Talk:Languages of Uganda

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Languages of Uganda:
  1. The article needs to be restructured. The current division (into Linguistic divisions, Languages, Language policy) is not a very intuitive one.
  2. A little more on language policy, including a historical perspective
  3. Languages in education and in the media
  4. History: how did the peoples and their languages get there in the first place? Should touch on the Nilotic flow throughout Eastern Africa (in several phases), the Bantu expansion, the position of the Kuliak languages, the relatively recent Luo expansions (see e.g. Luo history), the development of centralized Bantu kingdoms and Bantu/Luo contacts.

Last update: — mark 11:19, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Old discussion[edit]

Which sources were used in compiling this list? — mark 12:44, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

I think I moved this article from a subsection of another article. Certainly don't creating this long list myself. TreveXtalk 20:05, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

Being busy with a rewrite, I've moved the list out of the article for now:

The main indigenous languages of Uganda are:

  1. Acholi
  2. Dhopadhola
  3. Alur
  4. Amba
  5. Aringa
  6. Bari
  7. Chiga
  8. Gungu
  9. Gwere
  10. Ik
  11. Kakwa
  12. Karamojong
  13. Kenyi
  14. Kinyarwanda
  15. Kirundi
  16. Konjo
  17. Kumam
  18. Kupsabiny
  19. Lango
  20. Lendu
  21. Luganda
  22. Lugbara
  23. Lusoga
  24. Luyia
  25. Ma'di
  26. Masaba
  27. Ndo
  28. Nubi
  29. Nyankore
  30. Nyole
  31. Nyoro
  32. Pökoot
  33. Ruli
  34. Soo
  35. Southern Ma'di
  36. Swahili
  37. Talinga-Bwisi
  38. Teso
  39. Tooro

mark 10:17, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

Hey mark, I managed to track down a couple of papers on language. I'm no linguist though, my time is probably better spent on creating articles for the significant languages which aren't already covered here (i.e. just duplicating info from ethnologue). Should we set ourselves a target, say all languages spoken by over 100,000? What do yu reckon? Furthermore, wouldn't it be just super if there was a GNU free license version of this map (hint hint)! :-) TreveXtalk 13:38, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, yeah, will do :). I have some Ugandan maps lying around anyway. — mark 15:44, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
It's an absolute beauty - and so quickly too! TreveXtalk 18:57, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

Well, thanks. It was a nice map to make, don't exactly know why. — mark 19:06, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

I've been expanding a little, though we still need more, especially on language policy and education. I've been putting in speaker numbers also, but on second thought it might be nicer to make a table with all languages, approximate location, classification, and speaker numbers. I won't be around here much, this weekend, so I'll get to it next week (but if any of you feels like giving it a start, feel free!). — mark 19:06, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

Dhopadhola language[edit]

In the list above, I've changed Adhola language to Dhopadhola language because apparently that is what Jopadhola call thier language. The content at Dhopadhola language was a section of Jopadhola.--Ezeu 02:54, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm not convinced that we have to use the "autolinguanym" (or however it should be called) for all languages (generally people adapt names from other languges into their own, English being no exception). It's an old debate and I won't get into it now except that I woould agree that both common names and the "autolinguanym" should be included in articles on languages, whatever the title of the article. --A12n 13:17, 20 October 2006 (UTC)


Why I removed the anecdote.
The point of the anecdote is to illustrate how language barriers are a problem in Uganda. The problem of "sectarian-based violence and political factionalism" and tribalism in Uganda can be attributed to many things. Language is a contributing factor, but many conficts in recent and ancient Ugandan history has been between people who understand each others languages eg. Acholi and Lango, Teso and Karamojong, Bunyoro and Buganda. Any conclusions that can be drawn from the anecdote can not be done properly within the scope of this article. Besides, the anecdote is not amusing (in my view). I do agree that language has contributed to some of the problems, therefore, I have left that part in the article (though rephrased somewhat). Ezeu sig added by TreveXtalk 12:41, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

As you observe, the anecdote illustrates how language barriers are a problem in Uganda and specifically:
  • Language reinforcing sectarian prejudice
  • Language as a barrier to an economic transaction
Perhaps it was fatuous of me to claim that this was amusing, but that is beside the point. I would be the first to agree with you that there are many other factors (of equal or greater significance) at play in Uganda's sectarian struggles. If the context of this quotation did not sufficiently make this point clear then why not change this surrounding text rather than removing the quote wholesale? The only problem I had was its relative prominence within the article. It should probably have been at the end of the language policy section. I still believe this quote adds colour to the article, effectively illustrating some of the pertinent issues at play in a social context.
Succinctly, if the problem is the quote, remove it. But if the problem is the context, then change that instead. TreveXtalk 19:44, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
Furthermore, please let me emphasise that I do not find racism or sectariansim funny. My apologies if you thought this to be the case. I have lived in two areas of Britain where racism and sectarianism cause significant problems. To be clear, I find this anecdote 'amusing' as a story reduced to someone being thrown off a bus and then going to the police to complain. TreveXtalk 12:41, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
No I did not think that you find racism or sectariansim funny. I have been meaning to put the anecdote back, but I have been away from my computer. I have put the anecdote back. Lets leave this behind and proceed to make it a great article. --Ezeu 22:20, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
To aid our work I have added a to do list at the top of the Talk page. — mark 08:15, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

May I suggest a separate article or set of articles on this topic. The issue of multiple languages, the relationship or not to conflict and other factors or social & economic life, and our understanding of multilingual cultures in Africa & elsewhere are all too big for an anecdote like that in an article on languages. One could I am sure add other anecdotes, including about codeswitching, how people negotiate communication in more positive ways, etc. All those anecdotes would have a place, definitely, in helping people to understand the complexity of such issues. But probably not in the context of an article on Languages of Uganda, which shoulf (IMHO) give an overview and basic information (mention sth and put a link...). --A12n 13:28, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

On taking a look again after quite some time, I also have some problems with the anecdote. First, feel that an anecdote like this doesn't really fit the style of an encyclopedic article. Second, like Don Osborn above I feel it is out of place because it is too specific for this article. The conclusion that is drawn from it ("Uganda is a country with a history of rivalry and political disagreement. Language differences may have increased ethnic tensions and caused difficulty in forming a national identity.") of course can stay (if sourced), but I'd like to pull out the anecdote. — mark 10:19, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
I decided to be bold and pulled out the anecote, leaving the reference intact. — mark 10:22, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Official language[edit]

Apparently, Swahili was made an official language again in September 2005. -GTBacchus(talk) 18:27, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

Brittanica doesn't say how they know, and I can't (yet) find a corroborating source. I tend to trust the CIA World Factbook in these things... -GTBacchus(talk) 18:49, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

Another source: and I found another somewhere else too... here it is -Krwarnke(talk) 19:14, 21 May 2006 (UTC)


I added a stub on Runyakitara, a recent standardization. Also a brief mention in the text of this article. (Re the To do, it does look like this article needs reorganization - so where I put the mention of Runyakitara may not be ideal - it could go under language policy.) --A12n 13:32, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

Do you have an idea for a better structure? — mark 10:20, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
Just coming back to this - not sure on a better structure. It might become clearer in (1) filling out the language policy discussion (e.g. about the movement for Runyakitare, about the discussions leading to the new bilingual education policy, a little more on various opinions of Swahili as a national language), and (2) comparing to articles on other countries. It may be possible and helpful to have a kind of template for topics to cover in the pages on languages of African countries. This article isn't too bad comparatively speaking now that I've had the chance to look more at some others.--A12n 03:06, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
Some time ago I have tried to start an effort related to this; see this subpage of mine. Now might be a good time to get this rolling. Oh, and I agree that this article isn't too bad comparatively speaking; most others are simply incomplete lists or just don't exist yet. Still, that is one of the reasons why I would like to improve this one first; we might be able to make this article into something of a model for similar articles (this would be one way to implement the template idea you mention). — mark 21:59, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

Myths & realities re language, ethnic relations, & national identies[edit]

This sentence: "Language differences may have increased ethnic tensions and caused difficulty in forming a national identity." ... packs a couple of assumptions which are questionable. (1) The role or not of language in tensions between groups. Often as not it is a "marker" that is used when other issues are the source of tensions. How does language cause tensions? Does skin color cause tensions (some have compared languages differences thus)? Attitudes and prejudices may be involved. Other behaviors may be involved. But it is a sort of cliché that "language divides." (2) The whole issue of one language for national identity and all is under increasing question even as some insist more on it. Ayo Bamgbose of Nigeria has written on this. This is all part of larger discussions that can't be treated in this article (though mentioned more appropriately), but could figure in a larger discussion in another article (perhaps this has been done or started already).--A12n 03:15, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

I agree. That sentence oversimplifies the causes of Uganda's recent problems by narrowing it down (implicitly) to a language problem. I'm removing it. --Ezeu 19:47, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
Glad it is gone. Don, perhaps a good place for the larger discussion you're talking about would be African languages, where we don't have a good discussion of multilingualism and language politics yet. — mark 22:01, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

Missing languages[edit]

Whilst not a linguist myself, I noticed that there was no mention of the Lussese language still spoken in the Ssese Islands. Since I worked in the Ssese Islands for several years, I personally encountered Lussese speakers - some of whom were quite a bit younger than the 80 years plus quoted in the cited work. However, including this knowledge would represent original research, so I made no mention of it in the article. For the time being I have added a sentence to the remarks about the similarity between Luganda-Lusoga (with appropriate citation), but do not feel qualified/confident to attempt creating a separate article for the Lussese language. Perhaps someone with suitable skills might at least attempt creating a stub? Cheers, Peter B. (talk) 06:27, 22 December 2013 (UTC)