Kurdish Lesson 05 - Notes on Pronunciation

This post is for Mo.

First, I should apologize for deleting your comment on this. It was just too long. Sorry.

But let that be a lesson for the rest of you!

Just kidding...

Ok. Her comment was a plea for clarification on the pronunciation of the Kurdish words I've listed here with these Kurdish lessons. This is one of the reasons I was somewhat hesitant to try to teach anything to do with language.

As you may know, Kurdish is not written with a latinate alphabet. They use an Arabic script. It should be noted, however, that it is not the same script used to write Arabic; there are many differences between the two. In Kurdish each letter makes one consistent sound.

English is not written with an Arabic alphabet. We use the Latin alphabet, or at least we use parts of it.

I am sure you've noticed, though, that the English alphabet is not consistent when it comes to sound. Most of the consonants are fairly consistent, but the vowels are all over the place.

Kurdish can be written with the latin alphabet.

There is an alphabet called Latini which is used uncommonly for written Sorani Kurdish. In Latini each Kurdish letter equals one latin letter; each letter equals one and only one sound. There are letters in this alphabet that don't appear in English. For instance the ' represents a sound. There are also different letters for the short and long "a" sounds as another example.

That presents me with two problems. 1) I can't use the Latini alphabet because some of the letters don't appear on my keyboard and 2) I would have to teach a new alphabet to everyone and I don't think anyone wants that.

You can see more on the alphabets here. Pay special attention to Latin 1 (that's closest to English) and Latin 2 (that's the Latini used in Kurdistan).
Kurdish script in action! Plus Angie in fancy sunglasses!

Having said all of that, I will try to help with the words I've already listed:

I, me = min (like the English word men)
you = to (pronounced like toe)
he/him/she/her/it = ew (Similar to the ou in ouch, but short)
we, us = ayme (long a + the mu in mug)
you plural = aywe (long a + what - t)
they, them = ewan (uh like you're thinking + Juan)

hello/ how are you: chony? bashy? (chony means how are you, but is used as hello. bashy literally means "are you good?" The two are usually used together.) (chony rhymes with phony and bashy sounds like gnosh + long e)

I'm good. Thanks: Bashim. Supas (pronounced closer to spas) (the a is pronounced like ah)

And how are you: To chony?

Good bye: Xwa hafis (The sound of X does not appear in English. It's like the German "ch" in Bach. Hafis is like ha+fee+ the s sound in hiss)

See you later: Dwai etbeenimewe (dw+ the word eye, then et + bean + um + uh + wuh)

Halabja (all the a's are like "ah" and everything else sounds like you expect.)

I hope that helps!


Mobea said...

I think it would be easier for me to just learn sign language. I have a hard even time talkig Texan.

KULKA said...

i hate latini script for sorani, i only use original sorani script.

rdmeeker said...

I agree KULKA. The sorani script is better to get the real pronunciation of the words, but it's a whole lot less accessible to English speakers. That's why I use Latini.