Quechua was the official language of Tawantinsuyu (the Incan Empire) and is spoken today by 8-13 million people in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Northern Chile, Argentina, and Southern Colombia, and as such 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. Before the arrival of the Spanish it had no alphabet in our sense but a system of accountance with khipu-strings.

Quechua is a very 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
1 Quechua Loanwords
2 Quechua spelling and pronunciation
3 Links

Quechua Loanwords

A number of Quechua loanwords have entered English via Spanish, including coca, condor, guano, gaucho, jerky, inca, llama, pampa, potato (from papa via patata), puma, quinoa, and vicuņa . The word lagniappe comes from the Quechua word nyap ("something extra") with the article la in front of it, la ņapa, in Spanish.

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 ņ
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


[|Enciclopedy Quechua]