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    Land of winds > The people > Language | Issue 20 (Jul.-Aug. 2014)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

The Yanacona language

The Yanacona language

Yanacona people (also written Yanakuna) live in the south-western region of Cauca department, in the Andean Cordillera, to the south-west of Colombia. They also inhabit neighbouring areas of Putumayo, Huila, Valle del Cauca, Caquetá and Quindío departments, and some have settled down in Bogotá.

The Yanacona stopped speaking their original language, which researchers claim to be a northern variant of Quechua or runasimi; today they have become monolingual in Spanish. However, they continue using many Quechua words as part of their daily speaking, including pichanga (to sweep), tatai (disgust), cacai (fear), chichai (cold), chichuca (hot), taita (father), inti (sun), llakta (land), urku (mountain), pampa (plain), kuychi (rainbow), mati (gourd), etc. Quechua words also appear in place and person names as well as in a collection of plant species, especially those of medicinal use. Yet, even the oldest persons are unable to construct a complete sentence in Quechua.

An important part of the reconstruction process of indigenous identity seeks to recover their ancient culture and the use of their language; the process is not without problems, challenges and contradictions, since they are trying to "reconstruct" a language that nobody remembers. Among the greatest defenders of Yanacona culture and language is the poet Fredy Campo Chikangana. A part of his works has been published in the volume "Espíritu de pájaro en pozos del ensueño" within the collection "Biblioteca básica de los pueblos indígenas de Colombia". Below there is an example of the Yanacona language used in this work; a northern Quechua strongly influenced by Spanish:

callarinasha cucicuymanta huaccayripi;
causaypiy llaphllahuachai puka
tukupa rumipi yana,
paypicay yupaychayniok cayiniyokmanta uku pacha
huatanima nukanchi yawar
waskakunawan huaymapacha.

[The earth
is the beginning of both joyfulness and tears;
it is home to the red placenta
turned into black stone,
it is the realm of the underground beings rituals
which tie our blood
with the lianas of time].

Yanacona people, in Wikipedia [es].
Book. "Espíritu de pájaro en pozos del ensueño", by Fredy Chikangana. In Virtual Library "Luis Ángel Arango" [es].
Book. "La recuperación de la lengua ancestral de los yanaconas", by Omaira Anacona Jiménez [es].
Book. "Los Yanaconas – Aspectos lingüísticos". In Geografía Humana de Colombia, Región Andina Central. Virtual Library "Luis Ángel Arango" [es].
Article. "Diagnóstico de la situación del pueblo indígena yanacona", in Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos de Colombia [es].
Article. "Sobre la construcción del idioma propio yanakona", in Nació [es].

Video 01. "Educación yanacona" (official video).
Video channel of the "Educación yanacona" network; includes documentation on experiences aimed at the recovery and preservation of Yancacona culture and language.

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