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Continuity and Change in the Andean Languages of Peru

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BY MAX HAMMAN L.
Linguistic evolution is a process in which languages change during every minute of their existence. These changes respond both to internal conditions within the languages themselves as well as extralinguistic factors (contacts between groups, isolation, social dynamics, among others). However, given the fact that a language can be a tool of speedy communication due to its stability (because if the change were very sudden, communication between persons of different age would be impossible), one can claim that there are two opposing tendencies which in the balance involve a slow evolution. But despite being slow, the evolution of languages is inevitable; not even the written language can prevent it, as it is the spoken language with all its social dynamics which generate change.
ANDEAN LANGUAGES
The vast chain of mountains that forms the Andes stretches not just from the Antilles to the Tierra del Fuego, but also from The Pacific Ocean to the edge of the Amazon jungle. This is why when we mention Andean languages, we are not necessarily dealing with highland languages, because the Andes also run through the coast and the cloud forest.

It is often said that Quechua and Aymara are the languages of the Andes. And many believe that when the Spaniards arrived, these two were the sole surviving languages in the Inca Empire. But this could not be further from the truth. In the era oftheTawantinsuyo, linguistics were far from homogenous and still less were limited to Quechua and Aymara. In fact, dozens of languages co-existed, a situation similar to when the Romans conquered Hispania.

The Andean languages of which we are aware are Mochica, Quingnam, Sechura, Tallán, Olmos, Cul le, Callahuaya, Cat, Den, Chacha, Puquina, Uru Chipaya, Uruquilla, Quechua, Aymara, Colán, Hivito and Cholón. We are fairly sure these were not written languages, un like the Aztec language. That has made it enormously difficult to reconstruct these ancient languages, although there is interesting evidence of some of them.
DEAD LANGUAGES
Throughout history, via the processes of social and political domination, many tribes were shunned, wiped out or forced to speak a language that was not their own. In these cases, this involved the disappearance of the language more than just linguistic change.

A dead language is a language no longer spoken by anyone. But the death of a language is not a fleeting phenomenon -it is a long-drawn out process that particularly in the Andean world appeared to undergo a unique transformation: the speaker of a native language who made contact with the Spanish language would become bilingual. Then his children, basically Spanish speakers, would understand but not speak their native language. This is the result of contact between grandchildren and their grandmothers, who in the intimacy of their home, would speak to them in their native language. This would finally disappear over the next generation.

Mochica [mikik] This language was spoken by the Mochica culture, which flourished between the seventh and thirteenth centuries on the north coast of Peru (from Chocope to Olmos). The Mochica language, also known as Yunga, has been studied since the early days of the Spanish Conquest. The last Mochica speaker died at the start of this century.

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