Talk:Nandi–Markweta languages

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I do not understand the motive behind the latest page revision[edit]

The term "Kalenjin language" is the only term used in Kenya to refer to the dialects spoken in Kenya, and it is very common in the linguistic literature. Since I have been studying the language, I decided that wikipedia should have an article with information about the macrolanguage Kalenjin (defined so by the latest edition of Ethnologue, Ethnologue 18 (2015) In my latest revisions, I updated the information on the varieties with the information from the latest edition of Ethnologue, since the article included the information from the 2013 edition. Moreover, I added the total number of speakers, number of speakers for each dialect, as well as the Kenyan counties in which each dialect is spoken. I also provided the results of a survey of the similarities among the dialects. Finally, I created the sections about the phonology, morphology, and syntax of the language.

However, the user Kwamikagami changed my intro and the "Varieties" section by restoring it to the previous version, with the information from 2013, and deleted the information on the total number of speakers, geographical regions etc. I do not understand the motive of this change. I will re-do my edits, so if there is a good reason not to do so, please explain to me why. --Maria.kouneli (talk) 05:24, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

On Kalenjin/Nandi-Markweta[edit]

(copied from my talk page. — kwami (talk) 02:38, 5 August 2015 (UTC))

Hi Kwamikagami. I know Kalenjin is NOT a single language and I never wrote this- instead I wrote that it is a macrolanguage that comprises of nine dialects of varying degrees of mutual intelligibility (note: this means some of them might not even be mutually intelligiible, which I DID say in the "varieties" section, where I presented the results of a study on this - and I included it in the references) and I added a hyperlink to the word macrolanguage. Macrolanguage is a technical term used by ethnologue, it is not a term I invented. There is even a wikipedia article on what macrolanguage codes mean ( If you search for "Kalenjin language" in Ethnologue, the following comes up: This, as you can see, includes the 9 dialects that I had in my wikipedia article, and which you removed. By the way, all this information is from the (2015) edition while in your version you cite the (2013) edition of Ethnologue. So, please read those before you write that other people write "nonsense" in your review summaries...

So, from reading Ethnologue, Glottolog, Toweett (1979) and Creider (1989), my understanding is that "Kalenjin languages" (plural) is a genetic classification, which includes the languages of Tanzania, whereas "Kalenjin language" is the name given to the Kenyan dialects only. Since there is already an article on wikipedia on "Kalenjin languages" (, and since in Kenya "Kalenjin language" is seen as a single language (as you yourself wrote in the introduction to the article, it is the use of this term that politically unified the Kalenjin peoples), I thought it was appropriate to include in the article what people mean when they refer to Kalenjin as a single language.

Moreover, you write Nandi is the principal dialect, which is just wrong, since Kipsigis has almost twice as many speakers (see ethnologue if you don't believe me). And you do include Kipsigis in your varieties, so it's not that you think it's not part of "Nandi-Markweta" (which is just an internal genetic subdivision of Kalenjin languages, on which people do not agree. for example, glottolog and ethnologue have a different internal classification of Kalenjin as a branch).

Also, you say that Kalenjin people make up 18% of the population (but you don't have a reference for it). According to the wikipedia page on Kalenjin people, they make up 12% of the population, but I didn't have time to verify it, so I just deleted that part, since I thought it was not essential.

You also say that "The Kenyan conception of Kalenjin includes Kipsigis and Terik but not Markweta, ". I don't know where you got this from since there is no reference but 1) the wikipedia page on Kalenjin peoples does include Markweta, 2) my best friend is a Kipsigis who lives in Kenya and told me that the Markweta (whom they call Marakwet in Kenya) are Kalenjin. I know number (2) is not the best evidence for you, but give me your evidence for writing what you wrote. Also, wikipedia has an article on Marakwet people ( and says they are Kalenjin.

As for moving the page, "Kalenjin language" actually redirects you to this page, and when I tried to move it I got the message that this page already exists (probably because of the redirect link? I have never moved a page before so I don't know the details).

In sum, since in Kenya "Kalenjin language" refers to 9 very specific dialects/languages, and ethnologue recognizes that and classifies this as a macrolanguage (you like it or not, ethnologgue does), and since there is another page anyway about the GENETIC term "Kalenjin languages", I thought it was appropriate to modify the article in the way I did. To make it clear, my main objective was to include the grammatical features of these languages, and I did my best given the knowledge I have, to present facts from different dialects (so I included Kipsigis, Nandi, and Tugen). I did not want to include this information say in the article about Nandi (which would have been easier because I would have avoided these lengthy discussions about sth that to me doesn't seem controversial given the sources I have cited) is that despite what you think, "Kalenjin language" is used a lot in linguistics to refer to the Kenyan dialects (I am a professional linguist, who has spent quite a lot of time lately reading about and studying this language), and it is more likely for a student interested in the grammatical structure of this language to look up this term instead of Nandi. Moreover, some of the dialects are so close that the general sketch of the grammar (since I only included a very general sketch) applies to all of them.

I am a linguist, whose only goal was to facilitate the access to knowledge about the dialects known as the Kalenjin language. I have given my sources for all my claims (and btw these sources were there in my edits, I don't think such a lengthy response to you should be necessary), unlike some of your claims in the relevant parts (eg. Markweta, or Nandi being the principal dialect...). So I would greatly appreciate it if you restored my edits. ...Maria.kouneli (talk) 19:09, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

Hi @Maria.kouneli: okay, a couple of points.
  • First, "macrolanguage" is not a linguistic term, and should be avoided. It's only used for organizing ISO codes, which is largely irrelevant to most WP articles. The relevant link would be to dialect continuum, assuming that's applicable.
  • Nandi might have been called the "principal" dialect because it's the most important socially, or the best studied, I don't know. No problem with you removing that. However, if there is a prestige dialect of Kalenjin, that should be mentioned.
  • I'll take your word that Markweta is considered Kalenjin by speakers (i.e., that speakers are ethnically Kalenjin), but that is probably irrelevant (see below).
  • It's inappropriate to say the article is about "Nandi-Markweta" and then talk about "Kalenjin" -- the article title should reflect what the article is about. Since you appear to know what you're doing, and Kalenjin is perhaps borderline between being a language and being a small family, would you prefer it to be moved to "Kalenjin language" (singular), as you suggested? Easy enough, though it might take a few days to get the redirect out of the way. If we did that, then most of the individual articles (such as Naandi language) should probably be deleted and turned into redirects to Kalenjin, with their ISO codes and populations summarized in the infobox there. Maybe one or two would be worth keeping separate, unless you feel you can adequately merge their info into the Kalenjin article. We don't need a separate article for every ISO code -- we don't follow ISO in other language articles.
  • The question then is whether to follow Distefano (1985), the source used by Glottolog, in excluding Markweta from Kalenjin proper. Whether it's conceived of as Kalenjin by speakers is irrelevant: IMO if our sources state that Kalenjin and Markweta do not form a valid clade, then we should not lump them together. Since I don't recall Markweta examples in your grammatical description, that shouldn't be a problem. If we do that, then after moving we should turn Nandi-Markweta into a redirect to "Kalenjin languages" (plural) after moving the article to Kalenjin singular. If you think you have a better or more up-to-date classification than the one Glottolog uses, we could use that instead. We should also modify Kalenjin-plural to reflect whichever classification we go with.
  • Also, since sources state that Kipsigis is more distant that the other varieties are to each other, it should perhaps also be kept out of Kalenjin proper. That would require some modification of your edits. I don't know how intelligible it is -- if intelligibility is low, we should probably follow our sources in excluding it; if intelligibility is good, then I see no problem including it.

Oh, and this discussion should probably be copied to the article talk page for future reference. — kwami (talk) 21:35, 2 August 2015 (UTC)