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Languages of Chile
OfficialSpanish
Indigenous
Regional
Signed
A Mapuche woman in traditional dress
A Mapuche woman in traditional dress

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.

Indigenous languages of Chile

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.

Indigenous Languages Currently Spoken

Indigenous Languages in Danger of Extinction

Extinct Indigenous Languages

Classification of Indigenous 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:

Classification of Indigenous Chilean Languages
Family Group Language Territory
Aymara languages

A widely practiced language, the southern branch of Chile still has many speakers.

Aymara Arica and Parinacota, Tarapacá
Austronesian Languages

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
Huarpe Languages

Originally from Cuyo, during the 17th century, many Huarpes were deported to Santiago where they became a large community.

Allentiac (†) Santiago
Millcayac (†) Santiago
Quechuan LanguagesThese languages constitute different families of languages since not all varieties of Quechua are mutually understandable. Quechua II Southern Quechua El Loa
Language Isolates

Attempts have been made to group these languages into larger families but without success.

Kawésqar Magallanes
Kunza (†) Antofagasta
Mapuche Araucanía, Metropolitan Region of Santiago, Biobío, Los Ríos, Los Lagos
Yaghan (†) Magallanes
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

Non-indigenous languages spoken by distinct communities or immigrants

References

  1. Lewis, M. Paul; Gary F. Simons y Charles D. Fennig (eds.) (2009). «Ethnologue report for Chile». Ethnologue: Languages of the World (en inglés) (16th Edition) (Dallas, Texas: SIL International). Accessed October 29, 2009.
  2. Moreno Fernández, Francisco, y Jaime Otero Roth (2006). «2. Demolingüística del dominio hispanohablante - 2.5 Demografía del español en el mundo hispánico»(PDF). Demografía de la lengua española. pp. 20-21. Consultado el 12 de noviembre de 2011.
  3. Sáez Godoy, Leopoldo (2001). «El dialecto más austral del español: fonética del español de Chile». II Congreso internacional de la lengua española. Unidad y diversidad del español(Valladolid). Consultado el 9 de abril de 2011.
  4. Cavada, Francisco J. (1914). «Estudios lingüísticos». Chiloé y los chilotes. Santiago: Imprenta Universitaria. pp. 448.
  5. Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas (INE) (marzo de 2003). «Censo 2002: Síntesis de resultados» (PDF). www.ine.cl.
  6. Zúñiga, Fernando (2006). «Los mapuches y su lengua». Mapudungun. El habla mapuche. Santiago: Centro de Estudios Públicos. p. 402. ISBN 956-7015-40-6
  7. Albó, Xavier. «Aymaras entre Bolivia, Perú y Chile». Estudios atacameños(Antofagasta: Universidad Católica del Norte) (19): 43-73.
  8. Ministerio de Planificación y Cooperación (MIDEPLAN) (5 de octubre de 1993). «Ley 19253 de 1993 del Ministerio de Planificación y Cooperación» (HTML). Consultado el 24 de abril de 2011. «El Estado reconoce como principales etnias indígenas de Chile a: la Mapuche, Aimara, Rapa Nui o Pascuenses, la de las comunidades Atacameñas, Quechuas y Collas del norte del país, las comunidades Kawashkar o Alacalufe y Yámana o Yagán de los canales australes».
  9. Language of the land: The politics of ... - kb.osu.edu. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2021, from https://kb.osu.edu/bitstream/handle/1811/87588/GutmannFuentesAndrea_Thesis.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.
  10. Lewis, M. Paul (ed.) (2009). «Ethnologue report for language code: ayr - Aymara, Central». Ethnologue: Languages of the World (en inglés) (16.ª edición) (Dallas, Texas: SIL International). Consultado el 9 de mayo de 2012.
  11. Wagner, Claudio (Septiembre de 2006). «Sincronía y diacronía en el habla dialectal chilena». Estudios Filologicos. doi:10.4067/S0071-17132006000100017. Consultado el 28 de diciembre de 2016.
  12. De Ruyt, Felipe (19 de abril de 2015). «Capacitan en idioma créole a matronas para atender a creciente población haitiana migrante» (HTML). El Mercurio On-Line. Consultado el 9 de noviembre de 2015.
  13. Zlatar Montan, Vjera (2005). Los croatas, el salitre y Tarapacá (PDF) (2.ª edición). Iquique: Hrvatski Dom. p. 286. ISBN 956-7379-24-6. Consultado el 22 de abril de 2012.
  14. «La inmigración italiana». Ciudad de Valparaíso. 2008. Archivado desde el original el 7 de julio de 2011. Consultado el 27 de marzo de 2011.