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Jaqaru and Kawki are languages that belong to the Jaqi family of languages (also known as Aymara or Aru), to which Altiplano Aymara also belongs. It is spoken in the districts of Tupe and Catahuasi in the province of Yauyos, within the Peruvian department of Lima.

Jaqaru is spoken in Tupe and the surrounding villages of Aysha and Qullqa (Aisa and Colca), and has at most some 3,000 native speakers, nearly all of them Spanish bilinguals and many of whom have now migrated to Lima.

Kawki is spoken in the nearby communities of Cachuy, Canchan, Caipan and Chavin, by a very small number of mostly elderly individuals (9 surviving in early 2005) and is a dying language.

Though some researchers have grouped Jaqaru and Kawki together as varieties of the same language, Dr. M. J. Hardman has found much evidence to suggest that the two are in fact separate languages. While Hardman initially believed the two languages to be one same, she discovered through fieldwork with speakers of both languages that the two, while sharing a degree of mutual intelligibility, are not the same. Native speakers of one language were unable to understand tape recordings of people speaking the other, and in cases of marriages between Kawki and Jaqaru speakers, the home language was Spanish. Historical analysis shows that the two languages were out of contact with one another for a period of time, and only since coming back into contact with one another have commonalities been found that have led some to surmise that Jaqaru and Kawki are the same language.

There exist clear differences between Jaqaru and Kawki in regard to morphology. Jaqaru has ten verb persons, whereas Kawki has only nine . Additionally, regressive vowel harmony is present throughout the verb person system in Jaqaru, but does not appear in Kawki. Phonologically, Kawki is differentiated from Jaqaru in its vowel system. Jaqaru contains six vowels- three of regular length and three short, whereas Kawki has only the three regular-length vowels.

Terminology for the wider language family of which Jaqaru and Kawki are a part (together with Aymara) has not reached consensus. Dr. Hardman proposes that the linguistic family to which these three languages belong is the Jaqi family of languages (1978). Other widely respected Peruvian linguists have proposed alternative names for the same language family. Alfredo Torero uses the term 'Aru' ('speech') (citation needed); Rodolfo Cerron-Palomino, meanwhile, has proposed that the term 'Aymara' should be used for the whole family, distinguished into two branches, Southern (or Altiplano) Aymara and Central Aymara (i.e. Jaqaru and Kawki) (citation needed). Each of these three proposals has its followers in Andean linguistics. In English usage, some linguists use the term Aymaran for the family, reserving 'Aymara' for the Altiplano branch (citation needed). While it is common to refer to Jaqaru and Kawki as dialects of Aymara (since the Aymara group is the largest of the three), Dr. Hardman avoids using Aymara as the language classification, as the word Aymara in both Kawki and Jaqaru is a term of insult. The term Aru (to speak) is also avoided because while it is still used in Kawki and Jaqaru, Aymara defaults to the Spanish borrowing parlana to mean to speak (1978).

While Jaqaru and Kawki are related, they are not interchangeableneither in terms of naming the language, nor in terms of use. These languages are part of the Jaqi linguistic family, which is found in the Andes mountains of South America, today primarily in Peru and Bolivia, with some small communities in northern Chile and a large immigrant community in Argentina.

Jaqaru Syntax

Syntax in Jaqaru consists mainly of a system of sentence suffixes. These suffixes indicate sentence type Suffixes can and often do occur more than one per sentence, marking sentence type and creating complex constructions. Simply put, for sentences to be grammatical in Jaqaru, they must be inflected. Morphological words and syntactic phrases which do not contain a sentence suffix are judged by native speakers to be ungrammatical and for some, impossible to say .

Sentence Suffixes

Sentence suffixes occur after all other morphological processes and can occur on any morphological words or syntactic phrases. The nature of sentence suffixes allows for freedom of word order and creativity in sentence construction, useful to storytellers .

There are seven classes of sentence suffixes in Jaqaru, listed below:

Order classes of sentence suffixes

ITemporal: -kasa (completive) and -ra (continuative)

IIAggregational: -rk"a (additive) and -sk"a (sequential)

IIICategorizer: -sa (information), -txi , -wa (PKpersonal knowledge), -qa , and -psa (aggregational)

IVKTL (knowledge through language): -mna ('it is said')

VSurprisal: -ja (rhetorical)

VIEmphatic: -illi ('really!")

VIIFinalDS: -ashi ('maybe') and -ishi ('remember')

These suffixes can occur in combination on words and most Class I suffixes rarely appear without another suffix on a morphological word. Classes II, III, and IV occur most frequently and are considered the core of syntactic inflection. It is possible for all sentence suffixes to occur in a sentence, but it does not happen. At most three or four sentence suffixes have been found in a text as of the year 2000. However, because many morphological suffixes can also be stacked, syntactic words frequently carry up to seven or eight suffixes .


Unlike sentence word order, within phrases a fixed word order is either preferred or obligatory. Two main types of phrases occur in Jaqaru: noun phrases and verb phrases.

Noun Phrases. There are three types of noun phrases: modifier phrases, number phrases, and possessive phrases. Modifier phrases consist of a head noun preceded by a one or more modifier noun, which is marked by vowel dropping. Numbers in Jaqaru on on a base ten scale. Number phrases are carefully ordered to build larger numbers using multipliers of 10, 100, and 1000. The number phrase order is: number x multiplier + number. Neutral, unmarked possessive phrases follow a specific order: possessor + -na + possessed + one of the four personal possessive suffixes .

Verb Phrases. Verb phrases in Jaqaru are rare and never consist of more than two parts. There are four fixed order types: the careful phrase, the facultative phrase, the effort phrase, and the OV phrase (vowel-drop modifier + verb root). Verbs can additionally be modified by a quantifier modifier .


There are three types of particles in Jaqaru: negatives, greetings, and a few special ones. Three particles are used for negation: imperative negative, principle negative, and subordinate negative. Four greetings are used in Jaqaru for addressing people, which mark the sex of the speaker and the addressee and do not carry any suffixes of any kind. Four special particles take no suffixes and comprise utterances in and of themselves: Jira (Lets go), Jalli , Wala , and Chiku .

Jaqaru Morphology

Jaqaru morphology is extremely complex. Most of the grammatical information in Jaqaru is carried in the morphology. The basic person system consists of four persons. In the verb system, these four persons are expanded into a conjugation of ten grammatical person markers, each marking both subject and object in a single suffix. Also characteristic of the Jaqaru morphology (and all of the Jaqi languages) is the use of extensive vowel dropping for grammatical marking. The rules constraining vowel dropping are extensive, and can be conditioned by such things as morpheme identity, morpheme sequence, syntactic requirements, some phonological requirements and suffix requirements. .

The primary form classes are root and suffix. Root classes are verb, noun, and particle; suffix classes are nominal, verbal, thematic, and sentence.

Data-source marking is reflected in every sentence of the language. The three major grammatical categories of data source are:

1. personal knowledge (PK)--typically referring to sight

2. knowledge-through-language (KTW)--referring to all that is learned by hearing others speak and by reading

3. non-personal-knowledge (NPK)--used for all myths, histories from longer ago than any living memory, stories, and non-involvement of the speaker in the current situation

Nominal morphology

Nominal morphology involves suffixes, with two kinds of nominal suffixes: possession and modification. Noun suffixes consist of two types. One set involves the interplay of nouns with the rest of the sentence . All other nominal suffixes function to create complex nouns .

Nominal morphology is based on a four-person paradigm which marks the relationship of the second person to the utterance. Therefore, the first person excludes the addressee. Second person excludes the speaker. Third person excludes both the speaker and the addressee, and is used for unmarked or null instances. Fourth person marks the inclusion of both the speaker and the addressee .

Verbal morphology

Verbal morphology in Jaqaru is extremely complex, in both inflections and derivations. A great deal of the grammatical work of the language is done within the verbal morphological system. The standard paradigm is of ten persons, which define the relationships between the four basic persons .

List of Verbal persons

2>2p: none

2>1p: -uta, -utumata, and -utusama

2>4p: -ushta, -ushtumata, and -ushtusama

2>3p: -ta, -mata, and -sama


1>2p: -imi, -mama and -shtama

1>1p: none

1>4p: none

1>3p: -t"a, -nha, and -sa


4>2p: none

4>1p: none

4>4p: none

4>3p: -tana, -tana, and -sana


3>2p: -tama, -matama, and -masama

3>1p: -utu, -utuni, and -utusp"a

3>4p: -ushtu, -ushtuni, and -ushtusp"a

3>3p: -i, -ni, and -sp"a

In Jaqaru (and all Jaqi languages) the tie between object and subject is one of union; they are not separable morphologically and conjugation requires simultaneous specification of both as a unit. Verbs are conjugated in two sets: one for principal clauses with ten tenses and one for subordinate clauses with twelve tenses. Verbs ordinarily consist of a minimum of three morphemes. However, typical verbs consist of many more .

Linguistic Postulates

All of the Jaqi languages have two linguistic postulates in common: data-source marking and the human vs. non-human distinction. In Jaqaru, data-source marking is so extensive that it is necessary to most any sentence uttered. Any speaker, in uttering any sentence, must accurately indicate where the knowledge comes from. The three primary categories of data-source marking are: (1) personal knowledgeknowledge acquired by personal experience, (2) knowledge-through languageincludes all knowledge gained through the medium of language, and (3) nonpersonal knowledgeappropriate for all situations where witnesses cannot be expected (see Jaqaru Morphology for more explanation).

Data-source marking is done primarily through sentence suffixes and verb tenses. Data-source is applied with equal universality to all morphological structures. Culturally, data-source comes out in the Jaqi peoples tendencies to ask children What did they say, where their accuracy is expected.

Language is considered the distinguishing characteristic of humanness, and plays a large part in the human/non-human linguistic postulate. The cultural norms among the speakers of Jaqaru stress equality among women and men, and community and cooperation over competition and hierarchical structures. The language lacks any structures that denigrate women, rather the grammatical structures affirm humanness. Jaqarus value of humans and people in general comes out in its pronounsone set for human beings, and a separate set for all others, including animals .

Its ISO 639-3 code is jqr.

See also

Aymara language


Quechua language


Hardman, Martha James 1978. Jaqi: The Linguistic Family. The International Journal of American Linguistics. Volume 44. pp. 146-153.

Hardman-de-Bautista, Martha James 1978. Linguistic Postulates and Applied Anthropological Linguistics. In V. Honsa and M. J. Hardman-de-Bautista (eds) Papers on Linguistics and Child Language. New York: Mouton Publishers.

Hardman, Martha James 1983. "And if We Lose Our Name, Then What About Our Land", or What Price Development? Evaluating Gender Relations Volume 35, number 3. pp. 151-161.

Hardman, Martha James 2000. Jaqaru. Germany: Lincom Europa.

External links

website Dr. M.J. Hardman's website, with links to listen to all of the Jaqi languages, glossed texts, Aymara materials on the internet, and much more.

Jaqaru Digital Collection from the works of Dr. Martha James Hardman in the University of Florida Digital Collections

The Sounds of the Andean Languages listen online to pronunciations of Jaqaru and Kawki words, see photos of speakers and their home region, learn about the origins of Jaqaru and its relationship to the Aymara language.

Ethnologue report for Jaqaru

Jaqmashi Association a small NGO set up to support the Jaqaru people, culture and language.

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

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