Aymara language

Spoken in

  • Aru - language family Aymara



Aym ( macro language )

Included Single Languages:

  • Ayc ( " Southern Aymara " )
  • Ayr ( " Central Aymara " )

The Aymara ( Aymara also ) is with 2.2 million speakers, along with the Quechua and Guaraní to today's most widely spoken indigenous languages ​​of South America. Related to him is the Jaqaru ( Kawki ), which is spoken by about 700 speakers in the department of Lima. With the Aymara it forms the Aru - language family.


Aymara is spoken by about 2,200,000 people who belong to the people of the Aymara. The majority of the speakers live on the Altiplano in the Bolivian department of Oruro and La Paz, as well as in the Peruvian regions of Puno, Moquegua and Tacna. There are other speakers in other parts of Bolivia and Peru and northern Chile. Over the past decades, the Aymara however, has been displaced particularly in the urban areas increasingly by the Spanish. There speaks today a large proportion of ethnic Aymara Spanish as a second language or even as a mother tongue. Only in the rural areas of the Altiplano, there are a greater number of monolingual speakers of the language. In addition to the bilingual Aymara - Spanish is available in some regions, Aymara and Quechua in a bilingualism.

The Aymara is divided into three main dialects. Compared to other South American languages ​​such as Quechua - whose dialects are considered by some researchers as a separate language - the dialect differences within the Aymara are relatively low.

Linguistic relationship

The only proven with the Aymara genetically related languages ​​are the Kawki and Jaqaru, both of which are now spoken by only a small number of people in the hinterland of Lima in Central Peru. They are with the Aymara in the Aru - language family together ( Aru = " language ").

The question of whether a linguistic relationship between the Aymara and Quechua is is controversial. If anything both languages ​​are very distantly related. The existing primarily on phonological similarities area between the southern dialects of Quechua and Aymara which can, however, as well as the relatively numerous loanwords explained by mutual influence of the two languages.

Aymara as a written language

The oldest written documents in Aymara are translations of religious texts from the Spanish colonial period. At that time also the first grammars of the Aymara were written by Catholic missionaries. The Catholic and used more recently by North American Protestant missionaries called missionary - Aymara, however, is clearly marked in the grammar as in the vocabulary of influences of Spanish and is therefore often perceived as unnatural by native speakers.

According to modern linguistic criteria wrote grammars of Aymara there is only since the second half of the 20th century.

The spelling of the Aymara in the Latin alphabet was based on the long lines of the Spanish. The deviating from Spanish texts of the Aymara were thereby rendered inconsistent and often not exact. A design for a strictly oriented on the Phonology of the Aymara orthography laid for the first time in 1968, the native Juan de Dios Yapita ago. An only slightly deviating from normative orthography was recognized in 1984 by the Bolivian and in 1985 by the Peruvian government as the only official spelling of the Aymara.

Aymara is today (as well as Quechua ) in Bolivia and Peru recognized as official languages ​​, but so far nothing has changed on the de facto supremacy of the Spanish in public life, as in the state apparatus. In the last two decades, programs have been implemented with intercultural bilingual education, but not yet reaching all Aymarasprachigen.

Phonetics / phonology


The Aymara knows on the phonemic level, only the vowels / a, i, u / and their long variants / a: , i:, u :/ < ä, ï, ü >. Prior to the uvular consonants / q, q, q ʰ χ, / is / i / realized as [e ] and / u / as [ o]. There are no diphthongs, but two semi-vowels ( approximants ), namely / w / and / j / .


The Aymara has a total of 26 consonant phonemes. The occlusive each other three rows facing: simple, glottalisiert ( ejektiv ) and aspirated. The Occlusive are all voiceless. Voiced plosives such as / b, d, g / does not know the Aymara.


The Aymara is largely polysynthetic with many portmanteau suffixes. Verbal suffixes often express mood, tense, person of the subject and the object or person of another secondary argument. For example, the suffix- sma means " indicative, non- future tense, subject in the first person, second person object " (eg uñjsma " I see / saw you ").

Verbs with multiple Valenzargumenten congruent mandatory with the subject and with the liveliest argument ( according to the Silverstein hierarchy ), eg chursma " I gave you ," aläma " I will buy from you," etc. Special suffixes can modify the valence of verbs, eg aläma " I will buy from you " vs. alarapïma " I'll buy it for you" vs. alayäma " I will buy you bring " etc.

The Aymara has a rich system of switch -reference suffixes, eg jan yatisax sartwa " I left without knowing it," jan yatiman sartwa " I left without you knew it," jan yatipan sartwa " I left without he / she would have known ," etc..