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Quechua language

Quechua was the official language of Tawantinsuyu (the Incan Empire) and is spoken today by approximately 13 million people in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Northern Chile, Argentina, and Southern Colombia. Quechua was the language of the Incas, and is the most widely spoken Amerindian language[?]. It was extended beyond the limits of the empire by the Catholic church, which chose it to preach to Indians in the Andes area. It's a co-official language in Bolivia and Peru.

Quechua is a perfectly 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.

Table of contents

Quechua Loanwords A number of Quechua loanwords have entered Spanish and, by that route, English. The most prominent are coca, condor, guano and gaucho. The word lagniappe comes from the Quechua word nyap ("something extra") with the article la in front of it, la ńapa, in Spanish. Perhaps the most unexpected loanword is sweater, from the Quechua word chompa, meaning "a loose, outer jacket".

Quechua spelling and pronunciation


Quechua has only three vowels: /i/, /a/, and /u/, similar to Classical Arabic[?]. These are usually pronounced roughly as in Spanish, however, when the closed vowels /i/ and /u/ appear adjacent to the uvular consonants /q/, /q'/, and /qh/, they are rendered more like [e] and [o] respectively.


labial alveolar palatal velar uvular glottal
plosive[?] p t ch k q
fricative f s j h
nasal m n ń
lateral[?] l ll
trill r
semivowel w y

The consonant inventory seems a bit strange to Indo-European speakers. None of the plosives or fricatives are voiced; voicing is not phonemic in Quechua. However, in many dialects, each plosive has three forms: simple, with glottal stop, and with aspiration. For example:

 simple  glottal stop  aspirated
   p          p'          ph
   t          t'          th
   ch         ch'         chh
   k          k'          kh
   q          q'          qh

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