- Luo language
Luo Dholuo Spoken in Kenya
Region East of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya and Northern Tanzania Ethnicity Luo Native speakers 4.4 million (no date) Language family Language codes ISO 639-2 luo ISO 639-3 luo
The Luo language, Dholuo (pronounced [d̪ólúô]) or Luo proper, is the eponymous language of the Luo group of Nilotic languages, spoken by about 4.4 million Luo people of Kenya and Tanzania, who occupy parts of the eastern shore of Lake Victoria and areas to the south. It is used for broadcasts on KBC (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, formerly the Voice of Kenya) and Radio Ramogi. Dholuo is closely related to Lango, Acholi, and Adhola of Uganda. It is somewhat more distantly related to Luwo, also a Western Nilotic language, spoken in Sudan.
Dholuo has two sets of five vowels, distinguished by the feature [+/-ATR].
[-ATR] vowels in Dholuo Front Central Back Near-close ɪ ʊ Mid ɛ ɔ Open ɐ [+ATR] vowels in Dholuo Front Central Back Close i u Mid e o Open a
In the table of consonants below, orthographic symbols are included between parentheses if they differ from the IPA symbols. Note especially the following: the use of ‘y’ for IPA [j], common in African orthographies; 'th, dh' are plosives, not fricatives as in Swahili spelling (but phoneme /d̪/ can fricativize intervocalically). When symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a voiced consonant.
Phonetic inventory of consonants in Dholuo Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal Nasal m n ɲ (ny) ŋ (ng') Plosive prenasalized mb (mb) nd (nd) ɲɟ (nj) ŋg (ng) voiceless p t̪ (th) t c (ch) k voiced b d̪ (dh)
d ɟ (j) g Fricative f s h Trill r Approximant w l j (y)
Dholuo is a tonal language. There is both lexical tone and grammatical tone, e.g. in the formation of passive verbs. It has vowel harmony by ATR status: the vowels in a noncompound word must be either all [+ATR] or all [-ATR]. The ATR-harmony requirement extends to the semivowels /w, y/. Vowel length is contrastive.
Dholuo is notable for its complicated phonological alternations, which are used, among other things, in distinguishing inalienable possession from alienable, e.g. The first example is a case of alienable possession, as the bone is not part of the dog.
- chogo guok
- bone dog
- 'the dog's bone' (which it is eating)
The following is however an example of inalienable possession, the bone being part of the cow:
English Luo Hello (how are you?) Msawa (idhi nade?) I'm fine Adhi Maber What is your name? Nyingi Ng'a My name is ___ Nying'a en ____ I am happy to see you Amor Kaneni Good morning oyawore Good afternoon Oimore God bless you Nyasaye ogwedhi Good job/work Tich maber Goodbye Oriti I want water adwaro pi I am thirsty riyo deya / riyo maka Thank you erokamano Child nyathi Student(university student) nyathi skul, japwonjre (ja mbalariany) Sit bed Stand/stop chung' Hunger kech I am starved kech kaya Father wuor [Dinka] wur Mother min [Dinka] mor God Nyasaye Lord (God) Ruoth (Nyasaye) God is good Nyasaye Ber help kony [Dinka] ba kony Man dichuo Woman dhako Boy wuoyi Girl nyako [Dinka] nya Book buk, [Alego/Seme] buge Youth rawera Pen kalam Shorts siruari Trousers long' siruach long' Table mesa Plate san Lock rarind OR ralor Leader jatelo, Bring kel Go dhi Go back dog Come back dwog Run ring [Dinka] Walk wuoth Jump dum, [Alego/Seme] chikre Rain koth Sun chieng' Moon duwe Fish rech [Dinka] I want to eat adwaro chiemo Grandpa kwaru [Dinka] kwar Grandma dayo [Dinka] day White man ja rachar/ odiero Black man ja rateng' Car nyamburko Cow dhiang' Sing wer [Dinka] Marriage keny [Dinka], "keny" is the process, "thiek" is the marriage Tomorrow kiny Today kawuono Child nyathi Money omenda, chung', oboke, sendi, pesa Gun bunde Gun fire muoch bunde I want ugali Adwaro Kwon Maize/corn oduma, bando Maize and beans nyoyo Taxi matatu (Swahili) Farm Puodho (Alego-Ndalo) Dig Puro/Kunyo Fly (in the air) fuyo Fly(Insect) Lwang'ni Stream/River Aora Lake Nam Ocean Ataro
- Gregersen, E. (1961). Luo: A grammar. Dissertation: Yale University.
- Stafford, R. L. (1965). An elementary Luo grammar with vocabularies. Nairobi: Oxford University Press.
- Omondi, Lucia Ndong'a (1982). The major syntactic structures of Dholuo. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer.
- Tucker, A. N. (ed. by Chet A. Creider) (1994). A grammar of Kenya Luo (Dholuo). 2 vols. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
- Okoth Okombo, D. (1997). A Functional Grammar of Dholuo. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
- Odaga, Asenath Bole (1997). English-Dholuo dictionary. Lake Publishers & Enterprises, Kisumu. ISBN 9966487816.
- Odhiambo, Reenish Acieng' and Aagard-Hansen, Jens (1998). Dholuo course book. Nairobi.
- Luo phrases and basics
- Practical guide for learning Luo
- A Handbook of the Kavirondo Language (1920) - one of the earliest books on Dholuo
- Ethnologue on Luo
- PanAfrican L10n page on Luo
- Umass Amherst Undergraduate Linguistic Field Methods Class Wiki on Dholuo
- Umass Amherst Graduate Linguistic Field Methods Class Wiki on Dholuo
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