Gikuyu language


Gikuyu language

Infobox Language
name=Gikuyu, Kikuyu
nativename=Gĩkũyũ
pronunciation=ɣēkōjó
states=Kenya
region=Central Province
speakers=about 5,347,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL) [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=kik Accessed 2007/07/09] .
iso1=ki
iso2=kik
iso3=kik
familycolor=Niger-Congo
fam2=Atlantic-Congo
fam3=Volta-Congo
fam4=Benue-Congo
fam5=Bantoid
fam6=Southern
fam7=Narrow Bantu
fam8=Zone E
rank=97

Gikuyu (sometimes written Kikuyu), pronounced "gĩkũyũ" [ɣēkōjó] , is a language in the Central Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo family spoken primarily by the Kikuyu people of Kenya. Numbering about 6 million (22% of Kenya's population) [CIA Factbook [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ke.html#People] retrieved on October 16 2007] , they are the largest ethnic group in Kenya. Gikuyu is spoken in the area between Nyeri and Nairobi. Gikuyu is one of the five languages of the Thagichu subgroup of the Bantu languages, which stretches from Kenya to Tanzania. The Gikuyu people usually identify their lands by the surrounding mountain ranges in Central Kenya which they call "Kirinyaga".

Gikuyu has four main mutually intelligible dialects. The Central Province districts are divided along the traditional boundaries of these dialects, which are Kirinyaga, Muranga [Maragua] , Nyeri and Kiambu. The Gikuyu from Kirinyaga are composed of two main sub-dialects - the Ndia and Gichũgũ who speak the dialect Kĩ-Ndia and Gĩ-gĩcũgũ. The Gĩcũgũs and the Ndias do not have the "ch" or "sh" sound, and will use the "s" sound instead, hence the pronunciation of "Gĩcũgũ" as opposed "Gĩchũgũ". To hear Ndia being spoken, one needs to be in Kerugoya the largest town in Kirinyaga. Other home towns for the Ndia, where purer forms of the dialect are spoken will be in the tea growing areas of Kagumo, and the cool Kangaita hills. Lower down the slopes is Kutus, which is a bustling dusty town with too many influences from the other dialects to be able to differentiate.

The unmistakable sing-song Gichugu dialect (which sounds like Embu, a sister language to Gikuyu) can be heard in the coffee growing areas of Kĩanyaga, Gĩthũre, Kathũngũri, Marigiti. The Gichugu switch easily to the other plainer Kikuyu dialects in conversation with the rest of the Gikuyu.

The Mwea division, which is part of the Kirinyaga District, is an amalgam of Gikuyu, mostly from Kirinyaga, settled in the mid to late 1960s, soon after independence, by displaced Gikuyu whose lands had been taken by the colonialists.

Phonology

Symbols shown in parentheses are those used in the orthography.

Vowels

Consonants

The nasal sounds indicated by the raised letters are often not pronounced, so that nd is heard as [d] , etc.

Tones

Gikuyu has two level tones (high and low), a low-high rising tone, and downstep. [Kevin C. Ford, 1975. "The tones of nouns in Kikuyu," "Studies in African Linguistics" 6, 49-64; G.N. Clements & Kevin C. Ford, 1979, "Kikuyu Tone Shift and its Synchronic Consequences", "Linguistic Inquiry" 10.2, 179-210. ]

Written Gikuyu

Alphabet

Gikuyu is written with a modified Latin alphabet. Compared with English:
*It does not use the following letters: f l p q s v x z
*It denotes seven vowel sounds with an i-tilde and u-tilde in addition to a e i o u

The alphabet letters then are:a b c d e g h i ĩ j k m n o r t u ũ w y

Some sounds are represented by digraph combinations such as ng for the velar n (IPA|ŋ).

Literature

There is a notable literature written in the Gikuyu language. For instance, author and professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o's "Mũrogi wa Kagogo" ("Wizard of the Crow") is the longest book written in a sub-Saharan African language. Other authors writing in Gikuyu include Mwangi wa Mutahi and Gatua wa Mbugwa.

References

Bibliography

*Armstrong, Lilias E. 1967. The Phonetic and Tonal Structure of Kikuyu. London: Published for the International African Institute by Dawsons of Pall Mall.
*Barlow, A. Ruffell and T.G. Benson. 1975. English-Kikuyu Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
*Barlow, A. Ruffell. 1951. Studies in Kikuyu Grammar and Idiom. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons,
*Benson, T.G. 1964. Kikuyu-English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
*Gecaga B.M. and Kirkaldy-Willis W.H. 1953. English-Kikuyu, Kikuyu-English Vocabulary. Nairobi: The Eagle Press.
*Leakey L.S.B. 1989. First Lessons in Kikuyu. Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau.
*Mugane John 1997. A Paradigmatic Grammar of Gikuyu. Stanford, California: CSLI publications.

External links

* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=kik Ethnologue entry]
* [http://www.language-museum.com/g/gikuyu.htm Gĩkũyũ in the Language Museum]
* [http://lang.nalrc.wisc.edu/nalrc/resources/press/brochures/kikuyu.pdf]
* [http://www.panafril10n.org/wikidoc/pmwiki.php/PanAfrLoc/Gikuyu PanAfrican L10n page on Gikuyu]
* [http://gigikuyu.blogspot.com Gikuyu blog]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gikuyu — noun a Bantu language spoken in western Kenya • Hypernyms: ↑Bantu, ↑Bantoid language …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ogiek language — Ogiek Spoken in Kenya, Tanzania Region Kinare: Kinare, Kenya, on the eastern slope of the Rift Valley. Sogoo: Kenya, southern Mau forest between the Amala and Ewas Ng iro rivers. Akiek: Tanzania, southern part of Arusha Region. Ethnicity Okiek …   Wikipedia

  • Cuka language — Cuka Gichuka Spoken in Kenya Ethnicity Taita Native speakers unknown (70,000 and increasing cited 1980) Language family …   Wikipedia

  • Sonjo language — Infobox Language name=Sonjo nativename=ke temi states=Tanzania region=Arusha Region, Ngorongoro District, near the Kenyan border speakers=30,000 (2002 SIL) familycolor=Niger Congo fam2=Atlantic Congo fam3=Volta Congo fam4=Benue Congo fam5=Bantoid …   Wikipedia

  • Bantoid language — noun a family of languages widely spoken in the southern half of the African continent • Syn: ↑Bantu • Derivationally related forms: ↑Bantu (for: ↑Bantu) • Hypernyms: ↑Niger Congo …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o — signs copies of his book Wizard of the Crow, at the Congress Centre in central London. Wizard was his first book in 20 years, following 22 years of exile due to his highly political work. Born January 5, 1938 (1938 01 05) (ag …   Wikipedia

  • Ngugi wa Thiong'o — Ngũgĩ wa Thiong o (born January 5, 1938) is a Kenyan author, formerly working in English and now working in Gĩkũyũ. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, essays and scholarship, criticism and children s literature. He is the founder and …   Wikipedia

  • Kikuyu — There is also a town in Kiambu district called Kikuyu, and a species of Pennisetum grass native to the Kenyan highlands named Kikuyu. Infobox Ethnic group group=Kikuyu caption = Notable Kikuyus: Jomo Kenyatta, Mwai Kibaki, Tom Morello, Wangari… …   Wikipedia

  • Gakaara wa Wanjaũ — was born in Nyeri District in 1921 and attended a local primary school in pre independent Kenya. He never finished high school and never got college education. [cite book last = Pugliese first = Cristiana authorlink = title = Author, Publisher… …   Wikipedia

  • Vernacular literature — is literature written in the vernacular the speech of the common people .In the European tradition, this effectively means literature not written in Latin. In this context, vernacular literature appeared during the Middle Ages; among the earliest …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.