Bari language

Not to be confused with Barí language or Bari language (Ubangian).
Karo, Kutuk
Region South Sudan and Uganda
Ethnicity Bari people
Native speakers
750,000 (2000–2014)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
bfa  Bari
keo  Kakwa
mqu  Mandari
Glottolog bari1283[2]

Bari is the Nilotic language of the Karo people, spoken over large areas of Central Equatoria state in South Sudan, across the northwest corner of Uganda, and into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bari is spoken by several distinct tribes: the Bari people themselves, the Pojulu, Kakwa, Nyangwara, Mundari, and Kuku. Each has their own dialect. The language is therefore sometimes called Karo or Kutuk ('mother tongue') rather than Bari.

Dialects are:

Bari is a tone language. It has vowel harmony, subject–verb–object word order, and agglutinative verbal morphology with some suppletion. A very competent dictionary and grammar were published in the 1930s, but are very difficult to find today. More recently, a dissertation has been published on Bari tonal phonology, and another dissertation on Bari syntax is available.


Bari has a cross-height vowel-harmony system.[3]


The Bari alphabet is used by the Bari proper and Kuku in South Sudan. There are four digraphs, 'B, 'D, 'Y and Ny, and the letter eng, Ŋ.

Bari alphabet
Lowercase ab'bd'degjiy'yklmnŋnyoöprstuw
Bari special characters
Uppercase ŊÖ
Lowercase ŋö
Alternatives ngo
Uppercase Unicode (hexadecimal) 014A 00D6
Lowercase Unicode (hexadecimal) 014B 00F6
Unicode Character Code Chart Latin Extended A Latin-1


  1. Bari at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Kakwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Mandari at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Bari–Kakwa–Mandari". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. SIL Bibliography: Yokwe and Hall 1981

General References

  1. Bari Language, Sudan Primer: Sillabari Ko Kutuk Na Bari. The Catholic Press Institute. Juba, Sudan.
  2. Owen, R.C.R. Bari grammar and vocabulary. 1908. OCLC: 25040516
  3. Spagnolo, Lorenzo M. Bari grammar. 1933. Verona, Missioni Africane.. OCLC: 34898784
  4. Yokwe, Eluzai. The tonal grammar of Bari. Doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 1987.

External links

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