A brief description of the Department

Having been established in 1971, the Department of Linguistics and Languages is one of the oldest and largest departments in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Nairobi. It is located on the third floor, Education Building, at the University’s Main Campus. Its main office is Room Ed. 310. Initially it was known as the Department of Linguistics and African Languages. Its current name (Department of Linguistics and Languages) came about in 2005 following a restructuring of departments across the University. In addition to its core mandate of teaching courses in linguistics, language and communication, and translation and interpretation, the Department, through its teaching staff with varied linguistic and cultural studies interests, is involved in research not only on indigenous languages of Kenya (see the Ethnologue map below), but also on English usage in Kenya and Africa, and even on other languages that are part of its programmes, among which Arabic, German, Korean, Portuguese and Chinese.

Kenya Ethiopia


At the Bachelor-of-Arts (BA) level, the Department offers courses in the following disciplines: Linguistics, Language and Communication, German StudiesArabic StudiesChinese Studies, and Korean Studies. At the Master-of-Arts (MA) level, the Department offers courses in MA in Linguistics, MA in Arabic Studies, MA in Intercultural German StudiesMA in Translation, and MA in Interpretation.

At the PhD level, it offers PhD programmes by thesis alone, and a PhD in Translation and PhD Interpretation as a taught course and thesis.

A BA degree is a 4-year course of study, the MA degree a 2-year course, while the PhD degree is scheduled to last 3 years. Certificate courses are offered over two semesters.

In addition to teaching and conducting research, the Department publishes, once a year, a journal called The University of Nairobi Journal of Language and Linguistics (it was formerly known as Occasional Papers in Language and Linguistics).

Since inception the Department has had the Chairpersons listed below;

  1. Prof. Alfred Buregeya - July 2022 to date
  2. Prof. Jane Akinyi Oduor Ngala - 2018 to July 2022
  3. Prof. Kithaka wa Mberia - 2013 - 2018
  4. Prof. John Habwe - 2011 - 2013
  5. Prof. Mwenda Mbatiah - 2005 - 2011
  6. Prof. Kithaka wa Mberia - 2001 - 2005
  7. Prof. George B. Nyombe - 1994 - 2001
  8. Prof.  Lucia N. Omondi - 1989 - 1994
  9. Prof. Karega Mutahi - 1986 - 1989 
  10. Prof. Mohamed H. Abdulaziz -1971 - 1986
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