Kurdish language and translation in Kurdish media

The Kurdish press, which started in the nineteenth century, has taken great historic steps so far. Despite endeavors in many areas, the Kurdish language did not go beyond the translation stage. There is no doubt that the main reason for this is the occupation of Kurdistan and the lack of chances to learn in the mother language.

A few days ago, on May 15th, Kurds celebrated the Kurdish Language Day. Despite continued repression in Kurdistan, the Kurdish people have preserved their language and have constantly worked to develop it. Since the nineteenth century, the Kurdish language has entered the field of journalism, and from that period until now, it has left a rich media heritage.

In the twenty-first century, the press has turned into an important primary mean of promotion and propaganda, unfortunately, the Kurdish language has not lived up to the language of the press, despite the longitudinal experiences, capabilities, and conditions available today. The Kurdish press relies primarily on translation from other languages. What are the reasons behind this situation, sinnce the Kurds are studying the Kurdish language in schools, and many Kurdish universities have been established now?

In this file, we will try to shed light on the relationship and interrelationship between the Kurdish language and translation in the Kurdish press, the reasons for lack of a unified guide and ways to solve and overcome these problems.

A brief history of the Kurdish press

On April 22, 1898, the first Kurdish newspaper, Kurdistan Newspaper, was founded in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, by Meqdad Jalladat Badirakhan. On this day, the first seeds of the Kurdish press were planted. In 1973, April 22 was considered the Kurdish Press Day in Southern Kurdistan.

With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the Turkish Republic, repression against the Kurdish press escalated, as the licensing of Kurdish publications was stopped and blocked. However, the Kurds went on the march of the Kurdish press, and several Kurdish newspapers and magazines were issued in Iraq, Syria and Beirut during the twentieth century.

The Kurdish press in kurdish continued until the 1990s, and many newspapers and magazines were published. In 1995, the first Kurdish satellite channel emerged in Belgium, marking a new stage in the Kurdish press.

However, the Turkish state and the rest of the colonial powers did not stop suppressing the Kurdish press, as during this past period, hundreds of newspapers, magazines, websites, satellite channels, radio stations, and Kurdish news agencies were banned and their property confiscated.

After long experiences, and as of the 2000s, the Kurdish press was no longer limited to a number of newspapers, magazines and TV channels. With the new technology, news agencies broadcat the news in the Kurdish and many other languages in Kurdistan or abroad.

Teaching in other languages ​​instead of the mother tongue

There is no doubt that the march of the free Kurdish press was not furnished with flowers, especially with the continued repression in parts of Kurdistan as well as in Europe. The main reason for this situation is to prevent the Kurdish people from receiving education in their mother tongue, even speaking in the Kurdish language has become a punishable crime. This forced the Kurds to learn in Turkish, Arabic and Persian instead of learning in the Kurdish language.

The occupation forces sought to establish the idea that the Kurdish language is suitable for education or to be the language of journalism and information. Accordingly, the process of preparing and drafting Kurdish news is influenced by the Turkish language in Northern Kurdistan and the Arabic language in Rojava and Southern Kurdistan.

The second reason is the absence of a standard, independent Kurdish media organization at the level of the four parts of Kurdistan, as is the case, for example, in the Arab world, where the General Union of Arab Journalists is located. Because of this, the press in every part of Kurdistan works to formulate the news language according to the style and method of the language of the occupied country.

The third reason is the failure to reach a comprehensive Kurdish consensus on the rules of the Kurdish language, which leads to fragmentation and division in the Kurdish language, forcing the media to use other languages ​​to find formulas and media terms.

On this subject, as well as about the shortcomings of the guide for the Kurdish linguist, the editor in the Kurdish section of Hawar news agency Ali Arslan says: "There is a close relationship between language and media work. This relationship is evident in the Kurdish language largely because it has evolved mostly through the media. Therefore, if the journalist does not master the language, they will damage the language instead of improving it. We as journalists, in response, lack academies and media rehabilitation institutions, which means that the Kurdish journalist is not experienced enough. As the issue of the unified standard language sometimes causes some problems, but the weakness of terms and synonyms requires them to find a standard language, in order to achieve this, there must be close cooperation among the Kurdish journalists.

Promotion and definition should be in Kurdish

The fourth reason is not to think according to the logic and spirit of the Kurdish language, but according to the logic of other languages. The journalist and editor of Mesopotamia news agency, Abd al-Rahman Kok, spoke about this: “Some journalists who have been educated and trained to work as journalists in the Kurdish use the vocabulary and languages ​​of the occupying powers, and legalize the press in the Turkish language. For example, we sometimes say that the goal is to communicate our suffering to that. We write the Turkish language, or a small percentage of the readers read in the Kurdish language, and we must introduce ourselves. This trend in itself indicates that our minds are still occupied. ”

The fifth reason is the absence of unity among the Kurdish forces and political parties. This directly affects the Kurdish media, which leads each media organization to adopt a different method and style than the other.

The division among the Kurdish political forces affects the Kurdish media

Journalist Maryam Ali, who works in Southern Kurdistan, says, “The division affects the language of education and media as well. For example, it is not possible to talk about a standard Kurdish language.”

In Southern Kurdistan, the language is completely influenced by the attitudes and ideas of political parties.

Despite all these, the Kurdish people did not stop the march of the Kurdish press and brought it to high levels.

Despite dozens of Kurdish media means and their potentials, the question remains: Why is the Kurdish in media captive of translation? In other words, the possibilities to develop the Kurdish into a media language. If we consider Rojava and Southern Kurdistan conditions, there are no obstacles for the Kurdish media.

 Few numbers of Kurdish correspondents

Kok, who works for the press in Northern Kurdistan and Turkey, says that most of the Kurdish news in the four parts of Kurdistan and diaspora is translated news due to the few numbers of correspondents in the Kurdish language.

On the Kurdish status in Northern Kurdistan, Kok says: "The Turkish is dominant, it is the education language in Turkish schools, this matter will lead to lack of care about the Kurdish language."

"Our news lacks the content because it is translated"

Kok adds that journalists in Northern Kurdistan write the news in Turkish and then re-translate it into Kurdish: "This leads the news to be monotonous. People are not attracted to monotonous matters, our news lacks soul because it is translated."

He added: “There are dozens of Kurdish institutions and parties, but they use the Turkish languge. If the level of correspondents in the Kurdish language has developed well, they would have forced politicians and representatives of institutions to speak the Kurdish language, but unfortunately, all institutions are undeclared solidarity with regard to weakening and retreating the Kurdish.

‘Reading in Kurdish is very weak’

Kok said that thousands of Kurdish books were issued in Northern Kurdistan, especially since many of the Kurdish detainees write books in Kurdish, but reading them is very low and the distribution network is weak.

He also added: "If we want to strengthen the foundations of the Kurdish press, the reporter must first restrict using the Turkish. There must be purely Kurdish media organizations, and correspondents."

“Kurdish press staff can only speak in Kurdish”

The editor in JINNEWS, Women's news agency, the Kurdish department Munawar Qara Demir, said that Kurdish journalists who work in the media are only fluent in speaking the Kurdish. Some even find it difficult to speak. She added: On the one hand, they are trained in writing. Journalisim affects media in general.

'Dialectic enriches the language'

"The multiplicity of dialects does not affect the development of the language. On the contrary, it enriches the language. Those who master the dialect find it easy to learn other dialects as well."

She also added: "The importance of the Kurdish is not given in the Kurdish media. But for the Kurdish to take root in the field of media, journalists must master the Kurdish."

On the same subject, journalist Ali Arslan says: "All over the world, the journalist must have a literary background. As for us, since we have not received education in the Kurdish, we often do not speak Kurdish. If we are not familiar with Kurdish literature, unfortunately, we will not be able to develop the Kurdish media language, so it is important for every Kurdish journalist to receive education in the Kurdish.

Journalist Karwan Hawrami talked about the situation of the Kurdish media in eastern Kurdistan: "Media in eastern Kurdistan has developed significantly lately. Several media agencies affiliated with the Iranian regime have been established that broadcast in the Kurdish as well. Unfortunately, because of lack of free media, patriots are unable to do journalism, and are subject to arrest.

The main language of media

In Eastern Kurdistan, it is the Persian, in addition to the Kurdish Sorani dialect.

Sorani dialect in Eastern Kurdistan has become the language of media

As for using the Kurdish dialects in the media in Eastern Kurdistan,  Hawrami said: "Sorani is the main dialect in Eastern Kurdistan, but in recent years, the Kalhoriah has also evolved, in addition to the Kurmanji, Lori, Hawrami, and Bakhtiari dialects. Despite the few numbers of Sorani speakers in comparison with the Kalhoriah, Sorani has become the language of the media."

In Southern Kurdistan, the situation is different; there is a federal region and the education is in the Kurdish. Journalist Maryam Ali spoke about the topic: “Since the Federal Kurdistan Regional Government was announced, teaching has been in the Kurdish Aramaic letters. Thanks to Sterik and Arian TVs, the Hawrami and Kalhori dialects are revived."

 Maryam indicated that the Kurdish media in Southern Kurdistan uses the Sorani and Kurmanji dialects, She added: "Karmanji is used either in the dialect of Behdini or the dialect of the rest of Kurdistan, it was formulated in a certain way. Arabic and English ​​are also used in the written media, and other laguages as well, but not as much as Turkish, Arabic and English."

'Education in the Kurdish, but the language of the media in Southern Kurdistan is not standard'

Maryam added: "Although education in Southern Kurdistan is in the mother tongue, but the language of the media is not pure; no standardized language has been developed."

Rashad Sorkol pointed out that the Kurdish media has taken important steps, adding: "There is no doubt that there are some objective problems, but at the same time it is necessary to work to remove these obstacles. For example, there is no consensus on consistent media language.

'The problems are normal and can be overcome'

Responding to a question about why has not the Kurdish become a major language in the media yet?' As I said earlier there are some regular problems. At the beginning we started with translating, but now we write the news directly in the Kurdish. The problem is that the reporters do not know their language well. Understanding the language is also a problem. When you develop in the field of language assimilation, this will be reflected in the journalistisim as well."

As for solving the current problems, the journalist, Ali Arsalam said: "We often critcise the media language, but this does not rule out the outstanding efforts. There are problems, but with more efforts, we are to overcome them soon. Kurdish media has overcome a lot of difficulties to the present time. Kurds developed their media and left for us rich legacy despite the repression."

'Kurdish must be the formal language in media'

Sorkul noted in the end of his talk to the ways of solving this problem: "We must all learn our language well. It must be the formal language in the media field. We must deal with the Kurdish logic and issues. All media staff should be trained well in Kurdish."

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