Lwo, Lwoo, Luwoian
EthnicityLuo peoples
southwestern Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, northeastern Congo (DRC), northern Uganda, southwestern Kenya, northern Tanzania
Linguistic classificationNilo-Saharan?

The dozen Luo, Lwo or Lwoian languages are spoken by the Luo peoples in an area ranging from southern Sudan to western Ethiopia to southern Kenya, with Dholuo extending into northern Tanzania and Alur into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They form one of the two branches of the Western Nilotic family, the other being the DinkaNuer. The Southern Luo varieties are mutually intelligible, and apart from ethnic identity they might be considered a single language.[citation needed]

The time depth of the division of the Luo languages is moderate, perhaps close to two millennia. The division within the Southern Luo language dialect cluster is considerably shallower, perhaps five to eight centuries, reflecting migrations due to the impact of the Islamization of the Sudan region.[1]

The Luo languages are classified within the Glottolog database as follows:[2]

According to Mechthild Reh, the Northern Luo languages are classified as follows:[3]



  1. ^ Bethwell Allan Ogot, History of the Southern Luo: Volume 1, Migration and Settlement.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian (2024-03-11). "Glottolog 5.0 - Lwoo". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. doi:10.5281/zenodo.7398962. Archived from the original on 2024-05-06. Retrieved 2024-05-06.
  3. ^ Reh, Mechthild (1996): Anywa Language: Description and Internal Reconstructions. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe, p. 5.