By Américo Mendoza-Mori
There are several stereotypes about Quechua.
Is it a dead language? No, there are an estimated six to eight million speakers in South America, mostly in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. A simple language? You cannot imagine the suffixes this language contains. That it’s limited to agriculture, folk songs and shamanic sessions? No, many everyday conversations are held in Quechua.
In spite of discrimination, prohibitions, and a lack of institutions to promote it in the last few hundred years, this language family has much to offer. In fact, may Quechuan words have been adopted by Spanish speakers in the Andean region of South America. Among them are wawa for baby, achachy for cold and boracho for drunk.
Several universities throughout the world (England, Germany, Ecuador, the United States, France, etc.) teach Quechua. There are literary magazines and radio and television programs in Quechua. Add to this the great ancient knowledge preserved by their speakers.
For lovers of social media and smartphones, here is a list of useful courses for learning and promoting Quechua. It should be noted that Quechua is not really a language, but a language family. The courses mentioned here use mainly the variant known as Southern Quechua (which is what is spoken in Cusco, Ayacucho and Cochabamba). All are free.
1. Rimasun – iTunes, http://clacsnyublog.com/category/rimasun/
Do you like podcasts? The Center for Latin American Studies at New York University broadcasts a program that you can download to your iPhone or computer. They interview painters, musicians, professors and a myriad of other characters.
If you have a basic level of Quechua, the podcasts will help a lot, as they are intended for college students interested in the Andes. It can be downloaded for free from the website and iTunes.
2. Rimay.org – SoundCloud, http://rimay.org/
In collaboration with Rising Voices, this site offers a collection of audio, including poems, songs and stories in Quechua from different parts of Peru. They can be downloaded via SoundCloud.
3. SimiDic – Android, http://www.simidic.org/
This is a Quechua-Spanish dictionary that for now is only available on Android. It also offers dictionaries in Aymara-Spanish, Guaraní-Spanish, and Mapuche-Spanish. It shows up in the Apple AppStore, but at the moment it doesn’t work. It can be downloaded from Google Play.
Américo Mendoza-Mori is a young Peruvian researcher in cultural and creative ventures for Latin America, focusing on the Andes and Brazil. She is a cultural consultant. You can follow her on Twitter at: @ameriqo. The article originally appeared on the Peruvian website SienteMag.com.