Kichwa language

Native to Ecuador, Colombia, Peru
Native speakers
(1.2 million cited 1991–2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
inb  Inga
inj  Jungle Inga
qvo  Napo Lowland
qup  Southern Pastaza
qud  Calderón Highland
qxr  Cañar Highland
qug  Chimborazo Highland
qvi  Imbabura Highland
qvj  Loja Highland
qvz  Northern Pastaza
qxl  Salasaca Highland
quw  Tena Lowland
Glottolog colo1257[2]

Distribution of Quechua sub-groups. Kichwa is shown in light blue (II B).

Kichwa (Kichwa shimi, Runashimi, also Spanish Quichua) is a Quechuan language which includes all Quechua varieties of Ecuador and Colombia (Inga) as well as extensions into Peru and has 1,000,000 speakers. The most widely spoken dialects are Chimborazo and Imbabura Highland Kichwa, with 1,000,000 to 2,000,000. Cañar Highland Quecha has 100,000–200,000 speakers; the others from 10,000 to 20,000. Kichwa belongs to the Northern Quechua group of Quechua II, according to Alfredo Torero.


Kichwa syntax has undergone some grammatical simplification compared to Southern Quechua, perhaps because of partial creolization with the pre-Inca languages of Ecuador.

A standardized language, with a unified orthography (Kichwa Unificado, Shukyachiska Kichwa), has been developed. It is similar to Chimborazo but lacks some of the phonological peculiarities of that dialect.

The earliest grammatical description of Kichwa was written in the 17th century by a Jesuit priest, Hernando de Alcocer.[3]

First efforts for language standardization and bilingual education

According to linguist Arturo Muyulema, the first steps in the teaching of Kichwa in schools was born in the 1940s, when Dolores Cacuango created various indigenous schools in Cayambe. Later, indigenous organizations initiated self-governed schools to provide education in Kichwa in the 1970s and 1980s (Muyulema 2011:234). He also argues that the creation of literary pieces like " Caimi Ňucanchic Shimuyu-Panca", "Ňucanchic Llactapac Shimi," "Ňucanchic Causaimanta Yachaicuna" and " Antisuyu-Punasuyu" provided the step stones for the standardization of Kichwa language initiated by DINEIB (National Board of Intercultural Bilingual Education).[4]

Afterwards, a new alphabet was created by ALKI (Kichwan Language Academy). It comprises 20 characters; including three vowels (a, i, u); two semi-vowels (w, y); and 15 consonants (ch, h, k, l, ll, m, n, ñ, p, r, s, sh, t, ts, z), according to Muyulema's article "Presente y Futuro de la lengua Quichua desde la perspectiva de la experiencia vasca (Kichwa sisariy ňan) (Muyulema 2011:234).

Later, the bigger and much more comprehensive dictionary "Kichwa Yachakukkunapa Shimiyuk Kamu" was published in 2009 by the linguist Fabián Potosí, in conjunction with other scholars sponsored by the Ministry of Education of Ecuador.[5]


In contrast to other regional varieties of Quechua, Kichwa does not distinguish between the original ("Proto Quechua") /k/ and /q/, which are both pronounced [k]. Thus, [e] and [o], the allophones of the vowels /i/ and /u/ near /q/, do not exist so kiru can mean both "tooth" (kiru in Southern Quechua) and "wood" (qiru [qero] in Southern Quechua), and killa can mean both "moon" (killa) and "lazy" (qilla [qeʎa]).

Additionally, Kichwa in both Ecuador and Colombia has lost possessive and bidirectional suffixes (verbal suffixes indicating both subject and object), as well as the distinction between the exclusive and inclusive first person plural:

On the other hand, other particularities of Quechua have been preserved. As in all Quechuan languages, the words for 'brother' and 'sister' differ depending on to whom they refer. There are four different words for siblings: ñaña (sister of a woman), turi (brother of a woman), pani (sister of a man), and wawki (brother of a man). A woman reading "Ñuka wawki Pedromi kan" would read aloud Ñuka turi Pedromi kan.


The missionary organization FEDEPI (2006) lists eight dialects of Quechua in Ecuador, which it illustrates with "The men will come in two days." (Ethnologue 16 (2009) lists nine, distinguishing Cañar from Loja Highland Quechua.) Below are the comparisons, along with Standard (Ecuadorian) Kichwa and Standard (Southern) Quechua:

Dialect ISO code Speakers per SIL (FEDEPI) Pronunciation Orthography (SIL or official) Notes
Imbabura [qvi] 300,000 (1,000,000) Čay xarikunaka iškay punžapižami šamuŋga Chai jaricunaca ishcai punllapillami shamunga. ⟨ll⟩ = "ž"
Calderón (Pichincha) [qud] 25,000 Čay xarikunaka iškay punžapižami šamuŋga Chai jaricunaca ishcai punllapillami shamunga. ⟨ll⟩ = "ž"
Salasaca [qxl] 15,000 Či kʰarigunaga iški pʰunžažabimi šamuŋga Chi c'arigunaga ishqui p'unllallabimi shamunga. ⟨ll⟩ = "ž"
Chimborazo [qug] 1,000,000 (2,500,000) Čay kʰarikunaka iški punžažapimi šamuŋga Chai c'aricunaca ishqui punllallapimi shamunga. ⟨ll⟩ = "ž"
Cañar–Loja [qxr]
(200,000) qxr: 100,000
qxl: 15,000
Čay kʰarikunaka iškay punžaλapimi šamuŋga Chai c'aricunaca ishcai punzhallapimi shamunga.
Tena Lowland [quw] 5,000 (10,000) Či kariunaga iški punžaλaimi šamuŋga Chi cariunaga ishqui punzhallaimi shamunga.
Napo Lowland [qvo] 4,000 Ecu. & 8,000 Peru (15,000) Či karigunaga iškay punčaλaimi šamunga. Chi carigunaga ishcai punchallaimi shamunga.
Northern Pastaza [qvz] 4,000 Ecu. & 2,000 Peru (10,000) Či karigunaga iškay punžallaimi šamunga. Chi carigunaga ishcai punzhallaimi shamunga.
Standard Kichwa Chay karikunaka ishkay punllallapimi shamunka.
Standard Southern Quechua (Qhichwa) Čæy qʰarikunaqa iskæy p'unčawllapim hamunqa. Chay qharikunaqa iskay p'unchawllapim hamunqa.


A band from Ecuador, "Los Nin", which raps in Kichwa and Spanish, has toured internationally. The band hails from the town of Otavalo, which is known for its traditional music.[6]


  1. Inga at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Jungle Inga at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Napo Lowland at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Southern Pastaza at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Calderón Highland at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Cañar Highland at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    (Additional references under 'Language codes' in the information box)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Colombia–Ecuador Quechua IIB". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Ciucci, Luca & Pieter C. Muysken 2011. Hernando de Alcocer y la Breve declaración del Arte de la lengua del Ynga. El más antiguo manuscrito de quichua de Ecuador. Indiana 28: 359-393.
  4. (Muyulema 2011:234)
  5. (Muyulema 2011:234-5)
  6. Manuela Picq. "Hip-hop Kichwa: Sounds of indigenous modernity". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2012-08-21.



Kichwa language test of Kichwa at Wikimedia Incubator
  1. Conejo Muyulema, Arturo. “Presente y futuro de la lengua quichua desde la perspectiva de la experiencia vasca (Kichwa sisariy ñan)” Voces E Imagenes De Las Lenguas En Peligro. Ed. Marleen Haboud and Nicholas Ostler. 1st ed. Abya-Yala, 2014. 234-5. Print
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/14/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.