Ethnotwinning: the latest geekish craze

The Rowbory/Nigeria Family Blog

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Ethnotwinning: the latest geekish craze

You’ve heard of town twinning, maybe even of toilet twinning, but have you ever heard of ‘ethnotwinning’?

Did you know that every language in the world has a 3 letter ISO639 code? So, as long as you’ve got 3 initials, you can find your own ethnotwin.

My initials are DJR and my ethnotwin is a language in Australia called Djambarrpuyngu. My wife Julie ends up as a Macrolanguage in Nigeria — a cluster of languages that used to be considered one language but which has been split up now.

How can I find my ethnotwin?

The easiest way just now is to go to Ethnologue (say the page for Nigeria’s languages) then look for the handy search box in the top right, and type in your initials.

Alternatively take the following url: https://www.ethnofollowing url: and add your initials to the end of it.

I’m also writing a little tool to help you quickly find ethnotwins for yourself and your friends. (But it’s not quite ready yet and I really shouldn’t prioritise it above other urgent things right now.)

What’s the point?

Perhaps you might want to find out about your ethnotwin language and people. You might notice that quite a lot of languages are in Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. You might notice how much Bible translation and language development there still needs to be done.

You get extra points if you actually live in the country of your ethnotwin. Double the points if you manage to go there. If you’d like to feature below, send an email to with your name, ethnotwin and optionally a photo of you in the location where the language is spoken.

Ethnotwins of family and friends

David Jonathan Rowbory — DJR, Djambarrpuyngu, a language of Australia

Julie Ann Rowbory — JAR, Jarawan, a Macrolanguage of Nigeria (Maiden name JAM is Jamaican Creole English)

Sadly Rebekah, Elizabeth and Helen don’t seem to have ethnotwins, but depending on which middle names are included Abigail is twinned with Mapudungun, a language of Chile, or Karo, a language of Brazil.

My sister Jo was JRR, a language of Nigeria but sadly with her married name she isn’t twinned with any language.

My sister Lydia sadly doesn’t have an ethnotwin for her maiden or married name, but my Mum is twinned with Malavedan, an Indian language and my Dad is twinned with another Indian language, Kharia.

Other friends…

Ethnotwins of other well known people

Winston Leonard Churchill is ethnotwinned with Comorian, the statutory language of provincial identity in Moheli Island, Comoros.

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