Portal:South American Languages Division


The South American Languages Division

Welcome to the South American Languages Division at Wikiversity, part of the Center for Foreign Language Learning and the School of Language and Literature.

The South American Languages


Although both North and Central America are very diverse areas, South America has a linguistic diversity rivalled by only a few other places in the world with approximately 350 languages still spoken and an estimated 1,500 languages at first European contact. The situation of language documentation and classification into genetic families is not as advanced as in North America (which is relatively well-studied in many areas). Kaufman (1994: 46) gives the following appraisal:

Since the mid 1950s, the amount of published material on SA [South America] has been gradually growing, but even so, the number of researchers is far smaller than the growing number of linguistic communities whose speech should be documented. Given the current employment opportunities, it is not likely that the number of specialists in SA Indian languages will increase fast enough to document most of the surviving SA languages before they go out of use, as most of them unavoidably will. More work languishes in personal files than is published, but this is a standard problem.
It is fair to say that South America and New Guinea are linguistically the poorest documented parts of the world. However, in the early 1960s fairly systematic efforts were launched in Papua New Guinea, and that area — much smaller than SA, to be sure — is in general much better documented than any part of indigenous SA of comparable size.

As a result, many relationships between languages and language families have not been determined and some of those relationships that have been proposed are on somewhat shaky ground.

Many of the proposed (and often speculative) groupings of families can be seen in Campbell (1997), Gordon (2005), Kaufman (1990, 1994), Key (1979), Loukotka (1968), and in the Language stock proposals.

Aymaran Languages

Aymaran (also Jaqi, Aru, Jaqui, Aimara, Haki) is one of the two dominant language families of the central Andes, along with Quechuan.

Family division

Aymaran consists of 2 languages:

1. Aymara (a.k.a. Aimara, Southern Aymara, Collavino Aymara, Altiplano Aymara), usually classified into two or three subdivisions.
2. Jaqaru-Kawki (a.k.a. Central Aymara, Tupino Aymara, Tupe Aymara, Cauqui, Hakaru-Kauki)
a. Jaqaru (a.k.a. Hakaru, Haqearu, Haqaru, Haqʼaru)
b. Kawki (a.k.a. Cauqui, Kauki, Jaqaru of Cachuy)

Aymara 'proper' has approximately 2.2 million speakers; 1.7 million in Bolivia, 350,000 in Peru, and the rest in Chile and Argentina.

Jaqaru has approximately 725 speakers in central Peru, while Cauqui had 9 surviving speakers as of 2005. Cauqui is little documented, though its relationship with Jaqaru is extremely close. Initially they were considered by Dr Martha Hardman (on very limited data at the time) to be different languages, but all subsequent fieldwork and research has contradicted this and demonstrated that they are very similar and mutually intelligible varieties of a single language - even to consider them different dialects would be something of an exaggeration.

Family tree

  • Aymara, Central [ayr] (Bolivia)
  • Aymara, Southern [ayc] (Peru)
  • Jaqaru [jqr] (Peru)

Quechua Languages

Bandera de Colombia
Bandera de Ecuador
Bandera de Perú
Bandera de Bolivia
Bandera de Chile
Bandera de Argentina
República de Colombia
República del Ecuador
República del Perú
República de Bolivia
República de Chile
República Argentina
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South American Languages are of various origins.

To show your interest in the South American languages, sign up at the streams found below. This is to see the numbers of people learning, in which we, the staff, can work out our priorities. For example, if you learn Quechua, but don’t sign up at the stream, and we decide there are not enough people worth carrying on the lessons, you will miss out. So it’s to help us prioritise. So, if you’re learning, sign up at the stream.

The Departments



Department Tasks

  • Each Language is represented by a colour of font. Please use Text when writing in different languages. Thanks.
  • Get all Text Translated into their language.
  • Make the departments that havent been made yet.

Department News

  • 12 December 2007 - Quechua Department Founded
  • 12 December 2007 - South American Languages Division Founded
  • 1 March 2009 - Resource Center founded