A preliminary documentation of the Okiek language of Kenya

The Endangered Language Documentation Programme (ELDP) provides grants worldwide to for the linguistic documentation of endangered language and knowledge. Grantees create multimedia collection of endangered languages. These collections are preserved and made freely available through the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) housed at the library of SOAS University of London.

This is a preliminary Okiek language documentation project. Okiek is one of the languages in the Kalenjin macrolanguage (Ethnologue). According to the Kenya Population Census of 2009, the Okiek number 76,000. They live scattered in Kuresoi, Narok South and in the region of Mt. Elgon and are also found in Tanzania. The Okiek generally, and especially those of Tinet (Kuresoi South where the documentation will take place), are eager to preserve their language and culture even though the existence of linguistic diversity around them and the socio-ecomomic changes in their way of life hinder this. Okiek is a highly endangered so far unwritten minority language. The project therefore documents not only the Okiek language and its structure but also its cultural, social and political dimensions (as recommended by Bowern (2011) for highly endangered languages) by audio and video recording conversations, songs, narratives, poems, proverbs and ceremonies associated with circumcision, bee keeping, etc. A good part of the audio / visual corpus obtained will be annotated and transcribed. It will be translated into English which is one of the official languages of Kenya. Primary investigator: Jane Oduor

Project Details


Location: Kenya, Eastern Africa, Africa Organiser(s): Endangered Languages Documentation Programme Project partner(s): University of Nairobi Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £10,645.00 Commencement Date: 01/2012 Project Status: Active
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