These 6 Kenyan Languages Are Extinct, According To UNESCO

Languages are human creations, and as such, they have a life cycle.

Some “dead” languages have evolved into others, and they survive in that sense. Others vanished without a trace, and we may not even know exactly how they were spoken to this day.

1. Elm Molo

It was spoken by the El Molo people on the southeastern shore of Lake Turkana, in northern Kenya. It was thought to be extinct in the middle part of the 20th century, but a few speakers were found in the later 20th century. However, it may now be truly extinct, as the eight speakers found in a survey published in 1994 were over 50. Most of the El Molo population have shifted to the neighboring Samburu language.

el molo language


2. Kinare

Kinare, spoken around the eastern slope of the Rift Valley. The Kinare dialect is extinct, and Rottland (1982:24-25) reports that he found a few old men from Kinare in 1976, married with Kikuyu women and integrated into the Kikuyu culture.

Image: Zaid Khalifa


3. Kore

The Kore of Lamu are a small people living on Lamu Island on the northern Kenya coast. In 1985 they numbered between 200 and 250 people (Curtin 1985). Their history before 1870 lies with the other Maa peoples in central Kenya.

Kenyan Languages Are Extinct


4. Lorkoti

Lorkoti, a dialect of the Maa cluster (Nilotic) or part of the Nilo-Saharan. Despite the fact that there is still an ethnic group called Lorokoti in the Leroghi Plateau, all appear to speak a different Maa dialect, that is Samburu.


5. Sogoo

Sogoo, also referred as Okiek, is also no longer in existence. According to Unesco, there were around 60 Sogoo speakers in the 1970s, but with time, they adopted Maasai customs, leading to the extinction of the language.

Kenyan Languages Are Extinct


6. Yaaku

The Yaaku dialect, also known as Mukogodo. Though there are people in the western part of Mt Kenya’s Laikpia District still identifying themselves as the Yaaku, they do not speak the Cushitic language, which was long abandoned for the dominant Nilotic Maasai language.

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