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Index / Languages / Iranian / Zaza-Gorani
Also called: Dimli

Figures in 1000.
% of total Zazaki speakers
1,700 85.0%
300 15.0%
By country
Figures in 1000
% of country population
2,000 2.6%
2,000 0.5%

Indo-European Iranian language (Northwestern), spoken by 2 million in Turkey. The language is used by practically all Zazas, in the regions of central-eastern Anatolia.
The adjective of Zazaki, is Zazaish.
There is some confusion to what name should be used for Zazaki. Some sources make Zazaki the main category, Dimli a dialect, other sources, make it the opposite.
Zazaki has earlier been classified under Kurdish. Similar to the Dimli language (mainly Iran), Zazaki's relation to Kurdish is clear, though, but influences from other languages and an independent history have set them apart.
The vocabulary of Zazaki is mainly of Indo-European or Iranian origins, but with many loan words from Arabic and Persian. It is classified together with the Caspian languages, showing most similarities with Gilaki, but also with Mazandarani, Gorani and Talysh.
The first forms of written Zazaki used Arabic script, dating back to 1899. In recent decades, with Zazaki emigrants to Europe, Zazaki has gained a standardized form in the Latin alphabet. In recent years, Zazaki language programs have been introduced on Turkish national TV, much as part of Turkey's attempt to join the European Union.
There are two main forms of Zazaki dialects, although some sources make it three, the third then being Central Zazaki.

This dialect, often called Northern Zazaki, is spoken by 300,000in a large area around cities like Erzurum and Sivas. It has a lexical similarity with Dimli at 70%.
There is a writing system, using Latin script. But most Kirmanjki speakers use Turkish for writing. Kirmanjki is a language that is largely limited to the confines of the village, bveyond this, Turkish is the language in use.
A subsatantial number of ethnic Kirmanjki use Turkish as daily language, but know Kirmanjki as second language. A transition into Turkish has happened over the recent decades.
There are two main dialects: Tunceli and Varto.

Also called: Dimilki
This dialect, often called Southern Zazaki, is spoken by the all other Zazas, counting 1.7 million. Its region has Sanliurfa and Diyarbakir as the main cities.
Confusingly, Dimli is often called simply Zazaki or Zaza.
Dimli has 5 or more dialects: Sivereki; Kori; Hazzu; Motki; and Dumbuli.
It comes close to Gorani.

Central Zazaki
This dialect is classified as belonging to the region with cities like Elazig and Bingöl. There is, however, no data on number of speakers, and the dialect may have died out or become replaced by Turkish or other Zazaki dialects.

By Tore Kjeilen