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This stub is on my to do list. I'm planning to add some demographic & linguistic data and (eventually) to conform it to the Wikiproject:Languages template. If you don't like what I do, just revert. Also, I'm not a native speaker of English, so don't hesitate to make me aware of any problems in style, vocabulary or grammar. strangeloop 19:42, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)


Since Ba is a prefix meaning "people", and since the common means of referring to peoples outside of Bantu languages is to drop the Ba, wouldn't it make more sense to say Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa? I know that your way is more proper, but it's my impression that we're supposed to use what will be most commonly understood, not what is most technically direct, except when explaining what /is/ most technically correct...Kaz 17:08, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree with this. The most common use of these terms in English is without the noun class prefix. — mark 07:23, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

"Kinya-" is meaning the same "ki-" in "kiswahili", isn't it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Yep, sort of. There is something about the 'nya' part though, because the closely related language of Burundi isn't called Kinyarundi but Kirundi. — mark 07:23, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

I believe that the '-nya-' might mean 'place of', as it does in 'Nyamata' ('place of milk'). Thus 'Kinyarwanda' could be translated as 'the language of the place of Rwanda'. Ionius Mundus 18:23, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Odd, the Kinyarwanda Wikipedia has "abatutsi", not "batutsi". Is the noun class prefix "aba" in Kinyarwanda, or "ba"? If it's the latter, is there an explanation for "aba"? --Saforrest 00:54, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

It is simple. A-ba- is the equivalent of an indefinite article, while ba- is the equivalent of a definite article. Abatutsi = Tutsis, Batutsi = The Tutsis --Ionius Mundus 01:38, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

I am a native speaker of Kinyarwanda.

1. Abatutsi refers to Tutsi people while Batutsi would be used when adressing directly an assembly of Tutsi people: Batutsi, mwiriwe? Hello, Tutsi people! A more likely example is Abanyarwanda (talking about Rwandans) vs Banyarwanda (calling out to Rwandans).

2. The “nya” of Nyamata, means "of". Not "place of". Nyamata means rich in milk, related to milk. Place of milk is "i Nyamata". The “i” indicates that we’re talking about a place. --Ruramaguru (talk) 21:33, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Ethnic Divisions[edit]

There is an ethnic division in Rwanda, regardless of the origins of this division. An ethnic group can be defined by many parameters. Imperial78

As can easily be seen in the article entitled 'Tutsi', there is large-scale debate over the ethnic nature of the so-called tribes. Ionius Mundus 18:09, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Rwandan franc[edit]

Would it be Amafaranga Rwanda or Rwanda Amafaranga? Or a variation of either? Thankyou Enlil Ninlil 04:12, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

If you are trying to communicate in English, you'd use "Rwandan Franc." "Amafaranga y'Urwanda" is the Kinyarwanda equivalent.--RwandaTim 13:05, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

"Genocide-related vocabulary"[edit]

I find it horrible that a page dedicated to the beautiful Kinyarwanda language gets a section titled "genocide-related vocabulary". This speaks volumes about how far the current regime in Kigali has gone into political propaganda. It would have been more true to call it "RPF-propaganda vocabulary". For instance, "inyenzi" means cockroach and it also refers to -mostly tutsi- bush fighters from different guerilla groups, the latest of which being RPF Inkotanyi. Only RPF propagandists say that "inyenzi" refers to tutsi in general to make it look like hutus always hated tutsi, while the truth is that hutu always suffered atrocities by the hand of the successive "inyenzi" armies and therefore never liked them.Ruramaguru (talk) 23:28, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Another example, "indangamuntu" only means identity card. I don't see how this word is "genocide-related". Third Reich germany used trains to transport Jews to concentration camps. Does this make the word "train" a "genocide-related term?"Ruramaguru (talk) 23:36, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

An article on the Holocaust that contained a list of related German vocabulary could well include the German word "Ausweis," -- even though that too simply means "identity card" -- because a Jew's i.d. card took on a whole significance and symbolism under the Third Reich. Whether or not there was a J for "Jude" (Jew) on your i.d. card often meant the difference between life and death. My understanding is that back in 1994, the same was true of whether your Rwandan i.d. card identified you as a Hutu or a Tutsi. It is indeed horrible, and sad, that the page on Kinyarwanda includes a section on "genocide-related vocabulary." But unfortunately, for decades to come, many non-Rwandans who visit this page, and that on Rwanda, will be coming for background about 1994, and a few of the most common Kinyarwanda words are useful there. What one could consider is moving this list to the "Rwandan Genocide" article, and simply linking to it from here. UrsusMaximus (talk) 11:38, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a dictionary and is not a place for lists of vocabulary, whether "genocide-related" or not. --Ptcamn (talk) 12:26, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Kinyarwanda language template[edit]

If you are a native speaker of Kinyarwanda then you can help translate this template into your own language:

kin This user is a native speaker of Kinyarwanda.


--Amazonien (talk) 21:58, 21 January 2009 (UTC)


Where is the aphabet? I'm confused. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:21, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Noun classes[edit]

Shouldn't this page use the standard Bantu noun classification system as is taught in Rwandan schools and used in most books? (see Rowanseymour (talk) 10:27, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

Have gone ahead and updated the noun table - I've included the classification system that was being used, but I can find any sources for it - so maybe we can remove it and just have the 16 standard noun classes and the 10 classes used by Betty Ellen Cox? Rowanseymour (talk) 18:50, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Name change[edit]

Why was the name changed? if no answer is given a revert is warrentd. Enlil Ninlil (talk) 10:00, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

I think we've been through this issue before, although probably never on the talk page. User:Kwamikagami has written a policy regarding Bantu language and people articles, which is at WP:Naming conventions (languages). Not in itself a bad policy, but it should only be used in the absence of other considerations and should not trump WP:COMMON.
As I see it, the case here is clear. Per WP:ENGVAR, articles about Rwandan topics should be written in Rwandan English. i.e. the dialect spoken in Rwanda itself, a country in which English is an official language. And when referring to this language, Rwandan English speakers overwhelmingly use the term Kinyarwanda.
The national English daily newspaper confirms this: [1], [2], [3]
As an aside (and WP:ENGVAR does not require this, but it adds extra weight to my case) international English also tends to favour the term Kinyarwanda, for example:
Thanks —  — Amakuru (talk) 10:38, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
ENGVAR deals with orthography and the like, not article titles. This policy is commonly misused. For example, we use international Ganges rather than Indian English Ganga, despite vociferous ENGVAR arguments for the latter. We have a parallel situation here, except that Rwanda isn't even an anglophone country.
The guideline on language names doesn't really apply, since there is no Rwandan ethnic group. (The guideline is to use a name common to both people and language where practical.) However, the principal remains, to use a common stem for the language and other articles, so that the name is easily recognizable. Kinyarwanda is an obscure name, Rwanda well known; also, we generally drop the prefixes from Bantu names; if we leave them on, it can sometimes be unclear what is the stem (though, of course, that can be clarified in the article), just as we have Hutu and Tutsi rather than Abahutu and Abatutsi, despite the lack of a Hutu or Tutsi language.
COMMON is a legitimate argument. Against your CIA and BBC for Kinyarwanda, Ethnologue and Encyclopedia Britannica use Rwanda. — kwami (talk) 10:57, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Ethnologue apparently has reliability question marks hanging over it, for example Wikipedians have commented: The Ethnologue is a highly unreliable source and The Ethnologue report for the language is far from authoritative and should only be used as a useful tool to start new articles. I don't have in depth knowledge of it myself, but this suggests it should be taken with a pinch of salt. Britannica seems to be slightly confused on the issue; the language is at Rwanda language as you say, but the Rwanda :: Languages subsection makes the comment "The country has three official languages: Rwanda (more properly, Kinyarwanda), English, and French." So what does "more properly" mean?  — Amakuru (talk) 11:21, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Ethnologue is attempting to cover 6000 language on sometimes very little data. They are only as reliable as their refs, and sometimes things get mixed up. But for straightforward stuff like Bantu, they have plenty of reliable refs to go on. Certainly a name like 'Rwanda' is going to be a conscious decision rather than a mistake. (Khoisan, where the lit is completely confused, is another matter.)
"More properly" would mean in the language itself, as opposed to the common English term. In the Jr EB they have Avatar (more properly Avatara), meaning that while "Avatar" is the normal English term, Avatara is what you would use to be true to the original Sanskrit. It's a bit like saying PARR-is, or more properly pa-REE for Paris – that doesn't mean you should go around pronouncing it that way. — kwami (talk) 12:34, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
I have been living in Rwanda for a few years, studying the language and creating a new online dictionary and grammar resource (, and I have never heard anyone here use the term "Rwanda language". Yes, the ethnic groups are commonly called Hutu and Tutsi by Rwandans when speaking in English, and likewise the country itself is called "Rwanda" rather than "Urwanda", but the language is always "Kinyarwanda" in English, and "Ikinyarwanda" when speaking Kinyarwanda. COMMON usage should not be limited to academic materials written by people outside of the country Rowanseymour (talk) 13:58, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
To throw a stick into the fire, WP:COMMON is silent on this issue, but WP:COMMONNAME very explicitly says that "consistency" is an important measure when there is not one single common name (as it seems to be the case here).
Also, as an aside, to say that Kwami "has written a policy regarding Bantu language and people articles" is to imply that he acted alone or without consensus. In reality, though he composed it back in mid-2010, it was after discussion (check the talk page), and the paragraph in question was recently revisited where several editors (including myself) actively contributed to rewording it and, because it was triggered by a fairly contentious discussion at Talk:Māori people, likely had silent approval by even more. This is a policy that has consensus and one that exists alongside other policies like WP:COMMONNAME and WP:EN. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 14:55, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
Ok then perhaps we can deal with common usage and consistency separately. I can accept that there might be an argument for consistency with other languages pages. What I cannot accept is that "Rwanda language" is commonly used term. Here's what you get from Google searches...
  • "kinyarwanda" 16,300,000 results
  • "kinyarwanda language" 21,900 results
  • "rwandan language" 4,200 results
  • "rwanda language" 2,250 results (and much of this is actually "Rwanda's language")
Rowanseymour (talk) 08:10, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
"More properly"I am Rwandan doing research on Kinyarwanda for 13 years. I do not see the reason to change "Kinyarwanda" and make it "Rwanda language." I agree with Rowanseymour that we have to follow (1) the existing common understanding/consensus by Rwandans on how they call their language in English or other languages;

(2) recognized scholars (in linguistics) who have previously written on Kinyarwanda (Look for example Brown. (2005 ). (ed) Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (Vol. 6 p. 216), Books and article by Prof. Alexander Kimenyi, Prof. Laurent Nkusi, Simon Bizimana and many others). We do not have to change for the sake of changing. We have to bear in mind of what people are using not what we think they have to use. Technology (programming mentioned in [[Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(languages)|[[Naming conventions (languages)]])]] should come to answer the user's needs not the programming needs. The "mu-, ba-, -nya-" mentioned in this talk page have rules that govern them in our language. Why not have

Person Munyarwanda
People Banyarwanda
Language Kinyarwanda
Country u Rwanda

as the example given to Tswana?

While looking at Naming convention, I can see "English language" on "*England language", "Chinese language" not "*China language", etc. This explains the existence of "ki-nya-" in Kinyarwanda. Emmahab (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 15:39, 28 February 2011 (UTC).

No, the equivalent to that would be calling it the Rwandan language. That's fine by me: let's move it there. (I think "Rwandese" is probably obsolete.) Calling Rwandan Kinyarwanda is like calling Chinese Zhongguohua.
If you can use "Rwandan" rather than Banyarwanda for the people, what's wrong with doing the same for the language?
In your table at right, wouldn't the country need to be Urwanda? (Usually we've been putting those tables in the articles on people, and there is no article for Banyarwanda. But yeah, it could go here too.) — kwami (talk) 16:46, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
Kwami, I'm sure you don't need me to say this, but the China and Rwanda comparison is clearly not relevant to this discussion - the term Kinyarwanda is used by English speakers the world over, from Rwanda to the UK to the USA, whereas Zhongguohua is not used by any English speaker to refer to Chinese language. Opposing this move is not an attempt to parachute some foreign word onto unsuspecting English speakers, it is merely a reflection of the usage as it is in the world today (and you might ask yourself why the article was at Kinyarwanda in the first place, and has been so for the past six years, if it's so clearly not the common term for the langauge in English). Much as we might like to force the world to conform to nice logical constructs, as suggested by your Tswana/Setswana/Motswana box, in many cases it does not. Similarly I do not personally like people to ignorantly split infinitives, but there's nothing I can do about it as English language is defined by its usage. You and I are merely pawns in the great international English machine :)  — Amakuru (talk) 08:44, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Carefulness is needed in whatever we propose, what we think is is correct is not always as such. I agree with "Rwandan language" and "Kinyarwanda" as conventionally the person who started this talk proposed for English (English, English language). This does not make Rwandan, and Rwandan language. We have to read and know why such and such word, morpheme, etc. exist. I would like you to correct "Urwanda." We write "u Rwanda" but "Uburundi, Ubufaransa," etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:22, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Have moved these links from Talk:Kirundi which show that Kinyarwanda is the generally accepted name:

And it seems to be the norm in academic materials as well...

Rowanseymour (talk) 09:25, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

As another data point from the horse's mouth. I live in Rwanda and have studied the language a bit and I've never, ever heard it referred to as the Rwanda Language. It is universally referred to as Kinyarwanda here when spoken about in English. There may be lexical reasons to call it the Rwanda Language, but it would be going against the reality of the world and make this article factually incorrect. Nicpottier (talk) 15:37, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

It's not a question of fact, but of terminology. Kinyarwanda is an accepted name, but both terms are used. Come on, even one of Rowan's sources supports this: it uses "SpeakRwanda" in its name! — kwami (talk) 16:17, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
What kind of bizarre land are we in where actual physical presence and experience is not the ultimate trump? Find me one person living in Rwanda who agrees with you and we can have a conversation. Is that not what we should be going by? It all just seems a bit insane. Nicpottier (talk) 16:29, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
There are several relevant policies, most importantly WP:V ("verifiability, not truth") and WP:COMMONNAME, which outlines the various places to look to when determining which of several common names should be used. Finally, WP:COMMONNAME's appeal to consistency draws up WP:Naming conventions (languages), which has a bit about avoiding Bantu prefixes. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 04:08, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
That part about Bantu languages was written by Kwami (one of the interested parties here), and as far as I can tell was the result of very little discussion. The proposal was set out here: Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (languages)#Bantu language names, and the only respondent (User:Peter Isotalo) was commenting on whether or not to have a separate document for the guideline, not on its merits. Obviously nobody else contributed (I would have voted against such a blanket policy which attempts to shoehorn all diverse Bantu langauges into one pot, ignoring individual cases, but I did not spot it at the time). It's therefore hard to say if it was justified for Kwami to then instil it as policy. But anyway, what that does mean is that this particular policy has to be taken with a big pinch of salt, especially when its author is one of the protagonists.  — Amakuru (talk) 08:52, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
As I posted above, the recent discussion at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (languages)#Bantu language names#Clarification and the silent consensus (i.e. lack of opposition) since Kwami included it indicates that this is fairly well established consensus. This isn't to say that consensus can't be changed, but it is inaccurate to imply or state (as you've done twice, now) that this policy is Kwami's, rather than Wikipedia's
I also suspect that the policy's introduction is based on discussions found at individual language articles. You might want to look at the archives at Talk:Swahili, Talk:Zulu and some other Bantu languages. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 13:03, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
And as an aside, Speak Rwanda is clearly just the name of the site / product, they use Kinyarwanda throughout to refer to the language. That happens on the web sometimes, eh? Otherwise we'd all be arguing about how we all mis spell Google. Nicpottier (talk) 16:32, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
No, local usage is not (necessarily) what we should go by. It is certainly a good argument to say that local people say X, so we should too, but it's not the only argument.
There are also the "Learn Rwandan" CDs: UK link, US link. — kwami (talk) 16:44, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Related to the above discussions and my comment regarding the individuality of Bantu languages, I have proposed an amendment on the policy regarding Bantu language names so that cases like Luganda, Kirundi and Kinyarwanda could be treated on their own merits rather than our being encouraged to remove the Bantu prefixes per policy. The amendment proposal is at: Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (languages)#Amendment proposal on Bantu languages and I would welcome the views of everyone here to try to nail this down properly. Thanks  — Amakuru (talk) 09:21, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

They can be treated on their own merits. There is no policy. — kwami (talk) 09:47, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
OK, as long as we agree on that I don't have so much of a problem with the guideline. I have commented further on the matter at the WP:NCL talk page. Thanks  — Amakuru (talk) 12:13, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Number of speakers[edit]

By Rwanda, local population in July 2010 was estimated at 11,055,976. Here, we can read that Kinyarwanda is "spoken by some 12 million people in Rwanda". Clearly, either one must be wrong. I suspect the former might be closer to the correct number, as CIA World Factbook also offers an estimation of 11,370,425 for July 2011. --Oop (talk) 13:09, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Rwanda and Uganda. About a quarter million in DRC and three quarters in Uganda. — kwami (talk) 14:00, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Sounds fair enough... and presumably a much more accurate figure than the 7.5 million, which would be the population of Rwanda about 8-10 years ago. (Although I wonder how many of the 12 million are babies under the age of two, who may not speak much of the language anyway, and in a country like Rwanda form a larger proportion of the population than in the developed world. Presumably linguists have a policy on whether these are included or not anyway).  — Amakuru (talk) 21:50, 27 May 2011 (UTC)