Kitharaka

Print

A language of Kenya

Alternate Names
Saraka, Sharoka, Tharaka
Population

176,000 (2009 census), increasing. 61,600 monolinguals.

Location

Eastern Province, Tharaka district, south Meru district, some in Mwingi district.

Language Maps
Language Status

5 (Developing).

Dialects

Gatue (North Tharaka), Igoki, Ntugi (Central Tharaka), Thagicu. Thagicu dialect has extensive Kamba [kam] borrowings. Gatue is influential. Difficult intelligibility of northern Kimîîru [mer] dialects. Some Meru words have offensive meanings in Kitharaka. Lexical similarity: with Chuka [cuh].

Language Use

Older people’s dialect more prestigious due to lack of borrowings. Many now use written materials. Home, social gatherings. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use English [eng] in schools, offices. Kiswahili [swh] in churches, schools, jobs, sometimes in the home. Also use Gikuyu [kik], Kimîîru [mer].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: Below 15%. Literacy rate in L2: 45% Kiswahili or English. L1 books in schools since 2003. Taught in primary schools. Poetry. Radio programs. Films. NT: 2000–2002.
Writing

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Attitudes changing. People now view their language as important. Tharaka is place name. Ethnonym: Atharaka. Christian, traditional religion.