Ethnologue: Areas: Africa

Kenya

25,732,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Republic of Kenya. Jamhuri ya Kenya. Literacy rate 45% (1987 official government figure). Also includes Hadrami Arabic 10,000 (1996), Ta'izzi-Adeni Arabic 10,000 (1995), people from Pakistan. Information mainly from BTL 1995, Heine and Möhlig 1980. Data accuracy estimate: A1, A2. Also includes 1,892 from Pakistan (1989 census). Christian, traditional religion, Muslim, Baha'i. Blind population 70,000. Deaf institutions: 25. The number of languages listed for Kenya is 61.

ARABIC, OMANI SPOKEN [ACX] 15,000 in Kenya (1995); 195,000 in Tanzania (1993); 1,010,000 in all countries. Up and down the coast. Also in Oman, UAE. Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic. Swahili is the mother tongue of most or all. It is reported that they came to Kenya as early as 900 A.D., originally from Yemen and Oman. Literacy is in Arabic. Typology: SVO. Muslim. Survey needed.

BONI (AWEERA, AWEER, WAATA, WATA, SANYE, WASANYE, WABONI, BON, OGODA, WATA-BALA) [BOB] 3,500 in Kenya (1994); 5,000 in all countries (1980). In forest hinterland behind Lamu, Lamu and Tana River districts, Coast Province; Garissa District, North-Eastern Province. Also in Somalia. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Rendille-Boni. Many are monolingual. Some are bilingual in Somali, Orma, or Swahili. Close to Garre of Somalia. Distinct from Sanye (Waat) of the Oromo Group or Dahalo (Sanye) of Southern Cushitic. Vernacular literature is desired. They are being settled in scattered villages and encouraged to switch to farming. 50% to 75% literate. Forest. Hunter-gatherers, limited agriculturalists: maize, beans. Traditional religion, Muslim.

BORANA (BORAN, BORANA, BOORAN, BORAAN, SOUTHERN OROMO, OROMO, "GALLA") [GAX] 152,000 in Kenya (1994 I. Larsen BTL), including 96,000 Borana (1994), 43,000 Gabra (1994), 13,000 Sakuye (1994); 3,657,000 in Ethiopia; 3,809,000 in all countries. Marsabit and Isiolo Districts, Eastern Province. Also in Somalia. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Oromo. Dialects: BORAN, GABRA (GABBRA, GEBRA), SAKUYE (SAGUYE). Gabra and Sakuye may have significant dialect and language attitude differences from Borana. Also spoken by the younger Burji population around Marsabit and Moyale. The name 'Borana' is used almost exclusively in Kenya, but 'Oromo' is used in Ethiopia. Semi-nomadic. Desert. Pastoralists: camel, cattle. Boran: Muslim, Christian; Gabra: mainly traditional religion, Christian, some Muslim; Sakuye: Muslim, Christian. Bible 1995. NT 1875-1979. Bible portions 1870-1966.

BUKUSU (LUBUKUSU) [BUL] 565,000 (1987 BTL), including 47,000 Tachon (1980 Heine and Möhlig). Western Province, Bungoma District, Mt. Elgon. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, J, Masaba-Luyia (J.30), Luyia. Dialects: BUKUSU, TACHON (TACHONI). 25% to 50% literate. Mountain slope. Christian. NT 1993. Bible portions 1984-1995.

BURJI (BAMBALA) [BJI] 7,000 in Kenya (1994 I. Larsen BTL); 80,000 in Ethiopia (1994 UBS); 87,000 in all countries. Mainly around Marsabit township, Moyale. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Highland. Brought from Ethiopia in the 1930's to build roads from Moyale to other north Kenya towns. Ethiopia is considered the traditional home territory, but some migration occurs between the two countries. Kenyan resident Burji below 40 years are apparently functionally bilingual in Boran, and those under 20 years have lost facility in Burji. 15% to 25% literate. Mountain slope. Businessmen, agriculturalists. Christian, traditional religion. NT in press (1995).

CHONYI (CHICHONYI) [COH] 121,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Kilifi District, Coast Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Nyika (E.40), Mijikenda. Chonyi speakers may understand Giryama. Christian, Muslim. Survey needed.

CHUKA (SUKA, CHUKU) [CUH] 70,000 (1980 SIL). Southern Meru District, Eastern Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kikuyu-Kamba (E.20), Meru. 73% lexical similarity with Embu, 70% with Gikuyu, 67% with Meru, 63% with Kamba. Comprehension of northern Meru dialects is borderline. Close to Tharaka. Speakers in different regions are bilingual in Meru, Gikuyu, Kamba, or Swahili. Christian. Survey needed.

CUTCHI-SWAHILI (ASIAN SWAHILI) [CCL] Creole, Swahili based. The first language of some Gujarati Muslims who have come from Zanzibar. May be adequately intelligible to speakers of standard Swahili. Asian Swahili is used by other Asians in communicating with non-English speaking Africans and other Asians who share no common language. It has a regular but distinct phonology and lexical and grammatical differences, described by Whitely (1974.73-79). Cutchi-Swahili and Asian Swahili may not be identical. English is the second language. 15% to 25% literate. Ismaili and Ithnasheri Muslim. Survey needed.

DAASANECH (DAASENECH, DASENECH, DATHANAIK, GELEBA, GHELEBA, GELEB, DAMA, MARILLE, RESHIAT, "SHANGILLA") [DSH] 2,500 in Kenya (1980 SIL); 30,000 in all countries (1983 SIL). Northeastern shore of Lake Turkana, around Illeret, Marsabit District, Eastern Province. Primarily in Ethiopia. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Western Omo-Tana. "Shangilla" is a derogatory name. 8 ethnic groups: Inkabelo (7,000), Inkoria (2,000), Naritch (Naarich 1,800), Elele (1,500), Randal (1,000), Oro (800), Koro (500), Riele (400). Below 5% literate. Typology: SOV. Semi arid desert. Plains. Pastoralists: cattle; agriculturalists: millet, tobacco; fishermen. Traditional religion, Christian. Work in progress.

DAHALO (SANYE, GUO GARIMANI) [DAL] 3,000 possibly (1987 SIL). Near the mouth of the Tana River, Lamu and Tana River districts, Coast Province. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, South. The language has clicks, although unrelated to Khoisan languages. Distinct from Sanye (Waata). Highly assimilated and bilingual in Swahili. They live in isolated family groups. The name "Dahalo" is derogatory. Traditional religion. Survey needed.

DIGO (KIDIGO, CHIDIGO) [DIG] 217,000 in Kenya (1994 I. Larsen BTL), .8% of the population; 88,000 in Tanzania (1987); 305,000 in all countries. Kwale District, Coast Province, south of Mombasa. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Nyika (E.40), Mijikenda. Partially intelligible with Giryama but the most remote from Giryama of the Mijikenda Subgroup. 74% lexical similarity with Duruma, 72% with Chonyi and Swahili, 71% with Swahili dialects Mrima and Mvita, 67% with Amu, 62% with Bajun, 58% with Lower Pokomo. A fair degree of Swahili influence. Literacy estimate in Swahili: 45%. Vigorous language use. 15% to 25% literate. Coastal. Agriculturalists, fishermen, traders, industry workers. Muslim, traditional religion, Christian. Bible portions 1982-1993. Work in progress.

DURUMA [DUG] 319,000 including 247,000 Duruma; 72,000 Rabai (1994 I. Larsen BTL). West Kwale District, Coast Province, south of Mombasa to the Tanzanian border. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Nyika (E.40), Mijikenda. Dialect: RABAI. Of the nine Mijikenda dialects, Duruma is the second most remote from Giryama linguistically. Rabai may be intelligible with Duruma. 74% lexical similarity with Digo, 66% with Swahili. Literacy estimate in Swahili: 13%. Comprehension of Swahili and Digo is low. Vigorous language use. Language attitudes toward Giryama indicate the need for separate Duruma literature. 15% to 25% literate. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim. Bible portions 1848-1992. Work in progress.

EL MOLO (ELMOLO, FURA-PAWA, LDES, DEHES, "NDOROBO") [ELO] 8 speakers out of 4,000 in the ethnic group (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Speakers are all over 50 years old. Southeastern shore of Lake Turkana, Elmolo Bay, Marsabit District, Eastern Province. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Western Omo-Tana. The original language is close to Daasanech. Most of the ethnic group now speak Samburu. They are affiliated with the Samburu. Semi arid desert. Plains, lake shore. Fishermen. Traditional religion, Christian. Nearly extinct.

EMBU (KIEMBU) [EBU] 429,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL) including 150,000 in Embu, 61,725 in Mbeere (1980 Heine and Möhlig), 1.2% of the population. Embu District, Eastern Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kikuyu-Kamba (E.20). Dialects: MBEERE (MBERE, KIMBEERE), EMBU. 85% lexical similarity with Mbeere, 73% with Gikuyu and Chuka, 66% with Kamba, 63% to 65% with Meru. There is bilingualism in Gikuyu because of previous teaching in the schools, but it is limited in rural areas. Up to 70% have limited bilingualism in Swahili. Comprehension of Meru is limited. Mbeere is reported to have adequate intelligibility of Embu. There are government literacy materials in Embu. 'Embo' is an incorrect spelling. The population estimate may include Chuka and Mwimbi-Muthambi. 25% to 50% literate. Embu: Christian, traditional religion; Mbeere: traditional religion, Christian. Work in progress.

ENDO (ENDO-MARAKWET, MARAKUET, MARKWETA) [ENB] 45,000 to 50,000 including 40,000 Endo (1987 SIL). Rift Valley Province, Elgeyo Marakwet District. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Southern, Kalenjin, Nandi-Markweta, Markweta. Dialects: ENDO, SAMBIRIR. Low intelligibility with major Kalenjin dialects and Talai. Marakwet is a cover term for Endo-Sambirir and Talai. Orthography problems. 5% to 15% literate. Pastoralists: cattle, goats, sheep; hunters; agriculturalists. Traditional religion, Christian. 18 churches. Work in progress.

ENGLISH [ENG] Mainly second language speakers; 322,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. National language. Bible 1535-1989. NT 1525-1985. Bible portions 1530-1987.

GARREH-AJURAN [GGH] 128,000 including 96,000 Garreh, 32,000 Ajuran (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Mandera and Wajir districts, North-Eastern Province. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Oromo. Dialects: GARREH (GURREH, GARRE, GARI), AJURAN (AJUURAAN, UJUURAAN). Ajuran may not be intelligible with Garreh. 85% lexical similarity with Boran on a short word list. Part of a dialect cluster. The Ajuran in Kenya speak Somali as second language. Swahili is also used, and some can also speak the Garre of Somalia, which their ancestors spoke. In Somalia the Ajuran speak a variety of Common Somali as mother tongue, and the Garre apparently speak a language related to Somali. 2% literacy rate. Semi-nomadic. Pastoralists. Muslim, Christian. Survey needed.

GIKUYU (GIGIKUYU, KIKUYU, GEKOYO) [KIU] 5,347,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL) or 19.8% of the population (1987). The three dialects listed are western, in Kiambu, Murang'a, and Nyeri districts. Another dialect is in Kirinyaga District. Central Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kikuyu-Kamba (E.20). Dialects: NDIA (KIAMBU), GICHUGU (MURANG'A), MATHIRA (NYERI). 73% lexical similarity with Embu, 70% with Chuka, 67% with Kamba, 63% with Meru. 95% of the children are in school. 75% to 100% literate. Mountain slope, hills, plains. Agriculturalists: sorghum, millet, beans, sweet potatoes, maize, potatoes, cassava, bananas, sugar cane, yams, fruit, tobacco, coffee, castor oil, tea, pyrethium, peas; animal husbandry: goats, sheep, cattle. Christian, traditional religion. Bible 1951-1965. NT 1926-1995. Bible portions 1903-1964.

GIRYAMA (GIRIAMA, AGIRYAMA, KIGIRIAMA, NIKA, NYIKA, KINYIKA) [NYF] 551,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL), including 496,000 Giryama, 17,000 Kauma, 19,000 Jibana, 13,000 Kambe, 6,000 Ribe; 2.3% of the population. 1,208,000 in all countries Mijikenda (1994). North of Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale districts, Coast Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Nyika (E.40), Mijikenda. Dialects: KAUMA, RIBE (RIHE), JIBANA (DZIHANA), KAMBE, GIRYAMA, CHWAKA. Different from Nyiha (Nyika) of Tanzania and Zambia. Strong traditional social system. Nine ethnic groups, all called 'Mijikenda'. Digo and Duruma are the most distinct from Giryama. Dialect speakers may understand Chonyi. 72% lexical similarity with Digo, 63% with Mrima, 62% with Mvita, 61% with Amu, 59% with Lower Pokomo and Bajun. Most speak Swahili fairly well. Many school children are learning English. 15% to 25% literate. Coastal. Subsistence agriculturalists, cash crops. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim (Muslim). Bible 1901. NT 1901-1951. Bible portions 1878-1951. Work in progress.

GUJARATI [GJR] 50,000 in Kenya (1995 SIL); 250,000 in Tanzania (predominantly Gujarati from India; 1993 Johnstone); 44,000,000 in all countries. Mainly in Nairobi. Mainly in India, also in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Singapore, United Kingdom, Fiji. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Gujarati. Most have lived in Kenya for several generations. Hindu, Jain, Muslim. Bible 1823-1994. NT 1820-1985. Bible portions 1809-1965.

GUSII (KISII, KOSOVA, GUZII, EKEGUSII) [GUZ] 1,582,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL), 6.3% of the population; 2,000,000 including second language users (1995 WA). Southwestern, south of Kavirondo Gulf, Kisii District, Nyanza Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kuria (E.10). Different from Kisi of Tanzania. 15% to 25% literate. Christian, traditional religion. Bible 1988. NT 1948-1975. Bible portions 1929-1967.

IDAKHO-ISUKHA-TIRIKI [IDA] 306,000 (1987 BTL), including Idakho 65,000, Isukha 90,000, Tiriki 100,000 (1980 Heine and Möhlig). Kakamega District, Western Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, J, Masaba-Luyia (J.30), Luyia. Dialects: IDAKHO (IDAXO, ITAKHO, KAKAMEGA, KAKUMEGA), ISUKHA (ISUXA, LWISUKHA), TIRIKI. Speakers have high comprehension of Logooli, but there is resistance to each other's pronunciation. 70% lexical similarity with Logooli, 52% with Masaba (Uganda) and Saamia. 15% to 25% literate. Christian. Survey needed.

KACHCHI (CUTCHI, KACCHI, KATCHI, CUTCH) [KFR] 10,000 in Kenya (1995 SIL); 768,000 in India (1994 IMA); 801,000 or more in all countries. Nairobi, Mombasa, and main trade routes. Also in Tanzania and Malawi. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Northwestern zone, Sindhi. A community language and spoken in the home. Not used in schools. English and Swahili are second languages. Masons, merchants (70% of Kenyan Asians). Swami Narayan Hindu, Memon and Shi'a Ismaili Muslim, Christian. Bible portions 1834. Work in progress.

KALENJIN [KLN] 2,458,123 (1989 census), including 471,459 Kipsigis, 261,969 Nandi, 110,908 Keiyo, 130,249 Tugen (1980 Heine and Möhlig). Mainly Nandi, Kericho, and Uasin Gishu districts, Rift Valley Province. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Southern, Kalenjin, Nandi-Markweta, Nandi. Dialects: NANDI (NAANDI, CEMUAL), TERIK (NYANG'ORI), KIPSIGIS (KIPSIIKIS, KIPSIKIS, KIPSIKIIS), KEIYO (KEYO, ELGEYO), SOUTH TUGEN (TUKEN), CHERANGANY. 60% lexical similarity with Omotik, 50% with Datooga. There are orthography problems. 15% to 25% literate. Typology: VSO. Agriculturalists: millet, maize, potatoes, beans, pumpkins, tobacco, bananas; animal husbandry: cattle, goats, sheep, fowl. Keiyo: Christian, traditional religion; Kipsigis: Christian, traditional religion; Nandi: Christian, traditional religion. Bible 1939-1969. NT 1933-1968. Bible portions 1912-1966. Work in progress.

KAMBA (KIKAMBA, KEKAMBA) [KIK] 2,448,302 (1989 census) or 11.2% of the population (1987); 3,000,000 including second language users (1995 WA). South central, Machakos and Kitui Districts, Eastern Province. Some in Kwale District, Coast Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kikuyu-Kamba (E.20). Dialects: MASAKU, SOUTH KITUI, NORTH KITUI, MUMONI. 67% lexical similarity with Gikuyu, 66% with Embu, 63% with Chuka, 57% to 59% with Meru. 25% to 50% literate. Mountain slope. Agriculturalists: sorghum, millet, maize, beans, peas, sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, sugar cane, bananas, tobacco; animal husbandry: cattle, sheep, goats; traders; woodcarvers. Altitude: 1,500 to 5,000 feet. Christian, traditional religion, Muslim. Bible 1956. NT 1920. Bible portions 1850-1936.

KENYAN SIGN LANGUAGE [XKI] Students in primary schools in 1990: 2,600. There are around 200,000 deaf people in Kenya. It is not known how many know KSL. 32 primary schools for the deaf in Hola, Kapsabet, Karatina, Karen, Kerugoya, Kilifi, Kisumu, Kitui, Kwale, Meru, Mombasa, Mumias, Murang'a, Nairobi, Nakuru, North Kinangop, Ruiru, Sakwa. Schools under the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) use a Kenyan version of (American) Exact Signed English, including one at Machakos. KSL is used at Nyangoma School at Bondo, a primary and boys' technical school (Sakwa), and in one girl's school. A school in Mombasa uses British Sign Language. Some Belgian brothers use Belgian Sign language in a school near Oyugis. 4 churches in Nairobi: 2 use KIE Signed English, 1 a mixture of that and KSL, the other uses a mixture of Korean, American, and Kenyan Sign Languages. Deaf sign language. Mainly unrelated to other sign languages. It has become standardized with slight variations since 1961, when elementary schools for deaf children were begun. Communication with those who do not know KSL is superficial only. KSL fits Kenyan culture and ties students back to their families and friends who know it. Used in court cases involving deaf people. A KSL dictionary (1992) has over 2,600 signs by the Kenya National Association of the Deaf, which has 12 branches. The government is using KIE Signed English. The University of Nairobi backs KSL. The deaf from Kisumu (western Kenya) to the deafin Mombasa (eastern Kenya) can understand each other completely even with some dialect differences. The deaf in Uganda and Tanzania do not really understand KSL, though they have much in common. Little research. There is a manual alphabet for spelling.

KONKANI, GOANESE (GOMATAKI, GOAN, GOANESE) [GOM] 3,900 in Kenya or 9% to 10% of Asians (1987); 2,000,000 in all countries (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin). Nairobi. Mainly in India, also United Arab Emirates. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Southern zone, Unclassified. Used by many Asians (possibly 9-10%) whose ancestors came from Goa or north India. A community and home language not used in schools. English is the second language. NT 1818-1976. Bible portions 1821-1966. Work in progress.

KURIA (IKIKURIA, IGIKURIA, EKIGURIA, KURYA, TENDE) [KUJ] 135,000 in Kenya (1994 I. Larsen BTL), .6% of population; 213,000 in Tanzania (1987); 348,000 in all countries. The first four dialects listed are in Kenya, Kuria District, Nyanza Province. The last three dialects are in Tanzania. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kuria (E.10). Dialects: NYABASI, BUGUMBE, BUKIRA, BWIREGE, KIROBA, SIMBITI, SWETA. Koria is not a good spelling. The Kenya dialects are very closely related. Christian, traditional religion. NT in press (1996). Bible portions 1969-1975.

LOGOOLI (RAGOLI, ULURAGOOLI, LLUGULE, LUGOOLI, MARAGOOLI, LURAGOLI, LLOGOLE, MARAGOLI) [RAG] 197,000 (1987 BTL). Kakamega District, Western Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, J, Masaba-Luyia (J.30), Luyia. The people are called 'Avalogoli'. 'Mulogoli' is a person from Maragoli. 70% to 80% lexical similarity with Idakho-Isukha-Tiriki. 50% to 75% literate. Bible 1951. NT 1925. Bible portions 1911-1939.

LUO (DHOLUO, NILOTIC KAVIRONDO, KAVIRONDO LUO) [LUO] 3,185,000 in Kenya (1994 I. Larsen BTL) or 13.8% of the population (1987); 223,000 in Tanzania (1993 Johnstone); 3,408,000 in all countries. Nyanza Province. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Western, Luo, Southern, Luo-Acholi, Luo. Different from Lwo of Uganda or Lwo (Luo, Jur Lwo) of Sudan. 50% to 75% literate. Fishermen. Christian, traditional religion, Muslim. Bible 1953-1977. NT 1926. Bible portions 1911-1964.

LUYIA (LULUYIA, LUHYA) [LUY] 3,083,083 (1989 census), or 13.1% of the population, including 135,000 Wanga, 65,000 Marama, 45,000 Tsotso 60,000 Kisa, 105,000 Kabras, 35,000 East Nyala (1980 SIL). Lake Victoria area, Western Province. Not in Uganda. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, J, Masaba-Luyia (J.30), Luyia. Dialects: KISA (SHISA, LUSHISA), MARAMA, KABRAS, WANGA (HANGA, LUHANGA, OLUHANGA, KAWANGA, OLUWANGA), TSOTSO. The people are called 'Abaluyia', singular 'Muluyia'. 50% to 75% literate. Christian, traditional religion, Muslim. Bible 1975. NT 1939-1968. Bible portions 1914-1968.

MAASAI (MASAI) [MET] 453,000 in Kenya (1994 I. Larsen BTL), 1.5% of the population; 430,000 in Tanzania (1993); 883,000 in all countries. Kajiado and Narok districts, Rift Valley Province. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Eastern, Lotuxo-Maa, Ongamo-Maa. Dialects: KAPUTIEI, KEEKONYOKIE, MATAPO, LAITOKITOK, ILOODOKILANI, DAMAT, PURKO, LOITAI, SIRIA, MOITANIK (WUASINKISHU), KORE, ARUSA (ARUSHA), BARAGUYU, KISONKO. Purko is the largest dialect in Kenya and centrally located. Purko has 91% to 96% lexical similarity with other Kenya dialects, 82% with Baraguyu, 86% with Arusha in Tanzania, 77% to 89% with Samburu, 82% to 89% with Chamus, 60% with Ngasa (Ongamo). The Kore now speak Somali as first language. The last three dialects listed are in Tanzania. Kwavi may be a dialect. People are 18% literate. Semi-nomadic. 5% to 15% literate. Typology: VSO. Pastoralists: cattle, goats; agriculturalists. Traditional religion, Christian. Bible 1991. NT 1923-1967. Bible portions 1905-1961.

MALAKOTE (ILWANA) [MLK] 8,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Tana River north of Pokomo, between Bura and Garissa, Tana River District, Coast Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Nyika (E.40), Pokomo. Not intelligible with Upper Pokomo or Lower Pokomo. 57% lexical similarity with Lower Pokomo; 55% with Upper Pokomo. Cushitic influence. Below 5% literate. Agriculturalists, fishermen. Muslim. Work in progress.

MERU (KIMERU) [MER] 1,305,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL); 5.6% of the population, including 540,000 Meru, 26,400 Igoji (1980 Heine and Möhlig). Meru District, Eastern Province, northeast of Mt. Kenya. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kikuyu-Kamba (E.20), Meru. Dialects: MERU, IGEMBE, TIGANIA, IMENTI, MIUTINI, IGOJI. 85% lexical similarity between Imenti and Tigania. 67% similarity with Chuka, 63% with Embu and Gikuyu, 57% with Kamba. Mero is not a correct spelling. Different from Meru (Rwo) of Tanzania. 25% to 50% literate. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim. Bible 1964. NT 1952-1988. Bible portions 1921-1955.

MWIMBI-MUTHAMBI [MWS] 70,000 (1980 SIL). Central Meru District, Eastern Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kikuyu-Kamba (E.20), Meru. Dialects: MWIMBI (KIMWIMBI), MUTHAMBI. People may be able to use Meru literature. Christian. Survey needed.

NUBI (KI-NUBI, KINUBI) [KCN] 10,000 in Kenya, including 3,000 to 6,000 in Kibera, outside Nairobi; 14,739 in Uganda (1991 census); 25,000 in all countries. Kibera, Nairobi. Creole, Arabic based. Formerly a soldier language, which split off from Sudanese Pidgin Arabic about 1900. There are conflicting reports of intelligibility with Sudanese Creole Arabic. 90% of the lexicon comes from Arabic. Speakers use Swahili for out-group communication and Nubi for in-group communication, with a stable bilingualism. 30% can also use English. Non-Nubi wives of Nubi men are expected to learn Nubi. Below 5% literate. Muslim. Survey needed.

NYORE (OLUNYORE, LUNYORE, NYOLE, NYOOLE, LUNYOLE, OLUNYOLE) [NYD] 120,000 (1980 Heine and Möhlig). Above Kavirondo Gulf, Kakamega District, Western Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, J, Masaba-Luyia (J.30), Luyia. 61% lexical similarity with Nyole of Uganda. Typology: SVO. Christian. NT 1936, in press (1996). Bible portions 1915-1995.

OKIEK (AKIEK, "NDOROBO") [OKI] A few speakers out of an ethnic group of 20,000 in Kenya (1980 Heine and Möhlig). On East Mau Escarpment, Nakuru District, Rift Valley Province. Possibly in Tanzania. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Southern, Kalenjin, Okiek. Dialects: SUIEI, SOGOO. People may be bilingual Nandi. "Ndorobo" is a derogatory cover term for several small hunter or forest groups, not linguistically related (El Molo, Yaaku, Okiek, Omotik); most or all are highly bilingual in an adopted language; some are nearly extinct. The Akiek in northern Tanzania now speak Maasai. The Akiek of Kinare in Kenya now speak Kikuyu. "The language is remembered by a few old men married to Kikuyu women and living in Kikuyu communities" (Dimmendaal 1989). Those in Tanzania and Kenya are not in contact with each other. Forest, mountain slope. Hunter-gatherers (formerly), bee-keepers. Some Christian. Survey needed.

OMOTIK (LAAMOOT, "NDOROBO") [OMT] 50 or fewer, all over 40 years old (1980). 24,363 "Dorobo" (1989 census). Around Lolgorien, Lemek, and Entasekera, Narok District, Rift Valley Province. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Southern, Tatoga. Dialect: SUIEI. 60% lexical similarity with Kalenjin, 50% with Datooga. The ethnic group now speaks Maasai. "Ndorobo" is a derogatory cover term for several small hunter or forest groups, not linguistically related (El Molo, Yaaku, Okiek, Omotik). Most or all are highly bilingual in an adopted language. Some are nearly extinct. Traditional religion. Survey needed.

ORMA (UARDAI, WADAI, WARDAY, WARDEI) [ORC] 55,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL), including 5,000 Munyo. Garissa and Tana River districts, Northeastern and Coast provinces. The Oromo spoken in the Lower Jubba Region of Somalia may actually be Orma. The Orma controlled that area until the mid or late 19th century. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Oromo. Dialects: MUNYO (KOROKORO, MUNYO YAYA), WAATA (SANYE), ORMA. A distinct language from Boran. They move from the lower Tana River inland toward Kitui District during rainy season. Savannah, semi-arid. Orma: pastoralists: cattle, sheep, goats; Munyo: agriculturalists, fishermen. Muslim. Work in progress.

PANJABI, EASTERN (PUNJABI, GURMUKHI, GURUMUKHI) [PNJ] 10,000 in Kenya (1995 SIL); 25,690,000 in India (1994 IMA); 43,000 in Malaysia (1993); 9,677 in Bangladesh (1961 census); 1,167 in Fiji; 25,700,000 in all countries. Nairobi. Also in United Arab Emirates, Singapore, United Kingdom. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Panjabi. Dialect: PANJABI PROPER. Most came to Kenya with the building of the railroad at the turn of the century. Sikh, Hindu, Muslim. Braille code available. Bible 1959-1984. NT 1815, in press (1996). Bible portions 1818-1954.

POKOMO, LOWER (KIPOKOMO, PFOKOMO, MALACHINI) [POJ] 29,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Lower Tana River, Tana River District, Coast Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Nyika (E.40), Pokomo. Dialects: MWINA, BUU I, BUU II, BUU III, KULESA, NGATANA, DZUNZA, KALINDI. 75% of the speakers have some degree of bilingual proficiency in Swahili. 76% lexical similarity with Upper Pokomo, 63% with Mvita, 61% with Amu, 60% with Mrima, 59% with Giryama, 58% with Digo, 57% with Bajun. 25% to 50% literate. Agriculturalists, fishermen. Christian, traditional religion. NT 1902, out of print. Bible portions 1894-1993. Work in progress.

POKOMO, UPPER [PKB] 34,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL), including 5,000 Malalulu, 6,000 Zubaki, 2,100 Ndura, 2,600 Kinakomba, 1,500 Gwano, 6,150 Ndera. Upper Tana River, Tana River District, Coast Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Nyika (E.40), Pokomo. Dialects: MALALULU, ZUBAKI, NDURA, KINAKOMBA, GWANO, NDERA. 15% to 25% literate. Flood plain. Agriculturalists, fishermen. Mainly Muslim. Survey needed.

PÖKOOT (PÖKOT, SUK, PAKOT) [PKO] 264,000 in Kenya (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Baringo and West Pokot districts, Rift Valley Province. Also in Uganda. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Southern, Kalenjin, Pokot. Semi-nomadic. 15% to 25% literate. Mountain slope, plains. Half pastoralists: cattle, sheep, goats; half agriculturalists. Traditional religion, Christian. NT 1967, in press (1996). Bible portions 1936-1991.

RENDILLE (RENDILE, RANDILE) [REL] 32,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Marsabit District, between Lake Turkana and Marsabit Mt., Eastern Province. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Rendille-Boni. Nomadic. The Ariaal Rendille people live in inter-dependent relationship with the Samburu and speak Samburu. 5% to 15% literate. Typology: SOV. Semi-arid desert. Pastoralists: camels, sheep, goats, cattle. Traditional religion, Muslim, Christian. Bible portions 1993. Work in progress.

SAAMIA (SAMIA, OLUSAAMIA, LUSAMIA, LUSAAMIA, SAMYA) [SBU] 335,000 in Kenya (1987 BTL), including 50,000 Saamia, 35,000 West Nyala, 60,000 Khayo, 10,000 Songa (in Uganda), 60,000 Marachi (1980 SIL); 225,378 in Uganda (1991); 560,380 in all countries. Mainly Busia District, Western Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, J, Masaba-Luyia (J.30), Luyia. Dialects: SAAMIA, EAST NYALA (NYALA-K), WEST NYALA (NYALA-B), KHAYO (XAAYO, XAYO), SONGA, MARACHI. 88% lexical similarity with Wanga (Luyia), 62% with Masaba, 52% with Isuxa and Soga, 51% with Gwere (Uganda). Not functionally intelligible with other languages. 25% to 50% literate. Christian, traditional religion. Bible portions 1904.

SABAOT (MT. ELGON MAASAI) [SPY] 143,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Mt. Elgon District, Western Province. Also Trans-Nzoia District in Rift Valley Province. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Southern, Kalenjin, Elgon. Dialects: BONG'OMEEK (BONG'OM, PONG'OM), KOONY (KONY), BOOK (BOK, POK). Bung'omek is being absorbed by Bukusu. Related to Sebei of Uganda. 15% to 25% literate. Pastoralists: cattle, agriculture. Christian, traditional religion. Bible portions 1987-1993. Work in progress.

SAGALLA (KISAGALA, KISAGALLA, SAGALA, TERI, SAGHALA) [TGA] 10,000 (1980 Heine and Möhlig). Taita Hills, slopes of Sagala Hill, Taita District, Coast Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Nyika (E.40), Taita. Dialects: DAMBI, MUGANGE, TERI, KISHAMBA, GIMBA, KASIGAU. 62% lexical similarity with Taita. Distinct from Sagala of Tanzania. 15% to 25% literate. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim. Bible portions 1892-1994. Work in progress.

SAMBURU (SAMBUR, SAMPUR, BURKENEJI, LOKOP, E LOKOP, NKUTUK) [SAQ] 147,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL) including 128,000 Samburu, 19,000 Chamus. Samburu District, and south and east shores of Lake Baringo, Baringo District, Rift Valley Province (Chamus). Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Eastern, Lotuxo-Maa, Ongamo-Maa. Dialect: CHAMUS (ILCAMUS, NJEMPS). 94% to 88% lexical similarity with Chamus, 89% to 77% with Maasai, 59% with Ngasa (Ongamo). Chamus has 82% with Maasai. The El Molo mainly speak Samburu now, a slightly different dialect. The Samburu are 15% to 25% literate, the Chamus 41%. Nomadic. Pastoralists: cattle, goats, sheep. Samburu: traditional religion, Christian; Chamus: traditional religion, Christian.

SANYE (SANYA, WASANYE, ARIANGULU, LANGULO, WAATA, WAAT) [SSN] 5,000 (1980 SIL). Lower parts of Tana River, Lamu District, Coast Province. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Oromo. They have maintained their language in spite of change in economy and pressure from other languages. Distinct language from Dahalo (Sanye) or Boni. 15% to 25% literate. Forest dwellers. Formerly hunter-gatherers, now agriculturalists. Largely Muslim, some Christian. Survey needed.

SOMALI (STANDARD SOMALI) [SOM] 312,339 in Kenya (1989 census); 45,098 Somali, 27,244 Hawiyah, 100,400 in Degodia, 139,597 in Ogaden (1989 census); 8,335,000 in all countries. Northeastern Province around Wajir. Also Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen, UAE. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali. Dialects: DEGODIA, OGADEN. Dialect differences cut across clan differences. Daarood, Dir, Hawiye, Ogaadeen are clan families in Kenya. The people are nomadic. 15% to 25% literate. The Ogaadeen are 1% literate. Pastoralists: camel, sheep, goats. Muslim. Bible 1979. NT 1972-1976. Bible portions 1915-1935.

SUBA [SUH] 129,000 in Kenya (1994 I. Larsen BTL); 30,000 in Tanzania (1987); 159,000 in all countries. Eastern shores of Lake Victoria, and Mfangano and Rusinga Islands. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kuria (E.10). Vigorous use of Suba in Kaksingiri and Mfangano Island. The majority use Luo as second language. Speakers are not highly bilingual in Tanzania. 25% to 50% literate. Work in progress.

SWAHILI (KISWAHELI, SUAHILI, KISUAHILI, ARAB-SWAHILI) [SWA] 131,000 in Kenya, including 66,000 Bajuni (1994 I. Larsen BTL), 6,000 Siyu, 3,000 Pate, 15,000 Amu, 25,000 to 30,000 Mvita, 13,900 Shirazi (1989 census), 2,000 Vumba (1980 Heine and Möhlig); 12,000,000 first and second language speakers in Kenya (1980 UBS); 5,000,000 in all countries, first language speakers (1989 Holm); 30,000,000 total second language speakers (1989 Holm). Coast Province. Also in Uganda, Tanzania, Mayotte, Rwanda, South Africa, Burundi, UAE, USA, and Somalia. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, G, Swahili (G.40). Dialects: AMU, MVITA (KIMVITA, MOMBASA), BAJUNI (BAJUN, T'IK'UU, TIKULU, TUKULU, GUNYA, MBALAZI, CHIMBALAZI), PATE, PEMBA (PHEMBA, HADIMU, TAMBATU), MRIMA, FUNDI, SIU (SIYU), SHAMBA (KISHAMBA), MATONDONI. The dialects listed are in Kenya. Bajuni is the most divergent. Bajuni and Pemba may be separate languages. Bajun has 85% lexical similarity with Amu, 78% with Mvita, 72% with Mrima; Mvita has 86% with Amu, 79% with Mrima; Mrima has 79% with Amu. 51% literacy. In the Mombasa area they call themselves 'Arab' or 'Shirazi', in Lamu area they call themselves 'Bajun'. Compulsory in primary education. Classical and modern literature. National language. Coastal. Traders, small businessmen; Bajun: fishermen, agriculturalists. Muslim. Braille Scripture in progress. Bible 1891-1996. NT 1879-1989. Bible portions 1868-1968.

TAITA (DABIDA, DAVIDA, KIDABIDA, TEITA, KITAITA, DAWIDA) [DAV] 203,389 (1989 census). Taita hills, Taita District, Coast Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Nyika (E.40), Taita. Dialects: MBOLOLO, WERUGHA, MBALE, CHAWIA, BURA, MWANDA. 62% lexical similarity with Sagalla, 46% with Gweno, 41% to 44% with Chagga. Speakers are highly bilingual in Swahili. 25% to 50% literate. Christian, traditional religion, Muslim. Bible in press (1996). NT 1922-1990. Bible portions 1904-1985.

TALAI (MARAKWET) [TLE] 25,000 to 30,000 (1987 estimate). Rift Valley Province. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Southern, Kalenjin, Nandi-Markweta, Markweta. Low intelligibility with basic Kalenjin dialects and Endo. 'Marakwet' is a cover term for Talai and Endo. 15% to 25% literate. Traditional religion, Christian. Survey needed.

TAVETA (KITAVETA, KITUBETA, TUBETA) [TVS] 14,358 in Kenya (1989 census). Around Taveta in adjacent areas of Kenya and Tanzania. Taita District, Coast Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, G, Shambala (G.20). Those younger than 30 years old in Kenya are highly bilingual in Swahili. People have limited bilingualism in Tanzania. 25% to 50% literate. or more Christian. NT 1906, out of print. Bible portions 1892-1905.

TESO (ATESO) [TEO] 217,000 in Kenya (1993 Johnstone); 999,537 in Uganda (1991 census); 1,217,000 in all countries. Busia District, Western Province. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Eastern, Lotuxo-Teso, Teso-Turkana, Teso. Christian, traditional religion. Bible 1961. NT 1930-1966. Bible portions 1910-1960.

THARAKA (KITHARAKA, SARAKA, SHAROKA) [THA] 112,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Eastern Meru District, Embu District, and some in Kitui District, Eastern Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kikuyu-Kamba (E.20), Meru. Dialects: GATUE (NORTH THARAKA), THAGICHU (KITUI), NTUGI (CENTRAL THARAKA), THARAKA (SOUTH THARAKA). Thagichu dialect has extensive Kamba borrowings. Older people's dialect is more prestigious because of lack of borrowings, but few people use it. Gatue dialect is influential. Difficult intelligibility with northern Meru dialects. Some Meru words have offensive meanings in Tharaka. Close to Chuka. English is used in schools and offices; Swahili in churches, schools, jobs, and sometimes in the home. 30% literate in Swahili or English. Agriculturalists: millet, sorghum. Traditional religion, Christian. Bible portions 1934-1993. Work in progress.

TUGEN, NORTH (NORTH TUKEN, TUKEN) [TUY] 144,000 (1987 BTL). West central, west of the Kalenjin. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Southern, Kalenjin, Nandi-Markweta, Nandi. People may not be able to use Kalenjin literature. Traditional religion, Christian. Survey needed.

TURKANA (BUME, BUMA, TURKWANA) [TUV] 340,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL). Turkana, Samburu, Trans-Nzoia, Laikipia, Isiolo districts, Rift Valley Province, west and south of Lake Turkana, and Turkwel and Kerio rivers. Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Eastern, Teso-Turkana, Turkana. Dialects: NORTHERN TURKANA, SOUTHERN TURKANA. 85% lexical similarity with Karamojong, 76% with Teso. Inherently intelligible with Toposa, but hostile toward the speakers. Also partially intelligible with Karamojong, Jie, and Nyangatom, but all five are ethnically distinct. Hostile toward the Karamojong and Pokot; friendly with Jie. There are a few phonological, lexical, and discourse marker differences between them. Northern Turkana and Eastern Toposa are closer; Southern Turkana and Western Toposa are farther apart linguistically. The four dialects form a continuum divided in the middle by the Kenya-Sudan border. Most people are monolingual. Only a few adults have mastered upcountry Swahili as lingua franca. More are learning Swahili because of a new road. A few can speak Pokot or Daasenech. A few Somali and Gikuyu have shops in the area. Semi-nomadic. 25% to 50% literate. Typology: VSO; highly inflectional; grammatical tone; vowel harmony; voiceless vowels. Semi-arid desert. Plains. Pastoralists: cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys; fishermen. Altitude: 1,200 to 6,000 feet. Traditional religion, Christian. NT 1986. Bible portions 1972-1994.

YAAKU (MUKOGODO, MOGOGODO, MUKOQUODO, SIEGU, YAAKUA, "NDOROBO") [MUU] 50 speakers out of 250 ethnic group, all over 40 years old (1983). Laikipia District, Mukogodo Division, Mukogodo Forest west of Doldol, foothills north of Mt. Kenya. Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Yaaku. "Ndorobo" is a derogatory cover term for several small hunter or forest groups, which are not linguistically related (El Molo, Yaaku, Okiek, Omotik). Most or all are highly bilingual in an adopted language; some are nearly extinct. Yaaku may be Konsoid, Dullay rather than Oromo. Forest. Hunter-gatherers, pastoralists. Christian. Nearly extinct.


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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
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