Maasai

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A language of Kenya

Alternate Names
Masai
Population

842,000 in Kenya (2009 census), increasing. Population total all countries: 1,297,000.

Location

Rift Valley Province, Kajiado and Narok districts.

Language Maps
Language Status

5 (Developing).

Dialects

Arusa (Arusha), Damat, Iloodokilani, Kaputiei, Keekonyokie, Kisonko, Kore, Laitokitok, Loitai, Matapo, Moitanik (Wuasinkishu), Parakuyo (Baraguyu, Kwavi), Purko, Siria. Arusha is distinct from Bantu Chaga-related variety. Reportedly Arusha, who are pastoralists, dress like Maasai and speak a Maasai-related variety; whereas, agriculturalists intermarry with the Chaga. Other sources say the Arusha originally spoke a Bantu language. Lexical similarity: 82%–86% between Kenya and Tanzania dialects. Purko has 91%–96% lexical similarity with other Kenya dialects, 82% with Baraguyu, 86% with Arusa, 77%–89% with Samburu [saq], 82%–89% with Chamus [saq], 60% with Ngasa [nsg] (Ongamo).

Typology

VSO.

Language Use

The Kore dialect now speak Somali [som] as L1. Home, community. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use English [eng], Swahili [swh]. Used as L2 by Omotik [omt].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 10%. Literacy rate in L2: 30%. Taught in primary schools. Radio programs. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1991.
Writing

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Seminomadic. Purko is the largest dialect in Kenya and centrally located. Traditional religion, Christian.

Also spoken in:

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