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Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Quechua

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Most importantly Quechua speakers refer to their mother tongue as runasimi, which means ‘human speech’.[1] It is one of the 47 original languages spoken in Peru. Quechua is also spoken in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Chile.[2] With the Inca conquest of more and more territory Quechua spread in a similar way Latin did in Europe with the Ancient Roman expansion. ‘Today there are approximately 24 dialects of Quechua […]. All of these varieties combined are spoken by approximately eight to 10 million people, making Quechua the most widely spoken indigenous language in the Americas.’ [3]

Here in Cusco Quechua is more than alive and kicking. You can hear it talking on the cell phone while going by bus. You can see it advertising Cusqueña the local beer from Cusco on TV. And also Oro (Gold) bubble-gum yellow soda in several witty TV commercials as if from the Inca times – don’t miss the twelve-angled pizza delivery one. Quechua studies at a university. It is taught in schools, language institutes and universities in Peru. Even foreigners living in here are learning this Andean language in workshops and courses organized by institutions like Dirección Regional de Educación de Cusco. What’s more Quechua is also taught at universities and language institutes outside of Cusco, outside of Peru and even outside of South America.

Before the Conquistadors’ invasion Quechua hadn’t have a written form. It first came to be written down by the Spanish, however the ‘official Quechua writing system [was] approved by the Peruvian government in 1985’.[4] This is why some words can be spelled in several different ways.

If you are planning a trip to Peru especially if you are going to be trekking in the mountains, knowing a few indigenous phrases can go long way. It will ‘show people that you have a genuine interest in their culture and language. Hearing it spoken by foreigners, however haltingly, will be appreciated by native speakers. They’ll gain through seeing their language valued by visitors, and your experience will be enhanced through the goodwill shared with them.’[5]  One of the scars the colonial period left on the Inca and other native peoples’ descendants was the internalized shame for speaking their mother tongue as if it was a language of a second class. During the colonial times the word runasimi was used pejoratively to distinguish the indigenous speech from the kastillasimi – Castilian speech of the Spanish conquistadors. This negative connotation is lost today and the term runasimi ‘is used with pride by Quechua speakers as a name for their language’.[6] So if you put effort to memorize some phrases or even if you read them out of a pocket book, you will have a much more firsthand experience.Learning a new language one also learns more than grammar and vocabulary. One example: muna-y. This ‘is a very versatile word, meaning ‘‘to like’’ as well as ‘’to love’’, ‘‘to desire’’; ‘‘to want’’ and ‘‘to need’’. As an adjective, it can mean ‘‘good’’, ‘‘beautiful’’ or ‘‘lovely’’, and as a noun, ‘‘desire’’ ‘‘love’’ or ‘‘goodwill’’.[7]

The cooks, porters and horse wranglers that work for Andina Travel are native Quechua speakers and our guides speak fluent Quechua too. And they are ready to help you meet people from the local Andean communities.

Did you know that you used words of Quechua origin? There are at least ‘9 Quechua words you didn’t know you were saying’ according to The Huffington Post: condor, guano, jerky, puma, quinoa, coca – cocaine, Pisco, quinine, and (of course!) llamas and alpacas.

In case you can’t resist and want to start with Quechua right now, here are useful phrases from Quechua Phrasebook & Dictionary, Lonely Planet, 2014:

 

#aQuechua

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How are you?

ee·mai·nah·lyahn·shahn·kee?                 ¿Imaynallan kashanki?

 

Fine. And you?

ah·lyee·layhn·mee. kahn·ree?                  Allillanmi. ¿Qanrí?

 

What’s your name?

ee·mahn soo·tee·kee?                                 ¿Iman sutiyki?

 

My name is…

…·n soo·tee.                                                    …-n sutiy.

 

Quechua - BlogQuechua 001

 

[1]-[7] Quechua Phrasebook & Dictionary, Lonely Planet, 2014

Last edited 13th November 2015

 

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