Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-hlvcg Total loading time: 0.841 Render date: 2022-07-03T00:48:37.489Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

A perceptual dialectological approach to linguistic variation and spatial analysis of Kurdish varieties

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 March 2018

Eva Eppler
Eva Eppler, PhD, RCSLT, Mag. Phil Reader/Associate Professor in Linguistics, Department of Media, Culture and Language University of Roehampton | London | SW15 | Tel: +44 (0) 20 8392 3791
Josef Benedikt
Josef Benedikt, PhD, Mag.rer.nat. Independent Scholar, Senior GIS Researcher, GeoLogic Dr. Benedikt Roegergasse 11/18 1090 Vienna, |
Rights & Permissions[Opens in a new window]


HTML view is not available for this content. However, as you have access to this content, a full PDF is available via the ‘Save PDF’ action button.

This paper presents the results of the first investigation into Kurdish linguistic varieties and their spatial distribution. Kurdish dialects are used across five nation states in the Middle East and only one dialect, Sorani, has official status in one of these nation states. The study employs the “draw-a-map” task established in Perceptual Dialectology; the analysis is supported by Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The results show that, despite the geolinguistic and geopolitical situation, Kurdish respondents have good knowledge of the main varieties of their language (Kurmanji, Sorani, and the related variety Zazaki) and where to localize them. Awareness of the more diverse Southern Kurdish varieties is less definitive. This indicates that the Kurdish language plays a role in identity formation, but also that smaller isolated varieties are not only endangered in terms of speakers, but also in terms of their representations in Kurds’ mental maps of the linguistic landscape they live in.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 


Anonby, Erik et al. (eds.). 2016. Atlas of the Languages of Iran. Ottawa: Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre. (retrieved 22 January 2016.).Google Scholar
Anselin, Luc, Syabri, Ibnu & Kho, Youngihn. 2006. GeoDa: An introduction to spatial data analysis. Geographical Analysis 38. 5-22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Asadpour, Hiwa. 2011. The computer developed linguistic atlas of Azerbaijan-e Qarbi: Notes on typological-perceptual approach in geolinguistics. Tehran: Islamic Azad University dissertation.Google Scholar
Benedikt, Josef, Reinberg, Sebastian & Riedl, Leopold. 2004. Vague geographical knowledge management: A flow-chart based application to spatial information analysis. In Rita de Caluwe, Guy de Tré & Gloria Bordogna (eds.), Spatio-temporal databases: Flexible querying and reasoning. 314-329. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
Benedikt, Josef, Reinberg, Sebastian & Riedl, Leopold. 2002. A GIS application to enhance cell based information modelling. International Journal of Information Sciences 142. 151-159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Belelli, Sara. 2016. A Study on language and folklore in the city of Harsin (Kermānshāh Province, West Iran): Sketch grammar with texts and lexicon. Naples: University of Naples dissertation.Google Scholar
Britain, David. 2010. Conceptualisations of geographic space in linguistics. In Alfred Lameli, R. Kehrein & S. Rabanus (eds.), Language and space, an international handbook of linguistic variation, 2. 69-97. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Britain, David. 2009. Language and space: The variationist approach. In Peter Auer & J. E. Schmidt (eds.), Language and space, an international handbook of linguistic variation, 142-162. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Burrough, Peter A. & McDonnell, Rachael A.. 1998. Principles of geographical information systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Butters, Ronald R. 1991. Review of Dennis Preston, perceptual dialectology. Language in Society 20. 294-299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chambers, J.K. & Trudgill, Peter. 1998. Dialectology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Couclelis, Helen. 1996. Towards an operational typology of geographic entities with ill-defined boundaries. In Peter A. Burrough & Andrew Frank (eds.), Geographic objects with indeterminate boundaries. 45-57. Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
Cramer, Jennifer. 2010. The effect of borders on the linguistic production and perception of regional identity in Louisville, Kentucky. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign dissertation.Google Scholar
Cramer, Jennifer & Montgomery, Chris (eds.). 2016. Cityscapes and perceptual dialectology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Demirci, Mahide & Kleiner, Brian 1998. The perception of Turkish dialects. In Dennis Preston (ed.), Handbook of perceptual dialectology 3. 263-281. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
Edwards, John. 2006. Players and power in minority-group settings. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 27(1). 4-21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Edwards, John. 1992. Sociopolitical aspects of language maintenance and loss: towards a typology of minority language situations. In Willem Fase, Koen Jaspaert & Sjaak Kroon (eds.), Maintenance and Loss of Minority Languages, 37-54. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ehala, Martin. 2005. The role of MTE in language maintenance and developing multiple identities. In Siegfried Kiefer & Kari Sallamaa (eds.), European identities in mother tongue education, 36-50. Linz: Trauner Verlag.Google Scholar
Evans, Betsy E. 2013. “Everybody sounds the same”: Otherwise overlooked ideology in perceptual dialectology. American Speech 88(1). 63-80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Evans, Betsy. 2011. “Seattletonian” to “Faux hick”: Mapping perceptions of English in WA. American Speech 86(4). 383-413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fattah, Ismasil K. 2000. Les DialectesKurdesMéridionaux: étudelinguistiqueetdialec-tologique. Louvain: Peeters.Google Scholar
Giles, Howard, Y. Bourhis, Richard & Taylor, Donald. 1977. Towards a theory of language in ethnic group relations. In Howard Giles (ed.), Language, ethnicity and intergroup relations, 307-348. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Goodey, Brian. 1971. City scene: An exploration into the image of central Birmingham as seen by area residents. Birmingham: Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Birmingham.Google Scholar
Gould, Peter & White, Rodney. 1986. Mental maps, 2nd edn. Boston: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
Gunes, Cengiz. 2012. The Kurdish national movement in Turkey: From protest to resistance. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Haig, Geoffrey & Matras, Yaron. 2002. Kurdish linguistics: a brief overview. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung / Language Typology and Universals 55(1). 3-14.Google Scholar
Haig, Geoffrey & Öpengin, Ergin. 2014. Introduction to Special Issue – Kurdish: A critical research overview. Kurdish Studies 2(2). 99-122.Google Scholar
Hassanpour, Amir. 1992. Nationalism and language in Kurdistan, 1918–1985. San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press.Google Scholar
Hassanpour, Amir, Sheyholislami, Jaffer & Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove. 2012. Introduction. Kurdish: Linguicide, resistance and hope. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 2012(217). 118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Izady, Martin. 2014. Languages of the Middle East. (22 January 2017.)Google Scholar
Izady, Martin. 1992. The Kurds: A concise handbook. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
Kemp, Karen K. (ed.). 2007. Encyclopedia of Geographic Information Science. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
Kerswill, Paul. 2002. Models of linguistic change and diffusion: New evidence from dialect levelling in British English. Reading Working Papers in Linguistics 6. 187-216.Google Scholar
Kratochwil, Susanne & Benedikt, Josef. 2005. Talking space: A social & fuzzy logical GIS perspective on modelling spatial dynamics. In Frederick E. Petry, Vincent B. Robinson & Maria A. Cobb (eds.), Fuzzy modeling with spatial information for geographic problems, 159-185. Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Le Monde Diplomatique. 2007. Geographic distribution of Kurdish and Zaza–Goran. (22 January 2017).Google Scholar
Lynch, Kevin. 1960. The image of the city. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
MacKenzie, David N. 1961. Kurdish dialect studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Maguire, David. J., Goodchild, Michael F. & Rhind, David W. (eds.). 1991. Geographical Information Systems: Principles and applications, vol. 1. London: Longman.Google Scholar
Mahmoudveysi, Parvin & Bailey, Denise. 2013. The Gorani Language of Zarda, a village of West Iran. Texts, grammar and lexicon. Wiesbaden: Reichert.Google Scholar
Matras, Yaron. 2016. “The Dialects of Kurdish” Project. (22 January, 2016.)Google Scholar
Montgomery, Chris. 2012. The effect of proximity in perceptual dialectology. Journal of Sociolinguistics 16(5). 638-668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Montgomery, Chris & Beal, Joan C.. 2011. Perceptual dialectology. In Warren Maguire & April McMahon (eds.), Analysing variation in English, 121-148. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Montgomery, Chris & Stoeckle, Philipp. 2013. Geographic information systems and perceptual dialectology: a method for processing draw-a-map data. Journal of Linguistic Geography 1. 52-85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moseley, Christopher (ed.). 2010. Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, 3rd edn. Paris, UNESCO Publishing. (22 January 2017.)Google Scholar
Niedzielski, Nancy A. & Preston, Dennis R.. 2003. Folk linguistics. New York: Mouton.Google Scholar
Onishi, Isao & Long, Daniel. 1997. Perceptual dialectology quantifier (PDQ) for Windows.,long/maps/perceptmaps.htm. (22 January, 2017.)Google Scholar
Öpengin, Ergin. 2016. The Mukri variety of Central Kurdish: Grammar, texts, lexicon. Wiesbaden: Reichert.Google Scholar
Öpengin, Ergin. 2013. Clitic/affix interactions: A corpus-based study of the person marking in the Mukri variety of Central Kurdish. Paris, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle & Bamberg: Universität Bamberg dissertation.Google Scholar
Öpengin, Ergin & Haig, Geoffrey. 2014. Regional variation in Kurmanji: A preliminary classification of dialects. Kurdish Studies 2(2). 143-176.Google Scholar
Orleans, Peter. 1967. Differential cognition of urban residents: Effects of social scale on mapping. In J. G. Truxal (ed.), Science, engineering, and the city, 103-117. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
Östman, Jan-Ola & Mattfolk, Leila. 2011. Ideologies of standardisation: Finland Swedish and Swedish-language Finland. In Tore Kristiansen & Nikolas Coupland (eds.), Standard languages and language standards in a changing Europe, 75-83. Oslo: Novus.Google Scholar
Postlep, Sebastian. 2015. Wahrnehmung von Sprache und der kommunikative Raum – Möglichkeiten und Grenzen einer raumbasierten Auswertung von Perzeptionsdaten. Paper presented at the Workshop zur Perzeptionslinguistik, Universität Wien, 24. Oktober 2015.Google Scholar
Preston, Dennis. 2010. Perceptual dialectology in the 21st century. In Christina Ada Anders, Markus Hundt & Alexander Lasch (eds.), “Perceptual Dialectology”: Neue Wege der Dialektologie. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1-29.Google Scholar
Preston, Dennis R. (ed.). 1998. Handbook of perceptual dialectology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
Preston, Dennis R. 1982. Perceptual dialectology: Mental maps of United States dialects from a Hawaiian perspective. Hawaii Working Papers in Linguistics 14. 5-49.Google Scholar
Preston, Dennis R. & Howe, George M.. 1987. Computerized studies of mental dialect maps. In Keith M. Dennning, Sharon Inkelas, Faye McNair-Knox, John Rickford (eds.), Variation in language: NWAV-XV at Stanford (Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Conference on New Ways of Analyzing Variation), 361–378. Stanford, CA: Department of Linguistics, Stanford University.Google Scholar
Robinson, Vincent B. 1988. Some Implications of fuzzy set theory applied to geographic databases. Computers, Environment & Urban Systems 12(2). 88-97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sheyholislami, Jaffer. 2015. The language varieties of the Kurds. In Wolfgang Taucher, Mathias Vogl & Peter Webinger (eds.), The Kurds: History – Religion – Language – Politics, 30-52. Vienna: Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior.Google Scholar
Smith, Michael J. de, Goodchild, Michael F. & Longley, Paul A.. 2015. Geospatial analysis: A comprehensive guide to principles, techniques and software tools, 5th edn. Winchelsea: The Winchelsea Press.Google Scholar
Stuart-Smith, Jane. 2011. The view from the couch: Changing perspectives on the role of television in changing language ideologies and use. In Tore Kristiansen & Nikolas Coupland (eds.), Standard languages and language standards in a changing Europe, 223-239. Oslo: Novus.Google Scholar
Tobler, Waldo. 1970. A computer movie simulating urban growth in the Detroit region. Economic Geography 46. 234-240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zazah, El-hadi & Desachy, Jacky J.. 1993. Symbolic and numeric data analysis in a geographic information system: A fuzzy neural network approach. In Erich P. Klement & Wolfgang Slany (eds.), FLAI93, Conference Proceedings. Vienna.Google Scholar
You have Access
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

A perceptual dialectological approach to linguistic variation and spatial analysis of Kurdish varieties
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

A perceptual dialectological approach to linguistic variation and spatial analysis of Kurdish varieties
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

A perceptual dialectological approach to linguistic variation and spatial analysis of Kurdish varieties
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *