Nkore language

Nkore (also called Nkole, Nyankore, Nyankole, Orunyankore, Orunyankole, Runyankore and Runyankole) is a Bantu language spoken by the Nkore ("Banyankore") and Hima peoples of south-western Uganda in the former province of Ankole.[4]

There are approximately 2,330,000 native speakers,[5] mainly found in the Mbarara, Bushenyi, Ntungamo, Kiruhura, Ibanda, Isingiro, and Rukungiri districts. Runyankole is part of an east and central African language variously spoken by the Nkore, Kiga, Nyoro, and Tooro people in Uganda; the Nyambo, Ha, and Haya people in Tanzania; and some ethnic groups in the Congo region, Burundi, and Rwanda. They were part of the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom of the 14-16th centuries.

There is a brief description and teaching guide for this language, written by Charles V. Taylor in the 1950s, and an adequate dictionary in print. Whilst this language is spoken by almost all the Ugandans in the region, most also speak English, especially in the towns. (English is one of Uganda's two official languages, and the language taught in schools.)

Nkore is so similar to Kiga (84–94 percent lexical similarity[5]) that some argue they are dialects of the same language, a language called Nkore-Kiga by Taylor.[4]

Native toUganda
Native speakers
2.3 million (2002)[1]
Standard forms
  • Hima
Language codes
ISO 639-2nyn
ISO 639-3nyn


Runyankore has a five-vowel system: /a, e, i, o, u/.[6]

Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop voiceless p t k
voiced b d g
Affricate voiceless t͡ʃ
voiced d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ
voiced v z ʒ
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Trill r

Basic greetings

The greeting Agandi, implying, "How are you?" but literally meaning "other news!", can be replied with Ni marungi, which literally means "good news!".

The proper greetings are Oraire ota? or Osiibire ota?, literally translated "How was your night?" and "How was your day?". "Good night" is Oraare gye and "Good day" is Osiibe gye.

Here are a few names one might use in a greeting:

  • Madam – Nyabo
  • Sir – Sebo
  • Child – omwana
  • Boy – omwojo
  • Girl – omwishiki


  • Matooke or Bananas - Ebitokye
  • Maize Meal or corn bread – Obuhunga
  • Beans – Ebihimba
  • Meat – Enyama
  • Millet Bread – Oburo

Other words and phrases

  • No: Ngaaha (ing-gah-ha) or Apaana (ah-pah-nah)
  • Yes: Eego (egg-oh)
  • Thank you: Webare (Way-ba-re)
  • Thank you very much: Webare munonga (Way-ba-lay mu-non-ga)
  • You're welcome (literally: Thank you for appreciating): Webare kusiima (way-ba-re koo-see-mah)
  • I like/love you: Ninkukunda (nin-koo-coon-dah) or ninkukunda munonga (nin-koo-coon-dah moo-non-gah)
  • My name is ____: Eizina ryangye ninye ______ (ey-zeen-ah riya-gye ni-nye___) or ndi _____ (in-dee ______)
  • I am from _____: Ninduga_____ (nin-doog-ah_____)
  • It's how much shillings/money? Ni shiringi zingahi? (Knee shi-rin-gee zin-gah-hee) or ni sente zingahi?
  • Good morning. How are you?

Oraire ota (orei-rota) Replies: I'm fine Ndeire gye (ndei-re-jeh) or Ndyaho (indi-aho)

  • Good morning. Did you sleep well?

Oraire gye? (orei-reh-jeh) Reply: Yes, fine, okay Kare (Kar-eh)

  • Good afternoon. How are you spending your day?

Osiibire ota (o-see-bee-rota) Replies: Nsiibire gye (insi-bi-reje)

  • You are spending your day well?

Osiibire gye (Osi birejge) Replies: Yes- Eego (egg-oh) or nsiibire gye

  • Good afternoon. How has your day been?

Waasiiba ota (wasib-wota) Reply: Fine, good, I've spent it well – Naasiiba gye (nasi-baje)

  • Good night: Oralegye


See also


  1. ^ Nkore at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nyankole". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  4. ^ a b Poletto, Robert E. (1998). Topics in Runyankore Phonology (PDF). Linguistics Graduate Program, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Retrieved Dec 8, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Lewis, Paul M. (ed.) (2009). "Ethnologue Report for Language Code: nyn". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Texas, U.S.: SIL International. Retrieved 9 December 2009.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Poletto, Robert E. "Topics in Runyankore Phonology". Ohio State University. Bell & Howell.
  7. ^ "Kashoboorozi Y' Orunyankore Rukiga Dictionary".
  8. ^ Standard English–Runyankore/Rukiga Dictionary – Mwene Mushanga, Ph.D. Banyankore Cultural Foundation, Mbarara, Uganda, 2004 English to Runyankole Easy Reading Handbook, Vincent Busulwa, 2000 Staff of Bishop Stuart Core Primary Teachers' College, Mbarara, Uganda
Kiga language

Kiga (also called Rukiga, Ruchiga, or Chiga) is a Great Lakes Bantu language of the Kiga people (Bakiga). Kiga is a similar and partially mutually intelligible with Nkore language. It was first written in the second half of the 19th century.

Kiga is so similar to Nkore (84%–94% lexical similarity) that some argue they are dialects of the same language, called Nkore-Kiga by Charles Taylor.In common with other Bantu languages, Kiga has a noun class system in which prefixes on nouns mark membership of one of the noun genders. Pronouns, adjectives, and verbs reflect the noun gender of the nominal they refer to. Some examples of noun classes:

mu – person (singular), e.g. omukiga = inhabitant of Kigezi land

ru – language, e.g. Rukiga = language of the Kiga

ba – people, e.g. Bakiga = The Kiga people

ki – customs or traditions, e.g. kikiga, (sometimes spelled Kichiga), describes religious tradition common to the Kiga people. Sometimes the people are called 'Chiga' by people misunderstanding the linguistic rules in relation to the prefixes.The sound [l] is not distinctive in Rukiga. The letter "r" is used instead.

Official languages


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