Hill Nubian languages

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Hill Nubian
Kordofan Nubian
Native toSudan
RegionNuba Hills
Ethnicity(see Hill Nubian)
Native speakers
(63,000 cited 1984–2013)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
ghl – Ghulfan
kdu – Kadaru
kko – Karko
wll – Wali
dil – Dilling
drb – Dair
elh – El Hugeirat

The Hill Nubian languages, also called Kordofan Nubian,[3] are a group or dialect continuum of Nubian languages spoken by the Hill Nubians in the northern Nuba Mountains of Sudan.


The Hill Nubian languages are generally classified as being in the Central branch of the Nubian languages, one of three branches of the Nubian languages, the other two being Northern (Nile), consisting of Nobiin, and Western (Darfur), consisting of Midob. They are grouped together with Kenzi-Dongolawi (not seen to be closely related to Nobiin, despite their proximity) and Birgid, a language of southwestern Sudan extinct since the 1970s.[4] Nubian lies within the Eastern Sudanic family, which is part of the Nilo-Saharan phylum.


There are seven Hill Nubian languages, according to Ethnologue and Glottolog. Some of the languages have dialects. Their internal classification within Hull Nubian is not well established. Glottolog classifies Hill Nubian (Kordofan Nubian) into two branches: Eastern Kordofan Nubian and Western Kordofan Nubian, containing three and four languages respectively.[5] Ethnologue, however, only groups Kadaru and Ghulfan together, leaving the rest unclassified within Hill Nubian, as follows:[6]

  • Kadaru-Ghulfan
    • Ghulfan (also Gulfan, Uncu, Uncunwee, Wunci, Wuncimbe) – 33,000 speakers
    • Kadaru (also Kadaro, Kadero, Kaderu, Kodhin, Kodhinniai, Kodoro, Tamya) – 25,000 speakers
  • Dair (also Dabab, Daier, Thaminyi) – 1,000 speakers
  • Dilling (also Delen, Warkimbe, Warki) – 11,000 speakers
  • El Hugeirat (also El Hagarat) – 50 speakers
  • Karko (also Garko, Kaak, Karme, Kithonirishe, Kakenbi) – 7,000 speakers
  • Wali (also Walari, Walarishe, Wele) – 9,000 speakers

Additionally, one extinct language known only from a word list of 36 words, Haraza, is unclassified within Hill Nubian.


  1. ^ Ghulfan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Kadaru at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Karko at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Wali at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Dilling at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Dair at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    (Additional references under 'Language codes' in the information box)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kordofan Nubian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Jakobi, Angelika; Ruffini, Giovanni; Oei, Vincent W. J. van Gerven (2014-06-03). Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies: Vol. 1: 2014. punctum books. p. 203. ISBN 9780692229149.
  4. ^ "Nubian". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  5. ^ "Glottolog 3.0 - Kordofan Nubian". glottolog.org. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  6. ^ "Hill". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-06-24.

External links[edit]

More information on specific linguistic characteristics and/or variations among Hill Nubian languages