Kurmanji (Kurdish: Kurmancî) (sometimes misspelled as Kirmanji, Kurmangi or Kermanji) is the most commonly spoken dialect of Kurdish language. Besides the Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, it’s also spoken by all Kurds living in former Soviet countries; in Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Ukraine, as well as, by the Kurds in Lebanon. It’s also spoken by the vast majority of diaspora Kurds living in Europe, USA, Canada and Australia.
Kurmanji is the ceremonial language of national Kurdish religion “Yezidism”. The sacred book Mushafa Resh (Black Book) and all the prayers are written and said in Kurmanji. Kurmanji is the only dialect of Kurdish that is spoken in all four parts of Kurdistan.
In Kurdistan of Turkey almost all Kurds, (except those who speak Zazaki) speak Kurmanji. It’s also the mother tongue of the all Kurds in Kurdistan of Syria. Iran and Iraq also has a significant amount of Kurmanji speakers.
In Iraq, Kurmanji is spoken in the north parts of the country, primarily in the cities of Mosul, Duhok, Zakho, Akre, Amedia, Sheikhan, Shangal. In Iran, Kurmanji is spoken in the northern parts of the country, in the cities of Urmia, Maku, Xoy as well as exile by some two million Kurds living in Khorasan province of Iran. It’s also spoken by exiled Kurds in Middle Anatolia of Turkey, in cities like Ankara, Konya, Kirsehir, Eskisehir and some others.
Kurmanji is also spoken by 200,000 Kurdophones settled around Kabul, in Afghanistan and some in Pakistan.
Kurmanji is mistakenly called as “Bahdini” in Iraq, due to Kurmanji speaking Kurds living in Bahdinan region. In Iran, it’s sometimes called “Shikaki”, due to major Kurmanji tribe Shikak which is the tribe of legendary Kurdish leader Ismail Aghaye Shikak, known as legendary Simko among the Kurds.
The main theory about the etymology of Kurmanji is that the term Kurmanji, according to Prince Jaladet Bedirkhan, the great Kurdish intellectual who prepared the Latin Kurdish alphabet, comes from Kurd+man+cî which means, those Kurds who remained in their places (not moved like others). In earler publicatons of this century, the term Kurmanji was sometimes spelled with a “d” like “Kurdmanji” but the standard spelling of the term is Kurmanji in English and Kurmancî in Kurdish.
One other theory is that the term Kurmanji is believed by some scholars to mean Median Kurd. Some scholars say the older form of this word is Khormenj (also possibly Hormenj, which means “place of Khormens” or “land of Khormens” in Kurdish). Kurds historically lived in the area Greek sources defined as Armenia; thus Greek Armen could be a rendering of local Khormen. Note that modern Armenians’ name for themselves has historically been Haiq.
The Magi Theory
Other scholars dismiss the above theories as false. These scholars claim the term Kurmanji originates from the two distinct words, kur (“boy” or “child”) and magi. Magi refers to one of the ancient tribes of the Median Empire whose priests are referenced in the Bible and are commonly known as the Three Wise Men from Medya. The direct translation applied to the term Kurên Magî is “Children of Magi”. Scholars say that Manji is simply a distorted form of the original term. These scholars also claim that the Magi tribe, or followers of the priests that were referred to as “Magi of the people”, may have been the original speakers of Proto-Kurdish. Indeed pre-modern documents write the name Kurmanj as Kurmaj; For instance Masture Ardalan writes: ... the third group of Kurmaj are Baban… Also there is a desire in Kurdish to add a n before j. (ex. Iranian taj in Kurdish becomes tanj.and “ n” in some words is optional eg. “mi” English” i” can be spoken “min”). But probably it has more than one meaning as it is seen above since all theese meanings fully related to each other and as many important names and countless words in Kurmanci/Kurdish has more than one meaning.Thus the name/word Kurmanc and Kurmanci has e few meanings