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Gusii language

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Title: Gusii language  
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Subject: Bantu languages, Kisii people, Languages of Kenya, Ugali, Ndolo dialect
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Gusii language


The Gusii language (also known as Kisii or Ekegusii) is a Bantu language spoken in the Kisii district in western Kenya, whose headquarters is Kisii town, (between the Kavirondo Gulf of Lake Victoria and the border with Tanzania). It is spoken by the Gusii people, numbering about 2.0 million (SIL/Ethnologue 1994). A few Gusii people are bilingual in Luo.

Sounds

Vowels

Gusii has seven vowels. Vowel length is contrastive, i.e. the words 'bór' to miss and 'bóór' to say are distinguished by vowel length only.

Phonetic inventory of vowels in Gusii
Front Central Back
Close i u
Near-close e o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

Consonants

In the table below, orthographic symbols are included between brackets if they differ from the IPA symbols. Note especially the use of ‘y’ for IPA /j/, common in African orthographies. When symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a voiced consonant.

Phonetic inventory of consonants in Gusii
bilabial alveo-palatal palatal velar
plosive p   b t c (c) k   ɡ
fricative   s    
affricate     cç (c)  
nasal m n ɲ (ny) ŋ (ng')
trill   r    
approximant w   j (y)  

The following morphophonological alternations occur:

  • n+r = nd
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