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Gikuyu (technically Gĩkũyũ, but often also written Kikuyu or Kĩkũyũ) (Guthrie E51) belongs to the Kamba-Kikuyu subgroup of Bantu. (Webbook, with modifications)
Ethnologue lists the classification as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, E, Kikuyu-Kamba (E.20)
It is spoken in an area extending from Nairobi to the southern and southwestern slopes of Mt. Kenya, in Kenya. (Webbook)
5,347,000 (1994 I. Larsen BTL) (Ethnologue)
Heine (1980) notes six mutually intelligible dialects. (Webbook)
According to Ethnologue:
Gikuyu is an important regional language. It is broadcast on the Voice of Kenya. (Webbook)
There is a notable amount of literature published in Gikuyu by authors such as Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Mwangi wa Mutahi, Gatua wa Mbugwa. Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Mũrogi wa Kagogo (Wizard of the Crow in English) is said to be the longest book written (composed) in an African language.
There is also a Gikuyu language journal of arts and culutre called Mutiiri.
Literacy rate (according to Ethnologue):
A standard orthography exists, using the standard Latin alphabet with a diacritic. Two vowels, /i/ and /u/, can be marked with a tilde above for tone.
According to information from http://janco.admerk.com/kikuyulanguage.html the Gikuyu alphabet is:
a b c d e g h i ĩ j k m n o r t u ũ w y
The letter v is apparently used for one dialect. Six letters in the English alphabet, then are "not used" in Gikuyu: f l p q s z
Alphabet as reported by Hartell (1993) and presented in Systèmes alphabétiques: http://sumale.vjf.cnrs.fr/phono/AfficheTableauOrtho2N.php?choixLangue=kikuyu
The vowels /i/ and /u/ with a tilde above are available as precomposed characters in Unicode, in the Latin Extended A range. Specifically, U+0168/U+0169 and U+0128/U+0129 are the codepoints for Ũ/ũ and Ĩ/ĩ (U/u and I/i with tilde above).
A special 8-bit font for Gikuyu was created by Gatua wa Mbugwa in 1999 at Matchfont.com. This is no longer available but in any event the character requirements are met by larger Unicode fonts with the two diacritical characters necessary.
We are not aware of any. Since Gikuyu needs only two diacritical characters, a layout facilitating these should not be complicated. There are characters that are not used in Gikuyu, therefore, are ommited from such a keyboard layout.
Gikuyu (Gĩkũyũ) poetry journal project http://www.gatua.com/index.html
Blogs in Gikuyu:
We are not aware of any localised software.
Collaborated on the Diacritic Placement utility (see 8c):
Web content authors:
Gikuyu would seem to have significant language resources that could be applied to localisation projects and research.
Would it be possible for a localisation strategy to treat Gikuyu and the several languages that are closely related as a group? Namely Embu, Chuku, Kamba, Meru (per #4 above). This could mean one of several options in the case of software localisation and content translation:
SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Gikuyu," http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=kik
SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables," http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp
U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language," http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/English_list.php
Wikipedia, "Gikuyu language," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gikuyu_language