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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

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Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia / Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

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Volume 2018, Issue 253


Language ideologies and identities in Kurdish heritage language classrooms in London

Birgul Yilmaz
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Linguistics, School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, London, UK
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Published Online: 2018-08-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0030


This article investigates the way that Kurdish language learners construct discourses around identity in two language schools in London. It focuses on the values that heritage language learners of Kurdish-Kurmanji attribute to the Kurmanji spoken in the Bohtan and Maraş regions of Turkey. Kurmanji is one of the varieties of Kurdish that is spoken mainly in Turkey and Syria. The article explores the way that learners perceive the language from the Bohtan region to be “good Kurmanji”, in contrast to the “bad Kurmanji” from the Maraş region. Drawing on ethnographic data collected from community-based Kurdish-Kurmanji heritage language classes for adults in South and East London, I illustrate how distinctive lexical and phonological features such as the sounds [a:] ~ [ɔ:] and [ɛ]/[æ] ~ [a:] are associated with regional (and religious) identities of the learners. I investigate how these distinct features emerge in participants’ discourses as distinctive identity markers. More specifically this article examines how language learners construct, negotiate and resist language ideologies in the classroom.

Keywords: language learning; language ideologies; identities and Kurdish


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-08-04

Published in Print: 2018-08-28

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2018, Issue 253, Pages 173–200, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0030.

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