Kurds are speakers of Kurdish, a member of the northwestern subdivision of the Iranic branch of the Indo-Europian family of languages, which is akin to Persian, and by extension to other Europian languages. It is fundamentally different from Semetic Arabic and Altaic Turkish. Modern Kurdish divides into two major groups: 1) the Kurmanji group and, 2) the Dimili-Gurani group. These are supplemented by scores of sub-dialects as well. The most popular vernacular is that of Kurmanji(or Kirmancha), spoken by about three-quarters of the Kurds today. Kurmanji divided into North Kurmanji(also called Bahdinani, with around 15 million speakers, primarily in Turkey, Syria, and the former Soviet Union) and South Kurmanji(also called Sorani, with about 6 million speakers, primarily in Iraq and Iran).
To the far north of Kurdistan along Kizil Irmak and Murat rivers in Turkey, Dimili(less accurately but more commonly known as Zaza) dialect is spoken by about 4 million Kurds. There are small pockets of this language spoken in various croners of Anatolia, northern Iraq, northern Iran and the Caucasus as well.
In the far southern Kurdistan, both in Iraq and Iran, the Gurani dialect is spoken by about 3 million Kurds. Gurani along with its two major subdivisions: Laki and Awramani, merit special attention for its wealth of sacred and secular literature stretching over a millennium.
In Iraq and Iran a modified version of the Perso-Arabic alphabet has been adapted to South Kurmani(Sorani). The Kurds of Turkey have recently embarked on an extensive campaign of publication in the North Kurmanji dialect of Kurmaji (Bahdinani) from their publishing houses in Europe. these employed a modified form of the Latin alphabet. The Kurds of the former Soviet Union first began writing Kurdish in the Armenian alphabet in the 1920s, followed by Latin in 1927 , then Cyrillic in 1945, and now in both Cyrilic and Latin. Gurani dialects continue to employ the Persian alphabet without any change. Dimili now uses the same modified Latin alphabet as North Kurmanji for print.
The most important single features of Kurdistan society since the end of medieval times has been its strong tribal organization, with independence or autonomy being the political status of the land. The society’s process of developing the next stage of societal convergence-and the creation of a political culture of interset in a pan-Kurdish polity-was well under way in Kurdistan when it was decisively aborted with the parcelling out of the country at the end of the First World War. Tribal confederacies thus remain the highest form of social organization, while the political process and the elite remain to large degree tribal. Today, in the absence of a national Kurdish state and government, tribes serve as the highest native source of authority in which people place their allegiance.