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On this page: greetings general numbers vocab from wiki verbs other vocab animal sounds in the news The Language Luo, or Dholuo, as it calls itself, is spoken by more than three million people, mostly located in southwestern Kenya; Nyanza Province in particular. According to the Ethnologue website see links below , Luo is in the Nilo-Saharan language family.
Both Lango and Acholi languages are sometimes referred to as "Lwo" by native speakers. Because Luo speakers are centered in southwest Kenya, there are significant populations of Luo speakers across the borders in both Tanzania and Uganda. Luo occasionally borrows from Kiswahili, as Kiswahili has a larger vocabulary, and is one of the official national languages of Kenya. There are also cases of words shared between Luhya and Luo, despite their disparate Bantu vs.
Nilotic origins. Examples include words for "yes" and "no. These figures are everywhere on the internet, so are probably somewhat out of date. Raila Odinga, a Luo, is the son of Kenya's first vice president, and is one of Kenya's most powerful politicians today. Uganda's first post-independence head of state, prime minister Milton Obote, was from the Lango tribe.
He began his education in Lira and Gulu. Acholi is the language predominantly spoken in the area in northeast Uganda that Kony's army has terrorized for the last twenty years. I lived in Kenya for two years, and traveled throughout East Africa. Unfortunately, I hardly picked up any Teso.
I even learned a few words of Acholi during my trip to Kitgum, Uganda. I particularly enjoyed Luo, though, as it was both handy during trips to Kisumu, the nearest major city to Busia, and occasionally useful when negotiating prices in Nairobi.
Plus it turned out to bear a resemblance to the Acholi Lwo language. Upon returning to the US, I saw that there were surprisingly few resources on the internet for picking up simple Luo phrases, so I thought I'd write a few down. Wikipedia entry Betsy McCall's careful discussion of Luo verbs. The distinction between ng' and ng is like the difference between the ng sounds in the english words hanger and anger.
The word nanga , meaning cloth , uses the same ng sound as in anger , where the g can be heard distinctly; the word ang'wen , meaning four , uses the ng' sound similar to that used in the English word hanger , where the g is not distinct. Also note that a trailing y after a consonant, as in the word meaning tomorrow , kiny , is barely pronounced, so in this example, the word comes out sounding much like the English word keen.
How are you? Very well. Ber ahinya. This is literally, "I greet you," a-mos-i. How is your morning? Ichiyo nade? My morning is going well.
Achiyo ma ber. This is literally, How did you wake? The verb to wake is chiewo , according to ABO. Compare to Acholi Lwo in northern Uganda: Ichiyo ni nin? How is your afternoon? Irio nade? My afternoon is going well. Ario ma ber. How is your evening? Idhi nade?
My evening is going well. Adhi ma ber. This is literally, How are you going? The verb to go or to be going is dhi , according to ABO.
How is the morning? The morning is going well. Oyaore ahinya. How is the day? Osaore ahinya. How is the evening?
The evening is going well. Owimore ahinya. Abiroduogo Slowly, slowly. Mos, mos. This is equivalent to pole, pole in Kiswahili. We'll see each other [later]. Let's see each other tomorrow.
Wanere kiny. I'm very sorry. Mos ahinya. Equivalent to pole sana in Kiswahili. Sleep well. Nindi ma ber. I want You want I know I don't know Ok ang'eyo I like Nineteen, apar ga ochiko Twenty, piero ariyo Twenty one, piero ariyo gachiel Thirty, piero adek One Hundred, piero apar achiel or mia achiel. The first option is according to ABO. However, I have never heard this; all Kenyan Luo speakers I have met use mia or mia achiel , importing the word from Kiswahili. Two Hundred, piero apar ariyo or mia ariyo.
Again, I believe the latter is much more frequently used. I want water, adwaro pii I am thirsty, riyo nega ABO translates thirst as riyo , and thirsty as bedo gi riyo. Baba is Kiswahili. Mother, mama ABO says, dhako or miyo as well. Mama is Kiswahili. God, nyasaye To help, kony The verb in Acholi is exactly the same.
The Lord's Resistance Army--a band of rebels that has terrorized villages in northeast Uganda, kidnapped thousands of children, forced them to be child soldiers, and carried out a variety of other atrocities against civilians--is led by a man named Joseph Kony. Grandma, dani,dana According to ABO, dayo. White man, ja rachar Black man, ja rateng. To teach, pwonjo I teach, apwonjo To learn, pwonjore You learn, ipwonjo Note that this is the verb for teach, but with the reflexive suffix added.
Kiswahili also uses this structure: To teach is kufunza , while to learn is to teach oneself, kujifunza. To scare, buogo or bwogo ; ABO only lists the former. Cat, nyambura or paka according to ABO. Note that paka is also the Kiswahili word, and Nyambura is also a woman's name.
Dog, guok pl. ABO doesn't explain distinctions. Cloth, nanga Ball, mpira Note this is the same as in Kiswahili. Otit mach malo , seen written on a truck lorry in western Kenya. Eye, wang' pl. No, dawe Note that dawe or tawe is also used in some Luhya dialects. Good, maber Bad, marach Sin, ketho Life, ngima Death, tho.
A cat says: ywak A dog says: guu guu A sheep says: meee A cow says: mboo A rooster says: kokorioko. He spoke only about education and hard work. The Head of State however delighted the crowd with a Luo phrase: "Ng'ama teni ema iteno Support only he who also supports you ".
From Jim Harries 'Wach en gi teko' is a favourite Luo phrase.
The Luo Language of Kenya: Basic Vocabulary and Conversation
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English Luo Dictionary online
On this page: greetings general numbers vocab from wiki verbs other vocab animal sounds in the news The Language Luo, or Dholuo, as it calls itself, is spoken by more than three million people, mostly located in southwestern Kenya; Nyanza Province in particular. According to the Ethnologue website see links below , Luo is in the Nilo-Saharan language family. Both Lango and Acholi languages are sometimes referred to as "Lwo" by native speakers. Because Luo speakers are centered in southwest Kenya, there are significant populations of Luo speakers across the borders in both Tanzania and Uganda. Luo occasionally borrows from Kiswahili, as Kiswahili has a larger vocabulary, and is one of the official national languages of Kenya. There are also cases of words shared between Luhya and Luo, despite their disparate Bantu vs.