The Speech of Children from Cusco and Chuquisaca

Habla de los niños de Cusco y Chuquisaca

Object Details

Collection LanguageQuechua, Cuzco
Quechua, South Bolivian
Language PIDailla:119577
Title [Indigenous]Qusqumanta Chukisakamantawan irqichakunap simin
Language of Indigenous Titlequz
TitleThe Speech of Children from Cusco and Chuquisaca
Collector(s)Kalt, Susan
Depositor(s)Kalt, Susan
Project/Collector Website
Description [Indigenous]
Language of Indigenous Description
DescriptionAttention students and academic researchers: for any study you plan to publish, please respect the privacy of interviewees and the integrity of our efforts by working with the anonymized version of these interviews which includes interlinear glosses created by first language speakers of Quechua and interviewees' answers to a brief sociolinguistic survey. Access to the anonymized corpus may be requested from Susan Kalt at

Our main goal in creating this collection is to document children’s comprehension and production of Quechua (quz, quh) in rural highland Bolivia and Peru, where a continuum of permeation from Spanish can be observed. The secondary goal is to document variation within Cuzco-Collao Quechua, giving special attention to the variety of Quechua spoken in rural Chuquisaca in South Bolivia. An understanding of rural Bolivian variants is essential for producing school materials for South Bolivian children and for preserving an understanding of their cultural heritage.

Among the scant documentation of the variety spoken in Chuquisaca is a sizeable vocabulary to be included in a dictionary of Bolivian Quechua in preparation by Dr. Pedro Plaza Martínez, and a pedagogical grammar by Louise Stark, Manuel Segovia Bayo and Felicia Segovia Polo (1971). Variation in Cuzco-Collao affix order and interpretation is also detailed by Simon Van de Kerke in his doctoral dissertation (1996) which includes a morphosyntactic study of the Quechua spoken in the town of Tarata, in close proximity to the highly relexified Cochabamba dialect. Our goal is to study rural and less relexified varieties.

According to the most recent Peruvian Census (2007:2.4.1) declaration of Quechua as the language learned in childhood declined 3.3 percent between 1993-2007. Anecdotal evidence indicates a similar trend in Bolivia. Clearly, the rapid loss of a major indigenous language spoken in childhood represents a threat to the vitality of indigenous cultural transmission in the region as well as a major setback for humankind’s understanding of child first and second anguage acquisition, bilingualism and language contact. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of speakers of Cuzco-Collao Quechua, only a handful of published studies of Andean children’s grammar focus on their L1 grammar, and virtually all of these focus on Peruvian children, leaving a serious gap in documentation of indigenous children’s language.

Intellectual Merit:
A major strength of this project stems from our cultivation of a broadening network of partnerships with rural native speaker community members, indigenous linguists, teachers in rural schools, and teacher educators in both Bolivia and Peru. Leaders in rural communities are divided as to the value of their native language and culture; many see adoption of Spanish as the only road out of extreme poverty and devastation produced by environmental disturbances. Devaluation of the native language often begins at school, despite commitments by the governments of both Bolivia and Peru to institute native language instruction. A network of individuals dedicated to reversing that trend is affiliated with the Programa de Formación en Educación Intercultural Bilingüe at the Universidad Mayor San Simón, Cochabamba, Bolivia and with indigenous organizations as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations in their home countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Argentina. Our collaborative children’s language documentation project will enable this network to grow, while leaving tangible products of use for scientific inquiry and language revitalization efforts. This typologically interesting sample of children’s language also allows researchers to illuminate current theoretical questions about second language acquisition and bilingualism, language contact and change.

Broader Impacts:
Our intention is to benefit academic and non-academic communities by creating an accessible archive of rural children’s native language data. Our team also received a revitalization seed grant from the Foundation for Endangered Languages in 2010 and produced its first module (Yachay q’ipi) in August of that year, found and actively downloaded by Andean teachers free of charge at Curriculum materials and educational activities in the native language have the potential to directly extend the life of the language, and serve as a model for other linguistic research projects involving the empowerment of speech communities.

Funding for activities related to this collection:
These data were collected in July-September, 2009 through the generous hospitality and collaboration of the four participating communities and individuals named as participants in the study. At that time we had no outside funding. An earlier pilot study was carried out concurrent with an NEH Andean Worlds Seminar Fellowship awarded to Susan Kalt in 2008, with conference travel awards to Susan Kalt from Roxbury Community College in 2008 and 2010, and small private donations to Susan Kalt and Project Yachay Q’ipi in 2010 and 2011. Continued funding came from a Foundation for Endangered Languages seed grant awarded to Susan Kalt and Project Yachay Q’ipi in 2010, and from a National Endowment for the Humanities Documenting Endangered Languages Fellowship awarded to Susan Kalt from 2011-12 (FN-50091-11).

Collection contents:
1) Interviews of 104 children and 6 adults MUL028R001 - MUL028R110 each contain:
a) videotaped interview, audio of same interview
b) a hand-written record of sentence comprehension data (picture selections)
c) transcription, interlinear analysis and free translation to Spanish of the interviews in which the participants describe 28 closely related pictures (picture descriptions)
d) Some interviews also included a participant-created narrative based on a six-frame comic strip called the duck story. For these, we provide a transcription, interlinear analysis and free translation to Spanish and English.

2) Set of pictures and six-frame comic strip which were discussed in the interviews - MUL028R111

3) Transcription key for picture description task (Quechua, Spanish) - MUL028R112

4) Trilingual gloss legend for comic strip narration task (Quechua, Spanish, English) – LeyendaGlosasTrilingue.pdf

5) Method summary - MUL028R116

6) Written consent from authorities related to each participating community - MUL028R114.
Videotaped consent from leaders in Ccotatóclla, Peru - MUL028R041I002, MUL028R041I005, and MUL028R043I002.
Audiotaped consent from leaders in Collakamani, Bolivia - MUL028R115.

Additional publications related to these data and communities are found at
References2015 Kalt, Susan “Pointing in space and time: deixis and directional movement in schoolchildren’s Quechua” in Marilyn Manley and Antje Muntendam, eds., Quechua Expressions of Stance and Deixis. Brill Studies in the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, Leiden.
2015 Susan Kalt. “Introduction”. With Marilyn Manley and Antje Muntendam. Quechua Expressions of Stance and Deixis. Boston, Brill. 1-24.
2017 Cychosz, M. and Kalt, S.E. "Language-Specific Sources Acoustic Stability in Phonological Development." in BUCLD 42: Proceedings of the 42nd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, eds. A. B. Bertolini and M. J. Kaplan. 186-199.
2018 Cychosz, M. and Kalt, S.E. “The Contribution of Functional Load on Children’s Vocalic Development.” Proceedings of the 2017 Annual Meeting on Phonology.
2021 Susan Kalt and Jonathan A. Geary. "Typological Shift in Bilinguals’ L1: Word Order and Case Marking in Two Varieties of Child Quechua" Languages 6, no. 1: 42.
2021 Susan Kalt. "Acquisition, Loss and Innovation in Chuquisaca Quechua—What Happened to Evidential Marking?" Languages 6, no. 2: 76.