Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pronunciation Request: U, Û, Z and '

Patrick requested additional explanation on the following latini letters and pronunciation.

Z, u, û and ‘

I will start with z.


Z is pronounced like the English z; like the z’s in buzz or zoom.

This sound is tricky to explain with words. It is not a sound found in English.

But from this website of Arabic pronunciation, I found an explanation that may be helpful.

Think of it as a catch of the throat, like the h in hour.


Like the “oo” in book, cook and crooked.


Like the “oo” in woo, coo and baboon.

I hope this is helpful.

As always, please feel free to ask for help!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lesson 2: Personal Pronouns

Kurdish pronouns are simpler than their English counterparts. There is no difference between subjective and objective personal pronouns. This means that whether the person is the subject or object of the sentence makes no difference.

You'll notice that there is a special pronoun for the plural you which makes things clearer, but only one for he/him, she/her and it which muddies the waters a bit.

min I/me
ewHe/him, She/her, It
ȇwe plural you

Lesson 1: Food

I started with food first, because it's a great introduction to any culture and language. Food is a big part of Kurdish culture, so, learn these words and make fast friends.

Kurdish food can vary by region and even by family, so what I present below is a snapshot of the foods I enjoyed first in San Diego and later in Iraq. The families with whom we lived in California were from the Sulemania and Halabja areas which is also where I lived in Iraq. I don’t know much about Hewleri or Dohuki food let alone Kurdish food in Turkey or Iran.

Kurdish food is a blend of regional dishes with local ingredients. The dishes are often similar to what one might find in a Turkish, Lebanese or even Indian restaurant, but in Kurdistan, the dishes have their own unique flavors.

I, for one, have never had falafel better than the falafel I had in Sulemania. The same goes for Briyani.

Below, I will spell the names of the dishes and foods with latini. Remember to see here for a refresher on pronunciation.

Breakfast: A typical Kurdish breakfast is fairly light.

Ḧelke RonFried Egg

An everyday breakfast would just be nan u mast, but the others mix in as well. Of course, no breakfast is complete without Ça.

My favorite breakfast was to mix my mast with date syrup. It was great, but I have no idea what the Kurdish word for date syrup is. Sorry.

Lunch and Dinner: Lunch and dinner foods are usually the same. We often ate lunch at the office where we had a cook. She made some really great things! (Although, some of my co-workers complained about the excessive amounts of oil!)

KubeGround meat wrapped in rice
BrîanîSpiced rice with anything and everything in it
KufteGround meat wrapped in wheat served in a tomato soup
TepsîEggplant, zucchini, onions and potato fried with spices
Yapraẍ/ DolmeGround meat wrapped in grape leaves or stuffed in variousvegetables
ŞileTomato-based stew with one of many vegetables
ŞufteLittle spiced-meat patties (My personal favorite!)

Miscellaneous Food Names: There are many other words you’ll need to cook and eat in Kurdistan. I have tried to include those below. I have also included separate tables for fruits and vegetables.

QȋmeGround meat
SamunBread loaves or buns
Mast AwYogurt and water drink
DoLike Mast Aw, but when made traditionally, it’ssemi-fermented in an animal stomach
GȋpeMeat cooked in a cow's stomach
Sȇr u PȇHead and feet. Sheep’s brains and feet
KababMeat patty on a skewer
TikeMeat chunks on a skewer

Fruits and Vegetables: The secret to Kurdish culture is this: when you are invited to dinner or visit someone, they will eventually serve you fruit. The fruit is your sign that it’s time to go.


I don’t like vegetables all that much, so my vocabulary is slim. Sorry.
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start.

If you have recipes for any of these foods, please post them in the comments. I can only make rice and şile.