What Language is Spoken in Iraq?

Iraq is officially known as the Republic of Iraq. It is located in Western Asia surrounded by Turkey on the Northside, Iran in the East, Saudi Arabia on the south, Kuwait in the South-Eastern. Moreover, Syria on the west, and Jordan on the southwest side. The biggest city and capital of Iraq are Baghdad. It is a very diverse country with many diverse ethnic groups. The ethnic groups that reside in Iraq are Turkmens, Assyrians, Yazidis, Armenians, Kawliya, Yazidis, Shabakis, Circassians, Sabian Mandaeans, Kurds, and Arabs. Approximately, 95-98% of the population are Muslims. Minority groups like Mandaeans, Yezidis, Yarsans, and Christians are also residing in Iraq. Want to know about the language is spoken Iraq? Let’s dive into the history of the country first.

History of Iraq

Years ago, the land which is now called Iraq was called Mesopotamia. It means the land between rivers. It is a land of muddy plains that is famous for its rich civilization like Assyria, Babylon, Babylon, Akkad, and Sumer. It is also called the land of Fertile Crescent and later on, it became a hub of politics for Roman, Greek, and Persian dynasties. It became a central part of the Islamic world after the 7th century.

Baghdad became the capital of the Abbasid caliphate in the 8th century. After World War 1, the modern state of Iraq was created from the Ottoman areas of Mosul, Basra, and Baghdad. Its name is derived from the Arabic term that is used to describe Mesopotamia, north-western Iran, and Persia.

Iraq is said to be the birthplace of Assyrian and Babylonian society. This region became part of the growing Ottoman Empire by the 16th century till the time when the British took control in 1918 under the Treaty of Sevres. In 1958, the Hashemite monarchy came to an end while bringing political reforms and legislation changes. After this revolution, the Soviet Union started supplying arms to Iraq.

Culture of Iraq

From ancient Mesopotamia till the Western confrontation, Iraq’s culture is deeply influenced by the changes. Iraq history depicts the world’s oldest civilizations. It is impacted by different civilizations. Iraqis are generally identified as Arabs because of their religion Islam whereas Kurds living in Iraq have their own identity. The ethnic groups in Iraq have preserved their own identity by preserving their norms. The rich history and culture have a great impact on Iraq languages

Official language in iraq

The constitution of Iraq has defined the official language. The transitional national assembly of Iraq adopted it on September 18, 2005. The constitution has further confirmed it by conducting a referendum on October 15, 2005. The official announcement of the constitution was published on December 28, 2005, in the Arabic language in the official gazette of Iraq. It is further translated into the English language for international use by the Iraqi officials and United Nations.

As per article 4 of the constitution, Arabic and Kurdish are the official languages that are spoken in Iraq whereas the other three languages, Turkmen, Armenian, and Syriac are considered as minority languages. Moreover, any region or province may declare other languages official when the majority of the population approves it in a general referendum.

Arabic language

The Arabic language spoken in Iraq is called Mesopotamian Arabic. It is a part of the variety of Arabic that is spoken in the Mesopotamian part of Iraq and the areas like Syria, south-eastern Turkey, Iran, and multiple communities in Iraq. Mesopotamian Arabic is a part of the Aramaic Syriac dialect. It is greatly influenced by the old Mesopotamian languages of Akkadian and Sumerian.

Moreover, other languages are spoken in Iraq that influence this language are Greek, Kurdish, Turkish and Persian. Mesopotamian Arabic is considered to be part of most Aramaic-Syriac impacted by the influence of Arabic. It originated from Mesopotamian and spread all over the Middle East during the Neo-Assyrian period. Therefore, it became a lingua franca of the whole region before Islam. Assyrians and Iraqi Arabs are large groups of Semitic peoples that share similarities between Syriac and Arabic in Iraq.

Kurdish Language

The Kurdish language is a West Iranian language and also an Indo-Iranian language. It is mainly spoken in Kurdistan. After the Persian and Pashto, it is ranked as the third-largest Iranian language with many dialects. It is native to around 20-40 million people. It has three dialect groups. Northern Kurdish also called Kurmanji, is spoken in Iraq, Mosul, and Turkey. Kurdish is written with Latin characters.

The literal work of this language is called Sarangi. It is widely spoken in the region of Orumiyeh, Iran, and the regions that lie in the lower part of traditional Kurdistan in Iraq. Kurdish is written using a modified Perso-Arabic script. Southern Kurdish is also called Pehlewani but this dialect is not much studied.

Sumerian Language

This language is spoken in ancient Sumer and Mesopotamian which is modern Iraq today.  It is one of the earliest written languages. The proto-literate period of the Sumerian language spanned from the 35th to 32nd centuries BC. In this period, logographs were used with phonological content. The oldest document of the proto-literate period is called the Kish tablet.

In the 3rd millennium BC, a diverse culture was developed between the Semitic-speaking Akkadians and Sumerians which created bilingualism. The East Semitic language Akkadian and the Sumerian language impacted each other in all aspects of language whether they are loan words or lexical conjunction. Therefore, scholars consider Sumerian and Akkadian as Sprachbund.

English Language

Although Arabic and Kurdish are the official languages of Iraq, people living in bigger cities like Erbil, Sulaymaniyah understand and speak English. If you wish to visit Iraq and don’t know Arabic and Kurdish then don’t worry. Kurdish will try to communicate with you in a language that you understand.

Therefore, if you speak English then Kurdish will communicate with you in English to provide you great hospitality services. English is widely spoken in the main cities of the country whereas you have to struggle in finding an English speaker outside the main cities.

Syriac-Aramaic Language

Syriac-Aramaic is one of the local languages that is recognized in Iraq. It is spoken by Syrian Christians that live in the North of Iraq. Moreover, it is a part of Middle Aramaic. The history of this language is dated back to the 1st century AD. It became an important literary language in the Middle East from the 4th to the 8th centuries. Syriac Christians used it for religious rituals in Churches. Some schools in Iraq also taught this language

Feyli language

Feyli Kurds also known as Iraqi Lurs that reside in Iraq’s central and Eastern parts are mostly Shia. They spoke southern dialects of Kurdish such as Sorani Furthermore, the language spoken by the Feylis group is called Lurish language. It is the minority language of the country.

Syriac Language

Millions of people who are Iraqi-Chaldo-Assyrians, immigrants, and Syriac-speaking people from Mesopotamia speak the Syriac language. Different dialects of Syriac include Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, and Mandaic. 

Other Languages Spoken in Iraq

The people of Iraq speak several minority languages. Armenian immigrants who settled in Iraq especially in Baghdad in the 19th and 20th century speak the Armenian language. Many Turkmens also reside in Iraq. They have maintained their identity and speak the Turkmen language. A large number of Turkmens live in Baghdad, Erbil, Saladin, and Nineveh. Other ethnic groups like Persians also live in Iraq.

This group was identified when Iraq and Iran Identified their borders. One ethnicity group, Zaza-Gourani, lives in the Northern part of Iraq and resulted in the formation of six languages. In the area of Halabja, Khanagin, and Mosul, the largest dialect of Gorani is spoken. The other ethnic language is Domari. It is spoken by Indian nomadic groups that live around Iraq’s biggest cities and towns. Iraqi people also speak Aramaic tongues.

 How Iraq is Preserving Minority Languages

Iraq is taking many steps to preserve the minority languages. For example, to save the Syriac language, it has included this language in the syllabus of 152 public schools. The Christian community of Iraq is taking initiatives to preserve the Christian culture. Furthermore, the Iraqi government is also encouraging its population to learn their native tongue.

Wrapping Up

Do you want to know the rich civilization of Muslims in Iraq? CCJK is here for your assistance. At CCJK, we have a team of native translators who are aware of all the complexities of the language spoken in Iraq. Thus, they provide you with seamless Professional translation services at a fast turnaround time and economical rates. For further details, contact us.

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