Learn Kirundi

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About Kirundi

Kirundi, sometimes shortened to Rundi, is spoken by the vast majority of people in Burundi where it is an official language, alongside French and English. It is also spoken in parts of Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kirundi is mutually intelligible with Kinyarwanda, spoken in Rwanda. It is a tonal language with two main tones: high and low. The language includes influences of French, Arabic, German and Swahili which is also the language of trade in Burundi.

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Planet Earth

Where is it spoken?




Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Number of speakers


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Language family





Fun facts — Kirundi

  • If you tell a woman ‘you have eyes like a calf’ - ‘ufise amaso y’inyana’ - you are complimenting her on her beauty.
  • Friends often say goodbye with the words ‘turi kumwe’ - ‘we are together’ - to express a feeling of unity even when they are physically apart.
  • The rock (pictured above) is a Burundi landmark called ‘La Pierre de Livingstone et Stanley’. The disputed story goes that it marked the location where explorer Dr David Livingstone and journalist Henry Morton Stanley first met.
  • The expression ‘have cows and children’ – ‘urakagira inka n’ibibondo’ - means to wish someone good fortune. (This would be inappropriate to say to a woman past childbearing age.)
  • The expression ‘ants talk while on a bone’ - ‘ubunyegeri buyagira kwi gufa’ - describes how Burundians like to chat over food and drink.
  • A common saying is: ‘Nta ndagukunda nka kwankira umwana’ - ‘You cannot say you like me, if you do not like my child’.

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