Rwanda, Rundi

Kinyarwanda, Kirundi

1.  Classification / Classification

Ruanda and Rundi (properly, Kinyarwanda and Kirundi) are of the Rwanda-Rundi Group of Bantu (Guthrie D60). (Webbook). Note: English Wikipedia lists Rwanda as D61 and Rundi as D62

Ethnologue lists the classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, J, Rwanda-Rundi (J.60)

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

They are the mutually intelligible national languages of Rwanda and Burundi, respectively. Ruanda is also spoken in Tanzania, Uganda, and Dem. Rep. of the Congo (DRC); Rundi is also spoken in Uganda. (Webbook)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to Ethnologue:

  • Rwanda
    • 6,491,700 in Rwanda (1998)
    • 532,692 in Uganda (1991 census)
    • 250,000 in DRC (UBS)
    • Population total all countries: 7,275,292
  • Rundi
    • 4,600,000 in Burundi (1986)
    • 100,903 in Uganda (1991 census)
    • Population total all countries: 4,850,903

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

Kimenyi (1983) states that the three major ethnic groups in both countries share the same language and culture. (Webbook)

According to Ethnologue:

  • Rwanda:
    • Bwisha (Kinyabwisha) [R]
    • Mulenge (Kinyamulenge) [R]
    • Twa [R,U]
    • Rufumbira [U]
  • Rundi: Dialects of the Hutu and Tutsi are similar. Twa is distinct but all are inherently intelligible, and also intelligible with Kinyarwanda (Rwanda)

5.  Usage / Utilisation

They are official languages.

Literacy rate of Rundi speakers (according to Ethnologue, accessed 2007):

  • L1: 55%
  • L2: ?

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

A standardized orthography has existed since the 1940s, although Goldsmith (personal communication, 1985) notes that the Roman Catholic and Protestant missions use "slightly different orthographic systems." (Webbook) [Not clear whether this refers to both Kinyarwanda and Kirundi, or if one of them, which one]

A standardised spelling system for Kinyarwanda has been in use since the 1940s, though the spelling used by Roman Catholic and Protestant missions differ somewhat. (Omniglot)

There has been a standardised spelling system for Kirundi since the 1940s, though Roman Catholic and Protestant missions use slightly different systems. (Omniglot)

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

Omniglot lists this alphabet (including digraphs) for Kinyarwanda at :
a b c cy d e f g h i j jy k l m n nk nt ny o p r s sh t u v w y z

Omniglot lists this alphabet (including digraphs) for Kirundi at :
a b c cy d e f g h i j jy k l m mp n nk nt ny o p r s sh shy t u v w y z

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

Standard Latin fonts will suffice.

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

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

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Wikipedia in:

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

An OpenOffice localisation effort for Kinyarwanda has been underway since 2003.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

Rwanda (Kinyarwanda)

  • ISO 639-1: rw
  • ISO 639-2: kin
  • ISO 639-3: kin

Rundi (Kirundi)

  • ISO 639-1: rn
  • ISO 639-2: run
  • ISO 639-3: run

7.6  Other / Autre

There is an effort to develop an online Kinyarwanda dictionary (a meeting about this was held at Yale University [US] on 2006/12/14-15; see )

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

Software localisation

  • Stephen Holt

Online dictionary

  • Ibulaimu Kakoma, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Geoffrey Rugege, Grambling State University
  • Martin Benjamin, Kamusi

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile supports Kinyarwanda

9.  Comments / Remarques

Given the importance and similarity of these two languages, it would make sense to harmonise translations used in localisation, if not to consolidate them.

10.  References / Références

Becker, David. 2004. "Se habla open source?" CNET, February 16, 2004, [discusses early stages of Kinyarwanda localisation of OpenOffice

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, (page on "Rwanda/Rundi," )

Omniglot, "Kinyarwanda (Ikinyarwanda),"

______, "Kirundi (íkiRǔndi),"

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

______, "Rwanda,"

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, "Ikinyarwanda,"

______, "Ikirundi,"

______, "Kinyarwanda,"

______, "Kinyarwanda,"

______, "Kirundi,"

______, "Kirundi,"

______, "Langues rwanda-rundi,"

______, "Rwanda-Rundi,"

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Categories: Languages, Burundi, Rwanda