This article is about the language, for the ethnic group see Dinka.
|Native to||South Sudan and neighboring areas|
|Native speakers||unknown (1.4 million cited 1982–1986; some figures undated)|
|Writing system||Latin alphabet|
|ISO 639-3||din – inclusive code
dip – Northeastern (Padang)
diw – Northwestern (Ruweng)
dib – South Central (Agar)
dks – Southeastern (Bor, Twic, Nyarweng & Hol)
dik – Southwestern (Rek & Twic)
Dinka, or Thuɔŋjäŋ, is a Nilotic dialect cluster spoken by the Dinka people, the major ethnic group of South Sudan. There are five main varieties, Ngok, Rek, Agaar, Twic/Twi East, and Bor, which are distinct enough to require separate literary standards and thus to be considered separate languages. Jaang or Jieng is used as a general term to cover all Dinka languages. Rek is the standard and prestige dialect.
The Dinka are found mainly along the Nile, specifically the west bank of the White Nile, a major tributary flowing north from Uganda, north and south of the Sudd marsh in southwestern and south central Sudan in three provinces: Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, and Southern Kurdufan.
Dinka has a rich vowel system, with at least thirteen phonemically contrastive vowels. The underdots ([◌̤]) indicate "breathy" vowels, represented in Dinka orthography by diaereses (〈◌̈〉):
There may be other distinctions. The Dinka southeastern dialect is known to contrast modal voice, breathy voice, faucalized voice, and harsh voice in its vowels, in addition to its three tones. The ad hoc diacritics employed in the literature are a subscript double quotation mark for faucalized voice, [a͈], and an underline for harsh voice, [a]. Examples are,
|diarrhea||go ahead||scorpions||to swallow|
There are 20 consonant phonemes:
Singular Plural gloss vowel alternation dom dum 'field/fields' (o-u) kat kɛt 'frame/frames' (a-ɛ)
- (Bauer 2003:35)
Dinka is a tonal language.
Dialects of Dinka
Linguists divide Dinka into five languages or dialect clusters corresponding to their geographic location with respect to each other:
Northeastern and western: Abiliang, Nyiël, Dongjol, Luäc, Ngok Lual Yak, Ageer, Rut, Thoi, Alor, Ngók Deng Kuol, Panaru, and Paweny. South Central: Aliap, Ciëc, Gok, and Agar Southeastern: Bor, Hol, Nyaarweng, and Twïc
Southwestern: Rek, Abiëm, Aguók, Apuk, Awan, Kuac, Lóu, Luäc/Luänyjang, Malual (Malualgiėrnyang), Paliët, Paliëupiny, Twïc
See Ethnologue online map of Sudan for locations of dialects.
Dinka is written with a Latin-based alphabet. There have been variants since the early 20th century, but the current alphabet is: a ä b c d dh e ë ɛ ɛ̈ g ɣ i ï j k l m n nh ny ŋ t th u w o ö ɔ ɔ̈ p r y
However, some of the above letters can be written in other ways (or other letters can be used in their places) but the letters/special characters used are still being pronounced as the original letters that they represent. These are:
|Original Letter||other ways to write it|
||ė ("e" with a dot on top.)|
||h, x, q|
||ȯ ("O" with a dot on top.)|
- Dinka reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
Northeastern (Padang) reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
Northwestern (Ruweng) reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
South Central (Agar) reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
Southeastern (Bor, Twic, Nyarweng & Hol) reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
Southwestern (Rek & Twic) reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Edmondson, Jerold A.; John H. Esling (2005). The valves of the throat and their functioning in tone, vocal register, and stress: laryngoscopic case studies.
- Andersen T. (1987). "The phonemic system of Agar Dinka". Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 9, 1–27.
- Andersen T. (1990). "Vowel length in Western Nilotic languages". Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 22, 5–26.
- Andersen T. (1991). "Subject and topic in Dinka". Studies in Language 15, 265–294.
- Andersen T. (1993). "Vowel quality alternation in Dinka verb inflection". Phonology 10, 1–42.
- Beltrame, G. (1870). Grammatica della lingua denka. Firenze: G. Civelli.
- Deng, Makwei Mabioor (2010). Piööcku Thuoŋjäŋ: The Elementary Modern Standard Dinka (Multilingual Edition), Xlibris, ISBN 1-4500-5240-1.
- Malou, Job. (1988) Dinka Vowel System. Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington Publications in Linguistics. ISBN 0-88312-008-9.
- Mitterrutzner, J. C. (1866). Die Dinka-Sprache in Central-Afrika; Kurze Grammatik, Text und Worterbuch. Brixen: A. Weger.
- Nebel, A. (1979). Dinka–English, English–Dinka dictionary. 2nd. ed. Editrice Missionaria Italiana, Bologna.
- Nebel, A. (1948). Dinka Grammar (Rek-Malual dialect) with texts and vocabulary. Instituto Missioni Africane, Verona.
- Trudinger. R. (1942–44). English-Dinka Dictionary. Sudan Interior Mission
- Tuttle. Milet Picture Dictionary English-Dinka. (at WorldLanguage.com)