Why speak quechua

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Why Speak Quechua? : A Study of Language Attitudes among Native Quechua Speakers in Lima, Peru.

A Senior Honors Thesis

Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for graduation with research distinction in Linguistics in the undergraduate colleges of The Ohio State University by Nicole Holliday The Ohio State University June 2010 Project Advisor: Professor Donald Winford,Department of Linguistics

Holliday 2



According to the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, there are presently 3.2 million Quechua speakers in Peru, which constitute approximately 16.5% of the total Peruvian population. As a result of the existence of a numerically prominent Quechua speaking population, the language is not presently classified asendangered in Peru. The 32 documented dialects of Quechua are considered as part of both an official language of Peru and a “lingua franca” in most regions of the Andes (Sherzer & Urban 1988, Lewis 2009). While the Peruvian government is supportive of the Quechua macrolanguage, “The State promotes the study and the knowledge of indigenous languages” (Article 83 of the Constitutional Assembly of Peruqtd. inVon Gleich 1994), many believe that with the advent of new technology and heavy cultural pressure to learn Spanish, Quechua will begin to fade into obscurity, just as the languages of Aymara and Kura have “lost their potency” in many parts of South America (Amastae 1989). At this point in time, there exists a great deal of data about how Quechua is used in Peru, but there is little data aboutlanguage attitudes there, and even less about how native Quechua speakers view both their own language and how it relates to the more widelyspoken Spanish. This research investigates the social status and strength of the Quechua language by examining the attitudes of native Quechua speakers who are also fluently bilingual in Spanish. This project uses previous research and frameworks on languageendangerment, along with the language attitudes of Quechua/Spanish bilinguals in Peru to assess the present strength of Quechua and to inform a projection of the future linguistic situation between Quechua and Spanish in Peru. II. Objective

Holliday 3 The main objective of this research is to examine some factors that will affect how influential Quechua will continue to be in Peru in the 21stcentury. It is clear that if the current generation of speakers does not believe that Quechua is important in their everyday lives or the lives of their children, this will have a negative effect on its number of speakers. Also, if speakers feel that there are increasingly fewer useful domains for Quechua, this will contribute to its decline. In "The Politics of Community: Education, IndigenousRights and Ethic Mobilization in Peru", Maria Elena Garcia (2003) discusses the fact that many Quechua speakers are anxious for their children to learn eloquent Spanish, because if they do not, they will be nothing more than “campesinos” (peasants). This statement indicates that there still exists a powerful attitude that places Quechua in opposition to the more highly valued Spanish. Also, DavidPost (1994) discusses this anti-indigenous language attitude as it relates to educational opportunities, in his article "Through a Glass Darkly? Indigeneity, Information, and the Image of the Peruvian University”. Post discusses the widely held attitude that; “Because higher education has, in fact, operated using Peru’s criollo rather than indigenous peoples, attaining higher education would be moredifficult for persons of indigenous background”. These attitudes are important to consider, because they can help develop research and programs that may encourage Quechua language use and prevent the language from becoming endangered in the long-term. III. Current State of the Language According to official and governmental accounts, Quechua appears to have a strong base of speakers and...
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