Meru language

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Native toKenya
RegionMount Kenya and Eastern Province
Native speakers
2.7 million
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
mer – Meru
thk – Tharaka
mws – Mwimbi-Muthambi
cuh – Cuka
Glottolognort3214  Meru–Tharaka–Cuka[1]

Meru is the language spoken by the Meru people (Ameru) who live on the Eastern and Northern slopes of Mount Kenya, Kenya, Africa and on the Nyambene ranges. They settled in this area after centuries of migration from the north.

The Meru people are a fairly homogeneous community and all share a common ancestry. They speak the same language, Kimeru, but there are some slight regional differences, in accent and local words. The community comprises the following subdivisions; from the north to south:

  • Igembe
  • Tigania (Tiania) (culture close to neighbouring Cushitic and Nilotic communities)
  • Imenti
  • Tharaka (Saraka)
  • Igoji
  • Mwimbi–Muthambi
  • Chuka (Gicuka) (marginal intelligibility with Meru proper and with Gikuyu.

As the Meru language is similar to its surrounding neighbors, the Kikuyu and Embu could have possibly adopted parts of Meru.

Sample phrases[edit]

English Kimeru
How are you Muuga
Give me water Mpa rũũji/rũi
How are you doing? Ûrĩ o mwega?
I am hungry Ndîna mpara
Help me Nteithia
I am good Ndĩ mwega
Are you a friend? Wĩ mũcore?
Bye, be blessed Tigwa bwega, tharimwa.
I love you Ikwendete.
Come here îja haja
I will phone you Ngakũringira thimû


Kimeru has seven main mutually intelligible dialects. The dialects include kiimenti widely used by the Imenti section of the Ameru, Tiania/gitiania used by the tigania, kiigembe used by the Igembe, kimwimbi and Muthambi used by the Igoji and Chogoria, Gicuka used by the Chuka and Kitharaka used by the Tharaka.

Imenti dialect[edit]

It is the commonly used dialect in meru. The dialect acts as the lingua franca between all the nine sub tribes of meru. It is the official dialect used in the kimeru Bible translations. Unlike other Meru dialects, the Imenti dialect is usually not entirely sing-song and bit slow. Its commonly used in Nkubu, Timau, Kibirichia, Meru town and Ruiri areas of Meru County.

Sample phrases[edit]

English Imenti
How are you Nîatîa ûrî?
Give me water Mpa rûũji
Home nja/Mûciî
Get out uma njaa/ome
Get Inside kûrûka/Tonya/ukuma
Today Naarua
Tomorrow rûjo
Come here îja aja/ìyû aa
I will phone you Ngakũringira thimû

The Chuka, Muthambi and Mwimbi dialects[edit]

The dialects are more related to Gikuyu and Meru proper, and are common in Igoji, Chogoria and Chuka regions of Meru County and Tharaka Nithi County.

Sample phrases[edit]

English Chuka/Muthambi/Mwimbi
How are you Muuga
Give me water Mpa maaî/rûnjî
Home mûcii
Get out uma nja
Get Inside kûrûka/Tonya/Thungira
Today ûmûnthi
Tomorrow rûjû/rûû
Come here ûka aja/
I will phone you Ngakũringira/ngakubûrira thimû

TIgania and Igembe dialects[edit]

The dialects can be identified by its unmistakable sing-song and fast spoken intonations. It can be heard mostly in Miraa or khat growing areas of Maua, Muthara, Karama and Kangeta in Meru County.

Sample phrases[edit]

English TIgania/Igembe
How are you Muua
Give me water nthaania roe/rũî
Home Mucie/Mucii
Get out Tũra
Get Inside unkuma
Today Naarua/Ruarii
Tomorrow rûû/rûyũ
Come here îya haa
I will phone you Ngakũringira thimû

Tharaka dialect[edit]

The dialect is more closely related to the kamba and Tigania dialects. It mostly common in Tharaka areas of Tharaka nithi County.

Sample phrases[edit]

English Tharaka
How are you Muuga
Give me water Mpa rûûyî
Home Mûciî
Get out uma nja
Get Inside Thûngîra
Today Îmunthî
Tomorrow rûũ
Come here ncû aga
I will phone you Ngakũringîra thimû


Kimeru is written in a Latin alphabet. It does not use the letters f p q s v x z, and adds the letters ĩ and ũ. The Kimeru alphabet is:

'a b c d e g h i ĩ j k m n o r t u ũ w y[4]

In Media and Popular Culture[edit]

A Kenyan musical group known as High Pitch Band Afrika based in Meru County has done a cover of the Luis Fonsi's popular hit single Despacito in Kimeru language. The Kimeru cover was uploaded on YouTube on July 10 2017 and has generated over 500,000 views since then.

In Media the Kimeru language is used as the primary broadcast language of several Radio and TV stations in Kenya. Some include: Meru Fm, Muuga Fm, Weru Fm, Weru TV, Baite Tv, Thiiri Fm among many others.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Northern Central Kenya Bantu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mwimbi–Muthambi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  4. ^ "5 Steps to get you Writing Kimeru like a Njuri Ncheke Editor - The Ameru". The Ameru. 2017-11-08. Retrieved 2018-04-30.

External links[edit]