Bari grammar (old main page)

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Bari is an Eastern Nilotic language spoken in the Central Equitoria State of South Sudan around the capitol city of Juba. Bari is actually a cover term for a number of closely related dialects which span from southern South Sudan into northern Uganda. These languages include Bari proper, Kuku, Kakwa, Pojulu, Nyangbara, and Mandari. This grammar describes the structure of Bari proper.


Getting started

The handout provided by MediaWiki is below:

In addition to the handbook, a great way to learn how to format Wiki is by poking around Wikipedia, looking for interesting ideas, and clicking the edit button next to them. This is how I figured out how to create sortable lists, for example.

Another question is how we will generate interlinear glosses. The table environment is probably our best bet. This is how most LaTeX glossing packages work.

Ancillary pages

Upload recordings and annotations here.

This is where wordlists for individual elicitation sessions can be uploaded and checked to avoid redundant work.

  • Older pages

- Bari grammar (old main page) - Recordings and transcriptions (Bari) - Bari lexicon


Bari words are made up of sounds called phonemes. There are many phonemes in Bari.

Phonological inventory

A tentative consonant inventory of Bari:

Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal Pharyngeal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ    
Stop voiceless p ~ pʰ ~ ɸ t̪⁽ʰ⁾   k ~ kʰ, (kᵂ) ʔ  
voiced b   d ɟ g    
implosive ɓ   ɗ        
Fricative ɸ   s, (z)       (ʕ)
Liquid     l, r        
Glide       j      

A tentative vowel inventory of Bari:

Front Central Back
High i ɨ u
High-mid ɪ   ʊ
Mid e?, ɛ ə ɤ, o, ɔ
Open æ a  


Bari syllable structure is also very interesting. Generally, consonants come at the beginning of the syllable, and they are followed by vowels.

Phonological alternations

Sometimes Bari phonemes unexpectedly change into other phonemes or allophones. Fortunately, these alternations all follow well-behaved phonological rules.

Trilled and tapped [r] appear to alternate in careful vs. fast speech. Jevon 01:52, 3 September 2012 (UTC)


Bari words consist of free morphemes and bound morphemes. Both are abundant and suitable for further research.

Nominal Morphology

Nouns, demonstratives, possessives, all involve morphemes in Bari, which is a major finding.

Verbal Morphology

Like nouns, verbs are made up of morphemes. This is unsurprising given that verbs, like nouns, are words.


Words can be organized into sequences which produce predictable meanings in Bari. The sequences and meanings which can be produces in this manner are extremely complex, unfortunately, and it will take some effort to sort out all the tricky bits.

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