Thursday, June 3, 2010

Quichuismo

My body is literally being emptied inside out, and after a difficult night, I was hardly feeling alive. I decided that staying in bed all day yesterday had not been fun or effective, so today I would try another approach, which is to fight this bug by living life again. I dragged myself out of bed, showered, dressed and lay down again. After a while I left the house, but I could not stomach fighting through the crowds on the Ecovia, so I took a taxi to Calama and Seis de Dicembre. I was not sure I could manage through four hours of Spanish, but Amparo was there with energy and enthusiasm and I held on, and tried to learn something. .

Perhaps because I looked so miserable today, Amparo was extra gentle with me. We talked about the advantages of learning Spanish in Quito where the language is more 'pure', except that I noticed that she used a Quichua word (runa). It is interesting to hear so many Quichua words amongst the Spanish here, almost as if unnoticed. Quichua was the language that the Incas brought to Ecuador, and established as the 'lingua franca'. Today, Quichua is spoken across all Andean countries, and more recently there has been a greater interest and pride and study of the language. The Spanish conquerers tried to impose their language on the indigenous inhabitants, and they have been successful in that most Ecuadorians speak Spanish, but many, particularly indigenous, still speak Quichua.

The Spanish spoken, however, is interspersed with all sorts of Quichua words, which have become part of the culture, and part of the Spanish they speak here. The radio channel I listened to yesterday used 'guagua' for 'baby. A little boys' t-shirt expressed pride in his 'taita', or 'father'. Maya and her friends say 'chuta!' instead of 'shoot!' 'Kushki' is 'money', ñaño is 'brother', 'huasi' is 'house', and 'cocha' is 'lake'. One hears 'achachai' for 'cold and 'ararai' for 'hot', the list goes on. The insertion of Quichua words into the Spanish is called 'Quichuismo', and appears to be here to stay.

Eric and I had a salsa lesson at 1:00 PM, but Jipsum looked at me for a minute or two and told me to go back to bed, which I did without much protest.

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