It’s always so fascinating to learn about a new language. It’s also fun to learn something new, but today we’ll explore the Quechua language. We’ll look at its history, how and where it is spoken today, and the culture and people associated with this language.
Let’s get right into it.
The Origins of the Quechua Language
Quechua is an indigenous and surviving language that was spoken by the people of the Inca Empire. Not only is Quechua a language, but it is also a group of aboriginal people from the South American region (where the language originated) as well.
Quechua, the language, was the official first language of the former Inca Empire. It is important to note that due to the vastness of the Inca Empire, along with how advanced the civilization was at the time, several variations of the Quechua language exist. So, rather than being a single language, Quechua is actually a family of languages.
Archeologists believe that the exact origins of Quechua are unknown, but it can be traced back to the southern Peruvian highlands (Peru). It was spoken by the people of this region for at least 1000 years before Inca Empire invaded their land.
From the year 1450 onwards, with the various conquests of the Inca Empire, the language spread more and more from that point. Quechua was endorsed and promoted by the Incas and declared their official language by the Kings of Cuzco.
Eventually, Quechua became Peru’s common language (also known as the Lingua Franca). It spread to Central Andrean, including Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador. It also reached parts of Western South America which today is known as Southern Columbia, all the way to the Amazon Basin and Argentina, which were not part of the Inca Empire.
Present Day Quechuan
Today, Quechua is one of the official languages of Peru. It is also widely spoken in parts of Ecuador, Chile, Columbia, Argentina, and Bolivia. There are about 45 variations of the language in existence today. Additionally, the Quechua Indians are direct descendants of the Incas and are still in existence today.
Overall, Quechua is still spoken by approximately 8 – 10 million people. In Peru, Quechua is also called ‘Runasimi’ or ‘Kichwa’. When translated, it means ‘People’s Langauge’.
If we use Peru as an example, the Quechua spoken within that country is different from what is spoken within other territories and is also an almost completely different version from the original language of centuries ago. It is also regarded as the purest form of the Quechuan language that exists today.
As an official language of both Peru and Bolivia, Quechua is the most widely spoken Indigenous language. In Peru, approximately 13% of Peruvians speak Quechua as their mother tongue.
Even though Quechua is a popular language, especially within the Central Andes region, the number of speakers has been declining. This is because Spanish has become more dominant among the people.
In fact, most people who speak Quechua are illiterate in reading and writing the language. This is because Quechua is an oral language. This is why Spanish has become more dominant. The Spanish language has more structure, there is an alphabet along with verbs, subject-verb agreement, etc…
Famous Quechua Words and Phrases
Maybe you wouldn’t have known, but a few English words were assimilated from Quechua. We’ll list a few below:
- Beef Jerky
- Lima (As in Lima Peru)
It’s always good to learn popular or common phrases from a language. That said, here are some common phrases used in daily life from the language.
- Hello – Napaykullayki
- Hello, how are you? – Allianchu (pronounced eye-ee-anch-ooo)
- Fine, thank you – Allianmi (eye-ee-on-me)
- Thank you – Sulpayki (sool-pay-ki)
- Excuse me – Dispinsayuway
- Woman – Warmi
- Man – Qari or ghari
- Yes – Aríi
- No – Mana
- Goodbye – Tupananchikama (two-pan-anchis-kama)
Interesting Facts About the Quechua Language
- Quechua is showcased in the Star Wars movies
- There are 2 distinct groups of language. They are: Quechua I and Quechua II
- There have been attempts to write and translate Quechuan. At one point, there were attempts to write the Quechuan bible, but it has not been successful
- The Spanish language and Quechua are intertwined and share many similarities
Let’s Wrap Up the Quechua Language
So there you have it. We hope you learned something new and insightful about this fascinating language. It is now considered a language that should be preserved because of the decline in the number of speakers.
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