Acholi English – English Acholi Dictionary
Mairi John Blackings
University of Strathclyde
Acholi is a Nilo-Saharan language of the Nilotic stock belonging to the southern cluster of Lwo languages found in Uganda, Kenya and the Sudan. In Uganda, the Acholi (800000 speakers) occupy the northernmost districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Amuru and Pader while in the Sudan, the Acholi (50000 speakers), share the southernmost county of Magwi with the Ma’di. The Acholi language has varying degrees of mutual intelligibility with a number of languages spoken across four countries; Uganda (Lango, Kumam, Alur, Jo pa Dhola), in the Sudan (Jur, Pari, Anyua and Chollo), and in Kenya and Tanzania (Lwo). This dictionary differs from similar earlier projects in a number of important respects. First, it exploits the full range of the ten vowels that the language has, rather than restricting itself to the five commonly used vowels. Secondly, it acknowledges the importance of tone and utilizes it to aid the process of word identification, discrimination and distinction. Thirdly, the dictionary provides etymological information on the sources of borrowed words to excavate the sociopolitical contacts of the Acholi people. Fourthly, words from the various dialects of Acholi spoken in both Uganda and the Sudan find equal prominence, reflecting the author’s own background and the strength and depth of the informants. Fifthly, it is the product of a linguist who has a near native level command of the language, having spent most of his formative years among the Acholi of Uganda and more recently living among the Acholi of the Sudan. Lastly, this dictionary gives both Acholi - English and English - Acholi versions of lexical items.
An equally important feature of this dictionary is its attempt at establishing a clear and concise way of pronouncing and writing Acholi words which should be invaluable to both the native speaker and the foreign learner of the language. While seeking to establish a standardardised way of spelling Acholi words, ironically this dictionary does not advocate the marking of tones, nor the distinction of vowel quality in writing Acholi, except in specialized projects like dictionaries, as meaning of Acholi words can often be easily deciphered from the context. Dr Mairi Blackings was educated at Gulu High School, Uganda, the University of Juba, Sudan, the University of Leeds, and the University of Strathclyde, UK, where he is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow. He is the author of Ma’di - English Dictionary (2000) and the co-author of A Grammar of Ma’di (2003).
ISBN 9783929075694. Languages of the World/Dictionaries 43. 206pp. 2009.