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Land of winds > The people > Language | Issue 05. May.-Jun.2011
By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Variants of Peruvian Quechua

Present day Peruvian territory was the cradle of Quechua languages. Therefore, it is not strange that Peru houses most of the different forms of this group of indigenous languages, which, in general, share a common grammar despite having been developed as separate variants, sometimes unintelligible between one another.
Allegedly, the Quechua protolanguage would have given birth to two variants in mid first millennium AD, which, in time would have spread and diversify throughout this region. Around the XV century, the so called “classic Quechua” was adopted as official language by the Tawantinsuyu (Inca Empire) and, after the Spanish invasion and the colonizers’ effort to assert their superiority, it became a vehicle for introducing conquers’ religious beliefs in the Andes.
During the ‘60s, linguists Alfredo Torero and Gary Parker classified the Quechua languages, splitting them into two main branches: the Quechua I or Waywash, which includes the central Quechua languages, and the Quechua II or Wampuy, which contains the peripheral Quechua languages. The latter divides itself into Yunkay or sub branch A and Chinchay or sub branch B.
The Quechua I in its totality falls under Peruvian territory including, among others, the Wanka Quechua (department of Junín) and the Ancash Quechua (department of Ancash). The sub branch A of the Quechua II is also located in Peru, including the Yauyos Quechua (province of Yauyos) and the Cajamarca Quechua (province of Cajamarca). The sub branch B embraces the Quechua languages spoken in Ecuador, Colombia (Inga), Bolivia (Southern Quechua) and Argentina (Santiago del Estero Quichua), and in Peru includes the Quechua languages spoken in the rainforest (Chachapoya and Lamas Quechua), the Ayacucho Quechua or Chanka (department of Ayacucho) and the Cusco Quechua (department of Cusco).
The difference between each Peruvian Quechua language lies, on the one hand, in the vocabulary, since many of them retain parts of former substrata, especially in the rainforest region; on the other, in the pronunciation, which sometimes changes radically from one to the other. In addition, grammatical structures vary among these languages.
An example of phonological variation is provided by the different forms of pronoun “we” (inclusive form):

Nuqanchis (Cusco Quechua)
Ñoqanchik (Ayacucho Quechua)
Noqancheq / Nuqanchiq (Cajamarca Quechua)
Ñukanchi(k) (Lamas Quechua)
Ñuqanchik (Wanka Quechua)
Noqantsik (Ancash Quechua)

Vocabulary and grammatical structure differences (especially Castilian borrowings and influences) can be noticed in the first part of the Christian Lord’s prayer (“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”):

Yayayku hanaq pachapi kaq, sutiyki yupaychasqa kachun (Cusco Quechua)
Yayayku hanaqpachakunapi kaq, sutiyki muchasqa kachun (Ayacucho Quechua)
Taytanchiq Dyusitu syilupi kaq, qamllam ancha santu, mana nima uchayuqchu kangi (Cajamarca Quechua)
Taytanchik kaykanki hanaq pachachaw, hatun kachun hutiyki (Huánuco Quechua)
Hanaq patsachaw kaykaq, Yayallaakuna, hutiyki mutsashqa katsun (Ancash Quechua)
Hana pachaçhaw kayaq Tayta Diosniikuna, qamqa lapan huchapita karuçhawmi kayanki (Wanka Quechua)

The different Quechua languages are vehicles of culture and as such have been and still are transmitters of the Peruvian traditional music repertoires. They characterize the Ancash huaynos or “chuscadas” differentiating between them and the Wanka folklore, and between the latter and the Cusco folklore. The Quechua languages are one of the angular stones of the Andean culture and, nowadays, the focus of attention of researchers, scholars, students, writers and composers.

Quechua languages, in Wikipedia.
Central Quechua languages, in Wikipedia [es].
Peripheral Quechua languages, in Wikipedia [es].
Classic Quechua, in Wikipedia [es].
Southern Quechua, in Wikipedia.
Wanka Quechua, in Wikipedia.
Ancash Quechua, in Wikipedia.
Yauyos Quechua, in Wikipedia [es].
Inkawasi-Kañais Quechua, in Wikipedia.
Cajamarca Quechua, in Wikipedia.
Chachapoya Quechua, in Wikipedia.
Lamas Quechua, in Wikipedia.
Ayacucho Quechua, in Wikipedia.
Cusco Quechua, in Wikipedia.

Quechua dictionaries, in Runasimipi.
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