Luyia - oluLuyia

1.  Classification / Classification

Luyia (the spelling Luhya is not currently favored) belongs to the Central-Luhya Group of Bantu (Guthrie E32) (Webbook?)

Ethnologue? lists the classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, J, Masaba-Luyia (J.30), Luyia

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

It is spoken in neighboring areas of Kenya and Uganda near Lake Victoria. (Webbook)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to Ethnologue:

  • 3,418,083 in Kenya (1989 census)
  • 225,378 in Uganda (1991 census)
  • Population total all countries: 3,643,461

Wikipedia gives a figure of 4,600,000

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

Most sources report that Luyia has around 17 or 18 dialects. (Webbook)

According to Ethnologue:

  • Kisa (Shisa, Lushisa)
  • Marama
  • Wanga (Hanga, Luhanga, Oluhanga, Kawanga, Oluwanga)
  • Tsotso
  • Saamia (Samia, Olusamia, Lusamia, Lusaamia, Samya) (Saamia has 88% lexical similarity with Wanga, 80% with Nyore, 62% with Masaba, 59% to 61% with Ganda, 52% with Isuxa, 51% with Gwere)
  • West Nyala (Nyala-B)
  • Khayo
  • Songa
  • Marachi
  • Kabras
  • Lugwe
  • (Dialects in [Kenya and] Uganda have 92% lexical similarity

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Luyia is a regional first language. It is heard on Voice of Kenya. (Webbook)

Literacy rate of Luyia speakers in Kenya (according to Ethnologue, accessed 2007):

  • L1: 10% to 30%
  • L2: 25% to 75%

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Nandwa (personal communication, 1983) reports there was a standardized orthography, but due to political pressures different orthographies have been developed in some of the dialects. (Webbook) [current status?]

The orthography is Latin-based and appears not to include any extended characters or diacritics. [verify!]

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

A sample text is shown on the "Language Museum" site at

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

Most standard fonts may suffice [verify!]

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

7.3  Content on computers & internet / Contenu en informatique et sur l'Internet

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

Not aware of any.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

  • ISO 639-1: -
  • ISO 639-2: -
  • ISO 639-3: luy

7.6  Other / Autre

Luyia Dictionary Project (aims to "provide dictionary materials for all of the 18+ Luyia dialects of western Kenya and eastern Uganda")

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

Linguist list report on linguists who have done research on Luyia

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

9.  Comments / Remarques

10.  References / Références

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, (page on "Luyia," )

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Luyia,"

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables,"

U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language,"

Wikipedia, "Luhya language,"

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Categories: Languages, Kenya, Uganda