Central South America (CSA)
Geographic location: Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia
Number of Languages: 113
Number of Genetic Units: 45
Genetic Index: .398 (very high)
Mean Level of Endangerment: 2.94 (moderate high)
Mean Documentation Status: low
Threat Level: severe
map of the CSA hotspot

Description:

This may be the most critical hotspot, with extremely high diversity, very little documentation, and immediate threats of endangerment.  The hotspot runs along the Andes Mountains, but also dips down into the Amazon basin. Indigenous languages are being replaced by Spanish or more dominant indigenous languages in most of the Hotspot, and by Portuguese in Brazil. The more robust indigenous languages lie along the west edge of the hotspot: Quechua in the north and Aymara in the south.

On our expedition to Central South America, we spoke with the Kallawaya, a group who have been herbalist healers since the time of the Inka empire.  The Kallawaya use Spanish or Aymara in daily life, but maintain their own secret language, which is only passed down from father to son (or grandfather to grandson).  This language is used mostly to encode information about the thousands of medicinal plants they use as healers, though it can also be used to express everyday thoughts.  How and why this language has survived for over 400 years after the fall of the Inka empire, while being spoken by very few (now under 100) people, is a mystery.

Genetic Units found in Hotspot (45):

  1. Andoque
  2. Arauan
  3. Arawakan
  4. Aymaran
  5. Cahuapanan
  6. Candoshi
  7. Canichana (may be extinct)
  8. Cayuvava (may be extinct)
  9. Chapacuran
  10. Chibchan
  11. Chiquito
  12. Germanic
  13. Harakmbet
  14. Hibito-Cholon (may be extinct)
  15. Itonama
  16. Jivaroan
  17. Katukinan (may be extinct)
  18. Leco
  19. Monde
  20. Movima
  21. Muniche
  22. Nambiquaran
  23. Panoan
  24. Peba-Yaguan
  25. Purubora
  26. Quechuan
  27. Romance
  28. Tacanan
  29. Taushiro
  30. Ticuna
  31. Tsimané
  32. Tucanoan
  33. Tupari
  34. Tupi-Guaraní
  35. Urarina
  36. Uru-Chipaya (may be extinct)
  37. Waorani
  38. Witotoan
  39. Yabuti
  40. Zaparoan
  41. Mixed (Kallawaya)
  42. Unclassified (4: Carabayo, Korubo, Papavô, Uru-Pa-In)

Hotspots Formula:

List of Languages:

  1. Achuar-Shiwiar
  2. Aguaruna
  3. Amahuaca
  4. Amarakaeri
  5. Amundava
  6. Andoque
  7. Arabela
  8. Araona
  9. Arikapu
  10. Aruá
  11. Baure
  12. Bora
  13. Central Aymara
  14. Cahuarano
  15. Candoshi-Shapra
  16. Canichana (may be extinct)
  17. Carabayo
  18. Cashinahua
  19. Cavineña
  20. Cayuvava (may be extinct)
  21. Chácobo
  22. Chamicuro
  23. Chayahuita
  24. Chiquitano
  25. Cholon (may be extinct)
  26. Cocama-Cocamilla
  27. Cofan
  28. Culina
  29. Cusco Quechua
  30. Ese Ejja
  31. Huachipaeri
  32. Huambisa
  33. Ignaciano
  34. Iñapari
  35. Iquito
  36. Itene (Moré)
  37. Itonama
  38. Jabutí
  39. Jebero
  40. Jora (Hora)
  41. Kallawaya
  42. Karipuná
  43. Katukina
  44. Kaxararí
  45. Korubo
  46. Leco
  47. Machiguenga
  48. Machinere
  49. Makuráp
  50. Marubo
  51. Mascho Piro
  52. Matis
  53. Matsés
  54. Minica Huitoto
  55. Mondé
  56. Movima
  57. Muinane
  58. Muniche
  59. Murui Huitoto
  60. N. Bolivian Quechua
  61. N. Pastaza Quichua
  62. Nambiquara, Northern
  63. Nanti
  64. Napo Lowlad Quechua/Quichua
  65. Nomitsaguenga
  66. Nüpode Huitoto
  67. Ocaina
  68. Omagua
  69. Orejón
  70. Oro-Win
  71. Pacahuara
  72. Pacaasnovos
  73. Pano Katukina
  74. Papavô
  75. Plautdietsch
  76. Portuguese
  77. Poyanáwa
  78. Puno Quechua
  79. Puruborá
  80. Resígaro
  81. Reyesano
  82. Southern Pastaza Quechua
  83. Sabanês
  84. Sakirabia
  85. San Martin Quechua
  86. Secoya
  87. Sharanahua
  88. Shipibo-Conibo
  89. Siona
  90. Siriono
  91. Spanish
  92. Tacana
  93. Taushiro
  94. Tena Lowland Quichua
  95. Ticuna
  96. Toromono
  97. Tubarão
  98. Trinitario
  99. Tsimané [Mosetén]
  100. Tuparí
  101. Ucayali
  102. Urarina
  103. Uru
  104. Uru-Pa-In
  105. Waorani
  106. Wayoró
  107. Yagua
  108. Yaminahua
  109. Yawanawa
  110. Yucuna
  111. Yuqui
  112. Yuracare
  113. Zaparo

Endangered Languages include:

  • Cayuvava (under 10 speakers, isolate, spoken in Bolivia)
  • Chipaya (under 100 speakers, Uru-Chipaya, spoken in Bolivia)
  • Leco (20-40 speakers, isolate, spoken in Bolivia)
  • Muniche (under 10 speakers, isolate, spoken in Peru)
  • Ocaina (under 70 speakers, Witotoan, spoken in Peru and Bolivia)
  • Resígaro (under 20 speakers, Arawakan, spoken in Peru)
  • Taushiro (under 20 speakers, isolate, spoken in Peru)
  • Wayoró (80 speakers, Tupian, spoken in Brazil)

Some Features of Languages in Hotspot include:

  • mild to extensive agglutinative word structure
  • nasalization contrasts
  • SVO order
  • men's vs. women's language varieties

Trivia:

  • Ch'anchay means 'to chew noisily' in Quechua (Peru, 500,000 monolinguals)

Media:

CSA Kallawaya

Antonio Condori, Kallawaya speaker and herbalist

CSA Kallawaya2

Photo: Antonio Condori (left), with his son Illaryon Ramos Condori (center), both hereditary Kallawaya healers, talking with David Harrison (right) in Chary village, northern Bolivia, June 2007 (Photo Greg Anderson, 2007)

Bolivia langage map

The languages of Bolivia. Click to see a larger version.

Sources:

Aguilo, Federico (1991) Diccionario Kallawaya. La Paz: MUSEF.

Bastien, Joseph William (1975). Qollahuaya Rituals: an Ethnographic Account of the Symbolic Relations of Man and Land in an Andean Village. Ann Arbor: Xerox University Microfilms.

— (1987) Healers of the Andes: Kallawaya Herbalists and their Medicinal Plants. Salt Lake City: Univ. of Utah Press

Girault, Louis (1989) Kallawaya: El Idioma Secreto de los Incas. La Paz: UNICEF-OPS-OMS.

Mondaca, Jaime (1987) La Lengua Callawaya: Apuntes de un Cuaderno de Campo. St. Andrews: Centre for Latin American Linguistic Studies, Working Paper no. 18.

Poblete, Enrique O. (1968) La Lengua Secreta de los Incas. La Paz: Los Amigos del Libro.

— (1978) Cultura Callawaya. La Paz: Ediciones Populares Camarlinghi.

Saignes, Thierry (1983) ¿Quiénes Son los Kallawaya? Nota Sobre un Enigma Etnohistórico. Revista andina 1 (2): 357-377.