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Kresh is a small language group of South Sudan. It is generally considered to be a branch of the Central Sudanic languages. Boyeldieu (2010) judges that this has yet to be demonstrated satisfactorily,[1] but Starostin (2016) finds convincing evidence, and that its closest relative within that family appears to be Birri.

South Sudan
Linguistic classificationNilo-Saharan?

Kresh is generally considered a dialect cluster, but it is dialectically diverse. Blench (2000 ms) lists five Kresh languages, four of which (Kresh, Gbaya, Woro, and Dongo) Ethnologue counts among seven dialects of Kresh/Gbaya (or eight, counting Aja). Kresh and Gbaya, however, are merely exonym and endonym, not coherent languages; they are equivalent to five varieties listed by Ethnologue. Ethnologue notes that the varieties are not mutually intelligible, but that Kresh-Ndogo (Gbaya-Ndogo) is universally understood as a prestige variety, and that Naka is also commonly understood as the most populous variety. Blench (2000) also includes Furu (Bagero) as a Kresh language, though Ethnologue classifies it as Kara.

In addition, Aja is spoken by ethnic Kresh, but though it remains Kresh grammatically, it has been relexified by the unrelated Banda languages (Santandrea 1976).[1]


Blench (2000, 2012) distinguishes Kresh, Woro, Gbaya, Furu, Dongo, and Aja. However, the principal Kresh 'dialects' are not mutually intelligible, and Ethnologue lists them as Naka (Kresh-Boro), Gbaya-Ndogo (Kresh-Ndogo), Gbaya-Ngbongbo (Kresh-Hofra), Gbaya-Gboko, Orlo (Woro), Gbaya-Dara, and Dongo (with Furu and Aja listed separately):

The names Gbaya and Dongo are ambiguous, as they are also used for unrelated Ubangian languages.


  1. ^ a b c Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kresh–Aja". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.