Structure dataset 63: Kinubi

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 63.

Kinubi is an Arabic-based creole spoken today mainly in Uganda and in Kenya. It is spoken as a first language by the Nubi. According to some sources, it is also spoken as a lingua franca by non-Nubi in some towns of western Uganda. Most of the Nubi, especially the male population, also speak Swahili – which has influenced Kinubi at many levels – and English. Formerly, there were some Nubi communities in Tanzania and Somalia too, but it seems that Tanzanian Nubi do not speak the language anymore, while the Nubi of Somalia accompanied the British and settled down in Kenya in 1921. Apparently, some Nubi communities also live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly in the cities close to the Ugandan border.

Kinubi is closely related to Juba Arabic (and to Bongor Arabic, spoken today in Chad), but it also includes many words borrowed from Swahili and English. There are two main varieties of Kinubi: Ugandan Kinubi and Kenyan Kinubi, though both forms are very close to each other. Though it is mainly a spoken language, it is also written in Latin characters, mainly in correspondence. The default lect that we chose for description in APiCS is roughly the speech of 20-70 years old male and female people living in Bombo, Kampala (Uganda), Kibera and Mombasa (Kenya).

No. Feature Value Details Source
No. Feature Value Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p b mb t d k g q
Sibilant affricate t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ
Non-sibilant fricative β f v mv θ ð x ʁ ħ ʕ h
Approximant l j
Flap or tap
Trill r
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide
 m prenasalized voiced labial-velar glide


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value Details Source