Chipaya language

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Native toBolivia
RegionOruro Department
Native speakers
1,800 (2011)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3cap
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Chipaya is a native South American language of the Uru–Chipaya language family. The only other language in the grouping, Uru, is considered by some to be a divergent dialect of Chipaya. Ethnologue lists the language vitality as "vigorous," with 1200 speakers out of an ethnic population of around 1800. Chipaya has been influenced considerably by Aymara, the Quechuan languages, and more recently, Spanish, with a third of its vocabulary having been replaced by those languages.

The Chipayan language is spoken in the area south of Lake Titicaca along the Desaguadero River in the mountains of Bolivia and mainly in the town of Chipaya located in the Sabaya Province of the Bolivian department of Oruro north of Coipasa Salt Flats. Native speakers generally refer to it as Puquina or Uchun Maa Taqu ("our mother language"), but is not the same as the extinct Puquina language. Chipaya is an agglutinative language, though it has features uncommon to most agglutinative languages, according to preliminary research by the organization DOBES.



  Bilabial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Uvular
plain labialized plain labialized
Nasal   m  /m/   n  /n/   ň  /ɲ/     ŋ  /ŋ/      
Plosive plain   p  /p/   t  /t/     č  /c/   k  /k/    /kʷ/   q  /q/  
ejective   p'  /pʼ/   t'  /tʼ/     č'  /cʼ/   k'  /kʼ/     q'  /qʼ/  
Affricate plain     ¢  /ts/   ch  /tʃ/          
ejective     ¢'  /tsʼ/   ch'  /tʃʼ/          
Fricative     s  /s/   sh  /ʃ/   š  /ç/   h  /x/    /xʷ/   x  /χ/    /χʷ/
Approximant     l  /l/    /lʲ/   y  /j/     w  /w/    

Consonant clusters[edit]

Multiple possibilities are separated by slashes, and optional elements are enclosed in parentheses.

Possible syllable onsets are:

  • (s/š) + p + (h)
  • (s/š/sh) + k/q + (h//x/)
  • s/š + p/k//q//h//m/n
  • t + h//x/
  • ¢/č/ch/l + h

Possible syllable codas are:

  • h/x + p/t/k/q/l//r + (t)
  • / + k/q + (t)
  • Consonant + t


  • Vowels have continental values for a, [a], e [e], i [i], o, [o], and u [u]. Each vowel can be short, e.g., a [a], or long, e.g., a• [aː].


  1. ^ Chipaya at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Chipaya". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

External links[edit]