Urgent video documentation of Ecuadorian Highland Quichua (a Quechuan language): focus on regions of of imminent language shift

Urgent video documentation of Ecuadorian Highland Quichua (a Quechuan language): focus on regions of of imminent language shift

Language: Ecuadorian Highland Quichua (ISO639-3:qud)
Depositor: Simeon Floyd
Location: Ecuador
Deposit Id: 0485
Grant id: MDP0374
Funding body: ELDP
Level: Deposit

Summary of deposit

This data represents speakers of Ecuadorian Highland Quichua (or Kichwa) from several different communities from around Pichincha Province and neighboring areas of Imbabura and Cotopaxi Provinces of Andean Ecuador. The recorded materials include informal speech, ethnographic interviews, narrative, and cultural demonstrations, creating a multi-purpose corpus to be used for broad linguistic and cultural documentation, for specific analytical projects (like the study of the high degree of dialectal diversity), and for community purposes and materials. Most speakers in this area are of advanced age (60s-80s), and after first visiting with local families and authorities to explain the project, principal researcher Simeon Floyd arranges appointments for filming sessions in which locals talk among themselves or are interviewed by Floyd or other members of the research team. A team of 10 native speaker researchers from Imbabura Province then transcribe the materials and translate them into Spanish, and transcripts are included with the media materials as they are completed.

Group represented

This collection is being created with speakers of several related dialects of Highland Ecuadorian Quichua. Focus is on Pichincha Province including bordering areas of Imbabura and Cotopaxi. Generally thought of as "northern" and "central" dialect areas, Pichincha actually represents the transition from the northern Imbabura to the central Cotpaxi, and has features of both areas. Since the capital city of Quito is in Pichincha Province, the communities are being encroached on by urbanization to greater or lesser degrees. This is coupled with an extreme degree of language shift.

Language information
Ecuadorian Highland Quichua, commonly written as "Kichwa", is a Quechuan language spoken throughout the Ecuadorian Andes from the province of Imbabura in the north to the province of Loja in the south. Related to the Quechuan languages of Peru and other Andean countries, the spread of the Quechuan language family to the area that would become modern Ecuador is associated with the expansion of the Inca Empire. Like the other Quechuan languages and western South American languages more generally, Ecuadorian Highland Kichwa is an agglutinative, SOV language with rich morphology, a medium-sized phoneme inventory. After the Spanish conquest the local Quechuan variety continued to develop into distinct regional language with unique features, no longer intelligible with Inca or Cuzco Quechua, and featuring distinct local dialects throughout the Ecuadorian Andes, spoken by a many different regional ethnic groups. Despite the historically large number of speakers (current estimates are imprecise but are in the hundreds of thousands), speakers of Ecuadorian Highland Quichua are relatively nearby to cities with predominantly Spanish speaking populations, and the language is under intensive pressure from language shift to Spanish. Currently in most regions the majority of young people are only passive users of the language, meaning that in most cases it will not be transmitted to the next generation. In relation to this sociolinguistic dynamic, varieties of Ecuadorian Spanish are also used in the local village and household contexts.

Deposit contents

Deposit contents: 23 sessions of video materials totaling 14 hours, each including un-concatenated native .mts files at 60fps 1080p, concatenated .mp4 files at 30fps 1080p, and corresponding .wav files. Approximately half of this data is transcribed and transcriptions will be deposited as they are finished.

Deposit history

Data collection was delayed until January of 2018 when it was possible to purchase the camera. Video collection has continued consistently since then and will increase until mid-2019, with several upcoming intensive filming sessions, and ongoing development of relationships with Quichua speakers in newly contacted communities in order to pursue future data collection. Files are concatenated into smaller working files (still very high quality) with sound files, and original native files are preserved. The files are also backed up on the MPI server but not available in the archive. Transcriptions and translations are being produced currently.

Other information

All private, for-profit usage of materials is prohibited. Legitimate educational, social, or research usages are permitted.

Acknowledgement and citation

Usage of materials should include acknowledgment of researcher Simeon Floyd as well as the specific communities/speakers represented, as listed in the metadata, as well as ELDP.

To refer to any data from the corpus, please cite the corpus in this way:

Floyd, Simeon. 2018. Urgent video documentation of Ecuadorian Highland Quichua (a Quechuan language): focus on regions of of imminent language shift. A multi-community documentary collection: Pichincha, Imbabura and Cotopaxi Provinces, Ecuador.. URL: https://elar.soas.ac.uk/Collection/MPI1083422. London: SOAS, Endangered Languages Archive. Accessed on [insert date here].


Collection online
Resources online and curated


Simeon Floyd
Affiliation: Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2020 July 11 to 2020 July 11
Deposit hits:1
Downloaded files
Without statistics

Showing 1 - 10 of 39 Items

This recording is the first recording made for the ELDP project for Pichincha Quichua and surrounding areas and is in an interview format. The community of Oyacoto has speakers of Quichua in their 60s and even 50s, a little younger than the other nearby areas. At the beginning of the recording two women of Oyacoto speak about community history and the conditions in the area when they were younger. They describe their current lifestyle and mention local agriculture, using interesting terms like “sara mama” (mother corn). Discussions of toponyms provide some interesting information, including variation in stress patterns such as “Yarúqui” instead of the standard “Yaruquí”.

Recorded on: 2018-01-27

This recording follows up with the women of Oyacoto who had participated in earlier recordings. The discussion includes descriptions of livestock practices, mostly involving small animals (goats, pigs, chickens), and agricultural practices. Some notable multimodal practices are represented, for example a negative existential gesture at 5:40 with the phrase “it did not rain.” The pronunciation of “Oyacoto” can be heard as “Oyacotóg” in several places. Later in the recording the women discuss how the usage of the traditional clothing has become less common.

Recorded on: 2018-02-03

In this recording two neighbors from the highly urbanized neighborhood of Llano Grande discuss changes in the community. They list some of the traditional last names in the neighborhood during the second minute. They describe how the community was before urbanization, a series of indigenous communities stretching around the periphery of Quito, and reflect on their family histories, mentioning shamans and healers in their families. A later part of the conversation comments on current politics and reflect that even indigenous leaders sometimes adopt non-indigenous political practices. Finally, a few other local details are mentioned, such as the term “runa shimi” (peoples’ language) for Quichua.

Recorded on: 2018-02-03

This recording follows up with the women of Oyacoto who had participated in earlier recordings. The women speak with interesting expressive prosodic features, for example together with directional gestures describing going down to the Guayllabamba river to find snails to eat or sell. The terms “Quichua” and “Inga” are both used to refer to the language. “Chicken” is pronounced “atulba” in the local dialect, with central vowel lowering but a northern pattern for /ll/ as /l/ in syllable-final position. Another neighbor joins in at around 10 minutes. The women ask Floyd a number of questions, turning the interview format around a bit. Finally, the women turn to some historical reflections, including a discussion of wildlife that used to be more common in the region.

Recorded on: 2018-02-09

This long recording is a get-together including a large group of neighbors from the community of Llano Grande. First the organizers offer some words of introduction and some songs are performed in Quichua accompanied by a guitar. Traditional foods including corn “tortilla” cakes and “zapallo” squash drinks are served and are eaten along with commentaries about gastronomy. Later in the recording all of the participants are asked to share personal reflections about their personal history and the general community history.

Recorded on: 2018-02-18

This long recording continues the gathering of Quichua speaking neighbors in Llano Grande, now moving inside to a room used for community meetings and cultural promotions. More snacks are served and more songs in Quichua are performed accompanied by guitar. Each of the participants provides an account of people who are deemed to have been important in the community as a way to register this history.

Recorded on: 2018-02-18

This recording follows up with three the women of Oyacoto who had participated in earlier recordings. At the beginning of the recording Floyd delivers some Virgen de Guadalupe bags brought as gifts from Mexico, which occasion a period of informal conversation about traveling to religious sites in other countries (Floyd leaves the area and this conversation continues for an extended period). The conversation turns to medical issues and they mention some knee problems with many gestures and expressive speech. They tell a story of running from some wasps the day before, and then reflect on community history a bit, before being joined by another neighbor.

Recorded on: 2018-02-24

This recording is from the community of Santa Anita nearby to Oyacoto. During the initial discussion the couple mention that the community was not always called Santa Anita but used to be called Tushumbi, which is a pre-Quechuan Barbacoan name. The couple continues narrating accounts of the local community history. Water was a difficult to locate commodity in those time, and people would go on difficult trips to the ravines to bring back containers of water. A few traditional festivals are described, with drinks like chicha. This area reduces final diphthongs “chay” to “chi,” “tukuy” to “tuki” etc., which is characteristic of the whole central area of the highlands, but not the north or far south.

Recorded on: 2018-02-24

In the community of La Toglla the Quichua language has almost entirely fallen out of usage. Older community members are able to remember words and short phrases. Working with a woman in her 80s and some younger family members, Floyd guides some reflections leading to the recall of some memories of speech forms. This makes it possible to appreciate some unique local pronunciations, for example: “azhimi gingi” (you are good). This area is inside the isogloss where aspirated /kh/ and /qh/ maintain the aspirated /kh/, and not the northern /j/ fricative. Towards the end of the recording it was possible to remember some larger phrases including greetings and similar, and vocabulary like body parts.

Recorded on: 2018-03-11