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Kurdish is the language of over thirty million people living in the Middle East and in the diaspora, particularly in Europe.

Discovering the language

In Turkey, home to over 18 million Kurds, Kurdish was banned from all public use for 70 years. In recent years, a timid opening-up to Kurdish culture has been taking place, albeit at a particularly slow pace. In Iran, home to almost 10 million Kurds, their language has always been excluded from any form of education or official recognition. Apart from a few carefully controlled books and magazines, and a small Kurdish teaching program in the ethnology department at Teheran University, and more recently a small section at Sanandadj University, there is no sign of any encouragement of Kurdish language and culture in Iran. In Syria, home to over 2 million Kurds, with the exception of the 1920-1958 period, the Kurdish language is forbidden and Kurds have no official existence. In the countries of the former Soviet Union, where the number of Kurds exceeded one million, Kurdish language teaching and research teams were more numerous than after its collapse.
The Kurdish diaspora in Europe is estimated at around 1.5 million.

Courses for Kurdish children are the work of voluntary associations and individuals. Students of Kurdish origin or not, who wish to learn Kurdish or deepen their knowledge of the Kurdish language and civilization, have nowhere to turn but Paris, Berlin, Exeter and Uppsala. In the Kurdish studies landscape, there is Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region for almost a quarter of a century, where teaching and research receive a great deal of support from the autonomous Kurdish government. Kurdish is taught from kindergarten through to university, except in a few scientific disciplines where English is placed as the first language.

Studying Kurdish at Inalco

Inalco is the only university in France to offer a degree course in Kurdish from bachelor's to doctorate level. This comprehensive training program is unique in Europe.