Kurdish is an Indo-Iranian language spoken in the region loosely called Kurdistan, including Kurdish populations in parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Kurdish is an official language in Iraq while it is banned in Syria. Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media. In Iran, though it is used in the local media and newspapers, only a few schools are permitted to teach the language. The Iranian government allows very limited higher education in Kurdish, and therefore, many Kurds have left for Iraq where they can study in their native language.

The Kurdish language belongs to the western sub-group of the Iranian languages which belong to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages family. The most closely related languages to Kurdish are Persian and Pashto.

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