Book Chapter

Chinchaysuyu Quechua and Amage confession manuals - Colonial language and culture contact in Central Peru


Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz S & Alexander-Bakkerus A (2020) Chinchaysuyu Quechua and Amage confession manuals - Colonial language and culture contact in Central Peru. In: Alexander Bakkerus A, Fernández Rodríguez R, Zack L & Zwartjes O (eds.) Missionary Linguistic Studies from Mesoamerica to Patagonia. Brill's Studies in Language, Cognition and Culture, 22. Leiden: Brill, pp. 156-219.

A volume of Andean indigenous linguistic materials which is kept in the British Library includes a Quechua and an Amage confession manual, written by the same hand and most probably dating from the eighteenth century, but possibly copied from earlier texts. Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz explains the context and manuscript history, makes an analysis of the most salient linguistic features of the Chinchaysuyu Quechua confession manual and presents its transcription. The Quechua text includes Central Peruvian Quechua lexical and morphological features, as opposed to what was the commonly used ‘general language’, a Southern Quechua variety. It also shows a tendency towards a media lengua (mixed language): the structure is entirely Quechua, but almost half of the words are relexified in Spanish. It reflects colonial power structures, but at the same time a certain intent at communicative pragmatism. It is probably the earliest documented example of a nascent variety of a mixed language in the Andes, and due to its inconsistent and unsystematic variations it is not unlike Spanglish. Astrid Alexander-Bakkerus provides a commented transcription and translation of the first Amage confession manual of two included in the manuscript volume. The Amage confession manual seems to be the earliest known text in the Amuesha (or Yanesha’) language, which belongs to the Arawakan language family, and is spoken to the east of the central Andes. Due to the lack of early colonial documentation of Amage, the understanding and analysis of the confession manual has to remain partly hypothetical. With respect to contact phenomena, the text uses a number of loanwords from Quechua and Spanish. Some of the Quechua words may have been borrowed via Christian texts where the Quechua words had already been re-semanticised; others may be older, such as the numbers from ‘six’ to ‘nine’; a few words reflect the economic character of the relationship of the Amages and the Spanish-speaking population.

Title of seriesBrill's Studies in Language, Cognition and Culture
Number in series22
Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online04/06/2020
Place of publicationLeiden
ISSN of series1879-5412