Atuot people

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Total population
approx. 50,000 (1998)[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
 South Sudan (Eastern Lakes State[3])
Atuot language and Dinka language[1][2]
Traditional African religion and Christianity
Related ethnic groups
other Nilotic peoples, esp. the Nuer and the Dinka

The Atuot (Reel) are a Nilotic ethnic group of South Sudan who live near Yirol in Eastern Lakes State. They comprise a majority of the population in the payam of Yirol West.[4]


The Atuot people speak the Atuot language (Atuot: Thok Reel), which was first recognized as a separate language from Dinka by anthropologist John Burton in 1987. It is a Western Nilotic language of the Dinka-Nuer group, closely related to the Nuer language and more distantly to the Luo languages. SIL International estimate that the number of Atuot speakers is 50,000.[1][3]

Atuot speakers distinguish two dialects to their language, Thok Reel Cieng Luai and Thok Reel Cieng Nhyam with Thok Reel Cieng Nhyam being the more lexically conservative of the two.[5] Most Atuot are bilingual in Dinka and Atuot.[2][6]

A distinctive feature of the language is its having of three contrastive vowel lengths.[7]


The Atuot share much of their culture with their neighbours. Like the Dinka and Nuer, they are also semi-sedentary cattle-herding pastoralists, meaning that while the travel with their herds to grazing grounds, they don't go far from where they had started.[3] There are seven subsections of the Atuot: Jilek, Luac, Jikeyi (Rorkec), Kuek, Apak, Akot and Ajong. The Ajong subsection claims to speak their own dialect known as Thok-ajong, a hard version of Thok Reel. Jikeyi and Kuek speak Thok Reel Cieng Nhyam. The Luac, Jilek, and Akot speak Thok Reel Cieng Luai.[1] The Apak speak Thong Apak which is dialect of South Central Dinka.[5]

Atuot country

The territory of the Atuot consists of the forests east and south of Yirol, and a small part of Bahr el Ghazal, generally following the river Payii from Lake Yirol. The region is mainly contained within the old Sudanese state of Lakes.[citation needed]

There were approximately 24,700 Atuot at the time of the local dialect survey in 1987.[8] SIL estimates that there were over 50,000 Atuot in 1998.[1] The population of Yirol West in the 2008 Sudanese census was 103,190 although not all inhabitants of the municipality are Atuot.[9] Since there is no clear way to find out the population, they are estimated to number at around 50,000.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Reel Ethnologue". Ethnologue. 19. Ethnologue. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Dinka, South Central Ethnologue". 19. Ethnologue. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Trust, Gurtong. "Atuot (Reel)". Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  4. ^ Reid, p. 18
  5. ^ a b Reid, pp. 20-21
  6. ^ Reid, p. 22
  7. ^ Reid, pp. 196
  8. ^ Roettger, p. 24
  9. ^ "5th Sudan Population and Housing Census 2008: Priority Results". South Sudan National Bureau of Statistics. South Sudan Commission for Census, Statistics and Evaluation. Retrieved 26 October 2016.


  • Burton, John W. (1987). A Nilotic World: the Atuot-Speaking Peoples of the Southern Sudan. London: Greenwood. ISBN 0313255016.
  • Burton, John W. (1981). God’s Ants: a Study of Atuot Religion. St. Augustin, West Germany: Anthropos Institute. ISBN 3921389410.
  • Reid, Tatiana (2010). Aspects of phonetics, phonology and morphophonology of Thok Reel (M.Sc.). University of Edinburgh.
  • Roettger, Larry and Lisa (1989). "A Dinka Dialect Study". Occasional Papers in the Study of Sudanese Languages. Dallas: SIL publication (6).
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