The content of this webpage, and everything associated with this webpage, is independent of the Peace Corps and the United States Government, though I think they should read it too. This blog solely reflects the experiences and observations of Jake DeBerry.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Quechua classes

I’ve mentioned this before, but the native language of the Andes is Quechua, also the language the famously deceased Incas spoke. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Incas are the ones who built Machu Picchu, the ones that Pizarro set adrift with smallpox and steel and horses. They are also a civilization that some think aliens put on this planet…seriously.

Quechua was spoken long before the Incas, though. It is a very weird language to learn...the basic sentence structure is: subject-object-verb. Also, more people speak Quechua in Peru than any other country. Part of the reason is due to the mountains - they provide a natural border. The jungle is another natural border, but the language in the jungle is different.

Well, the time I’ve been living here has been a little bit of a Quechua class but I’ve only picked up the usual greetings and yes and no. Also some bad words because my friends, as does anyone, enjoy teaching me the bad words (I should point out here that pretty much all of my Peruvian friends are also over 35 yrs old).

Due to the fact that everyone in my site speaks Quechua and Spanish, Peace Corps is paying for two weeks of Quechua classes. Our first week was in January, 5 days, 6 hours per day. Hence, I’m well on my way for learning Quechua. I should point out though that Quechua is completely useless outside of this mountain range because every region of Peru speaks a different dialect. I guess it’ll be a cool thing to say later in life and will create conversation when I put it on my resume, but other than that, unless a time machine is invented allowing me to travel back to the Incas or I get abducted by those aliens, the Quechua I learn I will only be able to use here.

Isqun quyakama ashnumayi upukushun. That’s how you say: 9 days until we drink like donkeys. (I don’t have my notebook at the moment and I wrote that for a friend the other day upon request). Below is a picture with some Quechua words along with a picture of what it here is your first Quechua lesson. An easy word to learn is llama...because it's the same word in English and Spanish! Now you know some Quechua.


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