Native toUganda
RegionKween District, Kapchorwa District and Bukwo District
Native speakers
270,000 (2014 census)[1]
Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-3kpz

Kupsabiny (Sabiny), or Sebei, is a Kalenjin language a Southern Nilotic language of eastern Uganda.


Kupsabiny and a dozen other languages form the Southern Nilotic branch of the Nilotic family. The closest relative of Kupsabiny is Sabaot, spoken across the border in Kenya.[2]


There are about 360,000 people in the world who currently speak the language, most of them being native speakers. The number of speakers is currently growing and the language is considered developing.[3] Although the language is spoken primarily by Sebei people, it is taught in many primary schools and even beyond to boost communication levels.


The language Kupsabiny of the sebei is solely spoken in Uganda. The native speakers of the language are the Sebei people, an ethnic group who live in Uganda. Kupsabiny is a Nilotic language; along with many other languages of the Nilotic peoples. The language is highly tonal. There are 9 vowels and 14 consonants. The language is written with Latin script since 1975 (revised in 2010). Kupsabiny is taught in primary schools and is backed by literacy campaigns to help aid with communication across Uganda.[1]


13 consonants are in Sebei (Kupsabiny):

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive p t c k
Fricative s
Lateral l
Rhotic ɾ
Approximant w j

There are a variety of consonant allophones in Sebei (Kupsabiny):

Labial Alveolar Palatal/
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive p, [b] t, [, d] c, [, tʃʼ, ] k, [, ɡ]
Fricative s, [ʃ, z]
Lateral l
Rhotic ɾ, [r]
Approximant w j

Sebei (Kupsabiny) has 6 vowels:

Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

Vowels with short and long vowel allophones listed in brackets are below:

Front Central Back
High i u
[ɪ] [ʊ]
Mid e [ɤ] o
[ɛ] [ʌ] ɔ
Low [æ]
a [ä]

Tone is marked as high, mid, or low.[4]


  1. ^ a b Kupsabiny at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Distefano, John Albert (1985). The precolonial history of the Kalenjin of Kenya: a methodological comparison of linguistic and oral traditional evidence.
  3. ^ "Where on earth do they speak Kupsabiny?". www.verbix.com. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  4. ^ O'Brien, Richard; Cuypers, Wim A.M. (1975). A descriptive sketch of the grammar of Sebei. Washington, D. C.: Georgetown University Press.