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Luo is not a single language. Needs a more specific language. w:Luo languages. Nadando 16:54, 17 May 2008 (UTC)

Luo is a single language, luo classed as [Individual] by ISO/SIL. It is part of a family or group also called Luo, and not coded. See w:Dholuo language and note that "Luo" occurs at two levels in the hierarchy; see also SIL classification, note it is the individual language that is coded. Robert Ullmann 17:08, 17 May 2008 (UTC)

Tea room discussion[edit]

Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.

This name is mentioned with the header Luo. Is 'ck' sometimes used in words in Luo or in Swahili? My feeling was that it's not used, and that Barack is an English spelling of the name (but I don't know the Luo spelling). Am I wrong? Lmaltier 07:50, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

You are correct that "ck" is not used in Swahili or Luo. Sometimes spellings (particularly names) are borrowed with a word, but that would not be the case here. Some background:
In one of the nastier bits of British colonialist oppression, the administration of British East Africa (under which both Barack and Barack Sr. were born, 1961 and 1936 respectively), children were required to be given "Christian" names when the birth was registered. The CofE and the Catholic church also required this. So a lot of people who would have been given traditional first/given names were forced to use English names (Robert, Susan, Peter, etc everywhere, to this day). Raila Odinga's father had to battle the system to name his son Raila. (Many people refer to their friends and co-workers by their other names.)
So how did Barack Sr's family, who were Muslim, get away with "Barack", a borrowing from Arabic and a good Muslim name? Simple: it is in the bible, in Judges 4. Point to the bible, and tell the official/priest/whatever: "look, it is a Christian name" (ignoring that that is the Old Testament, and not "Christian".)
But this doesn't answer the question, as the King James version as well as the English vernacular version used by the Catholic Church both spell it Barak. (;-)
We know that Barack Obama's birth certificate, issued in Hawaii in 1961, spells his name and his father's name Barack. But we don't know if his father used that spelling; it could have been "anglicized" in both cases by the clerk there. I've seen the Barak spelling here, but should ask some Luo friends what spelling is commonly used.
Aside: something else you might find amusing ... In the traditions of most tribes here, the mother of a newborn is only allowed to give the child one name. The other names are chosen by specific traditional ritual, involving maternal aunts and village elders. The child will end up with at least three names, typically (given) + (middle, often patronomic) + (family name), where the family name may sometimes not be either parent (say, from paternal grandmother, given to a girl). The name the mother uses initially may end up as the given name, or as a middle name. Got all that?
Now consider a hospital, with newborns having been given only one name by their mother; the rest will happen later. In the last few days this has become a serious problem. What do you do when your maternity ward is caring for several dozen new baby boys ... all named only Obama? ... (;-) Robert Ullmann 13:35, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
That's so interesting! The funny thing is that the Muslim name is actually cognate with the Hebrew name בָּרוּךְ (bārūkh, Baruch) (literally "blessed"), as in Jeremiah 36; the Hebrew name בָּרָק (bārāq, Barak) (literally "lightning") is from a different root entirely. —RuakhTALK 15:07, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Thank you very much for all these details. So, the Luo entry should use the Luo spelling (spelling yet to be checked) and an English entry should use the English spelling (it's an English word by now, it's a first name used in English, even if it's difficult to call it an English first name...) Lmaltier 22:05, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
I added the Hebrew translation from Wikipedia - ברק, among others. If there is another spelling of the name, do we need another sense? Is there another spelling for Barack Obama in Hebrew? Ehud Barak's surname is spelled the same way. I used president Barack Obama's first name in the translations. Anatoli 02:59, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Barack Obama in Hebrew[edit]

Isn't ברק (barak) the right transliteration of Barack Obama's first name, although it has a different origin and meaning - ("lightning", not "blessed")? If so, where does it belong? A new sense or there should be an entry in English, not Luo? Anatoli 19:58, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

It seems that ברק is used purely as a transliteration and has no connection to native Hebrew roots or meanings. —Stephen 23:47, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. Does Ehud Barak's surname has the meaning "lightning". It's spelled (as per Wikipedia) and pronounced (I think) the same way as Barack Obama's first name. I agree that with Barack Obama's surname there could be no meaning or a coincidence. Anatoli 00:08, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, for a native Hebrew like Ehud Barak, the names will have their true meanings. It’s the same with Arabic. When Arabic transliterates a foreign word or name, it acts like a true alphabet, not like an abjad, and if a transliteration also has an Arabic meaning, the foreign name loses that meaning. —Stephen 00:51, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
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Many little things. + usage notes not about usage but about etymology, including conjectural etymology well covered in WP. DCDuring TALK 17:04, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

And the language, too, it might have to be changed to English ("ck" is not used in Luo, and Robert Ullmann has promised to check the Luo spelling). Lmaltier 17:15, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
It's a slightly-common English name now (see [1] and [2]) so I changed the header to English. There should be a separate Luo section (but the translations should stay in the English section). I added to the ety that it was an "Anglicization of a Luo given name". --Bequw¢τ 20:38, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I cleaned it up as well as I could, considering I don't know any Arabic. Part of the usage notes were copy-pasted to Barak and Baruch. Based on Robert Ullmann's account, it is not a Luo given name. If a Luo is forced to take an English name that doesn't make the name Luo. It's a common practice to force-feed foreign names to people of conquered nations, and to speakers of minority languages. Whatever Obama Sr. was called in Luo would be a Luo given name.--Makaokalani 14:32, 21 September 2011 (UTC)


The page says it is from "باراك (baraak [sic])", there is no such word in Arabic, باراك baaraak itself is from Barack. --Z 12:31, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

I removed it. --Z 03:52, 19 July 2012 (UTC)