Mapuche language

Spoken in

  • Araucanian languages Mapudungun




Mapudungun ( mapu "land, earth " Dungun " language ") is an Araucanian language spoken in Chile and Argentina by the Mapuche.

It is also known under the name Mapudungu, Mapusdugun, the ethnonym Mapuche and the foreign designation Araucanian ( araucano ) and is spoken by about 440,000 people, of whom about 400,000 in Chile and 40,000 in Argentina. About 200,000 people use the language regularly.


The first Mapudungun grammar was published by Father Luis de Valdivia in 1606.

When the Spaniards penetrated into present-day Chile, they met three Araucanian groups of which they one that Pikumche ( pikum " north " che 'people' ) submitted quickly. Towards the middle of the 18th century also had the southern Araucanians group lost their identity and only the central group of Mapuche ( mapu 'earth' che 'people' ) was able to preserve their autonomy. Officially Mapudungun is no country in the state language, but in the micro- nation Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia.

On a broad basis, the language was the first time (both 1900) described by ethnologists Rudolf Lenz and the Capuchin monk Felix Kathan de Augusta.


The Mapudungun has several dialects, which are all mutually intelligible. In Argentina, these are the dialects

  • Pewenche (Neuquén )
  • Moluche or Nguluche ( from Limay to the lake Lago Nahuel Huapi )
  • And Rankenche ( in Chalileo, General Acha and Río Colorado).

The Huilliche, Wiriche or Veliche ( in the region of Lake Nahuel Huapi, but also in Valdivia in Chile) is with these not mutually understandable, it is partially understood as an independent language.

Influence on other languages

The word " poncho", was taken into Spanish and beyond in many languages ​​, as well as the German from the Mapudungun.

In Chile there are numerous geographical names which are derived from the Mapudungun. These include names like Temuco or names of rivers such as the Río Bío Bío.

Numerous plant and animal names for the native flora and fauna were taken from the Mapudungun into Chilean Spanish.