Kinyarwanda: Why new orthography raises more questions than it answers

Editor, Allow me to respond to Mr Kahunga Matsiko's letter, "Simplifying Kinyarwanda orthography positive step" (The New Times, November 4). Mr Matsiko is completely wrong. The team did what linguists could call a disaster.

Editor,

Allow me to respond to Mr Kahunga Matsiko’s letter, “Simplifying Kinyarwanda orthography positive step” (The New Times, November 4).

Mr Matsiko is completely wrong. The team did what linguists could call a disaster. It makes no sense at all to change “icyi” (summer) to “iki” (what or this) when you know that semantic should be always respected as a way of balancing the written language.

There is no reason whatsoever given by Rwanda Academy of Languages and Culture to change the word “njyewe” (me) to “ngewe”.

Rwandans have been using the word “njyewe” since time immemorial and since the Kinyarwanda language was put in a written form, there was nobody who claimed to experience difficulties in writing this word, but, surprisingly, the Academy is proposing to change it.

Is that what Mr Matsiko calls evolution of language? No; this is not evolution, it is rather a disaster.

For what reason does the team propose to change the word “icyibo” (small basket) to “ikibo” when they know that, (if they are linguists), according to Kinyarwanda, letters “cy” become “by”, while “k” always changes to “b” in plural.

My take is that our beautiful language should not be simplified for the sake of some individuals whose motives are not known yet. Let us keep what we have and keep it right, and rather try to find new terminology for words that we are not familiar with, especially in science and technology.

Peter