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Introduction to Runyoro-Rutooro; Survival Phrases

Runyoro-rutooro is quite an interesting combination; its two languages spoken by two different groups i.e the Banyoro (the people of Bunyoro Kingdom) and the Batooro (the people of Tooro Kingdom), that have a very strong lexical similarity. The words or vocabulary of the two languages are so comparable that there is very little to distinguish them - probably in the tone and pronunciation.

... In fact, very often you might not tell who is who, going with the strong argument that perhaps Runyoro-Rutooro are two dialects of the same language.

It is spoken in the western region of Uganda - particularly in the districts of Buliisa, Hoima, Kabarole, Kyenjojo, Kibaale, Kiryandongo, Kyegengwa and Masindi. You are looking at about 3.5 million people that speak Runyoro-Rutooro!

These areas were part of the mighty Bunyoro-Kitara dynasty - the mother and root of some of the kingdoms that still exist in Uganda today. Read more about Ugandan Kingdoms here.

This page introduces you to Runyoro-Rutooro - Your exploration of the language starts here with simple and easy survival expressions. These are used in various situations and conversations that are quite easy to practice and understand.

Use them in your day-to-day activities as you go about life in the region. There will certainly be a lot you can/will learn as you go along; the life, the culture and communication within the local community... And if you are keen, you can quite easily build on your vocabulary.

Like most of the Ugandan languages, Runyoro-Rutooro is tonal - a lot will be read into the tone that one uses, to determine the politeness and meaning of the expression. It's another of those languages that don't have a direct word for 'please'- you therefore have to keep it low!

Take for example; 'Please give me soda' will be 'mpa sooda' - directly translated as; 'give me soda'. the 'please' will be implicated in your tone. The higher the tone, the less polite - which could quite easily be picked up as rude! There you go, that is one word less for you to worry about....

...Quite often therefore, you will find majority of the Banyoro and Batooro very soft spoken.

Here is a bit of housekeeping before I let you off flying :-

The Runyoro-Rutooro Alphabet does not have letters Q and X, It's got an interesting sound 'ki' as in 'kiss', keep the sound and you will be dusted and ready to go ...

... and here is the unique and interesting bit;

The Banyoro and Batooro are the only ethnic groups in the world that have formally recognised 'petty names' known as empaako; usually used to express respect (they are names of endearment). In this sense, we can lightly compare them to the Sir/ Madam as used in English.

It is therefore very important that you first of all find out ones petty name - quite a nice way to break the ice! There are only twelve petty names to choose from; Abwooli, Adyeeri, Araali, Akiiki, Atwooki, Apuuli, Abaala, Acaali, Ateenyi, Abooki and Amooti. The 12th pet name is Ocaali - perhaps reserved for the king. The king is greeted "Zoona Ocaali".

Take your pick and don't forget to let me know your new found petty name.

You will be thrilled with what is in store for you. Not just the language, but also with Ugandan cuisine, you can enjoy some exciting Uganda recipes - which are quite simple to make. If you are a global eater, you will love it here... and if you love cooking, you could come up with you own Ugandan recipe, Why not! Again let me know how it goes ....

... I usually tend to go off to the food? - which tells you how much we love our food hmmm!

The language has 5 vowels; 'a,e,i,o,u' whose sounds are similar to French and German. Don't forget the 'ki' sound. Lets take 'Akiiki'; one of the petty names which means 'brave one, savior of the nations' - the Syllable 'Ki' is pronounced as 'kee' as in 'kiss'. the language also has double vowels for the long vowel sound like 'empaako' for 'petty name'.

OK! I will now let you go ...

Clicking this link will take you to the Runyoro-Rutooro Survival Phrases

You will love it. Enjoy!

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