Kunza language

Native toChile, Peru, Bolivia
RegionAtacama Desert
Extinctca. 1950s
Language codes
ISO 639-3kuz

Kunza is an extinct language isolate once spoken in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile and southern Peru by the Atacama people, who have since shifted to Spanish. The last speaker was documented in 1949.

Other names and spellings include Cunza, Likanantaí, Lipe, Ulipe, and Atacameño.


The language was formerly spoken in northern Chile and southern Peru, specifically in the Chilean villages of Peine, Socaire (near the Salar de Atacama), and Caspana.

The last Kunza speaker was found in 1949, although some have been found since according to anthropologists.[clarification needed] There are 2,000 Atacameños (W. Adelaar).

Unattested varieties listed by Loukotka (1968):


Kaufman (1990) found a proposed connection between Kunza and the likewise unclassified Kapixaná to be plausible; however, the language was more fully described in 2004, and the general consensus among linguists was that both languages are isolates.

Language contact

Jolkesky (2016) notes that there are lexical similarities with the Mochika, Kandoshi, Jaqi, Kechua, Mapudungun, and Uru-Chipaya language families due to contact.[1]


Bilabial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
plain lateral
Stop voiceless p t k q ʔ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡ʃ
ejective t͡ʃʼ
Fricative voiceless s ɬ x χ h
voiced β ɣ
Nasal m n
Trill r
Approximant w l j
Front Central Back
Close i iː u uː
Mid e eː (ə) o oː
Open a aː

See also


  1. ^ Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho de Valhery (2016). Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas (Ph.D. dissertation) (2 ed.). Brasília: University of Brasília.
  2. ^ a b Adelaar, Willem; Muysken, Pieter (2004). The Languages of the Andes. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 380.

External links

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