Language as a bridge and a barrier in Iraq

 

Since the creation of Kurdish Regional Government in Northern Iraq in 1991, political and linguistic disparities have been accentuated between Kurds and Arabs. The number of young people proficient in Arabic in the Kurdish governates of Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah is decreasing. This means that many young Arabs and Kurds no longer have a common language. Language is a very important, but also useful tool, in creating a shared identity. Language in many cases acts as a barrier between Kurds and Arabs in Iraq. However, there is hope that more Arabs will learn Kurdish in order to better understand Kurdish society. Luma Hussein from Al-Noor, a woman’s Non-Governmental Organisation in Baghdad, believes learning Kurdish would benefit her because Kurdistan has more experience in developing civil society organisations. The forced use of Arabic during the Saddam regime has caused Kurds to view the Arabic language as a potential imposition and an attempt to dilute Kurdish identity. Attitudes are however changing slowly since the demise of Saddam. Will bilingualism no longer be the norm in Iraq’s Kurdistan?

Written by Marcus Lomax on the 28/11/201

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