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Aymara language

From Academic Kids

Help wikipedia by translating [Spanish article (http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lengua_aymara)] into this article.

Aymara is the language of the Aymara people of the Andes. It is one of only a handful of Native American languages with over a million speakers, and it is one of the official languages of Bolivia and Peru. It is also spoken in Chile and Argentina.

Many linguists believe that Aymara is related to its more widely-spoken neighbour, Quechua. This claim, however, is disputed — although there are indeed similarities, critics say that these may simply be the result of prolonged interaction between the two languages or an areal feature, not a shared origin.

The Aymara language is an inflected language, and has a subject-object-verb word order.

Contents

Phonology

Aymara has three phoneme vowels (, which distinguish two degrees of length. The high vowels are lowered to mid height before uvular consonants ( → , → ).

As for the consonants, Aymara has phonemic stops at the labial, alveolar, palatal, velar and uvular points of articulation. Stops show no distinction of voice (i. e. there is no phonemic contrast between and ), but each stop has three forms: plain (unaspirated), glottalized, and aspirated. Aymara also has a trilled , and an alveolar/palatal contrast for nasals and laterals, as well as two semivowels ( and ).

Stress is usually on the penult (the syllable before the last one), but long vowels may shift it.

History

Some believe that the Aymara language descends from the language spoken in Tiwanaku. This can't be proven, but it is known that the language was spoken by the rich Aymara kingdoms, who were later conquered by the Inca.

Geographical distribution

There are 1.2 million Bolivian speakers, 300 thousand Peruvian speakers, 50 thousand Chilean speakers and about 10,000 Argentinan speakers.

While the Aymara language is basically the same wherever it is spoken, there are regional differences. The Aymara spoken in La Paz, Bolivia is considered the purest form of the language. The 200,000 thousand Aymara speakers from the border of Peru to Puno is the most similar to the Aymara spoken in La Paz. There are also about 90,000 Aymara speakers in the provinces of Huancane and Moho in the department of Puno in Peru. While understood by Aymaristas from other regions, the Aymara spoken in Huancane and Moho seems to contain the most differences.

Interesting features

The language has attracted interest because it is based on a three value logic system, and thus supposedly has better expressiveness than many other languages based on binary logic.

It is cited by the author Umberto Eco in The Search for the Perfect Language as a language of immense flexibility, capable of accommodating many neologisms. Ludovico Bertonio published Arte de la lengua aymara in 1603. He remarked that the language was particularly useful for expressing abstract concepts. In 1860 Emeterio Villamil de Rada suggested it was "the language of Adam" (la lengua de Adán). Guzmán de Rojas has suggested that it be used as an intermediary language for computerised translation.

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