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)

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

There is a FOSS localization project called Safari-OS which includes Runyakitara. See

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.

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

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"

Makerere University, Faculty of Arts, Institute of Languages, (second page of language listings),

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

______, "Hema,"

______, "Nyankore,"

______, "Nyoro,"

______, "Ruli,"

______, "Tooro,"

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, "Kitara language,"

< Oshiwambo | Major Languages | Rwanda, Rundi >

Categories: Languages, Uganda