Kurdish activists push for Kurdish language Duolingo course
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A group of Kurdish activists have launched a Twitter account called Duolingo Kurdi to show the world’s most popular language learning-app Duolingo that there is a huge demand for a Kurdish language course on the application.
“We launched our Twitter account on May 3, 2020,” Servan Amed, 25, one of the members of the group based in Germany, told Kurdistan 24. “We are a group of 10 persons from different backgrounds, we have a Kurdish translator, a linguist, and my background is from the aerospace industry. We met each other [on] the internet.”
This is the Kurdish brother of Duo (the Duolingo Mascot). He would love to see a Kurdish course on Duolingo and needs your help to be heard by the Duolingo team.— Înisiyatîva Duolingo Kurdî (@duolingokurdi) May 21, 2020
Retweet / Share this message to make his dream to come true! pic.twitter.com/axQWYSxnVm
“The reason we want to have a Kurdish language course on Duolingo is because Duolingo is the most popular way to learn a language online,” Amed noted. “Therefore, we think that a Duolingo Kurdish language course would help Kurds and non-Kurds learn the language in an easy way.”
Gulsuma Demir, a teacher of the Kurmanji dialect, who runs the website and Twitter account Kurdish lessons and is part of the Duolingo Kurdi campaign, said the initiative aims “to gather people who want to see a Kurdish course on Duolingo.”
“Based on my experiences, I can say that a Kurdish Duolingo course will be a great opportunity for people to learn Kurdish,” Demir stated. “Duolingo is the world’s most popular language-learning platform with over 300 million registered users. It is free and easily accessible for people, which will make it an excellent platform to learn Kurdish.”
For their goal, the group of activists have already found over 20 contributors that are willing to help develop a Duolingo Kurdish application. “Some language courses only have two contributors, but Duolingo wants to know if there is a demand for a language” before it begins new courses in that language, Amed added. “With our Twitter account, we want to show that there is a demand.”
So far, the official Kurdish Kurmanji Thread on the Duolingo Forum already has over 600 comments and is still rising. On Twitter, the account has over 2,000 followers.
“Duolingo already sent us a private message on Twitter that they are aware of the initiative. However, they need enough people to develop a Kurdish course and recruit employees.”
Although the Kurdish language was repressed by states in the region, it has recently received more online recognition with internet giants Google, Microsoft, and Facebook who have added Kurdish dialects to their translation services. Wikipedia also has Kurdish pages in Sorani and Kurmanji. Wîkîpediya Kurdî now has over 30,000 articles in Kurdish due to volunteers.
The Kurdish language may be restricted in several countries, but dedicated volunteers are working in secret to keep the language alive on Wikipedia.— Wikipedia (@Wikipedia) August 9, 2020
Thanks to them, Wîkîpediya Kurdî has more than 30,000 articles!
Learn some Kurdish vocab this #IndigenousDay ? pic.twitter.com/SAbjsuFVku
Moreover, several countries with Kurdish populations have started to provide official information in Kurdish on the coronavirus and government regulations.
The Kurdish activists now hope that Duolingo will also support the preservation of the Kurdish language and open a language course in the Kurmanji dialect, the most widely spoken Kurdish dialect across the Greater Kurdistan and the only one that has speakers in all four parts of the Kurdish homeland in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, respectively.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany