Languages of Iraq
|Languages of Iraq|
|Official languages||(Standard) Arabic, Kurdish, Syriac-Aramaic, Armenian|
|Main languages||Mesopotamian Arabic|
|Regional languages||Syriac-Aramaic, South Azeri ("Turkmen" in the constitution)1|
|Minority languages||Neo-Aramaic languages, Armenian, South Azeri|
|Main foreign languages||English|
|Sign languages||Iraqi Sign Language|
Arabic is the majority language, Kurdish is spoken by approximately 15-20% of the population, South Azeri (called Turkmen locally),2 Neo-Aramaic languages and others by 5%.3 Other smaller minority languages include Mandaic Shabaki, Armenian, and Persian.
Arabic and Kurdish are the official languages,4 while Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and South Azeri (referred to as respectively "Syriac" and "Turkmen" in the constitution) are recognized regional languages.5 In addition, any region or province may declare other languages official if a majority of the population approves in a general referendum.6
The language with the longest recorded period of use in Iraq is Aramaic, which has a written tradition dating back for 3200 years or more and survives today in its descendants, the Neo-Aramaic languages.
The earliest recorded languages of Iraq were Sumerian and Akkadian (including ancient Assyrian-Babylonian). These languages are now extinct. Sumerian was displaced by Akkadian by 1700 BCE, and Akkadian was displaced by Aramaic gradually, from 1200 BCE to 100 CE. Sumerian and Akkadian (including all Assyrian and Babylonian dialects) were written in the cuneiform script from 3300 BCE onwards. The latest positively identified Akkadian text comes from the first century CE.7
- Ethnologue; David Dalby. 1999/2000. The Linguasphere Register of the World's Languages and Speech Communities (Observatoire Linguistique), p. 346
Hendrik Boeschoten. 1998. "The Speakers of Turkic Languages," The Turkic Languages, ed. Lars Johanson and Éva Ágnes Csató, Routledge, pp. 1–15, see p. 5
- Constitution of Iraq. uniraq.org
- "Iraq, CIA World Factbook". CIA. 31 July 2012. Retrieved August 08, 2012.
- Constitution of Iraq, Article 4 (1st)
- Constitution of Iraq, Article 4 (4th)
- Constitution of Iraq, Article 4 (5th)
- John Huehnergard and Christopher Woods, 2004 "Akkadian and Eblaite", The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages ISBN 0521562562, p. 218.