Alacalufan languages

EthnicityAlacaluf people
Linguistic classificationone of the world's primary language families
  • Kawesqar
  • Central Alacaluf †
  • Southern Alacaluf †
ISO 639-5aqa

The Alacalufan languages or Kawesqaran languages are a small language family of South America. They have not been definitely linked to any other American language family.[1][2]


Early vocabularies show that Alakaluf was three languages, with an extinct Southern Alakaluf (vocabularies in Fitz-Roy 1839 and Hyades & Deniker 1891) and Central Alakaluf (vocabularies in Borgatello 1928, Marcel 1892, and Skottsberg 1913) in addition to the critically endangered northern variety, Kawésqar.[3]

Based on alleged toponymic evidence, a purported Kakauhua language has sometimes been included in the Alacalufan family.

Guaicaro may have been a dialect of Central Alakaluf or Kawesqar.

Mason (1950)

Mason (1950) lists:[4]

  • Caucawe (Kaukahue, etc.)
  • Enoo (Peshera)
  • Lecheyel
  • Yekinawe (Yequinahuere, etc.)
  • Adwipliin
  • Alikulip, Alakaluf, etc.
  • Calen
  • Taijatof

Chono, Caraica (Karaika), and Poya may also belong.


Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items.[5]

gloss Northern Alcaluf Southern Alcaluf Kaueskar
tongue lekél paileaf kalaktás
hand palkár yukebe terwá
water karkasa arrét chfalai
moon dzyakapés yakapech kapánuk
dog salki shalki kyurro
fish xawoel orol keuwako
canoe peler cherru kaief


  1. ^ Campbell, L. (1997). American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics 4. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Adelaar, W. F. H., & Muysken, P. C. (2004). The Languages of the Andes. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ Viegas Barros (1990, 2005), cited in Hammarström (2015) Ethnologue 16/17/18th editions: a comprehensive review: online appendices
  4. ^ Mason, John Alden (1950). "The languages of South America". In Steward, Julian (ed.). Handbook of South American Indians. 6. Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office: Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 143. pp. 157–317.
  5. ^ Loukotka, Čestmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.

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