Ik language

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EthnicityIk people
Native speakers
7,500 (2011)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3ikx

Ik (also known as Icetot, Icietot, Ngulak or (derogatory[further explanation needed]) Teuso, Teuth) is one of the Kuliak languages of northeastern Uganda. The Kuliak languages form their own branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. With the other two Kuliak languages being moribund, Ik may soon be the sole remaining language of its family. Ik is noted by UNESCO as "severely endangered".[3]

Ik is supported in Unicode, starting with version 8.0.0.


The Ik language is still stable, as young children still learn the language and remain monolingual until they go to school, and Ik is spoken in all domains of life. And although the community subtly pressures its children to learn more widely-spoken languages like Turkana, they see this multilingualism as good without being detrimental to the vitality of their own language. The community sees the language as vital to maintaining their ethnic identity and wants their children to learn Ik in school.[4]


Front Central Back
Close i ɪ u ʊ
Mid e ɛ ə o ɔ
Open a
Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar
Stop voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
implosive ɓ ɗ ʄ kʼ~ɠ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡ʃ
ejective t͡sʼ
voiced d͡z d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ
voiced z ʒ
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Approximant l j w
Flap ɾ

Three additional phonemes, /tlʼ, ɬ, ɮ/, were originally in the language but were lost in the early 21st century.[4]


  1. ^ Ik at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ik". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ "UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger". Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  4. ^ a b B., Schrock, Terrill; Geesteswetenschappen, Faculteit. "A grammar of Ik (Icé-tód) : Northeast Uganda's last thriving Kuliak language". openaccess.leidenuniv.nl. Retrieved 2018-08-14.

Further reading[edit]