MundoAndino Home : Bolivia Guide at Mundo Andino

Ayacucho Quechua

Ayacucho is one dialect of the Quechua language, spoken in the Ayacucho region of Peru, as well as by immigrants from Ayacucho in Lima. With roughly a million speakers, it is one of the largest dialects of the language along with Cusco Quechua. The literary standard of Southern Quechua is based on these two closely related Quechua varieties.



Ayacucho Quechua uses only three vowels: , , and , which are rendered by native speakers as , , and respectively. When these vowels appear adjacent to the uvular fricative , they are lowered (with instead being produced further back), yielding , , and respectively. For bilingual speakers, the Spanish vowels, [[Open front unrounded vowel|]], , and may also be used.


Bold type indicates othographic representation. Phonetic pronunciation, if different, is indicated by IPA symbols in brackets.

Notable differences from Cusco Quechua:

There are no ejective stops. See Cusco Phonology for examples of ejective consonants

"q" represents the uvular fricative, , rather than the uvular stop of Cusco. The q grapheme is kept merely to allow for easy comparison due to its use with other Quechua languages

Ayacucho Quechua lacks the characteristic fricativization of stops at the end of a syllable; compare Cusco nuqanchis with Ayacucho nuqanchik.

Ayacucho Quechua has borrowed hundreds of words from Spanish, and some speakers (even monolinguals) approximate the Spanish pronunciation. For such speakers, are phonemes in borrowed words like libru (from Spanish libro) or servey (from Spanish servir)

Stress Rules and Syllable Structure

Quechua primary (strong) stress regularly falls the penultimate syllable (if a word has more than one syllable). It may also occur on the final syllable, in which case it is directly indicated by the acute diacritic. In slow speech, weak stress tends to fall on the first syllable of a word.

All phonemes appear in word initial position, though vowel clusters are not allowed, and word initial consonant clusters occur only in words borrowed from Spanish. The consonants h, n, t, ll, and r cannot occur in words final position . This leads to a minimal possible syllable of V (only word initially) and a maximal native syllable of CVC nan (with the prohibited consonants unable to appear in the final position), and a maximal possible syllable of CCVC kreyey (from Spanish creer).


Substantive Morphology


Quechua is a largely agglutinative language, and Quechua nouns can be modified by many affixes (largely suffixes) which can mark the case of a noun (substantive) or derive a new word. Some suffixes are possible in combination, such as -pa + -ta, nuqapata, "to my place". Pronouns are marked with the same suffixes as regular nouns, as in -nuqa "I", -nuqa-pa "my".

Personal Pronouns

The first person plural pronouns Ayacucho Quechua are divided into inclusive and exclusive pairs. Nuqanchik, the inclusive pronoun, means we and includes the person to whom the speaker is talking, as in "you and I". The exclusive pronoun, nuqayku, also means we, but does not include the listener, meaning approximately "we but not you".

Case Marking

Ayacucho Quechua substantives are marked for eleven grammatical cases, which are also conveyed through the use of suffixes. These suffixes may be placed onto nouns, numerals, pronouns, and with an adverbial meaning, on adjectives and adverbs.

-ta: The -ta suffix is used to mark the object or goal of a transitive verbs. This means that it marks the direct object in sentences like wasita qawan "he watches the house", and also used to mark the goal of a motion verb if the actor is a human, as in wasita rin "he goes to the house". -ta may also be used with an adverbial function with adjectives, numbers counting hours, adverbs, and adverbial nouns (such as day or night).

-pi: The -pi suffix is used to mark location in, on, at or within the noun to which it is attached i.e. wasipi "in the house". When attached to an adverbial noun, -pi acquires the meaning "during" as in setembripi "during september". When suffixed to a nominalized verbal, it means "while", as in suyasqampi "while he waited". Additionally, -pi can be affixed to adjectives to indicate an adverbial function like katulikapi kasarakunqa "they'll get married in a catholic church"

-pa: The -pa suffix marks the genitive case, i.e. wasipa "the house's". A number of adverbials can also be formed from nouns + -pa; waqta "side" waqtapa- "on its side, sideways"

-man: The -man suffix is used to mark the direction towards a noun for a non-human actor, kay nanmi ayakuchuman riq "this road goes to Ayacucho".

-manta: The -manta suffix (not composed of the individual suffixes -man and -ta) is used to mark motion away from a noun, wasimanta "from the house". It is also used for a number of other relational meanings such as "about", "instead of", or "made of", firumantam "made of iron", or wasimanta riman "he speaks about the house".

-wan: The -wan suffix is used to mark accompaniment, as in nuqawanmi rin, "he goes with me", or lampawan llamkachkan, "he is working with the hoe".

-paq: The -paq suffix is used to indicate the beneficiary of an action as in, amikumpaqmi rimapunqa, "he'll speak on behalf of his friend". When attached to a verbal, it means "about to", as in, mikuypaq kachkan, "he is about to eat".

-rayku: The -rayku suffix is used to indicate causality, nuqarayku "because of me", munasqayrayku, "because I want to"

-kama: The -kama suffix marks motion up to but not farther than the object , wasikama"up to the house". -pura: The -pura suffix indicates the location of an object among others of its kind, kikinchikpura qunakuranchik papakunta, "we exchanged potatoes amongst ourselves".

-nka: The -nka suffix (which appears as -ninka following a consonant) implies equal distribution among members in a group, iskayninka quwanchik, "he gives us two each".

-kuna*: The -kuna suffix (which does not explicitly mark case) is used to pluralize nouns, wasikuna "houses".

Verbal Morphology

Verbal Conjugations

In contrast to the fairly simple morphology for nouns, Quechua verbal morphology is much more complex. Verbs are conjugated for person and number of both the subject and the object. Subject suffixes precede explicit object suffixes as in riku-y-ki-ku "We see you", in which the first person -y appears before the second person -ki . However, even the subject markers are preceded by the suffixes -wa and -su which indirectly convey the direct object of the verb, as in riku-wa-n-ki "You see me". Explicit personal markers are preceded by one of the tentatively titled "aspect" morphemes. The simple present tense is marked by the suffix -n-, although this suffix appears Zero in 1st person subject, second person object verbs.

Verbal Suffixes

*-y: refers to the speaker. It appears as as -y following a vowel, -niy following a consonant, -i following the -n- marker of the simple present, and Zero following the future ending -sqa.

*-ki: refers to the addressee, the person to whom one is speaking. It appears as -yki following /a/ or /u/, -niki following a consonant, and as -ki elsewhere

*-n: Refers to a person other than the speaker or the addressee. It appears as -n following a vowel, and -nin following a consonant.

*-chik: -chik refers to a group which includes the addressee. It appears as -nchik following a vowel, -ninchik following a consonant, and -chik elsewhere (as when it follows the -n- morpheme).

*-ku: -ku refers to a group which excludes the addressee. It has no allomorphy.

*-wa: Indicates that the speaker is the object of second or third person action

*-su: Indicates that the addressee (when followed by the second person ending).

Below is shown the verb rikuy, "to see", fully conjugated in the simple present tense.


Ayacucho Quechua has a standard SOV word order, but this can be altered, since the syntactic relationship between nouns is made clear by the overt case markers. Furthermore, unlike in other casemarked languages (like Russian or Latin) the inversion of the standard word order in ayacucho Quechua does not serve to topicalize the word (or phrase) in question since this to is explicitly marked by the -qa topic marker. Primarily then, inversions of word order serve to emphasize words as particularly relevant or salient. Compare standard wasita qawan "he watches the house" with qawan wasita "he watches the house" (as opposed to feeling it or hearing about it) in which the act of watching is being specifically highlighted.

With respect to smaller constituents, the order is much more fixed. Modifiers, such as adjectives, preadjectivals, adverbials and attributive nouns all occur before the head which they modify (including possessive nouns marked with -pa). Prepositions, when they occur, are also placed before their noun phrases.


Rodolfo Cerron-Palomino, Linguistica Quechua, Centro de Estudios Rurales Andinos 'Bartolome de las Casas', 2nd ed. 2003

Clodoaldo Soto Ruiz, Quechua: manual de ensenanza, Instituto de Estudios Peruanas, 2nd ed. 1993, ISBN 84-89303-24-X

Clodoaldo Soto Ruiz, Gramatica Quechua Ayacucho-Chanca, Ministerio de Educacion, 1976

Clodoaldo Soto Ruiz, Diccionario quechua Ayacucho-Chanca [- Castellano y vice versa]. Ministerio de educacion del Peru, 1976

Gary Parker, Ayacucho Grammar and Dictionary, Mouton, 1969

Didn't find what you were looking for.
Need more information for your travel research or homework?
Ask your questions at the forum about Languages of Bolivia or help others to find answers.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Ayacucho Quechua

Disclaimer - Privacy Policy - 2009