Toposa language

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Native to South Sudan
Region Eastern Africa
Ethnicity Toposa
Native speakers
100,000 (2000)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 toq
Glottolog topo1242[2]
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Toposa (also Akara, Kare, Kumi, Taposa, Topotha) is a Nilo-Saharan language (Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic) spoken in South Sudan by the Toposa people. Mutually intelligible language varieties include Jiye of South Sudan, Nyangatom of Ethiopia, Karimojong, Jie[3] and Dodos of Uganda and Turkana of Kenya. Teso (spoken in both Kenya and Uganda) is lexically more distant.



Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Plosive Voiceless p t k
Voiced b d ɡ
Affricate Voiceless t͡ʃ
Voiced d͡ʒ
Fricative s
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Flap r
Approximant w l j
  • All consonants (except, of course, for /w/ and /j/) can occur in labialized and palatalized forms.



Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o


Front Central Back
Close ɪ ʊ
Mid ɛ ɔ
Open a
  • Toposa, like many Nilotic languages, has vowel harmony with two sets of vowels: a set with the tongue root advanced (+ATR) and a −ATR set. +ATR is marked. The vowel /a/ is neutral with respect to vowel harmony.[4]
  • All nine vowels also occur as devoiced, contrasting with their voiced counterparts. These voiceless vowels occur primarily in prepause contexts. Some Toposa morphemes consist only of a high voiceless vowel; the functional load appears to be much greater with the high vowels than with the lower.[5]
  • Toposa has tone, which is grammatical rather than lexical. Tone is used to mark case in nouns and tense in verbs.


  • Schröder, Martin C. (1989). "The Toposa Verb in Narrative Structure". Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere. 20: 129–142. 
  • Schröder, Martin C.; Helga Schröder (1987a). "Voiceless Vowels in Toposa". Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere. 12: 17–26. 
  • Schröder, Martin C.; Helga Schröder (1987b). "Vowel Harmony in Toposa". Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere. 12: 27–36. 


  1. ^ Toposa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Toposa". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Jiye and Jie are the same name, but refer to different varieties
  4. ^ Schröder & Schröder 1987b, p. 27
  5. ^ Schröder & Schröder 1987a, p. 17