Kenya Language; Find out languages spoken in Kenya


Kenya language? Mmmmmmh? What languages do Kenyans speak? Those questions are probably going through your mind as you plan to come to Kenya. Nevertheless, let us not beat around the bush, and go straight to the point. The official Kenyan Languages are Swahili and English.

Kenya Language

Kenya a multilingual Nation

Swahili and English are not the first languages to most Kenyans. These in most cases they are learnt in school. To most, they are the second and third languages.

Kenya is a multilingual nation. There are over sixty languages spoken here. To most kids, these are usually the first languages they learn from their mothers; their mother tongue. These are the languages spoken by the natives of Kenya. Official records show that there are 43 tribes in Kenya. However, a tribe like the Luhya is not a tribe per se, but a collection of tribes speaking over thirteen different languages.

With rapid urbanization however, most children learn Swahili as their first language. Both English and Swahili are taught in school. An average Kenyan is able to speak at least three languages.

Official Languages

Both Swahili and English are official languages .They are languages of instruction in schools and communication in offices and public meetings.

 Most spoken  languages

Swahili is most widely spoken language in Kenya. Almost all Kenyans speak Swahili of some kind. Swahili is a Bantu language that developed along the Kenyan coast from interactions between traders of Arab origin and the local Bantu languages. It is the first language to the locals of the Kenyan coast.

It will be interesting to know that Swahili is the second most spoken language on the African continent after Arabic.

English is also widely spoken in offices and urban centers in the country. As a language of instructions in school, it the second most spoken language after Swahili. Kenyans are able to speak some good English.

Sheng is a language of the youth. It is a corruption and mixture of Swahili, English and some local languages. It begun in the city of Nairobi and soon spread to other urban settlements. It is one of the most difficult Kenyan language to learn for a simple reason, it metamorphoses very quickly.

Other widely spoken languages are

  • Kikuyu– Most spoken by the residents of the former Central province with includes present day Muranga, Kiambu, Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Nyandarua counties.
  • Luhya– Mostly spoken in the former western province. However as I said earlier Luhya is not a language but a group of languages Such as the Bukusu, Maragoli, Isukha, Titiki, Marama , Tachoni, Bunyore and more other.
  • Kalenjin –The Kalenjin also a language; are natives of the rift valley region of Kenya. Just like the Luhya, it is a collection of Nilotic languages such as the Nandi, Kipsigis, Tugen Elgeyo, Marakwet and others.
  • Luo– Luo is a Kenya Language spoken by the Luo people who reside around the counties surrounding the Lake Victoria. It is a Nilotic language.
  • Kamba– Kamba is a language spoken by the Kamba people who reside in semi-arid counties of Kitui, Machakos and Makueni.
  • Other languages widely spoken are Maasai, Meru, Somali, Kisii and Mijikenda.

So why do we love Kenya language?

The Swahili language to be precise is a sweet language. We love it not only as a language of communication but also as a language of African origin. Not only is it spoken in Kenya, but the whole of the great lakes region. In addition, many children born today know it as their first language. For this reason we love it because it bring different people together who would be otherwise be speaking different tribal languages.

 

Final Thoughts

If you speak English, then you are home and dry. You will not have a problem with communication here. However, if you do not speak English, you may need to have a guide or an interpreter. You will need to consult with your travel agency or consultant.

Nevertheless, most Kenyans speak Swahili. Why not impress them by learning a few words. Here is a list I have made for you, English to Swahili expression.

My name is………………………..Ninaitwa / Jina langu ni…

What is your name?…………… Unaitwa nani?

Where are you from?…………….Unatoka wapi?

I come from… ………………Ninatoka/ Kwetu ni….

How much money?………….. Ni pesa ngapi?

Do not worry………….Usijali

Safe journey……….. Safari njema

Water……………….Maji

Do you speak English?……… Unajua/unasema kiingereza?

Pardon ……….Samahani/ Pole

Good / Fine………. Sawa / Sawasawa

Listen………………. Sikiza

What?………………… Nini?

Why?………………..Kwa nini?

Where?……………….. Wapi?

Who?…………………… Nani

Hotel……………….Hoteli

Car………………….Gari

Let us go…………..Wacha sisi twende.

Please………………Tafadhali

Guard……………….Bawabu

 

That was fun, wasn’t it? At least you know some words of a Kenya language. If you like what you have just read, pass it to friends and family.

 

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Kenya Language; Find out languages spoken in Kenya

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