RegionSouthern Sudan
EthnicityLopit people
Native speakers
120,000 (2017)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3lpx

The Lopit language is an Eastern Nilotic language spoken by around 117,000 people in Eastern Equatoria State, South Sudan.[2] Lopit is part of the Lotuko-Teso subfamily and is related to Lotuko, Turkana and Maasai.[2] Lopit is a VSO language and has a complex tonal system.[3]

The Lopit language has six different dialects: Ngabori, spoken by the Ngaboli sub-community; Dorik, spoken by the Dorik sub-community; Ngotira, spoken by the Ngotira sub-community; Lomiaha, spoken by the Lomiaha sub-community; Lohutok, spoken by the Lohutok sub-community, and Lolongo, spoken by the Lolongo sub-community. Some small sub-communities or villages (for instance Loming, Ahado, Oriaju, Hidonge and Atarangi) also speak Lotuko due to their proximity to the neighboring Lotuko communities. The dialects have similar segmental phonologies with minor vowel and consonant shifts, and also some tonal variations. Lopit speakers generally group the dialects into Northern Lopit and Southern Lopit.[1]


Lopit is a tonal language with 3 tones: high, falling and low.[1]


Lopit has 5 vowels: a, e, i, o, u.[4]


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k
voiced b d d͡ʒ g
Fricative s h
Approximant w l j
Trill r


Vowel Harmony

Lopit has vowel harmony for prepositions. Prepositions have the suffix /o/ with vowels /o, u/, /e/ with /e, i/, and /a/ with /a/.[5]



Lopit has grammatical gender: all nouns belong to either the feminine or masculine gender, but most nouns are not marked overtly for gender. Gender is instead mostly indicated via agreement marking on relative pronouns, demonstratives and possessives.

For some family terms, birds and animals, and agentive nouns, gender is marked with the /lɔ-/ for masculine and either /ɪ-/ or /na/- for feminine.

Examples of Gender Prefixes in Lopit
Verb Stem Masculine Feminine English
ɪsaɡa lɔsaɡa ɪsaɡa Tall person
baŋ lɔbaŋ ɪbaŋ Coward
ŋere loŋere iŋere Brave person
mʊta lɔmʊta ɪmʊta Small person

The masculine gender is largely used for male people, male animals, small creatures and objects. The feminine gender is mostly used for everything else. If a speaker wants to indicate that something is especially large, they can refer to it as feminine, and vice versa for things that are especially small. This makes Lopit fairly unique, as usually the masculine gender is used to denote larger things and is more common than the feminine gender in Eastern Nilotic languages.[1]

For example:







móɾwó lè l-ò-ɲórì

stone.ABS REL.M SBO-3-be.green

'the (small) stone which is green'







móɾwó nà l-ò-ɲórì

stone.ABS REL.F SBO-3-be.green

'the (large) stone which is green'


  1. ^ a b c d Moodie, Jonathan (2020). A grammar of Lopit : an eastern Nilotic language of South Sudan. Leiden. ISBN 978-90-04-43067-9.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ a b c Lopit at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  3. ^ Vossen, Rainier, The Eastern Nilote: Linguistic + Historic reconstructions, Berlin: Dietrich, Reimer Verlag 1982
  4. ^ "Lopit Consonant & Vowel Book". SIL International. 2014-08-11. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  5. ^ "Lopit Grammar Book". SIL International. 2014-08-11. Retrieved 2019-01-25.