|Languages of Chile|
Spanish is the official and administrative language of Chile. Spoken by 99.3% of the population in the form of Chilean Spanish, as well as Andean Spanish and Chilean Catalan, Spanish in Chile also receives the title of "castellano." Although an officially recognized Hispanic language does not exist at the governmental level, the Constitution itself- as well as all official documents- is written in this language.
Indigenous peoples make up 4.58% of the Chilean population according to the 2002 Census, and the major languages of the population are as follows: Mapuche is spoken by an estimated 100,000-200,000 people; Aymara by 20,000 individuals; Quechua by 8,200 individuals; and Rapa Nui by 3,390 people. However, it is not explicit if the above-mentioned speakers use these as their primary language.
According to Law 19253, also known as "The Indigenous Law" (1993), indigenous languages are officially recognized for use and conservation, as well as Spanish, in the zones in which they are spoken. They can be used for instruction, the promotion of media communication, as names in the Civil Registry, as well as artistic and cultural promotion.
Bilingual programs in areas occupied by indigenous communities are also under development. However, these programs exist only as small, isolated projects dedicated to the maintenance and promotion of indigenous languages, specifically Mapuche and Aymara, both with varying degrees of success.
In Chile, there are 15 different linguistic dialects spoken that could be considered distinct languages. These languages are varied, and in Chile-- unlike other Southern American countries-- no large linguistic family exists. Therefore, all indigenous languages are isolated or belong to small families of three or four languages.
The native languages of Chile belong to four or five linguistic families. In addition, half a dozen other languages are known, including isolated and unclassified languages, many of which are extinct today (indicated by the sign †). The following list includes more than a dozen indigenous languages amongst living languages and extinct languages in the country:
A widely practiced language, the southern branch of Chile still has many speakers.
|Aymara||Arica and Parinacota, Tarapacá|
An extended linguistic family of the Pacific Ocean, which reached Easter Island around the 5th century.
|Malaysian-Polynesian||Polynesian||Rapa Nui||Easter Island|
|Chon-Puelche LanguagesThe Chon languages form a clear phylogenetic group and only recent evidence has been provided to link it to Puelche.||Chon||Selk'nam (†)||Magallanes|
|Tehuelche (†)||Aysén, Magallanes|
|Puelche||Gününa këna(†)||Los Ríos, Los Lagos|
Originally from Cuyo, during the 17th century, many Huarpes were deported to Santiago where they became a large community.
|Quechuan LanguagesThese languages constitute different families of languages since not all varieties of Quechua are mutually understandable.||Quechua II||Southern Quechua||El Loa|
Attempts have been made to group these languages into larger families but without success.
|Mapuche||Araucanía, Metropolitan Region of Santiago, Biobío, Los Ríos, Los Lagos|
|Unclassified LanguagesThere is also a group of languages very scarcely documented and references to languages of extinct peoples, which have not been classified due to lack of information.||Cacán (†)||Atacama|
|Chono (†)||Los Lagos, Aysén|
See also: Anexo:Lenguas indígenas de América