Nkore language

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

Native toUganda
Native speakers
3.4 million (2014 census)[1]
Standard forms
  • Runyakitara
  • Hima
  • Hororo
  • Orutagwenda
Language codes
ISO 639-2nyn
ISO 639-3nyn

Runyankole is mainly spoken in the Mbarara, Bushenyi, Ntungamo, Kiruhura, Ibanda, Isingiro, Rukungiri and parts of Kitagwenda districts.

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]


Runyankore has a five-vowel system:[6]

Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a
  • Sounds /i, u/ can be heard as [ɪ, ʊ] when short or lax.
Labial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k
voiced b d d͡ʒ g
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z ʒ
Trill r
Approximant j w


  • a - [a]
  • b - [b]
  • c - [t͡ʃ]
  • d - [d]
  • e - [e]
  • f - [f]
  • g - [g/d͡ʒ]
  • h - [h]
  • i - [i]
  • k - [k/t͡ʃ]
  • m - [m]
  • n - [n]
  • o - [o]
  • p - [p]
  • r - [r]
  • s - [s]
  • t - [t]
  • u - [u]
  • v - [v]
  • w - [w]
  • y - [j]
  • z - [z]
  • ai - [ai̯]
  • ei - [ɛi̯]
  • gy - [gʲ]
  • ky - [kʲ]
  • mp - [ᵐp]
  • mw - [ᵐw]
  • nd - [ⁿd]
  • ng - [ŋ]
  • ny - [ɲ]
  • oi - [ɔi̯]
  • sh - [ʃ]
  • ts - [t͡s]
  • zh - [ʒ][7]

D and P are only used in the digraphs ND and MP and in loanwords.

G and K are [d͡ʒ] and [t͡ʃ] before I, [k] and [g] elsewhere.

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 - Ebitookye
  • Maize Meal or corn bread – Obuhunga’Ensano’
  • Beans – Ebihimba
  • Meat – Enyama
  • Millet Bread – Oburo

Other words and phrases

  • No: Ngaaha (ing-gah-ha) or Apaana (ah-pah-nah)
  • Yes: Yego (yegg-oh)
  • Thank you: Yebare (Ye-ba-re)
  • Thank you very much: Yebare munonga (Ye-ba-re mu-non-ga)
  • You're welcome (literally: Thank you for appreciating): Yebare kusiima (ye-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 niinye ______ (ey-zeen-ah riya-gye ni-inye___) 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 Ndaire gye (ndei-re-jeh) or Ndyaho (indi-aho)

  • Good morning. Did you sleep well?

Oraire gye? (orei-reh-jeh) Reply: Yes, yourself? Yego, shan’iwe

  • 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- Yego (yegg-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: oraregye


See also

  • Runyakitara language


  1. Nkore at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  2. Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. Glottopedia article on Nkore language.
  4. Poletto, Robert E. (1998). Topics in Runyankore Phonology (PDF). Linguistics Graduate Program, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Retrieved Dec 8, 2009.
  5. 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.
  6. Poletto, Robert E. (1998). "Topics in Runyankore Phonology". Ohio State University. Bell & Howell.
  7. "Nkore language". Omniglot. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  8. "Kashoboorozi Y' Orunyankore Rukiga Dictionary".
  9. 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

a banyankore are bantu speaking group of people from South western Uganda and they speak Runyankore with (ntu) (aba) like akantu, ekintu, omuntu, abantu. Akantu means thing in prural, ekintu means something big, omuntu means a person, abantu means people same as in Zulu language of South Africa

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