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Dinka, Another African Language

Dinka is a language that belongs to the Nilotic language family. The Nilotic languages are ​​spoken in the region that makes up South Sudan and Tanzania. For this reason, Dinka is the most widely spoken language in the Republic of Sudan.

In 1983, a civil war broke out in Sudan, where the Arab population from the North fought against the African population from the South. Painful like all wars, it was devastating for both communities. However, the Nilotic people were the most affected ones. This war lasted until the 1990’s, and it virtually forced the Dinka survivors to migrate to other lands …

Many moved to the North of Sudan, to the capital called Khartoum. Others moved beyond their borders and migrated to Kenya, Uganda, Europe and the United States.

Until the 1930’s, the Dinka population had no formal education or writing system. It was during those years that they created their own alphabet based on the Latin one. This is the why, even today there is a high rate of illiteracy in the Dinka population.

Some dialects of Dinka
Based on the geographical area where they are spoken:
• Northeastern and Western (Padang) Abiliang, Nyiël, Dongjol, Luac
• Central (Agar) Aliap, Ciëc, Atuöt, Gok and Agar
• Southeastern (Dinka): Bor, Hol, and Twic Nyaarweng
• Southwestern (Rek): Rek Abiëm, Aguók, Apuk, Awan, Kuac, Lou

In previous articles we have emphasized the strong influence of culture on language. In this particular case, most of the Nilotic communities, such as the Dinka, have a traditional culture based on livestock. This cultural trait is explicitly reflected in their language, which has over 400 terms related to livestock: their movements, their illnesses, their colors and shapes … For example, when men become adults, their original names are replaced with the names of oxen. Moreover, you can call a man “Acinbaa,” which means “a kind of shepherd who never abandons his cattle”…

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(Versión en español: