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Kurdish vs. Turkish: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Kurdish refers to a language and culture of the Kurdish people, indigenous to parts of Western Asia, while Turkish pertains to the language and culture of Turkey, a country straddling Europe and Asia.
Kurdish vs. Turkish

Key Differences

Kurdish is a language spoken by the Kurdish people, primarily in regions spanning Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. Turkish, on the other hand, is spoken in Turkey and is a member of the Turkic language family, originating in Central Asia.
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Dec 24, 2023
Culturally, Kurdish traditions and customs have been shaped by their history in the mountainous regions of Western Asia, often influenced by their nomadic and agricultural lifestyle. Turkish culture, conversely, is heavily influenced by its Ottoman heritage and its unique position bridging Europe and Asia, resulting in a rich blend of Eastern and Western traditions.
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The Kurdish population is predominantly Sunni Muslim, but it also includes groups practicing other faiths. Turkish society is predominantly Muslim, but it is known for its secular constitution and diverse religious practices due to its historical role as the center of the Ottoman Empire.
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In terms of political history, Kurds have long sought greater autonomy and recognition of their cultural and linguistic rights within the countries they inhabit. Turkey, as a nation-state, has a complex history that includes the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923.
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Linguistically, Kurdish is written in three different scripts – Kurmanji, Sorani, and Pahlavani – depending on the region. Turkish was historically written in the Arabic script but switched to a Latin-based alphabet under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's reforms in the 1920s.
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Comparison Chart

Language Family

Indo-European, Iranian branch
Turkic language family
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Script

Kurmanji, Sorani, and Pahlavani
Latin-based alphabet (since 1920s)
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Geographic Distribution

Primarily in parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey
Mainly in Turkey
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Cultural Influences

Nomadic and agricultural influences, regional diversity
Ottoman heritage, blend of Eastern and Western traditions
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Political History

Struggles for autonomy and cultural recognition
Transition from Ottoman Empire to modern republic
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Kurdish and Turkish Definitions

Kurdish

It represents the ethnic identity of the Kurdish people.
Kurdish attire is known for its vibrant colors and intricate patterns.
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Turkish

Turkish refers to the language spoken predominantly in Turkey.
Turkish is known for its distinctive vowel harmony.
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Kurdish

Kurdish refers to the language of the Kurdish people.
Many Kurdish poems reflect the region's rich history.
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Turkish

Turkish also denotes the culture and traditions of Turkey.
Turkish coffee is famous for its strong, rich flavor.
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Kurdish

Kurdish can be used to describe political movements related to Kurdish autonomy.
The Kurdish struggle for recognition has gained international attention.
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Turkish

It describes the national identity of people from Turkey.
Turkish hospitality is renowned for its warmth and generosity.
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Kurdish

It is also applied to regional Kurdish cuisine.
Kurdish dolma is a popular dish made with stuffed vegetables.
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Turkish

Turkish can relate to the culinary traditions of Turkey.
Turkish kebabs are popular around the world.
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Kurdish

Kurdish also pertains to the culture and traditions of the Kurds.
Kurdish music often features the daf, a traditional drum.
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Turkish

Of or relating to Turkey or its peoples, languages, or cultures.
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Kurdish

Of or relating to the Kurds or their language or culture.
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Turkish

The Turkic language of Turkey.
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Kurdish

Any of a group of Iranian languages spoken by the Kurds.
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Turkish

Ottoman Turkish.
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Kurdish

Of or pertaining to the Kurds, the Kurdish language, or Kurdistan.
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Turkish

Of or pertaining to Turkey or the Turks.
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Kurdish

The language of the Kurds; it is related to Farsi, the modern Iranian language.
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Turkish

A Turkic language spoken by the Turks
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Kurdish

An Iranian language spoken in Turkey and Iran and Iraq and Syria and Russia
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Turkish

Of or relating to or characteristic of Turkey or its people or language;
Turkish towels
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Kurdish

Of or relating to Kurdistan or the Kurds or their language and culture;
Kurdish Moslems
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Turkish

It is also associated with Turkey's architectural and historical heritage.
Turkish baths, or hamams, are an important part of traditional Turkish culture.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Where is Kurdish primarily spoken?

In parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.
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Dec 24, 2023

Where is Turkish spoken?

Mainly in Turkey and some communities in Cyprus and Balkan countries.
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Can Kurds speak Turkish?

Some Kurds in Turkey can speak Turkish, often due to cultural and linguistic assimilation.
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Are Kurds and Turks the same ethnicity?

No, they are distinct ethnic groups with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
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What is Kurdish?

Kurdish is a language and cultural identity of the Kurdish people in Western Asia.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 24, 2023

What is Turkish?

Turkish refers to the language and culture of Turkey.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 24, 2023

What script is used for Kurdish?

Kurdish uses the Kurmanji, Sorani, and Pahlavani scripts.
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Dec 24, 2023

Are Kurdish and Turkish related linguistically?

No, Kurdish is an Indo-European language, while Turkish is part of the Turkic language family.
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Dec 24, 2023

What script does Turkish use?

Turkish uses a Latin-based alphabet.
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What religions do Kurds follow?

Predominantly Sunni Muslim, with other religious groups also present.
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What is the dominant religion in Turkey?

Islam, but Turkey is known for its secular constitution.
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What is a traditional Turkish garment?

The fez and traditional Ottoman attire.
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Are Kurdish and Turkish cuisines similar?

There are some similarities due to regional proximity, but each has unique characteristics.
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Do Kurdish and Turkish music share similarities?

While there may be some regional influences, each has distinct musical traditions.
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What is a significant aspect of Turkish political history?

The transition from the Ottoman Empire to the modern Republic of Turkey.
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Is Turkish easy to learn for Kurdish speakers?

It depends on individual aptitude, but they are linguistically different, making it a challenge.
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What is a notable Kurdish political issue?

The Kurdish struggle for autonomy and cultural recognition.
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What is a traditional Kurdish garment?

Colorful and intricately patterned dresses and headwear.
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What is a famous Kurdish festival?

Newroz, marking the Kurdish New Year.
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What is a significant Turkish festival?

Bayram, a celebration marking the end of Ramadan.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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