|Native to||Kenya, Tanzania|
|Region||East of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya and Northern Tanzania|
|Native speakers||4.2 million (2009 census)|
The Luo dialect, Dholuo (pronounced [d̪ólúô]) or Nilotic Kavirondo (pejorative Colonial term), is the eponymous dialect of the Luo group of Nilotic languages, spoken by about 6 million Luo people of Kenya and Tanzania, who occupy parts of the eastern shore of Lake Victoria and areas to the south. It is used for broadcasts on KBC (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, formerly the Voice of Kenya), Radio Ramogi, Radio Lake Victoria, Radio Lolwe, Radio Osienala as well as newspapers such as Otit Mach, Nam Dar etc. Dholuo is heavily used online in specially dedicated sites as well as in social media.
Dholuo is mutually intelligible with Alur, Lango, Acholi and Adhola of Uganda. Dholuo and the aforementioned Uganda languages are all linguistically related to Luwo, Nuer, Bari, Jur chol of Sudan and Anuak of Ethiopia due to common ethnic origins of the larger Luo peoples who speak Luo languages.
It is estimated that Dholuo has 90% lexical similarity with Lep Alur (Alur), 83% with Lep Achol (Acholi), 81% with Lango, and 93% with Dhopadhola (Adhola). However, these are often counted as separate languages despite common ethnic origins due to linguistic shift occasioned by geographical movement.
Dholuo has two sets of five vowels, distinguished by the feature [+/-ATR].
In the table of consonants below, orthographic symbols are included between parentheses if they differ from the IPA symbols. Note especially the following: the use of "y" for /j/, common in African orthographies; "th", "dh" are plosives, not fricatives as in Swahili spelling (but phoneme /d̪/ can fricativize intervocalically).
|Nasal||m||n||ɲ (ny)||ŋ (ng')|
|Plosive||prenasalized||ᵐb (mb)||ⁿd (nd)||ᶮɟ (nj)||ᵑɡ (ng)|
|voiceless||p||t̪ (th)||t||c (ch)||k|
Dholuo is a tonal language. There is both lexical tone and grammatical tone, e.g. in the formation of passive verbs. It has vowel harmony by ATR status: the vowels in a noncompound word must be either all [+ATR] or all [-ATR]. The ATR-harmony requirement extends to the semivowels /w/, /ɥ/. Vowel length is contrastive.
Dholuo is notable for its complicated phonological alternations, which are used, among other things, in distinguishing inalienable possession from alienable. The first example is a case of alienable possession, as the bone is not part of the dog.
- chogo guok
- bone dog
- 'the dog's bone' (which it is eating)
The following is however an example of inalienable possession, the bone being part of the cow:
|Hello (how are you?)||Nisawa (idhi nade?)|
|I'm fine||Adhi Maber|
|What is your name?||Nyingi Ng'a?|
|My name is ___||Nyinga en ____|
|I am happy to see you||Amor neni|
|God bless you||Nyasaye ogwedhi|
|Good job/work||Tich maber|
|I want water||adwaro pi|
|I am thirsty||riyo deya / riyo maka/riyo oinga|
|Student(university student)||nyathi skul, japwonjre (ja mbalariany)|
|I am starved||kech kaya|
|Father||wuor [Dinka] wur|
|Mother||min [Dinka] mor|
|Lord (God)||Ruoth (Nyasaye)|
|God is good||Nyasaye Ber|
|help||konya[Dinka] ba kony|
|Girl||nyako [Dinka] nya|
|Book||buk, [Alego/Seme] buge|
|Trousers||long' siruach long'|
|Lock||rarind OR ralor|
|Go back there||dwog kucha|
|Come back here||dwog ka|
|Jump||dum, [Alego/Seme] chikri|
|I want to eat||adwaro chiemo|
|Grandpa||kwaro [Dinka] kwar|
|Grandma||dayo [Dinka] day|
|White man||ja rachar|
|Marriage||Arus From Harusi Swahili for Marriage kend [Dinka], "keny" is the process, "thiek" is the marriage|
|There (close by)||Kacha, Kocha|
|Money||omenda, chung', oboke, sendi, pesa|
|Gun fire||mach bunde|
|I want ugali||Adwaro Kwon|
|Maize and beans||nyoyo|
|Fly (in the air)||fuyo|
- Gregersen, E. (1961). Luo: A grammar. Dissertation: Yale University.
- Stafford, R. L. (1965). An elementary Luo grammar with vocabularies. Nairobi: Oxford University Press.
- Omondi, Lucia Ndong'a (1982). The major syntactic structures of Dholuo. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer.
- Tucker, A. N. (ed. by Chet A. Creider) (1994). A grammar of Kenya Luo (Dholuo). 2 vols. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
- Okoth Okombo, D. (1997). A Functional Grammar of Dholuo. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
- Odaga, Asenath Bole (1997). English-Dholuo dictionary. Lake Publishers & Enterprises, Kisumu. ISBN 9966-48-781-6.
- Odhiambo, Reenish Acieng' and Aagard-Hansen, Jens (1998). Dholuo course book. Nairobi.
|Luo dialect test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
- Luo phrases and basics
- Practical guide for learning Luo
- A Handbook of the Kavirondo Language (1920) - one of the earliest books on Dholuo
- PanAfrican L10n page on Luo
- Umass Amherst Undergraduate Linguistic Field Methods Class Wiki on Dholuo
- Umass Amherst Graduate Linguistic Field Methods Class Wiki on Dholuo