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Terik
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language profile
Variants NYANG'ORI, TERIKIN, TERIKEK, TERIKINTET
Language affiliation Nilo-Saharan
Language affiliation (details) Nilo-Saharan, Southern Nilotic, Kalenjin cluster, Elgon group.
Geographic locations Kenya. A majority of the group lives in the southern parof the current Nandi district and northern Kisumu. A smaller number is found in the neighbouring Vihiga district. The rest is distributed in several pockets of the region: Chemase, Turbo in Uasin Gishu district and Kobujoi and Chepkomia in Aldai constituency.
Language situation Seriously endangered language: the youngest speakers have reached or passed middle age
General presentation of the language The language belongs to the Kalenjin cluster. Mutual intelligibility exists between neighbouring groups but those that are separated by geographical distance slowly loose their ability to understand one another.
Number of speakers Around 50,000 of about 120,000 members of the ethnic group
Socio-linguistic context – description Terik is spoken by the Terik ethnic group. The language is in a process of being replaced by Nandi, another Kalenjin dialect. The Nandi ethnic group influenced the social structure of the Terik people as well as their language. This process started in the 1920s and is likely to lead to the complete disappearance of Terik as a distinct linguistic form.
The closer a Terik lives to the Nandi territory, the less likely he or she is to be a ‘mixed speaker’, and the more likely to be a ‘Nandi-ized speaker’. The process of dialect shift from Terik to Nandi is the result of extra-linguistic forces. It would seem that population pressure and subsequent population movements form the ultimate cause of Terik dialect replacement. Increasing infiltration of their western Luyia neighbours into Terikland is responsible for the Terik settling in the less densely populated Nandiland to the east. There they are exposed to a different but closely related culture, which they gradually adopt.
The higher the age of the group, the higher number of ‘Elgon speaker’, and the lower the number of both ‘mixed’ and ‘Nandi-ized speakers’ is. Amongst the population of speakers over 60, ‘Elgon speakers’ form the largest group (47%), while amongst the Terik under 30, two thirds are ‘mixed speakers’ Women have a consistently higher rate of ‘Elgon speakers’ than men.
Oral traditions have been strong amongst the Terik. With social changes, the Terik have started in their own ways of recording some of their traditions in written form.
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