Nyole language (Uganda)

Nyole (also LoNyole, Lunyole, Nyuli) is a Bantu language spoken by the Banyole in Butaleja District, Uganda. There is 61% lexical similarity with a related but different Nyole language in Kenya.

Native toUganda
RegionButaleja District
EthnicityBanyole people
Native speakers
340,000 (2002 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3nuj
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.



Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d g
voiced prenasalized ᵐb ⁿd ᶮdʒ ᵑg
Fricative voiceless ɸ s x
voiced β
Approximant w l~ɾ j (w)

Nyole has series of voiceless, voiced, and prenasalized stops. /w/ is labio-velar.


Front Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

Historical changesEdit

Nyole has an interesting development from Proto-Bantu *p → Nyole /ŋ/. Schadeberg (1989) connects this sound change to rhinoglottophilia, where the sound change developed first as *[p][ɸ][h]. Then, given the acoustic similarity of [h] and breathy voice to nasalization, the sound change progressed as [h][h̃][ŋ]. The velar place of articulation development is due to velar nasals being the least perceptible of the nasals and its marginal status in (pre-)Nyole and other Bantu languages. In closely related neighboring languages, *p developed variously into /h/ or /w/ or was deleted.

This historical development results in so-called "crazy" alternations, like /n/ + /ŋ/ resulting in /p/ as in the following:

n-ŋuliira ("hear" stem form) : puliira "I hear"
n-ŋumula ("rest" stem form) : pumula "I rest"

In the above two words, when the first person singular subject prefix /n-/ is added to the stem starting with /ŋ/, the initial consonant surfaces as /p/. In other forms (like /oxu-ŋuliira/ "to hear" and /oxu-ŋumula/ "to rest"), the original stem-initial /ŋ/ can be seen.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Nyole at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  • Eastman, Carol M. (1972). Lunyole of the Bamenya, JAL, 11 (3), 63-78.
  • Morris, H. F. (1963). A note on Lunyole. Uganda Journal, 27, 127-134.
  • Schadeberg, Thilo C. (1989). The velar nasal in Nyole (E. 35). Annales Aequatoria, 10, 169-179. (Available online).