Aymara /aɪməˈrɑː/ (Aymar aru) is an Aymaran language spoken by
1 Etymology 2 Classification 3 Dialects 4 Geographical distribution 5 Phonology
5.1 Vowels 5.2 Consonants 5.3 Stress 5.4 Syllable structure
6 Orthography 7 Morphology
7.1 Nominal suffixes 7.2 Verbal suffixes 7.3 Transpositional suffixes 7.4 Suffixes not subcategorized for lexical categories
8 Idiosyncrasies 9 Pedagogy 10 See also 11 Footnotes 12 References 13 Further reading 14 External links
The ethnonym "Aymara" may be ultimately derived from the name of some
group occupying the southern part of what is now the Quechua speaking
area of Apurímac . Regardless, the use of the word "Aymara" as a
label for this people was standard practice as early as 1567, as
evident from Garci Diez de San Miguel's report of his inspection of
the province of Chucuito (1567, 14; cited in Lafaye 1964). In this
document, he uses the term aymaraes to refer to the people. The
language was then called Colla. It is believed that Colla was the name
of an Aymara nation at the time of conquest, and later was the
southernmost region of the Inca empire Collasuyu. However,
Cerron-Palomino disputes this claim and asserts that Colla were in
fact Puquina speakers who were the rulers of
Distribution of Aymara limited to three southern departments in Peru: Puno, Moquegua, Tacna.
There are roughly two million Bolivian speakers, half a million
Peruvian speakers, and perhaps a few thousand speakers in Chile.
At the time of the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century, Aymara
was the dominant language over a much larger area than today,
including most of highland
Phonotactic vowel deletion, hiatus reduction, occurs when two vowels
become adjacent as a consequence of word construction or through the
process of suffixation. In such environments one of the two vowels
deletes: (i) if one of the two vowels is /u/, that vowel will be the
only one that surfaces, (ii) if the vowels are /i/ and /a/, the /i/
will surface. (iii) If the sequence is composed of two identical
vowels, one will delete.
Consonants As for the consonants, Aymara has phonemic stops at the labial, alveolar, palatal, velar and uvular points of articulation. Stops show no distinction of voice (e.g. there is no phonemic contrast between [p] and [b]), but each stop has three forms: plain (tenuis), glottalized, and aspirated. Aymara also has a trilled /r/, and an alveolar/palatal contrast for nasals and laterals, as well as two semivowels (/w/ and /j/).
Bilabial Dental/ Alveolar Post- alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless p t t͡ʃ
aspirated pʰ tʰ t͡ʃʰ
ejective pʼ tʼ t͡ʃʼ
Approximant central v
Stress Stress is usually on the second-to-last syllable, but long vowels may shift it. Although the final vowel of a word is elided except at the end of a phrase, the stress remains unchanged. Syllable structure The vast majority of roots are bisyllabic and, with few exceptions, suffixes are monosyllabic. Roots conform to one of two templates: CV(C)CV or V(C)CV. The former is the most common, with CVCV being predominant. The majority of suffixes are CV, though there are some exceptions: CVCV, CCV, CCVCV and even VCV are possible but rare. The agglutinative nature of this suffixal language, coupled with morphophonological alternations caused by vowel deletion and phonologically conditioned constraints, gives rise to interesting surface structures that operate in the domain of the morpheme, syllable, and phonological word/phrase. The phonological/morphophonological processes observed include syllabic reduction, epenthesis, deletion, and reduplication. Orthography
Declaration of Independence of the United Provinces of South America (present-day Argentina) in Spanish and Aymara
Beginning with Spanish missionary efforts, there have been many
attempts to create a writing system for Aymara. The colonial sources
employed a variety of writing systems heavily influenced by Spanish,
the most widespread one being that of Bertonio. Many of the early
grammars employed unique alphabets as well as the one of Middendorf's
The first official alphabet to be adopted for Aymara was the
Scientific Alphabet. It was approved by the III Congreso Indigenista
Interamericano de la Paz in 1954, though its origins can be traced as
far back as 1931. Rs. No 1593 (Deza Galindo 1989, 17). It was the
first official record of an alphabet, but in 1914, Sisko Chukiwanka
Ayulo and Julián Palacios Ríos had recorded what may be the first of
many attempts to have one alphabet for both Quechua and Aymara, the
Syentifiko Qheshwa-Aymara Alfabeto with 37 graphemes.
Several other attempts followed, with varying degrees of success. Some
orthographic attempts even expand further: the Alfabeto Funcional
Trilingüe, made up of 40 letters (including the voiced stops
necessary for Spanish) and created by the Academia de las Lenguas
Aymara y Quechua in
Bilabial Dental/ Alveolar Post- alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless p t ch
aspirated ph th chh
ejective p’ t’ ch’
Morphology Aymara is a highly agglutinative, suffixal language. All suffixes can be categorized into the nominal, verbal, transpositional and those not subcategorized for lexical category (including stem-external word-level suffixes and phrase-final suffixes), as below:
Nominal and verbal morphology is characterized by derivational- and inflectional-like suffixes as well as non-productive suffixes. Transpositional morphology consists of verbalizers (that operate on the root or phrasal levels) and nominalizers (including an action nominalizer, an agentive, and a resultative). Suffixes not subcategorized for lexical category can be divided into three stem-external, word-level suffixes (otherwise known as "independent suffixes") and around a dozen phrase-final suffixes (otherwise known as "sentence suffixes").
Non-productive nominal suffixes vary considerably by variant but typically include those below. Some varieties additionally also have (1) the suffix -wurasa (< Spanish 'horas'), which expresses ‘when’ on aka ‘this’, uka ‘that’ and kuna ‘what’; (2) temporal suffixes -unt ~ -umt; and (3) -kucha, which attaches to only two roots, jani ‘no’ and jicha ‘now’:
kinship suffixes, including -la, -lla, -chi, and/or -ta the expression of size with -ch’a the suffix -sa ‘side’, which attaches to only the demonstratives and kawki ‘where’
Nominal derivational-like suffixes:
diminutive suffixes delimitative suffix -chapi
Nominal inflectional-like suffixes:
Attributive suffix -ni Possessive paradigm Plural -naka Reciprocal/inclusor -pacha Case suffixes - Syntactic relations are generally case-marked, with the exception of the unmarked subject. Case is affixed to the last element of a noun phrase, usually corresponding to the head. Most varieties of Aymara have 14 cases (though in many, the genitive and locative have merged into a single form): ablative -ta, accusative (indicated by vowel suppression), allative -ru, benefactive -taki, comparative -jama, genitive -na, instrumental/comitative -mpi, interactive -pura, locative -na, limitative -kama, nominative (zero), perlative -kata, purposive -layku.
Verbal suffixes All verbs require at least one suffix to be grammatical.
Verbal derivational-like suffixes
Direction of motion — Although these suffixes are quite productive, they are not obligatory. The meaning of a word which is affixed with a member of this category is often but not always predictable, and the word formed may have a different meaning than the root. Spatial location — The nine spatial locations suffixes are likewise highly productive and not obligatory. Similarly, the meaning of the word that contains a member of this category is typically (but not consistently) predictable. There are also contexts in which the word formed has a meaning that significantly differs from that of the root to which it attaches. Valency-increasing — The five valency increasing suffixes may occur on a wide range of verbs but are not obligatory. The meaning expressed when a word receives one of these suffixes is predictable. Multipliers/reversers — The two multipliers/reversers are comparatively less productive and are not obligatory. In some contexts, attachment to a verb conveys a reverser meaning and effectively express the opposite of the meaning of the plain root. In this respect, the multipliers/reversers are the most derivational-like of all the suffixes discussed so far. Aspect — This category is complicated insofar as it is made up of a diverse array of suffix types, some of which are more productive and/or obligatory than others. Others — In some varieties of Aymara, there are three suffixes not classified into the categories above: the verbal comparative -jama, the category buffer -(w)jwa, and the intensifier -paya. Semantically, these three suffixes do not have much in common. They also vary with respect to the degree which they may be classified as more derivational-like or more inflectional-like.
Verbal inflectional-like suffixes:
Person/tense — Person and tense are fused into a unitary suffix. These forms are among the most inflectional-like of the verbal suffixes insofar as they are all obligatory and productive. The so-called personal-knowledge tenses include the simple (non-past) and the proximal past. The non-personal knowledge tenses includes the future and distal past. Number — The plural verbal suffix, -pha (just as the nominal one,-naka) is optional. Thus, while pluralization is very productive, it is not obligatory. Mood and modality — Mood and modality includes mood, evidentials, event modality, and the imperative. These suffixes are both productive and obligatory. Their semantic affect is usually transparent.
Transpositional suffixes A given word can take several transpositional suffixes:
Verbalizers: There are six suffixes whose primary function is to verbalize nominal roots (not including the reflexive -si and the propagative -tata). These forms can be subdivided into two groups, (1) phrase verbalizers and (2) root verbalizers. Nominalizers: There are three suffixes are used to derive nouns: the agentive -iri, the resultative -ta, and the action nominalizer (sometimes glossed as the "infinitive" in some descriptions) -ña.
Suffixes not subcategorized for lexical categories There are two kinds of suffixes not subcategorized for lexical categories:
Stem external word-final suffixes (sometimes known as "independent suffixes") — There are three suffixes that are not classifiable as members of either nominal or verbal morphology and are not phrase-final suffixes: the emphatic -puni, the delimitative -ki, and the additive -raki Phrase-final suffixes (sometimes known as "sentence suffixes" in the literature) — Most Aymara phrases have at least one of the eleven (depending on variant) possible phrase-final suffixes to be grammatical. The phrase-final suffix must appear minimally on a noun, noun phrase, verb, or verb phrase (note that two phrase-final suffixes, the additive -sa and the confirmatory -pi appear exclusively on nouns but otherwise pattern with phrase-final suffixes and so may not be best treated with nominal morphology). Exceptions to the requirement that a phrase has at least one phrase-final suffix are mainly limited to imperative constructions.
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Linguistic and gestural analysis by Núñez and Sweetser also asserts that the Aymara have an apparently unique or at least very rare understanding of time, and Aymara is, with Quechua, one of very few [Núñez & Sweetser, 2006, p. 403] languages in which speakers seem to represent the past as in front of them and the future as behind them. Their argument is situated mainly within the framework of conceptual metaphor, which recognizes in general two subtypes of the metaphor "the passage of time is motion:" one is "time passing is motion over a landscape" (or "moving-ego"), and the other is "time passing is a moving object" ("moving-events"). The latter metaphor does not explicitly involve the individual/speaker; events are in a queue, with prior events towards the front of the line. The individual may be facing the queue, or it may be moving from left to right in front of him/her. The claims regarding Aymara involve the moving-ego metaphor. Most languages conceptualize the ego as moving forward into the future, with ego's back to the past. The English sentences prepare for what lies before us and we are facing a prosperous future exemplify this metaphor. In contrast, Aymara seems to encode the past as in front of individuals and the future behind them; this is typologically a rare phenomenon [Núñez & Sweetser, 2006, p. 416]. The fact that English has words like before and after that are (currently or archaically) polysemous between 'front/earlier' or 'back/later' may seem to refute the claims regarding Aymara uniqueness. However, these words relate events to other events and are part of the moving-events metaphor. In fact, when before means in front of ego, it can mean only future. For instance, our future is laid out before us while our past is behind us. Parallel Aymara examples describe future days as qhipa uru, literally 'back days', and they are sometimes accompanied by gestures to behind the speaker. The same applies to Quechua speakers, whose expression qhipa p'unchaw corresponds directly to Aymara qhipa uru. Possibly, the metaphor is that the past is visible to us (in front of our eyes) while the future is not. Pedagogy There is increasing use of Aymara locally and there are increased numbers learning the language, both Bolivian and abroad. In Bolivia and Peru, intercultural bilingual education programs with Aymara and Spanish have been introduced in the last two decades. There are even projects to offer Aymara through the internet, such as by ILCA. See also
Jaqaru language Indigenous languages of the Americas Languages of Peru List of Spanish words of Indigenous American Indian origin
^ Official only in Aymara–dominated areas.
^ Aymara at
Coler, Matt. A Grammar of Muylaq' Aymara: Aymara as spoken in Southern Peru. Brill: Leiden, 2014. Núñez, R., & Sweetser, E. With the Future Behind Them : Convergent Evidence From Aymara Language and Gesture in the Crosslinguistic Comparison of Spatial Construals of Time. Cognitive Science, 30(3), 401-450.
Coler, Matt. http://www.brill.com/products/book/grammar-muylaq-aymara A Grammar of Muylaq' Aymara: Aymara as spoken in Southern Peru]. Brill: Leiden, 2014. ISBN 9789004283800 Coler, Matt. The grammatical expression of dialogicity in Muylaq’ Aymara narratives. International Journal of American Linguistics, 80(2):241–265. 2014. Coler, Matt and Edwin Banegas Flores. A descriptive analysis of Castellano Loanwords in Muylaq' Aymara. LIAMES – Línguas Indígenas Americanas 13:101-113. Gifford, Douglas. Time Metaphors in Aymara and Quechua. St. Andrews: University of St. Andrews, 1986. Guzmán de Rojas, Iván. Logical and Linguistic Problems of Social Communication with the Aymara People. Manuscript report / International Development Research Centre, 66e. [Ottawa]: International Development Research Centre, 1985. Hardman, Martha James. The Aymara Language in Its Social and Cultural Context: A Collection Essays on Aspects of Aymara Language and Culture. Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1981. ISBN 0-8130-0695-3 Hardman, Martha James, Juana Vásquez, and Juan de Dios Yapita. Aymara Grammatical Sketch: To Be Used with Aymar Ar Yatiqañataki. Gainesville, Fla: Aymara Language Materials Project, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Florida, 1971. Hardman, Martha James. Primary research materials online as full-text in the University of Florida's Digital Collections, on Dr. Hardman's website, and learning Aymara resources by Dr. Hardman.
Aymara edition of, the free encyclopedia
Aymara on The Internet A course for Aymara available in English and Spanish. Aymara Swadesh vocabulary lists (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix) http://clas.uchicago.edu/language_teaching/aymara.shtml www.aymara.org An extensive website about the language in English, Spanish and Aymara. The Sounds of the Andean Languages listen online to pronunciations of Aymara words, see photos of speakers and their home regions, learn about the origins and varieties of Aymara. Bolivians equip ancient language for digital times Encyclopedy in Aymara Aymara – English Dictionary: from Webster's Online Dictionary – The Rosetta Edition. Andean language looks back to the future – article on Aymara's reversed concept of time, with the past ahead and the future behind JACH'AK'ACHI. Patpatankiri markana kont’awipa An aymara page dedicated to this city in aymara language. Beginning Aymara – a course book in pdf form Vocabulario de la Lengua Aymara, a historical dictionary by Ludovico Bertonio (1612). Yatiqirinaka Aru Pirwa, Qullawa Aymara Aru, a children's Aymara dictionary by the Peruvian Ministry of Education (2005). AruSimiÑee, Aymara pedagogical vocabulary by the Bolivian Ministry of Education (2004).
Aymara – Compendio de Estrutura Fonológica y Gramatical, 20 downloadable PDF files
v t e
Languages of Bolivia
Baure Iñapari Moxo Pauna Yine
Araona Cavineño Chácobo Ese Ejja Reyesano Tacana Toromona Yaminawa
Cusco–Collao Quechua North Bolivian Quechua South Bolivian Quechua
Guarayu Sirionó Yuki
Aymara Ayoreo Chiquitano Canichana Cayubaba Chimán Chipaya Itonama Leco Kallawaya Moré Movima Pauserna Puquina Weenhayek Yuracaré
Bolivian Sign Language
Italics indicate extinct languages still recognized by the Bolivian constitution.
v t e
Languages of Chile
Living Indigenous languages
Ayacucho Quechua Aymara Chilean Quechua Chilean Sign Language Huilliche Mapudungun Quechua Rapa Nui
Extinct and endangered languages
Cacán Chango Chono Kawésqar/Alacaluf Kunza Ona/Selk'nam Tehuelche Yaghan
Aymaran Chon Polynesian Araucanian Alacalufan Quechuan Indo-European
Italics indicate extinct languages
v t e
Languages of Peru
Amazonic Andean Coastal Equatorial (Tumbes)
Asháninka Ashéninga Axininca Caquinte Machiguenga Nanti Nomatsiguenga
Iñapari Mashco Piro Yine
Bora Minica Huitoto Murui Huitoto Nüpode Huitoto Ocaina
Aguaruna Huambisa Shiwiar
Amawaka Ese Ejja Iskonawa Kashibo Kashinawa Matsés/Pisabo Shipibo Yaminawa
Ancash Huánuco (Huallaga) Pacaraos Wanka Yaru Yauyos–Chincha
Chachapoyas Lamas Kichwa
Ayacucho Cusco Puno
Candoshi-Shapra Kulina Taushiro Ticuna Urarina Yagua