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Saludando al Inti Raymi

Si usted viene a Inti Raymi, usted querrá saber algunas frases básicas para saludar a sus anfitriones – por no hablar de darles las gracias por la comida fantástica. Así que aquí hay un puñado de saludos y bromas en Imbabura quichua.
Buenos dias ali punzha
Buenos noches ali chishi
Usted puede preguntar cómo su nuevo amigo está haciendo – o cómo cómo su cónyuge o sus hijos son:
¿Cómo estás? imashnazhata kangi?
¿Cómo es su (esposa, esposo, hijo)? imashnazhata kan kamba (warmi, kusa, churi)?
Y, por supuesto, usted querrá tener derecho a réplica:
Estoy bien alimi kani
No soy tan grande na alimi kani
Mi (madre, esposo) está bien nyukapa (mama, kusa) alimi kan
Si conoces a alguien que no sabe, usted querrá conocerlos.
¿Cuál es su nombre? ima shutita kangi?
Mi nombre es … nyuka shutimi kan …
Inti Raymi tendrá una comida fantástica. Si lo desea, puede preguntar acerca de los platos distintos:
¿Qué es esto / eso? imata yari?
Te quiero agradecer a sus anfitriones:
Si ari
No na
Bueno maskiya
Claro (informal) sirtupi
Te quiero agradecer a sus anfitriones:
Gracias paygi
De nada imatazha
No hay de qué imatashi
¡Muchas gracias! dyusul paygi
Con el tiempo, el tiempo vendrá en que triste tiene que salir. Asegúrese de decir adiós
¡Hasta luego rikurishun / ashta kashkaman
Hasta mañana kaya kaman

Quichua Songs

Contemporary Quichua music started flourishing in the 1960s, after the emancipation of the indigenous population from their status as hacienda laborers to independent farmers and the increasing access to radio and recording devices. The 1990s saw a large number of active village music groups performing traditional songs and composing new pieces. Often, these new songs carry a highly emphasized socio-political message, calling the runa to unite in a fight for their rights and for their traditions. Criticism of social injustice in the current day or in the recent past is combined with the plot-lines and protagonists of traditional local legends. Messages emphasizing the importance of cultural heirloom can also be found in the following two Imbabura Quichua songs:

Muskuy, “The Dream”, is a contemplative and quiet song which addresses the search for lost dreams and lost traditions, the return to those traditions and the difficulty of finding a balance between the modern world and the traditional way of living and storytelling.

Muskuy (The Dream)

Kúnanga wáyra shína shamúngi / maymánda múyumungí

present-day, you come like wind / from where you are winding

máy zhaktakúnata riksimúngi / imáta shúngupi shamún?

What kind of places have you come to know? What comes into your heart?

Maypíta muskuykúna chingárka? / kutínzha tarishunzhá

Where did the dreams get lost? / We will find them again.

Máyxan niandáta kútin xapíshun / muskúyta taringapáx?

Which road will we take again / in order to find the dream?

Wasíman múyumúni / taytázha mamazhá

I am returning home / father and mother!

Zhakízha púrishpápash / múshun kausáy riksimuní.

Walking sadly – / I’ve come to know the new life.

nyúka zhaktápimári / muskúykuná rikcharimún

In my home town, verily / the dreams are waking us up!

mána pandáxusháchu / káy rimaykúnawán

We are not mistaken / with this story.

In “Nyuka mamitagu”, the speaker calls for his parents to stand by him and his siblings, bemoans their absence and calls for solidarity in dark times, particularly mentioning the destruction of the environment and the insecurity of resources for his children.

Nyúka mamitagu / nyuka taytikuwan

My mother / with my father,

shámuy kumbawangí / máypi káshpapásh

come stay with me. / Where are you?

Kíkin wawakúna shayanchimí

We stand here as your children.

Índi ansayanpí / uranyandá chaparí

At the setting of the sun / I look down the road.

Máyta shamungichá? / máypicha shuyashá?

Where are you coming? / Where shall I wait?

Sómbraguzhapásh rikurimungí.

I hope even as a shadow you come to see me.

Ukzhaway nyúka shúnguká / ukzhaway nyúka káusaytá

Hug me, my heart! / Hug me, my life!

Tutakunáwan kakpipásh / punzhakunázha rikpipásh

Never mind that it is night, / never mind that the day has gone.

Kay zhakta wawakúnatá / zhakizhamári purinchí

As children of this place / we walk sadly, verily.

Tigramuy ánta mamitá / tigramuy índi taytikú

Return, mother / return, dear father sun!

Fuyukúna chingakpí / sácha tukurikpí

The clouds are gone / the hills are spent

Ima yakuwanzhá / nyúka wawakuná

With what water, my children,

súmax punzhakúna kausangazhá?

will you live good lives?

Spanish/Quechua Bilingualism

When Mariana Chuquin first started going to school in the Ecuadorean Andes, she knew no Spanish. Her parents spoke to her only in Ecuadorian Quichua—indeed, they forbade the use of Spanish at home, although they themselves could speak it—and for a long time she had to guess what her teachers were saying to her. Cesar Augusto Oyagata had a similar experience: he spoke very little Spanish, and when he started school some of his classmates laughed at him because of it. Both of them were young, however, and learned Spanish quickly enough to succeed in school. By learning the indigenous language at home, while speaking the official language at school, the two of them followed a pattern that is quite common in South America: that of the Spanish/Quichuan bilingual.

In the second half of the twentieth century, the indigenous languages of South America—including, among others, the many varieties of Quichua—became less frequently used as Spanish has spread. Although the use of Spanish has always been promoted for official business from the very first colonizations, for a long time it was possible to live in a monolingual Quichuan community. As official schools and governmental institutions became more widespread, however, learning Spanish became unavoidable. Indeed, the use of indigenous languages was frowned upon. When Mariana left her home town to go to school in Otavalo, she discovered first-hand the discrimination faced by any who resisted the use of Spanish—or more generally, the dominant culture. Even when bilinguals grew up speaking Quichua first, the resistance to its use in the larger communities is a significant factor behind the spread of Spanish.

As a result of this competition, Spanish and Quichua have different domains of usage. As Mariana and Augusto discovered, Quichua is primarily a spoken language. When they were children, it was spoken in the home and in the community in unofficial situations, but in any governmental environment—or in any community that was not largely indigenous—Spanish was the dominant language. Today, the situation is largely unchanged in Ecuador. Although there are some local radio broadcasts, there are no daily Quichua newspapers or national media. The Bible and some other religious texts have been translated into Quichua, but there is very little non-religious literature in any language other than Spanish. Quichua is used in the home, increasingly as the language of adults only. Members of the oldest generations might use Quichua dominantly over Spanish, and parents usually speak to each other in Quichua. However, they speak to their children in Spanish, and children likewise speak to each other in Spanish. Thus, even though there are many speakers of Quichua right now, adult Spanish/Quichuan bilinguals are one of the last barriers against a significant decrease in the vitality of Quichua.

That pattern is beginning to change, however. Estimates of the total number of Quichua speakers still range from between 8 million and 12 million (varying according to the government policies and language ideologies that were active during each census). Indigenous organizations, such as the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de Ecuador (CNIE; Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), are concerned that this trend of going from using only Quichua to using only Spanish will lead to the loss or greatly decreased use of Quichua among indigenous communities. For that reason, some countries have started language revitalization programs. Bolivia and Ecuador, for example, have declared Quichua to be national languages. In Bolivia, a 1994 education reform incorporated bilingual intercultural education into the school system. In Ecuador, community-based groups have worked more locally to include Quichua as a language of instruction in schools. The success of these efforts is not yet certain because if Quichua is not used at home, then encouraging its use in school is less effective. However, the changing attitudes towards the Quichuan languages and the increased official acceptance of them removes one of the main threats to the vitality of Quichua. If these revitalization programs succeed, indigenous languages like Quichua can continue to be used daily by the people who have grown up speaking both Spanish and Quichua.


Nancy H. Hornberger and Kendall A. King. “Language Revitalisation in the Andes: Can the Schools Reverse Language Shift?” GSE Publications (1996).
 Available at:

Camilla Rindstedt and Karin Aronsson. “Growing up Monolingual in a Bilingual Community: The Quichua Revitalization Paradox” Language in Society, Vol. 31, No. 5 (Nov., 2002), pp. 721-742
Available at:

Basic Vocabulary

Here are some Quechua words to get you started. They are from the variety of Quechua spoken in the Imbabura province of Ecuador, which is called Imbabura Quichua. Quechua speakers also call their language Runa Shimi meaning “Our People’s Language.” Mostly, the words below can be pronounced like Spanish. Stress is a little weaker than in English, and in Imbabura Quichua, it falls on the second syllable from the end of the word (for example, in kikinkuna, stress falls on ku). The letter ‘ll’ is pronounced like the ‘s’ in English “pleasure.” When the letter ‘r’ starts a word, it is also pronounced similarly to the ‘s’ in English “pleasure.” The letter ‘sh’ is pronounced as in English. When a word ends in a vowel and ‘n,’ the vowel has a nasal quality like in French (for example, Quichua lulun “egg” ends in a nasal sound similar to the one in French bon “good”), or it is pronounced like English ‘ng’ as in “long.” The letter ‘j’ is pronounced as it is in Spanish, similar to English ‘h’. And ‘ñ’ is also pronounced as in Spanish, with a ‘ny’ sound.

Jentikuna People
ñuka I
kan you (1 person)
kikin you (1 person, formal)
pay he, she
ñukanchi we
kankuna you (many people)
kikinkuna you (many people, formal)
paykuna they
ayllukuna family
mama mother
tayta father
ñaña sister (of a woman)
pani sister (of a man)
turi brother (of a woman)
wawki brother (of a man)
wawa child
churi son
ushi daughter
kusa husband
warmi wife, woman
mashi friend
pichari somebody
jari man
wambra boy
kuitsa girl
yachachik teacher
yachakuk student
runa indigenous person
Wiwakuna Animals
alku dog
misi cat
chalwa fish
atalpa chicken
wagra cow
llama llama, sheep
chuspi fly, bug
chuspi mishki bee
billigu frog
chibu goat
ukucha mouse
kuchi pig
kuskungu owl
pirkuti rat
pishku bird
cuy guinea pig
Parts of the body
akcha hair
biksa stomach, belly
chaki foot
changa leg
kiru tooth
uma head
kunga neck
maki hand
ñavi face
shimi mouth, language
chupa tail
rinri ear
singa nose
sillu nail
washa back
jallu tongue
yawar blood
Llachapakuna Clothing
anaku skirt
bayta shawl
aparagate sandal
chumbi belt
kalsun pants
muchiku hat
Mikuna ufyanapash Food and drink
aswa corn beer (chicha)
aycha meat
bira fat
makinchu cheese
kachi salt
mishki honey, sweet
murukuna cereals
mishki murukuna fruits
yuyukuna vegetables
yaku water
mishki kuta sugar
inchik peanut
chiwila pineapple
biru sugarcane
palta avocado
chukllu type of corn
ulluku type of potato (melloco/papa lisa)
sara type of corn
lulun egg
tanda bread
zambu pumpkin
fanga leaf (on a flower)
kaspi stick, branch
rama leaf (on a tree)
sisa flower
jiwa grass
yura tree
Weather and landscape
akapana tornado
fakcha waterfall
fuyu cloud, fog
inti sun
killa moon
kucha lake
urku hill
larka (large) river
rasu snow
tamya rain
wayra wind
bamba valley
pacha earth
rumi rock
sacha hill
sukavon cave
jaka cliff
chay that, there
kay this, here
chaw middle
ñawpa in front of
wasi house
pungu door
llakta village, city, nation
tarpuna farm
jawa above, on
uku room, inside
yachachik wasi school
Pachakunamanda Time
punlla day
alirasta early morning
chishi late afternoon
chawpipunlla midday
chawpituta midnight
wakimbi sometimes
tuta night
kayna yesterday
kunan today
kaya tomorrow
wata year
jipa later
Kanchizri punllakuna Days of the week
Killapunlla Monday
Atikpunlla Tuesday
Kuillupunlla Wednesday
Illapapunlla Thursday
Chaskapunlla Friday
Kuichipunlla Saturday
Intipunlla Sunday
Killakuna Months
Uchay pukuy January
Mushuk pukuy February
Pawkar waray March
Ariway killa April
Aymuray killa May
Inti raymi killa June
Anta situwa July
Kapak situwa August
Kuya raymi killa September
Tamya raymi killa October
Ayawarkay killa November
Kapak raymi killa December
killu yellow
puka red
yana black
yurak white
Question words
may? where?
mayxan? which?
pi? who?
ima? what?
imashna? how?
mashna? how many?
Other words
ali good
nali bad
alimanda slowly
uchila small
jatun big
ari yes
na no, not
ama don’t
kushi happy
llaki sad

Inti Raymi, la Fiesta del Sol, era una ceremonia religiosa durante el Imperio Inca en honor al Inti, el dios del sol. En quechua, el Inti Raymi significa “la resurrección del sol” o “el camino del sol”. Los incas le rindieron culto a Inti, quien también era conocido como el Dador de la Vida, en gratitud por el don de la vida.

El festival, que a menudo es llamado simplemente Raymi, también es una celebración del final del invierno. Inti Raymi se llevaba a cabo en el Cuzco, la antigua capital del Imperio Inca, durante el solsticio de invierno (aproximadamente el 24 de junio). Marcaba los tiempos, cuando los días empezaron a ser más largas y la gente estaba a punto de regresar a los campos para sembrar semillas y luego cortar las plantas. Durante Inti Raymi, la gente solicitaba bendiciones de Pacha Mama, la Madre Tierra.

Antes de la fiesta misma la gente se ayunaba por tres días. Durante este período de preparación, no se permitían fuegos. Inti Raymi duraba nueve días, durante los cuales la gente se celebraba, comiendo y bebiendo en honor a Inti. Danzas y procesiones se celebraban y durante el primer día del festival se sacrificaban animales para asegurar una buena cosecha.

Aunque que Inti Raymi tenía un componente religioso, se trataba fundamentalmente de un gran festival, con muchos días de bebidas, música y baile.

El último Inti Raymi que se llevó a cabo en la presencia del Emperador Inca fue en 1535, después de que la Iglesia Católica lo prohibió.  Aunque las personas mantuvieron en secreto la celebración de Inti Raymi en los años siguientes por medio de ceremonias semejantes, se prohibió por completo en 1572.

No fue hasta casi doscientos años después, el 21 de junio del año 1944, que una representación teatral de la ceremonia del Inti Raymi se celebró en Saxsayhuam, cerca de Cuzco. Hoy en dia Inti Raymi se celebra aparte de Peru, en Ecuador, Bolivia y los lugares donde an imigrado los descendientes de sangre inca ( Kichwa Runas de Ecuador ). Hasta hoy en día la celebración más grande tiene lugar en Saxsayhuam, atrayendo a miles de visitantes de todo el mundo.

Imbabura, que es una provincia situada en el norte de Ecuador, contiene una población de unos 340,000 habitantes. Goza de una comunidad indígena que todavía mantiene sus costumbres y tradiciones tales como: la ropa tradicional, las artesanías y obras de arte, los cuales se pueden encontrar en el mercado de Otavalo (una de las ciudades principales de la provincia) que reúne cada sábado. Los hombres se distinguen por sus sombreros negros, pantalones blancos y ponchos de lana, y las mujeres suelen llevar blusas bordadas de colores llamativos y faldas oscuras. También es común escuchar el idioma runa shimi hablado en las calles.

Además de los hermosos textiles, Imbabura se destaca por sus bonitos paisajes de naturaleza. Dos destinos imprecindibles que los turistas no deben faltar de visitar son la reserva ecológica Cotacachi-Cayapas, donde se puede disfrutar de paseos en lancha, y las lagunas de Piñyán, donde se puede acampar, pescar y cazar.

Para los aficionados a las celebraciones, Imbabura tiene una gran variedad fiestas culturales. Una de las más populares se llama Fiesta de la Jora que se lleva a cabo el 6 de septiembre hasta el 14. Durante esta fiesta se disfruta de música típica y danzas folklóricas en las calles.

Finalmente, no se puede oldivar de las comidas típicas que son de extraordinaria riqueza. La papa es uno de los alimentos más antiguos e importantes de la región andina. Por consiguiente, muchos de los platos típicos son hechos a base de papas, tales como: la papa rellena, locro de papa y
papas con cuero.

Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun, was a religious ceremony during the Inca Empire in honor of Inti, the god of the sun. In Quechua, Inti Raymi means “resurrection of the sun” or “the path of the sun”. The Incas turned to Inti, who was also known as the Giver of Life, in gratitude for his life-giving powers.

The festival, which is often simply called Raymi, also is a celebration of the end of winter. Inti Raymi took place in Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, during the winter solstice (roughly around June 24). It marked the times when the days started to get longer and people were about to return to the fields to plant seeds and later harvest the plants. During Inti Raymi, people request blessings from Pacha Mama, the Mother Earth.

Prior to the festival itself there was a three day fast. During this preparation period, no fires were lit. Inti Raymi itself lasted for nine days, during which people would celebrate by eating and drinking in honor of Inti. Dances and processions were held and during the first day of the festival animal sacrifices were made to ensure a good harvest.

While Inti Raymi had a religious component, it was essentially a great festival, with many days of drinking, music and dancing.

The last Inti Raymi with the Inca Emperor’s presence took place in 1535, after which the Catholic Church banned it. While people secretly kept celebrating Inti Raymi in the following years by having similar ceremonies, it was completely prohibited in 1572.

It wasn’t until roughly two hundred years later, on June 21 of the year 1944, that a theatrical representation of the ceremony of Inti Raymi took place in Saxsayhuam, close to Cuzco. Today, Inti Raymi is celebrated, aside from Peru, in Ecuador, Bolivia and all the places where descendants of the Incan bloodline ( Kichwa Runas de Ecuador ) migrated to. The biggest celebration of Inti Raymi takes place in Saxsayhuam, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Saying Hello at Inti Raymi

If you’re coming to Inti Raymi, you will want to know a few basic phrases to say hello to your hosts – not to mention thanking them for the fantastic food. So here are a handful of greetings and pleasantries in Imbabura Quichua.
Good morning ali punzha
Good evening ali chishi
You may want to ask how your new friend is doing – or how how their spouse or children are:
How are you? imashnazhata kangi?
How is your (wife, husband, child)? imashnazhata kan kamba (warmi, kusa, churi)?
And of course you’ll want to be able to reply:
I am fine alimi kani
I’m not so great na alimi kani
My (mother, husband) is well nyukapa (mama, kusa) alimi kan
If you meet someone you don’t know, you’ll want to get to know them.
What is your name? ima shutita kangi?
My name is … nyuka shutimi kan …
What is their name? ima shutita kan kay?
Inti Raymi will have fantastic food. If you want, you can ask about the various dishes:
What is this/that? imata yari?
And answer questions or indicate how much you love the food:
Yes ari
No na
Okay maskiya
Sure (informal) sirtupi
You’ll want to thank your hosts:
Thank you paygi
It’s nothing imatazha
You’re welcome imatashi
Thanks very much! dyusul paygi
Eventually, the sad time will come when you must leave. Be sure to say goodbye:
See you later rikurishun
Until tomorrow kaya kaman
Until later ashta kashkaman

If a handful of students at UC Berkeley found themselves in north-central Ecuador tomorrow, they’d find their way around better than most foreigners, and that’s because they’ve been studying the local language, Imbabura Quichua, since late August 2009.

In the summer of 2009, UC Berkeley hosted the Linguistic Society of America’s Summer Institute and a final project for a seminar there put one Berkeley graduate student, Jessica Cleary-Kemp, in contact with several speakers of Imbabura Quichua living in the Mission District of San Francisco. When UC Berkeley linguistics professor Lev Michael heard about the project, he invited the speakers of Imbabura Quichua to work part-time as linguistic consultants for the linguistics department’s annual Field Methods class.

Imbabura Quichua is a member of the Quechua language family, which is a group of similar languages distributed throughout the Andes mountains of South America from Bolivia to Colombia. A member of the Quechua language family, Cuzco Quechua, was the official language of the vast Inca Empire. Today, descendants of the Inca and other native groups that were in contact with them still speak varieties of Quechua and live in the territory of the former Inca Empire.

Because Quechuan languages have been so influential in South America and because the opportunity to learn them in the US is so rare, professor Michael chose Imbabura Quichua for Field Methods.

The goal of the Field Methods class at UC Berkeley is to train students to discover the sounds and grammar of a language that has never been scientifically described before. While other scholars have studied and described Imbabura Quichua before, none of the twelve students enrolled in Field Methods had any knowledge of the language, and so they worked as if no one had ever described it before.

The first step was to discover what sounds Imbabura Quichua uses to build words. To do that, all the students made lists of words according to specific categories, like weather, body parts, food, farming, geography, and family relations. They then asked the linguistic consultants how to say each word in Imbabura Quichua and recorded and typed up the results. Finally, several of the graduate students analyzed the lists and determined which sounds seemed to contrast with each other, like the sounds ‘ee’ and ‘oo’ contrast in “heed” and “hood.”

Once the students had discovered the sounds that Imbabura Quichua uses, they developed a phonetic spelling system to write words down as they heard them from the consultants. That writing system opened the door to exploring the grammar of Imbabura Quichua, which is a set of principles that tells how words are built and how sentences are put together.

Professor Michael helped guide the students toward topics that would help them understand the language better. As a result, students discovered many principles of Imbabura Quichua grammar, such as which pronouns are used, what the word order in sentences is, how to form questions, how to give commands, how to form the past, present, and future tenses, and how to form sentences with relative pronouns like who, which, and that.

The students of Field Methods also recorded personal and traditional stories from the consultants as well as instructions about how to make traditional dishes and run a farm, among many other topics. Because so many of the world’s languages may have no speakers by the end of the 21st century, it is important for linguistics students to be trained in how to obtain and translate oral descriptions that consultants give about their culture. Those descriptions give linguists valuable information about the language, but perhaps more importantly, they give future generations a way to listen to their mother tongue, which might have no speakers left. Unfortunately, this has already happened to many Native American languages in the United States, and many Native Americans today have only handwritten records of their ancestors’ languages.

It wasn’t just professor Michael that taught the Field Methods class: the linguistic consultants taught students how to speak everyday Imbabura Quichua, like how to ask about how someone’s day has been, what they like to eat, whether they’d like to get together again later, and how to get places. This practical teaching helped the students in Field Methods connect with the Quichua community, and even speak Imbabura Quichua to each other sometimes.

The Inti Raymi festival coincides with the culmination of the Field Methods class. Several of the students from the class are volunteering at the event itself, and all of the students are helping to write the articles in this brochure and on the web ( While the Field Methods class may be officially over, the students of Field Methods have developed a connection to the Quechua speaking world, and several of the students plan to continue working with the linguistic consultants in the future and keep learning more about Imbabura Quichua.

Life in Imbabura

Imbabura, which is a province located in northern Ecuador, has a population of about 340,000. It enjoys an indigenous community that has maintained many of its customs, such as traditional clothing, crafts and artwork, which can be found in Otavalo (one of the major cities of the province), during its Saturday market. The men are distinguished by their black hats, white pants and wool ponchos, and women often wear brightly colored embroidered blouses and dark skirts. It is also commonplace to hear the Quichua language spoken on the streets. This is a market in Otovalo:

Besides the beautiful textiles, Imbabura is noted for its impressive natural scenery. Two unforgettable destinations that tourists should not miss are the ecological reserve Cotacachi-Cayapas (pictured below) and the lagoons of Pinyan, where it is possible to take boat rides, camp, fish and hunt.

For those who take delight in celebrations, Imbabura has a variety of cultural events. One of the most popular ones is called Fiesta de la Jora, which takes place on September 6th through 14th. During this event you can enjoy traditional music and folk dances in the streets.

Finally, one cannot forget the incredibly rich array of traditional foods. The potato is one of the oldest and most important food staples of the Andean region. Consequently, many of the dishes are made from potatoes, such as stuffed potatoes, potato soup, and potatoes with meat.