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PanAfriL10n - PanAfrLoc - Runyakitara


1.  Classification / Classification

Runyakitara is a name given to the four major dialects found in Western Uganda namely Runyoro [Nyoro], Rutooro [Tooro], Runyankore [Nyankore] and Rukiga [Chiga]. (Makerere)

Runyakitara is a recent standardization, dating to 1990, so most available data is on the four related languages it draws on.

Ethnologue lists their classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, J, Nyoro-Ganda (J.10)

The Webbook describes Nyoro (Runyoro) as belonging to the Nyoro-Ganda group of Bantu (Guthrie E11).

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

It is spoken mainly in Uganda. A variety of Nyoro (Hema) is spoken in the Dem. Rep. of the Congo (DRC). (Webbook and Ethnologue)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to information compiled from Ethnologue:

  • Chiga
    • 1,391,442 (1991 census)
  • Nyankore
    • 1,643,193 in Uganda (1991 census)
  • Nyoro
    • 495,443 in Uganda (1991 census).
  • Tooro
    • 488,024 in Uganda (1991 census)
  • Hema
    • 124,650 in DRC (2000 WCD)

The four languages in Uganda covered by Runyakitara total over 4 million.

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

Ladefoged, Glick, and Criper (1972) provide a table of mutual intelligibility for 20 Ugandan Bantu languages showing Rutooro, Rutagwenda, and Runyankore ranging from 86 to 92 percent mutually intelligible with Runyoro; "Runyoro/Rutooro . . . is accepted by Banyoro and Batooro as one language for teaching purposes" (p. 44). (Webbook)

Nyoro and Tooro have 78% to 93% lexical similarity. Hema-Sud (Nyoro-Toro) in DRC is quite different from Nyoro and Tooro. ... Nyankore, Nyoro, and their dialects are considered by some to be one language (lexical similarity 78% to 96%). (Ethnologue)

Dialects according to Ethnologue:

  • Nyoro (Runyoro)
    • Rutagwenda
    • Orunyoro (Nyoro)
    • Lexical similarity 78% to 93% with Toro, 77% with Nyankore and Ciga, 67% with Nyambo and Zinza, 66% with Haya, 62% with Kerewe
  • Nyankore (Runyankore)
    • Hororo
    • Orutagwenda
    • Hima (Hima may be a separate language)
    • Lexical similarity 84% to 94% with Chiga, 75% to 86% with Tooro (Nyoro), 81% with Zinza, 78% with Nyambo, 74% with Haya, 68% with Kerewe.
  • Tooro (Toro, Rutooro)
    • Tuku
  • Hema (Congo Nyoro)
    • Toro (Orutoro, Tooro). Toro dialect in DRC is quite different from Nyoro of Uganda. Lexical similarity 78% between Toro and Nyoro.

IDRC and CASAS (n.d.) did some research on interintelligibility of Runyakitara languages/dialects.

Another language, Ruruli, seems to be between Ganda and Runyakitara (interpreting information in Ethnologue)

  • Ruli (Lexical similarity 79% between Eastern and Western Ruli, 71% with Nyoro (closest)
    • Eastern Ruli / Nakasongola (influenced by Ganda / lexical similarity 70% with Ganda)
    • Western Ruli / Kuyanoongo (influenced by Nyoro)

5.  Usage / Utilisation

The standardization of the western Ugandan languages (Nyankore-Chiga and Nyoro-Tooro) is called 'Runyakitara', and is taught at Makerere University. (Ethnologue, with modifications)

Nyoro is a local language. Ladefoged, Glick, and Criper (1972) report it is the official vernacular in several Ugandan school districts and agricultural information services and is broadcast about 9 hours per week in Uganda. (Webbook)

Notes from Ethnologue about Nyoro in Uganda: Literacy campaign in progress. Taught in primary schools. Used in newspapers, radio programs.

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

A standardized Latin-based orthography was established in 1947 [for Nyoro]. (Webbook) [Need more details.]

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

Sample texts are shown on the "Language Museum" site as follows (these may or may not reflect current standards and use):

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

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

ENTUURA Y'OBUNTU AHA BANTU OMUNSI YOONA (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Runyankore-rukiga/Nkore-kiga Version) http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/nyn1.htm

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

There is a FOSS localization project called Safari-OS which includes Runyakitara. See http://khmeros.info/download/SafariOS.pdf

The Google interface has been translated into Kitara in February 2010 by the Faculty of Computing and IT, Makerere University. (Wikipedia)

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

Runyakitara (none)


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


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


  • ISO 639-3: cgg


  • ISO 639-3: ttj


  • ISO 639-3: nix


  • ISO 639-3: ruc

7.6  Other / Autre

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

  • Institute of Languages, Faculty of Arts, Makerere University
  • ICT Translations – Uganda

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

9.  Comments / Remarques

Is use of Runyakitara superceding that of the individual languages in schools and media? Would it be a good choice for localisation strategies for this cluster of languages?

A good case could be made for a new ISO-639-1 or 2 code for Runyakitara.

10.  References / Références

Bernsten, Jan. 1998. "Runyakitara: Uganda's 'New' Language." Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 19(2): 93-107. http://www.multilingual-matters.net/jmmd/019/0093/jmmd0190093.pdf

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, http://www.isp.msu.edu/AfrLang/hiermenu.html (page on "Nyoro," http://www.isp.msu.edu/AfrLang/Nyoro_root.html )

International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS) (n.d.), "Report of the Evaluation of the Democratization of ICT Content for Africa Pilot Project" http://www.idrc.ca/uploads/user-S/10373084350EvalDemoContentAfrica.pdf

Makerere University, Faculty of Arts, Institute of Languages, (second page of language listings), http://www.makerere.ac.ug/arts/depts/morelang.html

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Chiga," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/cgg

______, "Hema," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/nix

______, "Nyankore," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/nyn

______, "Nyoro," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/nyo

______, "Ruli," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/ruc

______, "Tooro," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/ttj

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables," http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp

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," http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/English_list.php

Wikipedia, "Kitara language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitara_language

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Categories: Languages, Uganda