Native toUganda, Rwanda
EthnicityBakiga, Twa
Native speakers
1.6 million (2002 census)[1]
Standard forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3cgg
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
A Kiga speaker, recorded in Uganda.

Kiga (also called Rukiga, Ruchiga, or Chiga) is a Great Lakes Bantu language of the Kiga people (Bakiga). Kiga is a similar and partially mutually intelligible with the Nkore language. It was first written in the second half of the 19th century. Kiga is largely spoken in the ancient Kigezi region which includes about 5 districts, namely Rubanda, Rukiga, Kabale, Kanungu and some parts of Rukungiri. As of 2021, Kiga is spoken natively by about 1.3 million people in Uganda.

Kiga is so similar to Nkore (84%–94% lexical similarity[3]) that some argue they are dialects of the same language, called Nkore-Kiga by Charles Taylor.[4]


Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid ɛ o
Open a
Labial Alveolar Post-alv./
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k
voiced b d d͡ʒ g
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z ʒ
Trill r
Approximant j w


D and P are only used in foreign names and loanwords.

G and K are palatalised before I.


In common with other Bantu languages, Kiga has a noun class system in which prefixes on nouns mark membership of one of the noun genders. Pronouns, adjectives, and verbs reflect the noun gender of the nominal they refer to. Some examples of noun classes:

The sound [l] is not distinctive in Rukiga. The letter "r" is used instead.

See also


  1. ^ Kiga at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. ^ Lewis, Paul M., ed. (2009). "Ethnologue Report for Language Code: nyn". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, TX: SIL International. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  4. ^ Poletto, Robert E. (1998). Topics in Runyankore Phonology (PDF). Linguistics Graduate Program, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Retrieved Dec 8, 2009.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Taylor, Charles (1985). Nkore-Kiga. London: Croom Helm.
  6. ^ "Kiga language". Omniglot. Retrieved 19 February 2021.