Luo - Acholi - Lango

1.  Classification / Classification

Luo (Dholuo), Acholi, and Lango are three mutually intelligible languages of the Southern Luo group and the Western Nilotic branch of Eastern Sudanic. (Webbook?)

Classifications given in Ethnologue?:

  • (Luo) Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Western, Luo, Southern, Luo-Acholi, Luo
  • (Acholi and Lango) Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Western, Luo, Southern, Luo-Acholi, Alur-Acholi, Lango-Acholi

Lango is also the name of an unrelated language in South Sudan.

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

Luo is spoken in Kenya and Tanzania; Lango and Acholi are spoken in Uganda. (Webbook)

Acholi is also spoken in South Sudan.

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to Ethnologue:

  • Luo
    • 3,185,000 in Kenya (1994 I. Larsen BTL)
    • 280,000 in Tanzania (2001 Johnstone and Mandryk)
    • Population total all countries: 3,465,000
  • Acholi:
    • 746,796 in Uganda (1991 census)
    • 45,000 in South Sudan (2000)
    • Population total all countries: 791,796
  • Lango
    • 977,680 in Uganda (1991 census)

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

Although technically these are mutually intelligible, [they have] differing orthographic and political traditions. (Webbook)

According to Ethnologue:

  • Luo
  • Acholi
    • Labwor
    • Nyakwai
    • Dhopaluo (Chopi, Chope)
  • Lango

IDRC and CASAS (n.d.) did some research on interintelligibility of Luo, Acholi and Lango.

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Luo, Acholi, and Lango may be considered local languages. Luo is broadcast on the Voice of Kenya. (Webbook)

Notes from Ethnologue (accessed 2007):

  • Luo language use in Kenya is "Vigorous"
  • Literacy rate of Luo speakers in Kenya:
    • L1: 10% to 30%
    • L2: 50% to 75%
  • (Lango in Uganda) Literacy campaign in progress. Taught in primary schools.

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Scheven (personal communication, 1983) states there is a standardized orthography, but Bavin (personal communication, 1983) states no standardized orthography is acceptable to all groups. (Webbook) [Need more & updated info; see also #4 above]

The Wikipedia article on Lango mentions adoption of a Latin orthography.

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

Alphabet of Luo as reported by Hartell (1993) and presented in Systèmes alphabétiques at is:
a b ch d dh e f g h i j k l m mb n nd ndh ng n'g nj ny o p r s t th u w y

The Acholi alphabet, according to a resource on the Rosetta Project site at is:
a b bw c d e g i j k l m ny ŋ o p pw r t u w y

Sample texts are shown on the "Language Museum" site:

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

7.3  Content on computers & internet / Contenu en informatique et sur l'Internet

Rupiny (a news site)

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

Not aware of any initiatives on this.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue


  • ISO 639-1: -
  • ISO 639-2: luo
  • ISO 639-3: luo


  • ISO 639-1: -
  • ISO 639-2: ach
  • ISO 639-3: ach


  • ISO 639-3: laj

7.6  Other / Autre

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

9.  Comments / Remarques

Based on the level of mutual intelligibility, would certain kinds of localisation be possible for this group of tongues?

10.  References / Références

Chanard, Christian (2006), Systèmes alphabétiques des langues africaines, LLACAN, CNRS,

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, (page on "Luo/Acholi/Lango," )

Hartell, Rhonda L., ed. (1993), The Alphabets of Africa. Dakar: UNESCO and SIL. (The French edition, published the same year, is entitled Alphabets de Langues Africaines).

International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS) (n.d.), "Report of the Evaluation of the Democratization of ICT Content for Africa Pilot Project"

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Acholi,"

______, "Lango,"

______, "Luo,"

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables,"

U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language,"

Wikipedia, "Acholi language,"

______, "Dholuo language,"

______, "Lango language (Uganda),"

______, "Southern Luo language,"

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Categories: Languages, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Southern SS