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Dinka (Thuɔŋjäŋ)

Dinka is a member of the Western Nilotic branch of Nilo-Saharan languages. It is spoken mainly in southern Sudan by about 2-3 million people, who call them selves Dinka (Jiëŋ). There are five major dialect divisions: Ngok, Rek, Agaar, Twic/Twi East, and Bork, which are more or less mutually intelligible. The Rek dialect is considered the standard or prestige variety. There are also speakers of Dinka in Egypt, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, UK and USA.

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.

Dinka alphabet

Dinka alphabet

Dinka pronunciation

Dinka pronunciation


Sample texts in Dinka

Jɔ̈ɔ̈l wäär nyuuc wädït
Aacä ye teet.
Të cɔk kek ɣa luöi ruëëny
Ka cä ye dhuk nhom keek
Rin jäl aye wut theek
Yen aye ɣɛn keek theek
Na cïk röt ye theek
Ke aköl le ɣɛn ye gäm keek
piny abï ɣo dak ɣo keek.


Raan thök eben aye dhëëth ka lau nhöm kua thöŋ nhiim eyithiic, kua thɛ̈kic, kua ci yëknhiethku puou, ku bik cëŋ ka ke ye mith etik.


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)


Information about the Dinka language

Dinka-English dictionary (PDF)

Nilo-Saharan languages

Acholi, Alur, Dholuo, Dinka, Kanuri, Karamojong, Maasai, Nuer, Shilluk, Zarma

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet