Arabic Hausa Swahili
Akan Amharic Fulfulde/Pulaar
Igbo Ganda Mende/Bandi/Loki
Chewa/Nyanja Kikuyu Kpelle
Krio/Pidgin Lingala Oromo
Shona Somali Tigrinya
Wolof Xhosa/Zulu/Swazi/Ndebele Yoruba
Bemba Malagasy Ruanda/Rundi
Temne Tsonga  

Chewa/Nyanja

1 CLASSIFICATION AND WHERE SPOKEN

This language belongs to the Nyanja Group of Bantu (Guthrie G30) and is spoken in Malawi (where it is known as Chewa or Chichewa) and in Zambia (where it is known as Nyanja or Chinyanja). It is also spoken in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

2 NUMBER OF SPEAKERS

WTPR (1982) notes 4 million speakers for Malawi only. Zambia's 1969 census states that 755,000 people, or about 17 percent of the population, speak one of the languages of the Nyanja group. Heine (1970) suggests a figure of 2.1 to 2.2 million first- and second-language speakers.

3 USAGE

Chewa is an official language in Malawi. Nyanja is an official language in Zambia, a lingua franca in Lusaka. Zambia has radio broadcasts in Nyanja as well as a monthly magazine. Malawi has radio broadcasts in Chewa. The Malawi department of information and tourism publishes Boma Latha, a Chichewa daily.

4 DIALECT SURVEY

No detailed dialect survey has come to our attention.

5 ORTHOGRAPHY STATUS

A standardized orthography for Chewa in Malawi exists, as does one for Nyanja in Zambia. Differences are minimal.

Kikuyu (C-13)

1 CLASSIFICATION AND WHERE SPOKEN

Kikuyu (technically, Gikuyu) (Guthrie E51) belongs to the Kamba-Kikuyu subgroup of Bantu and is spoken in an area extending from Nairobi to the southern and southwestern slopes of Mt. Kenya, in Kenya.

2 NUMBER OF SPEAKERS

The 1979 Kenya census gives 3,202,821 Kikuyu (by tribal/national affiliation). Voegelin and Voegelin (1977) list 1,028,000 speakers. Alexandre (1981) estimates 2,250,000 speakers for the whole Kikuyu-Kamba (E50) group.

3 USAGE

Kikuyu is an important regional language. It is broadcast on the Voice of Kenya.

4 DIALECT SURVEY

A dialect survey is given in Heine (1980); six mutually intelligible dialects are noted.

5 ORTHOGRAPHY STATUS

A standard orthography exists.

Kpelle (Guerze) (C-9)

1 CLASSIFICATION AND WHERE SPOKEN

Kpelle (known as Kpelle in Liberia and as Guerze in the Republic of Guinea) belongs to the southwestern branch of Mande, Niger-Congo.

2 NUMBER OF SPEAKERS

WTPR (1982) notes 299,000 speakers in Liberia. Gnielinski (1972) gives a figure of 500,000. Voegelin and Voegelin (1977) estimate between 250,000 and 500,000 speakers in southern Guinea.

3 USAGE

Kpelle is a local language in Guinea and Liberia. It is broadcast in Liberia.

4 DIALECT SURVEY

No formal dialect survey is known to us. Dwyer reports (personal communication, 1983) that Kpelle displays dialectal variations from east to west. Welmers (personal communication, 1986) elaborates as follows: "Speakers of southwestern dialects have considerable difficulty, at first, in communicating with Guineans, [however,] ... after some practice, mutual intelligibility is pretty good."

5 ORTHOGRAPHY STATUS

Although various orthographies exist, no authorized standard currently exists. However, the orthography developed in the Welmers (1955) materials is, according to Welmers, "pretty much the only orthography known to native speakers."

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