Dinka - Thuɔŋjäŋ

1.  Classification / Classification

Dinka is a generic name for a group of dialects in the Dinka Group of Western Nilotic languages. (Webbook?)

Ethnologue? lists the classification as: Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Western, Dinka-Nuer, Dinka.

"Jaang" is a cover term for all Dinka languages. (Ethnologue)

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

It is spoken by the Jieng (Dinka) along the White Nile in South Sudan. (Webbook, updated)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to information compiled from Ethnologue:

  • Northeastern Dinka: 320,000 (1986 UBS)
  • Northwestern Dinka: 80,000 (1986)
  • South Central Dinka: 250,000
  • Southeastern Dinka: 250,000
  • Southwestern Dinka: 450,000 (1982 UBS)
  • Total: 1,350,000

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

There are four major dialects in Dinka: Padang, Agar, Rek, and Bor. All have a "high level of mutual intelligibility" (Duerksen, personal communication, 1983). A study of Dinka dialects has been produced by Roettger and Roettger (1981). No one dialect is the accepted standard at present. (Webbook)

SIL International calls Dinka a "macrolanguage" under which five Dinka languages are listed. According to information compiled from Ethnologue on these five, the dialects are:

  • Dinka, Northeastern (Padang, White Nile Dinka) - Lexical similarity 92% with NW Dinka, 88% with SW Dinka, 88% with SE Dinka, 86% with SC Dinka.
    • Abiliang (Dinka Ibrahim, Akoon, Bawom, Bowom)
    • Dongjol
    • Luac (Luaic) - diff. from Luac dialect in SW Dinka
    • Ngok-Sobat (Ngork, Jok)
    • Ageer (Ager, Ageir, Abuya, Beer, Niel, Nyel, Paloc, Paloic)
    • Rut
    • Thoi
  • Dinka, Northwestern (Ruweng) - Lexical similarity 88% with SW Dinka and SE Dinka, 84% with SC Dinka.
    • Alor
    • Ngok-Kordofan
    • Pan Aru
    • Pawany
  • Dinka, South Central (Agar, Central Dinka) - Lexical similarity 90% with SE Dinka
    • Aliap (Aliab, Thany, Aker)
    • Ciec (Ciem, Cic, Chiech, Kwac, Ajak, Ador)
    • Gok (Gauk, Cok) - influenced by SW Dinka & has some Arabic loans.
    • Agar - becoming accepted as the educational standard for South Central Dinka
  • Dinka, Southeastern (Bor, Eastern Dinka)
    • Bor (Bor Gok)
    • Athoc (Athoic, Atoc, Borathoi, Bor Athoic)
    • Ghol, Nyarweng (Nyarueng, Narreweng)
    • Tuic (Twi)
  • Dinka, Southwestern (Rek, Western Dinka) - Lexical similarity 89% with South Central Dinka, 90% with Southeastern Dinka.
    • Rek (Raik)
    • Abiem (Ajong Dit, Ajong Thi, Akany Kok, Akern Jok, Apuoth, Apwoth, Anei)
    • Aguok (Agwok)
    • Apuk
    • Awan
    • Lau
    • Luac - diff. from Luac in NE Dinka
    • Malual (Malwal, Atoktou, Duliit, Korok, Makem, Peth)
    • Paliet (Baliet, Ajak, Buoncwai, Bon Shwai, Bwoncwai, Kongder, Kondair, Thany Bur, Tainbour)
    • Palioupiny (Palioping, Akjuet, Akwang, Ayat, Cimel, Gomjuer)
    • Tuic (Twic, Twich, Twij, Adhiang, Amiol, Nyang, Thon)

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Dinka has great regional importance in South Sudan. (Webbook, updated)

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Dinka has a Romanized orthography developed from the 1928 Rejaf language conference; some modifications have been suggested from the work of the Institute of Regional Language's Literacy Project. There is no Arabic script for Dinka. (Webbook)

"A number of methods for writing Dinka using the Latin alphabet were developed by missionaries during the 19th and 20th centuries. Information about the language first appeared in Die Dinka-Sprache in Central-Afrika by Johannes Chrysostomus Mitterrutzner, which was publised in 1866. The current Latin orthography is derived from the alphabet developed for the southern Sudanese languages at the Rejaf language conference in 1928." (Omniglot)

Current Latin-based orthography uses extended characters and diacritics. There may be more than one system. [need more info!]

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple


The extended characters in the alphabet are summarized at http://www.openroad.net.au/languages/african/dinka/characters.html

"Language Museum" sample texts (NB- these may not be standard or official orthographies):

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

Unicode fonts with the following character ranges should have the necessary characters:

A set of legacy 8-bit fonts were developed by SIL Sudan using the SIL Encore 3 font system. Available fonts include: Dinka Charis, Dinka Doulos, Dinka Manuscript and Dinka Sophia. Unicode mapping tables are available at http://www.openroad.net.au/languages/african/dinka/mapping.html (These are to be avoided in favor of Unicode fonts)

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

Two Tavultesoft Keyman layouts at the OpenRoad "Unicode keyboard layouts" page, http://www.openroad.net.au/languages/files/

  • DLIA Dinka Unicode layout (Keyman 5)
  • Southern Sudan (v. 2.1) Unicode layout (Keyman 6)

An updated Dinka Tavultesoft Keyman layout is available from http://www.openroad.net.au/languages/african/dinka/keyboards.html

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

No information on use in South Sudan. There has been some use online for literacy purposes in immigrant communities in Australia.

Web content includes a page with Dinka poetry at: http://home.vicnet.net.au/~agamlong/poetry/index.html

Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Dinka Padang : http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/dinka.htm

About Dinka in Dinka :

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

None known of.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue


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

Northeastern Dinka:

  • ISO 639-3: dip

Northwestern Dinka:

  • ISO 639-3: diw

South Central Dinka:

  • ISO 639-3: dib

Southeastern Dinka:

  • ISO 639-3: dks

Southwestern Dinka

  • ISO 639-3: dik

7.6  Other / Autre

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

Andrew Cunningham, Victoria State Library, Melbourne, Australia

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

For Dinka:


9.  Comments / Remarques

Which dialect(s) to use for localisation?

Conditions in South Sudan (the result of conflict) and the active work of some emigrant communities may mean that localisation may be based among the latter for a time?

10.  References / Références

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, http://africa.isp.msu.edu/afrlang/hiermenu.html (page on "Dinka," http://africa.isp.msu.edu/afrlang/Dinka-root.html )

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Northeastern Dinka," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/dip

______, "Northwestern Dinka," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/diw

______, "South Central Dinka," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/dib

______, "Southeastern Dinka," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/dks

______, "Southwestern Dinka," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/dik

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables," http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp

______, "ISO 639-3 Macrolangauge Mappings," http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/macrolanguages.asp

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," http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/English_list.php

Wikipedia, "Dinka language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinka_language

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Categories: Languages, South Sudan