The Gikyuy language, also known as Kikuyu or Agikuyu is a growing language spoken in Kenya. The language belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo language family and is spoken by approximately 6.6 million people. Despite the fact that the language is most widely used in an area between Nairobi and Mount Kenya, it has spread to other parts of southern Kenya. It makes the Gikyuy language the second most popular language after English.
Although the official languages of Kenya are English and Swahili, the Gikyuy language is considered to be very important. It is taught in primary schools and used in news media, radio programs, TV, videos, and cinema. People who speak Gikyuy as their first language are known as the Gikuyu people. Nevertheless, there are also non-Gikyuy people who speak the language as their second or third language. Generally, these people reside in the urban areas such as Nairobi and the surrounding areas of central Kenya.
There are 5 main dialects of the Gikuyu language. They are Southern Gikuyu, Northern Gikuyu, Ndia, Gichugu, and Mathira.
The Gikyuy language, the same to other African languages, is considered to be a tonal language. There are two tones: high and low. In the written form, the high tone is represented by an acute accent, while the low ton is represented by a grave accent.
The Gikyuy language has some borrowings from such languages as Swahili, Portuguese, English, Embu, Chuka, Kamba, and Meru.
Nowadays, the written Gikyuy language is based on the African reference alphabet. It was proposed on the UNESCO-organized conference in 1978 and then successfully adopted. The African reference alphabet is a version of the Latin alphabet adapted to represent Gikuyu sounds.
Gikyuy is known for its rich oral culture. Furthermore, in comparison to other East African languages, the Gikyuy language has the second oldest and the second most extensive written literature after Swahili.