Bongo language

Native toSouth Sudan
EthnicityBongo people
Native speakers
10,100 (2000)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3bot

Bongo (Bungu), also known as Dor, is a Central Sudanic language spoken by the Bongo people in sparsely populated areas of Bahr al Ghazal in South Sudan.

A 2013 survey reported that ethnic Bongo reside in Bussere Boma, Bagari Payam, Wau County, South Sudan.[2]


Bongo is tonal language that has the high (á), mid (ā), low (à) and falling (â) tones.

All falling tones occur on either long vowels or on vowel clusters or glides. When the tonal fall is not due to a preceding high tone, it can be indicated by a high tine followed by a low tone

Ton Example Translation
high bʊ́ hungry
low tɪ̀ɪ̀ Pounded sesame
falling tââ /táà/ when


Bongo has a quinary-vigesimal numeral system.[3]

Number Bongo word
1 kɔ̀tʊ́
2 ŋɡɔ̀r
3 mʊ̀tːà
4 ʔɛ́w
5 múì
6 dɔ̀kɔtʊ́
7 dɔ́ŋɡɔr
8 dɔ̀mʊ́tːà
9 dɔ̀mʔɛ́w
10 kɪ̀ː
11 kɪː̀ (dɔ̀ː) kɔ̀tʊ́
12 kɪː̀ (dɔ̀ː) ŋɡɔ̀r
13 kɪː̀ (dɔ̀ː) mʊ̀tːà
14 kɪː̀ (dɔ̀ː) ʔɛ́w
15 kɪː̀ (dɔ̀ː) múì
16 kɪː̀ (dɔ̀ː) dɔ̀kɔtʊ́
17 kɪː̀ (dɔ̀ː) dɔ́ŋɡɔr
18 kɪː̀ (dɔ̀ː) dɔ̀mʊ́tːà
19 kɪː̀ (dɔ̀ː) dɔ̀mʔɛ́w
20 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́
21 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́ dɔ̀ː kɔ̀tʊ́
22 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́ dɔ̀ː ŋɡɔ̀r
23 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́ dɔ̀ː mʊ̀tːà
24 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́ dɔ̀ː ʔɛ́w
25 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́ dɔ̀ː múì
26 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́ dɔ̀ː dɔ̀kɔtʊ́
27 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́ dɔ̀ː dɔ́ŋɡɔr
28 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́ dɔ̀ː dɔ̀mʊ́tːà
29 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́ dɔ̀ː dɔ̀mʔɛ́w
30 mbàba kɔ̀tʊ́ dɔ̀ː kɪ̀ː
40 mbàba ŋɡɔ̀r
50 mbàba ŋɡɔ̀r dɔ̀ː kɪ̀ː
60 mbàba mʊ̀tːà
70 mbàba mʊ̀tːà dɔ̀ː kɪ̀ː
80 mbàba ʔɛ́w
90 mbàba ʔɛ́w dɔ̀ː kɪ̀ː
100 mbàla múì
200 mbàba múì dɔ̀ː múì
1000 mbuda kɔ̀tʊ́
2000 mbuda ŋɡɔ̀r


The first ethnologists to work with the Bongo language were John Petherick, who published Bongo word lists in his 1861 work, Egypt, the Soudan, and Central Africa; Theodor von Heuglin, who also published Bongo word lists in Reise in das Gebiet des Weissen Nil, &c. 1862-1864 in 1869; and Georg August Schweinfurth, who contributed sentences and vocabularies in his Linguistische Ergebnisse, Einer Reise Nach Centralafrika in 1873.[4] E. E. Evans-Pritchard published additional Bongo word lists in 1937.[5]

More recent scholarship has been done by Eileen Kilpatrick, who published a phonology of Bongo in 1985.[6]


  1. ^ Bongo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Village Assessment Survey". International Organization for Migration South Sudan. 2013.
  3. ^ Bongo at Numeral Systems of the World's Languages Archived 2014-04-21 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ The Bongo. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. Sudan Notes and Records (1929): 1-62.
  5. ^ The non-Dinka peoples of the Amadi and Rumbek Districts. Evans-Pritchard, E. E.. Sudan Notes and Records (1937): 156-158
  6. ^ Bongo Phonology. Eileen Kilpatrick. Occasional Papers in the Study of Sudanese Languages 4 (1985): 1-62.

Further reading

  • A Small Comparative Vocabulary of Bongo Baka Yulu Kara Sodality of St Peter Claver, Rome, 1963.
  • A Reconstructed History of the Chari Languages - Bongo - Bagirmi - Sara. Segmental Phonology, with Evidence from Arabic Loanwords. Linda Thayer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1974. Typewritten thesis 309 pages. Copy held by J.A. Biddulph (Africanist publisher, Joseph Biddulph, Pontypridd, Wales).

External links

  • Bongo at Gurtong
  • The Jesus Film in Bongo
  • Bongo at WALS Online
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