Lexicon

Lexique

You cannot visit a country without knowing a few words of the language. There are three official languages in Rwanda: Kinyarwanda, French and English. Although the majority of Rwandans speak only Kinyarwanda some also speak Kiswahili, a language spoken in several countries of East Africa.

In Kinyarwanda, INZU means family. It also means the household or home. INZU includes the extended family not only husband, wife and children but relatives as well.

To help you with the pronunciation of the words in Kinyarwanda, here are a few hints taken from the book “le Petit Futé Rwanda”:

  • “ e “ is pronounced « ay » as in hay
  • “ g “ is pronounced « gu »as in gum
  • “ u “ is pronounced « ou » as in Houston
  • “ c “ is pronounced « tch » as in check
  • “ s “ is pronounced « ss »  as in class
  • “ r “ Is often heard and written as an “ l “ and vice versa.

Greetings

  • Hello                           muraho
  • Good morning           mwaramutse
  • Good afternoon         mwiriwe
  • Good evening            mwiriwe
  • How are you ?           amakuru ? bite se ?
  • Find, thank you         ni byiza/amakuru ni meza/yego
  • Please                         mubishoboye
  • Thank you                 urakoze (to one person) murakoze (to many people)
  • Sorry                          mumbabarire/mbabarira
  • Goodbye, see you      mwilirwe
  • Goodbye, see you      muramuke
  • Farewell                     murabeho
  • Friend                         inshuti

Basic expressions

  • Yes                             yego
  • No                              oya
  • A little                        bike/bito
  • A lot                            cyane
  • Maybe                        ahali/birashoboka
  • Good                          byiza
  • Hot                             gishyushye/birashyushye
  • Cold                            gishyushye/birakonje
  • Be carefull                  itonde
  • And                             na
  • Here                            hano
  • There                          hariya
  • Now                            ubu/nonaha
  • Day                             umunsi
  • Week                           icyumweru
  • This week                    iki cyumweru
  • Next week                   icyumweru gitaha
  • Month                         ukwezi
  • Year                            umwaka
  • Today                          none
  • Yesterday                    ejo hashize
  • Tomorrow                   ejo hazaza
  • Morning                      igitondo
  • Afternoon                    nyuma ya sasita
  • Evening                       umugoroba
  • Night                            ijoro

Questions

  • Where?                                  hehe ?
  • When?                                   ryali ?
  • How?                                     bite / gute ?
  • Why?                                     kuki ?
  • How many or how much?   angahe ? bingahe ?
  • Who?                                     ninde (singulier) ? bande (pluriel) ?
  • What is your name?             witwa nde ?
  • Where I can find gas?          lisansi nayibona hehe ?

Helpful sentences

  • My name is…             nitwa…
  • I’m happy                  ndanezerewe/ndishimye/ndanyuzwe
  • I’m in a hurry            ndihuta
  • I’m hungry                ndashonje
  • I’m tursty                  mfite inyota
  • I’m sleepy, I want to sleep     mfite ibitotsi
  • I’m sick                         ndarwaye
  • It’s expensive                kirahenda
  • I don’t have money      nta mafranga mfite
  • I don’t understand        simbyumva
  • I need help                    ushobora kumfasha
  • I would like                   ndashaka…
  • Give me…                      mpa…
  • It’s good                         ni byiza
  • It’s bad or it’s not good  ni bibi
  • C’est délicieux                biraryoshye/birabishye
  • You lie, He lies               urabeshya, arabeshya

At the table

  • To cook                      guteka
  • Kitchen                      igikoni
  • Market                       isoko
  • Knife                          icyuma
  • Fork                           ikanya
  • Serving spoon            ruche
  • Spoon                         ikiyiko
  • Plate                           isahani
  • Garlic                         tungurusumu
  • Ginger                        tangauzi
  • Avocado                     avoka
  • Mandarin                   mandarine
  • Mango                        umwembe (imyembe)
  • Margarine                  margarine (Blue Band)
  • Aubergine                   ikibiringanya
  • Lemon                        indimu
  • Baking powder           chapa mandazi
  • Jam                            confitire
  • Juice                           jus (prononcé « jee »)
  • Flour                           ifarini / ubugali
  • Chili (hot sauce)        urusenda (pilipili)
  • Charcoal stove           imbabura
  • Beer                            inzoga
  • Water                         amazi
  • Coffee                         ikawa
  • Tea                             icyayi
  • Milk                            amata
  • Powdered milk           amata yifu (nido)
  • Plain yoghurt             yawurute
  • Sweet yoghurt            yaurte
  • Bread                          umugati (imigati)
  • Butter                          amavuta y’inka
  • Honey                         ubuki
  • Cooking oil                  amavuta
  • Egg                              igi (singulier) amagi (pluriel)
  • Beef                             inyama z’inka
  • Chiken                        inyama z’inkoko
  • Goat                            inyama z’ihene
  • Pork                            inyama z’ingurube
  • Fish                             ifi (amafi)
  • Beans                          ibishyimbo
  • Tomato                       inyanya/itomati
  • Pumpkin                     igihaza
  • Salt                              umunyu
  • Sauce, gravy               isosi
  • Mashed tomato          sosi tomate
  • Cooking banana         igitoke, ibitoke
  • Ripe babana               umuneke (imineke)
  • Pineapple                    inanasi
  • Orange                        icunga (amacunga)
  • Potato                          ibirayi
  • Sweet potato               ibijumba
  • French fries                 efriti
  • Rice                             umuceli
  • Soup                            isupu
  • Sugar                           isukari
  • Porridge, oatmeal       igikoma
  • Onion                          igitunguru (ibitunguru)
  • Passion fruit                marakuja / amatunda
  • Pasta                            makaroni
  • Papaya                         ipapayi (amapapayi)
  • Japanese plum            ibinyomoro
  • Peanuts                        ubunyobwa

On the road

  • Road                            umuhanda
  • Street                           inzira
  • Village                         umudugudu
  • House                          inzu
  • Car                              imodoka
  • Plane                           indege
  • Far                              kure
  • Close, near                  hafi
  • To the right                 i buryo
  • To the left                    i bumoso
  • Strait                            imbere
  • Bridge                          ikiraro/iteme
  • Hills                             agasozi, imisozi
  • Rock                            urutare
  • River                            umugezi
  • Lake                             ikiyaga
  • Waterfall                      isumo
  • Sun                               izuba
  • Moon                            ukwezi
  • Night                            ijoro
  • Rain                             imvura
  • Thunderstorm             imvura y’amahindu

Numbers

  • 1                                             rimwe
  • 2                                             kabiri
  • 3                                             gatatu
  • 4                                             kane
  • 5                                             gatanu
  • 6                                             gatandatu
  • 7                                             karindwi
  • 8                                             umunani
  • 9                                             icyenda
  • 10                                           icumi
  • 20                                           makumyabiri
  • 30                                           mirongwitatu
  • 40                                           mirongwine
  • 50                                           mirongwitanu
  • 60                                           mirongwitandatu
  • 70                                           mirongwirindwi
  • 80                                           mirongwinani
  • 90                                           mirongwicyenda
  • 100                                         ijana (une centaine) amagana (des centaines)
  • 200                                         maganabiri
  • 1 000                                      igihumbi (un millier) ibihumbi (des milliers)
  • 2 000                                      ibihumbi bibiri
  • 3 000                                      ibihumbi bitatu
  • 4 000                                      ibihumbi bine

At the hôtel

  • Money                                   amafaranga
  • Bed                                        igitanda
  • Bedroom                               icyumba
  • Key                                        urufunguzo
  • Shower                                  douche
  • Bathtub                                baignoire
  • Restroom                              toilette
  • Hot water                             amazi ashyushye
  • Cold water                            amazi akonje
  • Medecine                              umuti
  • Soap                                      isabuni
  • Tooth paste                          colgatte

Miscellaneous

  • School                            ishule
  • Kid(s)                             umwana, abana
  • Boy                                 umuhungu
  • Girl                                 umukobwa
  • Old                                  umusaza
  • Woman/women            umugore, abagore
  • Man/men                       umugabo, abagabo
  • White man/men            umuzungu, abazungu
  • Farmer                           umuhinzi
  • King                                umwami (singulier) bami (pluriel)
  • Genocid                          jenoside
  • Doctor                            umuganga
  • Cow                                inka
  • Bull                                 imfizi
  • Goat                                ihene
  • Sheep                              intama
  • Chiken                            inkoko

Body parts

  • Head                          umutwe
  • Mouth                        umunwa
  • Ear                             amatwi
  • Eyes                           amaso
  • Fingers                       intoki
  • Hand                          ikiganza
  • Arm                            ukuboko/akaboko
  • Back                            umugongo
  • Belly, stomach            inda
  • Legs                             amaguru
  • Foot (feet)                   ibirenge
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