This is the 5th and the last piece on the dialects of the Gikuyu language where we focus on Kirinyaga dialect.
Linguists divide Kirinyaga dialect into Ndia and Gichugu.In my
estimation,there are other two emergent dialects of Kirinyaga
Gikuyu:One,theres the language spoken around the cosmopolitan
Mwea/Makutano/Sagana area which is a hybrid of Ndia,Gichugu and
Then there is another dialect spoken between Kagumo and Karatina area which is a hybrid of Ndia and Mathira Gikuyu.
Gichugu is spoken in the tea- growing regions of Kianyaga,Githure,Karumandi,etc
These are some of its salient features:
1.The language has no ‘ ch’ or ‘ ‘ sh’ sound but instead uses the equivalent of ‘ s’ sound.
Thus they say ‘ gisugu”,” sai’ etc
2.Gichugu is the most musical of all the Gikuyu dialects.Its speakers have this sing song cadence thats appealling to the ear.
However,the area has not produced any notable Gikuyu musician in living memory.
3.In areas like Karumandi or Gathoge which border Embu,the Embu influence in Gichugu is so ingrained that its hard to tell between the two languages.
4.Lack of euphemisms
Unlike say Nyeri Gikuyu,Gichugu speakers do not embellish their language with unnecessary polite words or phrases.Thus its possible to hear someone say ” ndathii kùmia( I am going to defaecate) which is unheard of amongst other Gikuyu dialects.
There is that famous curse word ka…..ra which is used by Gichugu speakers which othe Gikuyu speakers find offensive.To disguise it,in Kiembu its shortened to ‘ Ka!’
There is also another swear word- kabiri- which is also a risque interjection.
My linguistic hunch tells me that these are archaic words from proto- Gikuyu.Maybe it was alright to utter them in say,1600 A.D. before Gikuyu language acquired the polish it has today.
6.’B’ instead of “H”
This is the most distinguising feature of Kirinyaga dialects.A Gichugu speaker will say ‘ baaria Ngurubani” while other Gikuyu speakers say ‘ haaria Ngurubani’.Other examples:
This dialect is spoken around Kerugoya town,Kangaita,Kagumo,Kutus,Kagio,Baricho going all the way to Sagana.
These are some of the linguistic features of Ndia dialect:
1.” B” instead of ” H”.
As explained above. A Ndia speaker will say ‘ ubiki” instead of ” uhiki”.” Mubiki” instead of ” mùhiki”.
Ndia language has archaic forms of Gikuyu which are no longer in circulation in mainstream Gikuyu.They include:
* Gatome- a container
* Kabacania- a sack
* Mùkurukuthu- spinal chord
* Kwibutia- to swim
* Makambucu- molars
3.Embu/ Mbeere loan words
* Mwongia- woman,wife
* Abai- an interjection from Embu language…avai!
* Arume-borrowed from Embu.Other Gikuyu speakers prefer ‘ athuri”.
* Ngiti- Dog.Other speakers prefer ” ngui”.
4.Kamba loan words
The language spoken in areas like Karaba,Ndindiruku,South Ngariama Scheme has alot of Kamba loan words since they are neighbours.
5.Switching ” th’ with “nd”
Ndia speakers will say ” ndeke” while other Gikuyu speakers say ” theke”.
6.Switching ” G” with ” K”
A Ndia speaker will say ” makeithie” while other Gikuyu speakers say ” mageithie”.
7.Shortening of words
Ndia language is rendered in a staccato fashion,with some letters often getting swallowed.Eg,” niguo kana tiguo” becomes ‘ nigu kana tigu?”
Ndia language tends to describe things graphically,resulting in humorous effects.
A Ndia will speaker will say –
” twathie kwìbiuria baaria Club O Touch Kagio”
Which means ” we have gone to dance at Club- O Touch in Kagio.”
‘Kwìbiuria” here captures ” dancing” so well.
Reason why other Gikuyu speakers find Ndia and Gichugu dialects humorous.
Ndia and Gichugu speakers find it easy to switch to other dialects of Gikuyu when the situation demands so.
Kirinyaga people are my inlaws.So I have been very lenient with their language.
A man doesnt speak ill of his inlaws,kana atia abai?