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A Note On Languages In Kenya


Kenya has 42 tribal groups with even more dialects. Some closely related communities may
understand each other’s dialects. For example, the Maasai of Kenya may understand those
who speak the language in Tanzania.
Also, within Kenya, Maasai speakers may understand the Samburu who share certain words as
both tribes come from the Nilotic groups.

Kiswahili is the national language in Kenya, and English is the language of instruction
in all institutions of learning. Most Kenyans therefore understand Kiswahili, except probably those
in very remote parts of the country.

Most signage in Kenya is in English and even in remote restaurants one will
find that the menu is written in English. Some may be in
both Kiswahili and English to enable communication.

Intermarriage between Swahili and English has resulted in a language called
‘sheng’ is now popularly used in Kenya and is especially popular among the youth in cities,
secondary schools and colleges.
It is however not recognized as an official language.