verb, and is not generally shown. Irregularly formed passives are given both under the active verb and independently in the appropriate alphabetical position.
  5. The enclitic adverb -ewe may be added to many verbs, in all parts of the conjugation, to give the meanings ‘back’, ‘again’. These are not necessarily shown, but if -ewe otherwise alters the meaning such a verb is shown after the causative.
  6. Compound verbs formed with the short adverbs (preverbs) da, heḻ, ṟa, ṟo, and wer, or with pêk, lêk, têk are shown under those words. Certain verbs are commonly quoted by Kurdish grammarians in the infinitive with the prepositions (in their absolute forms) with which they are constructed; these are given under the articles , , pêda (piya), pê’we, , têda (tiya), and tê’we. Cross references to these adverbs and prepositions are given at the end of the article on the simple verb.
  7. The past participles of most intransitive and passive verbs may be used as adjectives; only those are so shown, under the verb, the use of which as adjectives is particularly common. Adjectives formed of a participle compounded with a noun or adjective, if given, appear after the appropriate entry under the noun or adjective (see under section 2 above).
  8. The following abbreviations are used for the commoner simple verbs: b. (bûn), bw. (bûnewe), ḍ. (ḍan), ḍw. (ḍanewe), g. (girtin), gw. (girtinewe), k. (kirdin), kw. (kirdinewe), n. (nan), nw. (nanewe), x. (xistin), xw. (xistinewe); negatives neb. (nebûn), nebw. (nebunewe), etc.
  9. An asterisk against the English translation indicates that the subject of the English verb is not the same as the subject of the Kurdish verb. This occurs most frequently when it is convenient to translate a Kurdish intransitive by an English transitive or vice versa, when the verb bûn is used in conjunction with a pronominal affix to give the meaning ‘have’, or when in the Kurdish the name of a part of the body (e.g. heart, eye) is doing duty for the person.

D. Acknowledgements

Our thanks are due to the British Academy for the generous grant of £750 towards the cost of publication, to the Delegates and staff of the Clarendon Press for their encouragement and advice, and to Miss F. L. Bartrum and Mrs. Hardeman of Hastings for the speed and accuracy of the typing of unfamiliar material. This being, as far as we know at the time of going to press, the first dictionary of modern Southern Kirmanji, and indeed the first Kurdish dictionary of any kind since the Dictionnaire Kurde-français by A. Jaba and F. Justi of 1879, to be published in a Western European language, we trust that we may count on the indulgence of readers for inevitable errors of omission and commission.

Taufiq Wahby

C. J. Edmonds