Nandi, Kipsigis, Terik, Keiyo, Tugen, Cherangany

1.  Classification / Classification

Nandi and Kipsigis, are two of the many languages found under the increasingly popular cover term "Kalenjin" (often used for the southern subgroup of Nilotic). (Webbook?)

"The present name for the dialect cluster gained prominence in the late 1940s and the early 1950s, when several Nandi-speaking peoples united to assume the common name 'Kalenjin', a Nandi expression meaning I say (to you). Due to this effort, the peoples were transformed into a major ethnic group in Kenya. The adoption of the name Kalenjin also involved a standardization of the different dialects." (Wikipedia, accessed 2007)

"...since outside Kenya the name Kalenjin has been extended to related languages such as Okiek of Tanzania and Elgon languages of Uganda, it is common in linguistic literature to refer to the languages of the Kenyan Kalenjin peoples as Nandi, after the principal variety." (Wikipedia, accessed 14 Nov 2015)

Ethnologue? lists the classification as: Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Southern, Kalenjin, Nandi-Markweta, Nandi. It considers Kalenjin a macrolanguage including: Keiyo [eyo], Kipsigis [sgc], Markweeta [enb], Nandi [niq], Okiek [oki], Pökoot [pko], Sabaot [spy], Terik [tec], and Tugen [tuy].

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

Rift Valley Province, Kenya. (Nandi is spoken in Nandi, North Nyanza, and Kericho Districts; Kipsigis in Kericho District.) (Webbook)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

2,458,123 (1989 census). Population includes 471,459 Kipsigis, 261,969 Nandi, 110,908 Keiyo, 130,249 Tugen (1980 Heine and Möhlig) (Ethnologue)

Kalenjin is a cluster of closely related dialects spoken in Western Kenya and the Rift Valley by about 12% of Kenya's population. (Wikipedia)

According to figures compiled from Ethnologue (accessed 12-2015):

  • Kalenjin "Population total all languages": 4,823,400
    • Keiyo: 314,000 (2009 census), increasing
    • Kipsigis: 1,916,000 (2009 census), increasing
    • Markweeta: 180,000 (2009 census)
    • Nandi: 949,000 (2009 census)
    • Okiek:
      • 79,000 in Kenya (2009 census)
      • apparently also a small number in Tanzania, where Ethnologue notes it as "moribund"
    • Pökoot: Population total all countries: 703,400, of which
      • 633,000 in Kenya (2009 census)
      • 70,400 in Uganda (2002 census), increasing
    • Sabaot: 241,000 (2009 census), increasing
    • Terik: 301,000 (2009 census), increasing
    • Tugen: 140,000 (2009 census), increasing

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

Rottland (personal communication, 1983) has remarked that the problem with "the term Kalenjin [is that it] implies the existence of a standard, or at least a variant which is understood throughout the area. Both are false." One limited survey has been carried out by van Otterloo (n.d.) [that indicates seven different dialects]. Heine (1980) notes 12 dialects in Kalenjin. (Webbook)

According to Ethnologue (accessed 2007):

  • Nandi (Naandi, Cemual)
  • Terik (Nyang'ori)
  • Kipsigis (Kipsiikis, Kipsikis, Kipsikiis)
  • Keiyo (Keyo, Elgeyo)
  • South Tugen (Tuken)
  • Cherangany

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Kalenjin has been used in the police, army, and to some extent "in the Game Department" (Whiteley 1974). It is broadcast over the Voice of Kenya. (Webbook)

Literacy rate (according to Ethnologue, accessed 2007):

  • L1: below 1%
  • L2: 15% to 25%

Literacy rate for Sabaot (according to Ethnologue, accessed 12-2015)

  • L1: Over 30% ("Elaborate mother-tongue education program")
  • L2: 50%

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Nandi and Kipsigis have standardized orthographies. (Webbook)

[This is apparently a simple Latin alphabet but with diacritics in Nandi?]

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

Samples on the "Language museum" site:

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

Most Latin fonts would probably suffice. [verify]

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

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

Kanenjin Online has some Kalenjin content: www.kalenjin.net (offline, 2015)

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

None known of.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

Kalenjin (macrolanguage}

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


  • ISO 639-3: eyo


  • ISO 639-3: sgc


  • ISO 639-3: enb


  • ISO 639-3: niq


  • ISO 639-3: oki


  • ISO 639-3: pko


  • ISO 639-3: spy


  • ISO 639-3: tec


  • ISO 639-3: tuy

7.6  Other / Autre

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

9.  Comments / Remarques

The apparent diversity of dialects might complicate localisation efforts, and the low literacy rates in it do not promise an automatic market. On the other hand, if the use of Kalenjin in broadcast media indicates a standard or emerging standard, something might be tried based on it.

Note the divergent opinions on a standard Kalanjin from the Webbook, which date from the 1980s and earlier, and the more recent (but not as clearly referenced) Wikipedia article on "Kalenjin language."

10.  References / Références

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, http://africa.isp.msu.edu/afrlang/hiermenu.html (page on "Kalenjin (Nandi/Kipsigis)," http://africa.isp.msu.edu/afrlang/Kalenjin_root.html )

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

______, "Keiyo," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/eyo

______, "Kipsigis," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/sgc

______, "Markweeta," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/enb

______, "Nandi," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/niq

______, "Okiek," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/oki

______, "Pökoot," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/pko

______, "Sabaot," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/spy

______, "Terik," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/tec

______, "Tugen," http://www.ethnologue.com/language/tuy

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, "Kalenjin languages," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalenjin_languages

______, "Kipsigis language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kipsigis_language

______, "Nandi–Markweta languages," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalenjin_language ("Kalenjin language" redirects here)

______, "Pökoot language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pökoot_language

______, "Terik language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terik_language

______, "Tugen language," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tugen_language

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Categories: Languages, Kenya, NE Uganda