A language of Kenya

Alternate Names
Gekoyo, Gigikuyu, Kikuyu

6,623,000 (2009 census), increasing.


Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, and Kirinyaga counties; Nakuru county: Lake Naivasha area; Meru county; Nairobi.

Language Maps
Language Status

5 (Developing).


Southern Gikuyu (Kiambu, Southern Murang’a), Ndia (Southern Kirinyaga), Gichugu (Northern Kirinyaga), Mathira (Karatina), Northern Gikuyu (Northern Murang’a, Nyeri). Lexical similarity: 73% with Kiembu [ebu], 70% with Gichuka [cuh], 67% with Kikamba [kam], 63% with Kimîîru [mer].


SVO; 10 noun classes; no articles; verb affixes mark person, number; tense and aspect; 18 consonant and 14 vowel phonemes; tonal (2 tones: high, low).

Language Use

Vigorous. Home, social gatherings, business. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use English [eng], Swahili [swh]. Used as L2 by Gichuka [cuh], Kiembu [ebu], Kitharaka [thk].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 30%–60%. Literacy rate in L2: 75%–100%. 95% of the children are in school. Taught in primary schools. Poetry. Magazines. Newspapers. New media. Radio programs. Films. TV. Videos. Grammar. Bible: 1951–1965.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Christian, traditional religion.

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