Chimuan languages

Peruvian Andes
Linguistic classificationProposed language family

Chimuan (also Chimúan) or Yuncan is a hypothetical small extinct language family of northern Peru and Ecuador (inter-Andean valley).

Family division

Chimuan consisted of three attested languages:

  • Mochica (a.k.a. Yunga, Chimú)
  • Cañar–Puruhá
    • Cañari (a.k.a. Cañar, Kanyari)
    • Puruhá (a.k.a. Puruwá, Puruguay)

All languages are now extinct.

Campbell (2012) classifies Mochica and Cañar–Puruhá each as separate language families.[1]

Mochica was one of the major languages of pre-Columbian South America. It was documented by Fernando de la Carrera and Middendorff in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries respectively. It became extinct ca. 1950, although some people remember a few words. Adelaar & Muysken (2004) consider Mochica a language isolate for now.

Cañari and Puruhá are documented with only a few words. These two languages are usually connected with Mochica. However, as their documentation level is so low, it may not be possible to confirm this association. According to Adelaar & Muysken (2004), Jijón y Caamaño's evidence of their relationship is only a single word: Mochica nech "river", Cañari necha; based on similarities with neighboring languages, he finds a Barbacoan connection more likely.

Quingnam, possibly the same language as Lengua (Yunga) Pescadora, is sometimes taken to be a dialect of Mochica, but it is unattested, unless a list of numerals discovered in 2010 turns out to be Quingnam or Pescadora as expected. Those numerals are not, however, Mochica.

Mason (1950)

Yunca-Puruhán (Chimuan) internal classification by Mason (1950):[2]

  • Yuncan
    • North group (Puruhá-Cañari)
      • Puruhá
      • Canyari (Cañari)
      • Manabila (Mantenya)
    • South group (Yunca)
      • Yunga
      • Morropé
      • Eten (?)
      • Chimu
      • Mochica (Chincha)
      • Chanco
  • Atalán
    • Wancavilca (Huancavilca)
      • Mania
      • Tumbez
      • Puna
      • Carake: Apichiki, Cancebi

Mason (1950) also included Atalán, which is no longer considered to be part of the Yunca-Puruhán (Chimuan) family.


Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items for the Chimuan languages.[3]

gloss Chimú Eten Cañari Puruhá
one onkó unik
two atput atput pax
head lek xäts gíchan
hand möch metsan
water leng xa kay la
fire hog óx
sun sheang sheang chán
maize aixa mang manga
bird ñaíñ ñaíñ ñay
jaguar räk rak guagal guagua
fish shl'ak t'ak shl'ak
house ánik an án án

See also


  1. ^ Campbell, Lyle (2012). "Classification of the indigenous languages of South America". In Grondona, Verónica; Campbell, Lyle (eds.). The Indigenous Languages of South America. The World of Linguistics. 2. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 59–166. ISBN 978-3-11-025513-3.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Loukotka, Čestmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.

Further reading

  • Adelaar, Willem F. H.; & Muysken, Pieter C. (2004). The languages of the Andes. Cambridge language surveys. Cambridge University Press.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-509427-5.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1994). The native languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the world's languages (pp. 46–76). London: Routledge.

External links

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