Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Quechua (Runa Simi)|
|Spoken in:||Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina|
|Official language of:||Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador|
|Regulated by:||Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua|
|SIL||Varies, dialects are considered separate languages by SIL|
Quechua (Standard Quechua, Runasimi "Language of People") is an Native American language of South America. It was the official language of the Tawantinsuyu (Inca empire), and today is spoken in various dialects by some 9.6 million people throughout South America, starting as far north as modern southern Colombia and Ecuador, throughout all of Peru and Bolivia, and reaching into northwestern Argentina and northern Chile. Some have proposed Quechua to be related to Aymara as members of a larger Quechumaran linguistic stock. This proposal is controversial, however, because similarities appear to be born from long time contact.
Today's theories about Quechua's origin put its initial territorial domain in modern Peru's Central Coast, possibly in the ancient city of Caral, around 2600 BC. There are three main dialect groups. Northern Quechua is the dialect mainly spoken in Colombia and Ecuador, also known as Quichua or Runashimi. Central Quechua is spoken in Peru's Central Highlands, and is the most archaic and diverse branch of Quechua, so that its dialects have been often considered a different tongue. Southern Quechua , spoken in Peru's Southern Highlands, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, is today's most important branch, both on demography basis as much as for its cultural and literary inheritance. Despite the dialectal fragmentation, unavoidable in such an ancient and widespread tongue, Quechua is considered one and the same language, the most widely spoken of all American Indian languages in the Americas.
Inca kings of Cuzco made Quechua their official language and, with Inca conquest in 14th century, the Empire's language became Ancient Peru's lingua franca. By the time of the Spanish conquest, in 16th century, the language had already spread throughout the South American continent. The language was further extended beyond the limits of the Inca empire by the Catholic Church, which chose it to preach to Indians in the Andes area. Today it has, along with Spanish and Aymara, the status of an official language in both Peru and Bolivia. Before the arrival of the Spaniards and the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Quechua had no written alphabet; instead, it had a system of accountance with khipu-strings.
Quechua is a very regular language, but a large number of infixes and suffixes change both the overall significance of words and their subtle shades of meaning, allowing great expressiveness. It includes grammatical features such as bipersonal conjugation and conjugation dependent on mental state and veracity of knowledge, spatial and temporal relationships, and many cultural factors.
A number of Quechua loanwords have entered English via Spanish, including coca, condor, guano, gaucho, jerky, inca, llama, pampa, potato (from papa via patata), puma, quinoa, and vicuña . The word lagniappe comes from the Quechua word yapay ("to encresse; to add") with the article la in front of it, la yapa, in Spanish.
Quechua spelling and pronunciation
Quechua uses only three vowels: /a/, /i/, and /u/, similar to Classical Arabic. These are usually pronounced roughly as in Spanish, however, when the vowels appear adjacent to the uvular consonants /q/, /q'/, and /qh/, they are rendered more like  , [e] and [o] respectively.
The consonant inventory seems a bit strange to speakers of Indo-European languages. None of the plosives or fricatives are voiced; voicing is not phonemic in Quechua. However, in Cuzco dialect, each plosive has three forms: simple, with glottal stop, and with aspiration (a feature that is considered to be of Aymara origin). For example:
simple ejective aspirated p p' ph t t' th ch ch' chh k k' kh q q' qh
Peruvian linguist Rodolfo Cerrón Palomino has proposed an orthography norm for all Quechua, called Southern Quechua . This norm, accepted by many institutions in Peru, has been made by combining conservative features of two most spreaded dialects: Ayacucho Quechua and Cuzco Quechua (which is also used in Bolivia and Argentina). For instance:
Ayacucho Cuzco Southern Quechua upyay uhyay upyay "to drink" utqa usqha utqha "fast" llamkay llank'ay llamk'ay "to work" ñuqanchik nuqanchis ñuqanchik "us" kachkay kashay kachkay "to be there" punchaw p'unchay p'unchaw "day"
In Quechua, there are seven pronouns. Quechua also has two first person plural pronouns ("we", in English). One is called the inclusive, which is used when the speaker wishes to include in "we" the person to whom he or she is speaking ("we and you"). The other form is called the exclusive, which is used when the listener is excluded. ("we without you"). Quechua also adds the suffix -kuna to the second and third person singular pronouns qam and pay to create the plural forms qam-kuna and pay-kuna.
Adjectives are placed before nouns. Unlike Romance languages, Quechuan adjectives lack gender and number, nor are declined when accompanied by substantives, which they allways precede.
- Cardinal numbers. ch'usaq (0), huk (1), iskay (2), kimsa (3), tawa (4), pichqa (5), suqta (6), qanchis (7), pusaq (8), isqun (9), chunka (10), chunka hukniyuq (11), chunka iskayniyuq (12), iskay chunka (20), pachak (100), waranqa (1,000), hunu (1'000,000), lluna (1'000,000'000,000).
- Ordinal numbers. To form ordinal numbers, the word ñiqin is put after the appropriate cardinal number (e.g., iskay ñiqin = "second"). The only exception is that, in addition to huk ñiqin ("first"), the phrase ñawpaq is also used in the somewhat more restricted sense of "the initial, primordial, the oldest".
The infinitive forms (unconjugated) have the suffix -y (much'a= "kiss"; much'a-y = "to kiss"). The endings for the indicative voice are:
To these are added various interfixes and suffixes to change the meaning. For example, -ku-, is added to make the actor the recipient of the action (example: wañuy = "to die"; wañukuy = "to commit suicide"); -naku-, when the action is mutual (example: marq'ay= "to hug"; marq'anakuy= "to hug each other"), and -chka-, when the condition is continuing (e.g., mikhuy = "to eat"; mikhuchkay = "to be eating").
These are indeclinable words, that is, they do not accept suffixes. They are relatively rare. The most common are arí ("yes") and mana ("no"), although mana can take the suffix -n (manan) to intensify the meaning. Also used are yaw ("hey", "hi"), and certain loan words from Spanish, such as piru (from Spanish pero "but") and sinuqa (from sino "rather").
- Quechua Network's Dictionary a very good one.
- Quechua lessons in Spanish and English
- Quechua - English Dictionary: from Webster's Online Dictionary - the Rosetta Edition.
- Ecuadorian Quechua - English Dictionary: from Webster's Online Dictionary - the Rosetta Edition.
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