TRT6 bans 60 Kurdish words

The banned words

TRT6 has a ban on 60 Kurdish words. These words may not be used in broadcasts on the Turkish government’s much-vaunted Kurdish-language station. Are these words offensive? Perhaps akin to the late US comedian George Carlin’s seven words you can never say on television? No, not in the least. These 60 Kurdish words are banned says TRT management because Roj-TV uses these words!

Hmm. Roj-TV broadcasts in Kurdish, right? So doesn’t it make sense that there’s going to be some overlap in word usage? Roj-TV says ‘navnetewî’ (international) so TRT6 can’t? Roj-TV says ‘tenduristî’ (health) so TRT6 says to use the Turkish word ‘sıhhat’ instead? Bizarre.

The proscription of these words was revealed by former TRT6 employee Rengin Elçi, who ended up quitting because of the situation. Elçi argued that you simply cannot ‘replace’ words in Kurdish for others of Arabic, Persian, or Turkish origin, as TRT6 was insisting.

When Elçi began to talk to TRT6 management about the grammatical structure of the language and the spelling of words, for example how you cannot put double letters together in Kurdish (so sıhhat cannot be Kurdish), a staff member of TRT6 shouted, ‘And you have an Oxford Kurdish dictionary!’

Former TRT6 coordinator Sinan Ilhan, who doesn’t even know two words of Kurdish, also claimed that the general Kurdish public wouldn’t understand these 60 words. He knows no Kurdish and was making the decisions on behalf of the native speakers of the language. A rather demeaning assumption and totally off the mark.

But there is a more insidious reason for this ban. The idea that these words have been pulled from TRT6 for their usage on Roj-TV or that ordinary Kurds won’t understand them is a smokescreen. The government, rather, is trying to prevent the Kurdish language from flourishing.

I contacted Deniz Ekici, Kurdish linguist and expert on the Kurdish language, and now an Assistant Professor at Middle Tennessee State University, for his opinion about this. Said Ekici via an email to Kurdistan Commentary:

The TRT authorities banned the said words on the pretext that these words are used by Roj-TV, as if Roj-TV had coined these words. These are pure Kurdish words used by Kurds from all four parts of Kurdistan. It seems like the real reason behind this outrageous decision is that the Turkish government wants to compel the TRT6 staff and the production companies to use the Turkish equivalents of these words, for instance ‘tarîx’ instead of ‘dîrok’; ‘ordu’ instead of ‘artêş’; ‘savci’ instead of ‘dozger’; ‘direktor’ or ‘yonetmen’ instead of ‘derhêner’ and so forth. It is important to note that none of the supposedly Turkish equivalents are really Turkish words. They are all Arabic except for ‘yonetmen’ and the French word ‘direktor’ (from ‘directour’). However, the audience thinks that these are pure Turkish words for they do not speak Arabic or French or other foreign languages, for that matter, from which Turkish has borrowed extensively. By forcing the TRT staff to use ‘Turkish’ words the Turkish state aims to humiliate and make a mockery of the Kurdish language, which in turn reinforces the Turkish state discourse on Kurdish that claims that it is not really a language for it has only a few hundred words of its own and that other words are borrowed from Turkish and other languages and, by extension, the claim that Kurdish is a dialect of Turkish. What is more, in this way the Turkish state tries to invalidate the most vital attribute of Kurdish nation, that is the Kurdish language.

Additionally, TRT6 will not let broadcasters use Kurdish pronunciations of Kurdish towns either. Announcers must say Mardin instead of Mêrdîn, for example.

In a recent survey conducted by the Turkish government to find out who is watching what, Roj-TV won out. TRT6 didn’t even appear in the top ten channels watched by Kurds in Turkey. The survey found that Kurds would rather watch TV in Turkish than tune in to TRT6.

Here is the list of the banned words:

aram: quiet, calm
arîşe: problem, challenge, issue
artêş: army
asayî: normal
asteng: obstacle
belavok: flyer, pamphlet
bijîşk: physician
bûyer: event
çalakî: activity
dadgeh: court (of law)
damezrandin: to establish
darayî: financial, monetary
derhêner: producer (cinema)
dîmen: view, landscape, scenery
dîrok: history
dozger: public prosecutor
ewleyî: security
erdnîgarî: geography
êrîş: attack
fermî: official
gerdûn: universe
girîng: important
helwest: attitude, standpoint
hîndekar: teacher, trainer
komar: republic
kovar: magazine
maf: right
merc: condition, circumstances
mijar: topic
nakokî: conflict, dispute, discrepancy
navnetewî: international
netewe: nation
nexşe: map
nijad: race
niqaş: discussion, debate
nûjen: contemporary, modern
parêzger: lawyer, advocate
pejirandin: to accept
perwerde: education, schooling
pîşesazi: industry
pêşkeş: present, gift
pêvajo: process
pêwîst: necessary, requisite
pirtûk: book
pispor: expert, specialist
qedexe: forbidden
raman: to think, idea
raya gel: public opinion
rexne: criticism
rêxistin: to organise
rizgarî: liberty
şano: theatre
şaredarî: municipal government
tawanbarî: allegation, accusing
taybetî: specialty, genius
têkoşîn: to try, attempt; to struggle
tenduristî: health
wêje: literature
zanîngeh: university
zanyarî: information, knowledge


Sterk, Rewîn. TRT 6, 60 Kürtçe kelimeye yasak getirdi. ANF, 07 December 2010.

13 thoughts on “TRT6 bans 60 Kurdish words

  1. Language reform all over again, lol. Could you provide more info about the survey you mention? I feel curious about it, since from what i read in the Turkish media the channel seemed rather popular. Also, if i remember correctly, trt6 doesnt broadcast all over turkey.

  2. Spas.
    Btw, i contacted cemal atilla, teacher of kurmanji and zaza at the geoaktif kultur merkezi of istanbul, hes advertising these courses a lot in the turkish media (particularly in a newspaper named taraf), but im surprised you still havent published anything about it at KB!

  3. (I contacted him through fb to ask about courses in ankara, but apparently there are still none there although he was willing to send me the materials)

  4. You’re surprised I still haven’t published anything about what exactly? The courses you mentioned?

  5. Yes :-) and the geoaktif place in general, they teach also kurdish dances and the like.

  6. Just a note on language…
    The article states:

    Perhaps the professor missed the fact that “tarîx” is not a word used in Turkish, as Turkish doesn’t use the letter “x” nor the “i” with a roof on the top. It would seem, if I’m not mistaken, that the Turkish spelling of the word would be “tarih.” This spelling error does not change the point being made, nor does it discount the fact that “tarih” comes from Arabic. I just wanted to make note of it.

  7. Apologies; the quote was cut from my previous statement. I quoted the text:
    “…the Turkish equivalents of these words, for instance ‘tarîx’ instead of ‘dîrok’…”

  8. i could understand that “liberty” is “dangerous” word for turks, but i completly dont get in which sense the words “landscape” or “book” can be dangerous?
    OMG – stupidity without borders…

    “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” Albert E. :)

  9. Yes, Kulka, it is a strange list of words, indeed. I would love to know the thought process behind the selection of this list of 60 words!

  10. Hevali heja – there is no such a thing like “thought process”, when we talked about thing called “turkya”. but i was wondering if there were the only 60 words that Roj Tv used. what about the rest? they didnt use any other kurdish words? maybe whole language should be banned now as “terroristic”?
    Orwell and his “1984” is nothing – comapring to these things which i am reading about in that blog.

  11. hello. really they are Turk. as you knew the Turks are anti-reason people and irrational culture .they were wolf worshiper before convert to Islam . and then now their irrationality is mixed with Islam. so its normal for them to do such things ali from india

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