Ferhat Yaşar / DUVAR

Wikiferheng is an online Kurdish dictionary that currently consists of 800,000 words, idioms, aphorisms, and other entries. The editors say they aim to reach 1 million words and establish a dictionary that reflects the prominent position of Kurdish among the languages of the world. 

The editors emphasize that they do not wish to simply include words, but also sayings, idioms, words with suffixes, and words in different tenses, adding that English dictionaries with more than 5 million entries include such content. 

A team of five editors manages the site, and they place importance on security and reliability: 

“For an article to be added to Wikiferheng, the requisite word, idiom or aphorism has to be based on at least three sources. All the editors can check the words that are added to the dictionary. At the moment there are four Kurds and one non-Kurd working as administrators for the dictionary. Our administrator who is not Kurdish is working to prevent vandalism and to fix other mistakes; since they do not know Kurdish, they cannot make changes to the content of the articles,” said one editor.

Among the editors’ goals is to increase the prominence of Kurdish in the digital world, adding that Kurmanji, the most commonly-spoken Kurdish dialect, is not available among the language choices on smartphones. They noted that major companies like Samsung and Microsoft require certain criteria in order to provide services for a language, and that the quality of the content on Wikiferheng meets those criteria.

Kurdish is among the most commonly-used languages in the Middle East, and the statistics show that there are Wikiferheng users and contributors in locations that range from the Syrian city of Afrin to the Iranian city of Urmia. 

“Wikiferheng is not just a platform where words can be added — its true nature is that of a school. Many Wikiferheng users are improving their proficiency in Kurdish, and are coming from there and contributing to Wikipedia Kurdish encyclopedic entries. The biggest advantages of Wikiferheng and Wikipedia are their function and their memory,” said the editor. 

“As you know, many Kurdish websites are subjected to cyber attacks, but for Wikiferheng or Wikipedia, this is out of the question. When this is taken into consideration, it is understood how important it is to develop Wiki platforms. Lastly, we are calling on our countries to participate in our volunteer Kurdish initiatives and to make the efforts to bring our language to the place it deserves and move it forward in digital and daily life.”