Nilotic languages

southwestern Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, northeastern Congo (DRC), northern Uganda, western Kenya and northern Tanzania
Linguistic classification:


Glottolog: nilo1247[1]


Region where Nilotic Languages are spoken

The Nilotic languages are a group of Eastern Sudanic languages spoken across a wide area between South Sudan and Tanzania by the Nilotic peoples, who traditionally practice cattle-herding.


The word Nilotic means of or relating to the Nile River or to the Nile region of Africa.[2] Nilotic Languages are the languages spoken in the region spreading from the Nile River and the Nile Delta.


There are approximately seven million current speakers of a Nilotic Language. Nilotic peoples, who are native speakers of the language, originally migrated from all around Africa, primarily from the Nile River area. Modernly, Nilotic language speakers live in the Nilotic peoples region, which contains parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.[3]


According to linguist Joseph Greenberg, the language family is divided up into three subgroups:

Before Greenberg's reclassification, Nilotic was used to refer to Western Nilotic alone, with the other two being grouped as related "Nilo-Hamitic" languages.

Blench (2012) treats the Burun languages as a fourth subgroup of Nilotic.[4] In previous classifications, the languages were included within the Luo languages. Starostin (2015) treats the Mabaan-Burun languages as "West Nilotic" but outside the Luo level.[5]

See also


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Nilotic". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. "the definition of Nilotic". Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  3. Payne, Doris. "Nilotic Family". Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  4. Roger Blench (2012) Nilo-Saharan language list
  5. George Starostin (2015) The Eastern Sudanic hypothesis tested through lexicostatistics: current state of affairs (Draft 1.0)
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