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Kitharaka

A language of Kenya

ISO 639-3thk

Population  139,000 (2006), increasing. Less than 35% monolinguals. Some Tharaka people live outside their homeland. Ethnic population: 150,000.
Region  Eastern Province, East Meru District, Embu District; some in Kitui District.
Language map  Kenya, reference number 22
Alternate names   Saraka, Sharoka, Tharaka
Dialects  Gatue (North Tharaka), Thagichu (Kitui), Ntugi (Central Tharaka), Tharaka (South Tharaka). Thagichu dialect has extensive Kamba [kam] borrowings. Gatue is influential. Difficult intelligibility with northern Meru [mer] dialects. Some Meru words have offensive meanings in Tharaka. Similar to Chuka [cuh].
Classification  Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kikuyu-Kamba (E.20), Meru
Language use  Older people’s dialect more prestigious due to lack of borrowings. Many now use written materials. Approaching GIDS 5. Home, social gatherings, school. All ages. Positive attitude. Also use English, Kiswahili [swh], Gikuyu [kik], or Kimîîru [mer].
Language development  Literacy rate in L1: Below 1%. Literacy rate in L2: 45% Kiswahili or English. Taught in primary schools. NT: 2000.
Writing system  Latin script.
Comments  Attitudes are changing. People view language as important. Tharaka is place name. Atharaka is the name of the group. Agriculturalists: millet, sorghum. Traditional religion, Christian.