Luri language

Luri (Northern Luri: لٛۏری, romanized: Łôrī, Southern Luri: لُرِی, romanized: Lorī) is a Southwestern Iranian language continuum spoken by the Lur people, an Iranian people native to Western Asia. The Luri dialects are descended from Middle Persian and are Central Luri, Bakhtiari,[3][5] and Southern Luri.[3][5] This language is spoken mainly by the Bakhtiari and Southern Lurs (Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Mamasani, Sepidan, Bandar Ganaveh, Bandar Deylam)[6] in Iran.

Northern: زۊن لٛۏری
Southern: لُرِیَ بُزُرْگ
Luri in Nastaliq.png
"Luri" written in both Northern Luri and Southern Luri in the Perso-Arabic script with the Nastaliq font
PronunciationIPA: [loriː]
Native toIran; a few villages in eastern Iraq[1][2]
RegionSouthern Zagros Mountains
Native speakers
(undated figure of 4–5 million)[3][4]
  • Central Luri (Minjai)
  • Bakhtiari
  • Southern Luri
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
lrc – Northern Luri
bqi – Bakhtiari
luz – Southern Luri


Luri is the closest living language to Archaic and Middle Persian.[7] The language descends from Middle Persian (Parsig).[3][8] It belongs to the Persid or Southern Zagros group, and is lexically similar to modern Persian, differing mainly in phonology.[9]

According to the Encyclopædia Iranica, "All Lori dialects closely resemble standard Persian and probably developed from a stage of Persian similar to that represented in Early New Persian texts written in Perso-Arabic script. The sole typical Lori feature not known in early New Persian or derivable from it is the inchoative marker (see below), though even this is found in Judeo-Persian texts".[10] The Bakhtiāri dialect may be closer to Persian.[11] There are two distinct languages, Greater Luri (Lor-e bozorg), a.k.a. Southern Luri (including Bakhtiari dialect), and Lesser Luri (Lor-e kuček), a.k.a. Northern Luri.[10]


Northern Luri

Luri dialects (Northern Luri (or Central Luri), Shuhani and Hinimini) are as a group the second largest language in Ilam province (around 14.59% of the population), mostly spoken in villages in the southern parts of the province.[12] Around 21.24% of Hamadan province speak Northern Luri.[13]


The Bakhtiari dialect is the main first language in the province of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari (around 61.82%), except around Sharekord, Borujen, Ben and Saman counties, where Persian, Turkic and Chaharmahali dialect predominate.[14] Around 7.15% of Isfahan province speak Bakhtiari.[15]


Province[16] Luri-speakers % Note
Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari 520,000 61.82% Bakhtiyari dialect
Gilan 2,600 0.25%
Hamadan 370,000 21.24% Northern Luri
Ilam 78,300 14.59% Hinimini, Shuhani and Northern Luri
Isfahan 350,000 7.15% Bakhtiyari dialect

Internal classification

The language consists of Central Luri, Bakhtiari, and Southern Luri.[2] Central Luri is spoken in northern parts of Luri communities including eastern, central and northern parts of Luristan province, southern parts of Hamadan province mainly in Malayer, Nahavand and Tuyserkan counties, southern regions of Ilam province and southeastern parts of Markazi province. Bakhtiari is used by Bakhtiari people in South Luristan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province, significant regions in north and east of Khouzestan and western regions of Isfahan province. Finally, Southern Luri is spoken throughout Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, and in western and central regions in Fars province, northern and western parts of Bushehr province and southeastern regions of Khouzestan. Several Luri communities are spread sporadically across the Iranian Plateau e.g. Khorasan (Beyranvand and Bakhtiari Luri descendants), Kerman, Guilan and Tehran provinces.[17][9]



Front Back
ɪ ʊ
Mid ɛ ɔ
Open a~æ1 ɑː
  1. /a/ may also range to a higher /æ/ in the Northern dialect.
  • Vowels /ɛ, ɔ/ may also be realized as more close [e, o] within diphthongs or before glide sounds.
  • /ɛ, ɔ/ can also be heard as higher [ɛ̝, ɔ̝] in Southern Luri.
  • /a/ can also be raised as [ə] or [ɛ] before semivowels.


Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k q ʔ4
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ ɢ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ x2 χ h
voiced (v) z ʒ ɣ2 ʁ3
Nasal m n ɲ1
Tap/Trill ɾ5
Approximant ʋ l j (w)
  1. /ɲ/ occurs in Northern Luri.
  2. Velar fricatives /x, ɣ/ as equivalent to uvular fricatives /χ, ʁ/, occur in Northern Luri.
  3. /ʁ/ occurs in Southern Luri.
  4. /ʔ/ occurs in Northern Luri, as well as in words borrowed from Persian.
  5. /ɾ/ can also be heard as a trill [r] in Southern Luri.
  • /h/ also occurs as a glide to elongate short vowels (eg. /oh/; [ɔː]).
  • [v, w] occur as allophones of a labiodental approximant /ʋ/.[18][19][20]


In comparison with other Iranian languages, Luri has been less affected by foreign languages such as Arabic and Turkic. Nowadays, many ancient Iranian language characteristics are preserved and can be observed in Luri grammar and vocabulary. According to diverse regional and socio-ecological conditions and due to longtime social interrelations with adjacent ethnic groups especially Kurds and Persian people, different dialects of Luri, despite mainly common characteristics, have significant differences. The northern dialect tends to have more Kurdish loanwords inside and southern dialects (Bakhtiari and Southern Luri) have been more exposed to Persian loanwords.[21]

See also


  1. ^ Northern Luri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Dougherty, Beth K.; Ghareeb, Edmund A. (2013). Historical Dictionary of Iraq. Historical Dictionaries of Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East (2nd ed.). Lanham: Scarecrow Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-8108-6845-8.
  3. ^ a b c d Anonby, Erik John (July 2003). "Update on Luri: How many languages?" (PDF). Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Series 3. 13 (2): 171–197. doi:10.1017/S1356186303003067. S2CID 162293895.
  4. ^ Anonby, Erik J. (20 December 2012). "LORI LANGUAGE ii. Sociolinguistic Status". Encyclopædia Iranica. ISSN 2330-4804. Retrieved 2019-04-14. In 2003, the Lori-speaking population in Iran was estimated at 4.2 million speakers, or about 6 percent of the national figure (Anonby, 2003b, p. 173). Given the nationwide growth in population since then, the number of Lori speakers in 2012 is likely closer to 5 million.
  5. ^ a b G. R. Fazel, 'Lur', in Muslim Peoples: A World Ethnographic Survey, ed. R. V. Weekes (Westport, 1984), pp. 446–447
  6. ^ Limbert, John (Spring 1968). "The Origin and Appearance of the Kurds in Pre-Islamic Iran". Iranian Studies. 1 (2): 41–51. doi:10.1080/00210866808701350. JSTOR 4309997.
  7. ^ C.S. Coon, "Iran:Demography and Ethnography" in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Volume IV, E. J. Brill, pp 10,8.
  8. ^ Stilo, Donald (15 December 2007). "Isfahan xxi. PROVINCIAL DIALECTS". Encyclopædia Iranica. Vol. XIV, fasc. 1. pp. 93–112. ISSN 2330-4804. Retrieved 2019-04-14. While the modern SWI languages, for instance, Persian, Lori-Baḵtiāri and others, are derived directly from Old Persian through Middle Persian/Pahlavi
  9. ^ a b Digard, J.-P.; Windfuhr, G. L.; Ittig, A. (15 December 1988). "BAḴTĪĀRĪ TRIBE ii. The Baḵtīārī Dialect". Encyclopædia Iranica. Vol. III, fasc. 5. pp. 553–560. ISSN 2330-4804. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
  10. ^ a b MacKinnon, Colin (7 January 2011). "LORI LANGUAGE i. LORI DIALECTS". Encyclopædia Iranica. ISSN 2330-4804. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
  11. ^ Paul, Ludwig (15 December 2008). "KURDISH LANGUAGE i. HISTORY OF THE KURDISH LANGUAGE". Encyclopædia Iranica. ISSN 2330-4804. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
  12. ^ "Language distribution: Ilam Province". Iran Atlas. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  13. ^ "Language distribution: Hamadan Province". Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  14. ^ "Language distribution: Chahar Mahal va Bakhtiari Province". Iran Atlas. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Language distribution: Esfahan Province". Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Atlas of the languages of Iran". Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  17. ^ Anonby, Erik J. (20 December 2012). "LORI LANGUAGE ii. Sociolinguistic Status". Encyclopædia Iranica. ISSN 2330-4804. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
  18. ^ Anonby, Erik (2014). Bakhtiari Studies: Phonology, Text, Lexicon. Uppsala University.
  19. ^ Anonby, Erik (2002). A Phonology of Southern Luri.
  20. ^ Amanolahi; Thackston, Sekandar, Wheeler M. (1987). Tales from Luristan. Harvard Iranian Series, 4: Harvard University Press.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ "Lur - History and Cultural Relations". Retrieved 2019-04-14.

Further reading

  • Freidl, Erika. 2015. Warm Hearts and Sharp Tongues: Life in 555 Proverbs from the Zagros Mountains of Iran. Vienna: New Academic Press. ISBN 978-3-7003-1925-2
  • F. Vahman and G. Asatrian, Poetry of the Baxtiārīs: Love Poems, Wedding Songs, Lullabies, Laments, Copenhagen, 1995.[1]

External links