SFS Finishes First Year of Quechua Instruction
The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) has begun offering courses in Quechua language and culture. This rare program was made possible by an NDEA Title VI grant which CLAS received from the U.S. Department of Education in August of 2006. Amongst other initiatives, NDEA Title VI grants provide funding for uncommonly-taught languages, of which Quechua is one.
Quechua is spoken by 8-10 million people in Latin America today, making it the most widely spoken Amerindian language.
CLAS’ search for a Quechua instructor began in the spring of 2007 and culminated in the hiring of Professor Luis A. Morato-Lara that summer. In the spring 2008 semester, Morato-Lara’s Quechua class boasted a record enrollment of 18 students, and it will be offered again during the summer and fall 2008 sessions. Danny Rico, a CULP major in the SFS class of '09, enrolled in Quechua as a way of enriching his study of democracy and indigenous issues in Bolivia and Ecuador. "Up until now," he said, "most of my knowledge about this culture has come from books. However, I feel that in order to truly understand a culture—especially one based so heavily in oral tradition—one must learn its primary form of communication."
Quechua is spoken by 8-10 million people in Latin America today, making it the most widely spoken Amerindian language. It is perhaps best known as the official language of the Incan empire. Alongside Spanish, Quechua is an official language of Bolivia as well as Peru.
Did you know?
Quechua words have made their way into many other world languages. Some Quechua loanwords in English include: jerky, condor, lima, pampa, puma, quinoa, coca, llama, and quinine.
Before the introduction of the Latin alphabet by Spanish conquistadors, Quechua had no written form. The lack of written materials available in Quechua persists today and is the chief obstacle to use and teaching of the language.
Quechua's print debut came in 1560 when Domingo de Santo Tomás published a Quechua dictionary.