Mother tongue : Zazaki is a language spoken in eastern Anatolia between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. It belongs to the northwest-Iranian group of the Iranian language branch of the Indo-European language family. The Zazaish language is related to Kurdish, Persian and Balochi. An exact indication of the number of Zazaki speakers is unknown. Internal Zaza sources estimate the total number of Zazaki speakers at 3 to 6 million.'
The Zaza-People originate in Eastern Turkey. Usually, they are referred to as Kurds, because just recently knowledge about them has spread. But this is not correct and heavily opposed by Zazas. The Zazas do not form a homogenous group, for they can be divided by their confession half and half into Alevis and Sunnis. Traditionally the religious identity is more important than having the same language in common. Only recently in the European Diaspora there are attempts for a claim to a Zaza identity irrespective religious ideas.
After the fall of Ottoman Empire the Turks had made bad experience as far as maintaining cultural and linguistic diversity within a nation was concerned. For this reason they started an assimilation politic which should unite all population into an identity based on Turkishness. Hence publishing and music making in local languages became forbidden. Besides the Jews, Armenians and Greeks, no other ethnic minorities officially existed in Turkey according to the Treaty to Lausanne in 1923.
Suffering discrimination from the Turkish Army many Zazas moved to West Europe and especially West Germany. Released from fear of repression, the awareness of the Zazas about their identity linked with their language Zazaki raised. Many Intellectuals have begun to pay more attention to their language and are actively involved in maintenance strategies. They have come to the point to realise the ultimate worth of their language which is about to die. Indeed Zazaki is threatened with extinction, because many children do not learn the language as a mother tongue language and in Turkey many people have voluntarily stopped communicating in Zazaki for mainly economic reasons.
A maxim : "Languages are the chief distinguishing marks of people. No people in fact comes into being until it speaks a language of its own; let the languages perish and the people perish too, or become different people. But that never happens except as the result of oppression and distress."
Zazaish literature :
"Mundart Zaza" (by Peter I. Lerch, 1857/58)
"Mewlýd" (by Ehmedê Xasi, 1899 and Usman Efendiyo Babýc, 1933)
"Mundarten der Zaza" (by Karl Hadank ,1932; post-humous works from Oskar Mann)
"A grammar of Dimili" (by Terry L. Todd, 1985)
"Rastnustena Zonê Ma" (by C. M. Jacobson, 1993)
"Zazaca Okuma-Yazma El Kitabý" (by C. M. Jacobson, 1997)
"Grammatik der Zaza-Sprache" (by Zülfü Selcan, 1998)
"Zazaki -Grammatik und Versuch einer Dialektologie-" (by Ludwig Paul, 1998)